The Diplomat (Netflix) – Episode 2 “Don’t Call It a Kidnapping” Recap & Review

Don’t Call It a Kidnapping

Hal wakes up after the sedative wears off and finds himself handcuffed at an unknown location as episode 2 of The Diplomat begins. Meanwhile, Kate is still being photographed for the magazine cover photoshoot. Her profound disapproval of the entire facade is for all to see.

During the shoot, they realize that Hal is missing and start looking for him. There is speculation that he went off with the beautiful stylist on his own or that the incident was part of a CIA mock safety drill. During the investigation, Kate reveals that Hal has been abducted before but was able to return safely. Hal, who was kidnapped, is introduced to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran, Mr Rasoul Shahin, over the phone.

Hal and Kate both know Rasoul. They worked with him before in Geneva and he apparently “owes them one.” He wants Hal to communicate to the British authorities an important message that the kidnappers have.

Hal is informed that Iran had nothing to do with the attack. They also tell Hal that they had planned to assassinate a retired U.S. General, Bradford Symes, for his involvement in the murder of one of the Iranian commanders, Qasem Soleimani. It could not be carried out now because it could be thought of as an incident related to the explosion on HMS Courageous. Hal is also informed that if there is any action from the US or British government, it would be seen as an unprovoked attack, and the Iranians would respond accordingly.

Next up, Hal returns to Winfield House, where he is checked for injuries. He informs Kate, Stuart, and others about the discussion, and they start with the investigation into the incident. Kate makes it clear to Eidra that the CIA must vet the information thoroughly before believing it.

During bedtime, Kate visits Hal in his bedroom to discuss the kidnapping incident. They conclude that Shahin calling from Tehran indicates that the phone call has come from a person with much clout, and Iran is not involved in the incident considering their current economic status. Kate also has in mind that it could be Hal who had called Shahin and set this up, but Hal denies his involvement outright.

Eidra and Stuart update Kate about the progress on the Iran incident. Kate informs that she knows someone at the US embassy in Beirut (Danny) who can discuss Shahin’s relationship with the Supreme National Security Council of Iran and get information about the call.

Next up, Kate is attending the funeral procession of the soldiers who lost their lives at Brize Norton. During the ceremony, the PM delivers a speech and vows to bring down whosoever is involved in the bombing and serve justice. Later on, while meeting the bereaved families, he comes across the widow of one of the soldiers, who shames him and calls him a coward for not taking the name of Iran.

He immediately, under public pressure, promises that Iran will be severely punished if it turns out they were involved. This announcement by the PM starts trending online and becomes viral in no time.

The following day, it’s known that a Muslim family of four had been attacked outside a mosque; an act of Islamophobia following the PM’s comment. Ms Park tells Kate that it is time that they inform the State about the processes brought in by Hal, but Kate wants it vetted. Stuart feels that Kate is jealous of her husband’s stardom by not giving importance to his information and tries talking to her about it. Still, Kate tells him about an incident in Afghanistan and explains that Hal’s inputs are untrustworthy and must be checked properly.

Next, it is known that the President of the United States will stop by London on his trip to Berlin to express his solidarity in the wake of the explosion attack on HMS Courageous. Kate is concerned about the implications of the US President and the PM standing shoulder to shoulder and that it would send a wrong message. To verify Hal’s claims, she calls one of her sources in the US, Carole. She gets the information that Hal had called Rome to contact the Deputy Minister in Tehran and confronts him regarding the same.

Kate decides to meet up with Secretary Ganon with the information, and asks him to cancel the President’s visit. Ganon is clear he will not ask Rayburn to cancel, which prompts Kate to tell him the truth about Hal. He wants the PM to clarify his remarks regarding Iran. The foreign secretary asks her to talk to President about it as he has much influence on the British PM.

The episode ends with the President visiting Winfield House, where Kate takes it all out on Hal and asks him to leave her side. The curtains drop with Hal revealing to Kat that she will be running for Vice President of the US.

The Episode Review

The Diplomat presents two sides of diplomacy – the public-facing with rousing speeches and chest-thumping, and the one in the shadows with hard, complicated decisions that actually change lives. It is surreal to see how much man-managing goes on behind the scenes, especially in times of crisis. Kate is someone who just cannot stay silent or still and it seems like she is moving all the time.

Episode 2 brought the cinematic world to the precipice of a full-blown war where countries have almost come to blows. Despite the efforts of diplomacy, President Rayburn’s arrival is an ominous sign of things to come. Hal Wyler is the epitome of entitled American diplomacy and the country’s high-handed foreign policy. I feel his character is a veiled critique of how the US has tried to assert its dominance forcefully in global politics.

The writing continually elevates the dramatic appeal of the narrative and preserves the seriousness and urgency. That is what separates The Diplomat from many other shows in the same vein. The dynamic between Hal and Kate is unique and most intriguing, while their toxicity is too addictive and hopefully, he isn’t abandoned yet by Winfield.

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1 thought on “The Diplomat (Netflix) – Episode 2 “Don’t Call It a Kidnapping” Recap & Review”

  1. I didn’t understand Kate to be saying that Hal’s inputs are “untrustworthy”, more that he’s an incredibly divisive figure after playing the hero with the last remaining plane in Afghanistan, unwittingly taking it out of service at a crucial time and preventing the evacuation of Afghan nationals who had worked for the Americans. So any info he presents will be gone over with a fine toothcomb by those who can’t forgive him for this grandstanding. Kate is clearly one of them, by the way.

    Re the meeting with the foreign secretary – “He wants the PM to clarify his remarks regarding Iran.” Surely this should be ‘She wants’?
    “The foreign secretary asks her to talk to President about it as he has much influence on the British PM.” This sounded sardonic to me.

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