The Diplomat (Netflix) – Episode 3 “Lambs in the Dark” Recap & Review

Lambs in the Dark

Kate is still rattled by Hal’s revelation and greets President Rayburn as episode 3 of The Diplomat begins. Hal is up to speed on the situation and takes the lead to show him around. Billie, Hal, Stuart, and Kate huddle up briefly in the middle of the living room. They all exchange their reactions to Kate learning about her possible VP campaign. She tries hard to be professional and focus on the job at hand but the possibility weighs heavy on her.

President Rayburn wants to do the press avail with PM Trowbridge to show solidarity. Kate explains how it would indicate the two countries are planning a military attack on Iran. The Brits do not have any tangible facts and evidence as of now to blame Iran. The appearance of the situation definitely points the finger toward them and even President Rayburn alludes to that reality.

Kate’s “compelling guy” story is rebuffed by Rayburn until Hal steps in and “saves the day” once again. Ganon’s grudge against Hal is surfaced when Rayburn suggests the trip should have been cancelled given these developments; there is no way Rayburn should stand with Trowbridge for the press.

Kate tries to convince Dennison about the optics of the situation, but the Brits are holding their ground and refusing to budge. “Hellfire on Tehran” has done a lot of damage. Dennison’s position is that Trowbridge mustn’t be made to look weak in the press. Kate convinces him to just have dinner for the heads of state and “cool things off” but Billie is apprehensive when Kate tells her.

Rasoul’s backchanneling mustn’t go to waste, and that is how they will proceed for now. When they go in for the meeting, Billie talks about the VP-ship. Grace Penn, the current holder of the post, is set to lose it due to a financial mess up that will not be forgiven. Like for like replacements on paper are four female legislators, all of whom would take the opportunity to launch their own presidential campaign. Hence, Rayburn is sceptical about them. Kate, in the midst of it all, seems like a safe and non-threatening choice.

Eidra finds out about Kate’s GCHQ call to Carole from the last episode. She reveals it to Stuart and expresses her disdain at Kate’s proactive involvement and interference in the CIA’s functioning. There are definitely question marks over Hal’s reliability too. He is a shady guy with shady dealings in the past.

Kate is miffed by the fact that she was the only person in the dark about the VPship, but Eidra makes it clear to Kate that she cannot go behind her back on matters of intelligence. The inter-agency camaraderie between MI6 and the CIA might get affected if that happens, so Kate apologizes for her actions.

Kate also tells Eidra the truth. Iran has moved a battalion to the coast in anticipation of receiving hostilities from the US and Britain. Hal reports to Eidra and clarifies his clandestine contacts. Kate rains hellfire on Hal in front of Eidra for the predicament he has raised for the US due to his discretion. Just understand this: Rasoul’s intel to Hal is the only thing that can fundamentally de-escalate the situation. But because he contacted Rasoul first, it changes the analysis of the intel, discrediting it. Hal’s reputation is what convinced Rayburn but this might be a problem.

In a humorous reprieve, President Rayburn puts his trickster hat on and gets Billie and other security personnel in a fix by saying he was having coffee. Having that gets his heart in “a-fib.” Trowbridge has agreed to ease off Iran once the naval force is out of Tehran; the British carrier is sinking and the US will help them. Dennison clarifies to Kate that this news is a lie. She communicates to Billie to get a “keel report” from the carrier. They discuss the matter privately where Dennison says this was the PM’s ploy to show the navy might in the Persian Gulf. Iran could misconstrue this as an act of war.

Trowbridge is falling out of line and Dennison expresses his failure of not keeping him in it. The situation is dire and the two have an argument about the lack of specificity and light colour given to the situation. He asks for Kate’s help to manage this situation, and she updates Billie and Eidra on what’s happening, saying the US ships must be stopped. Billie wants to talk to Shahin for more information but Kate knows he will be killed if it happens. Shahin is a unique progressive in the Iranian diplomatic landscape and Kate knows it.

Her intricate knowledge of foreign policy and insistence convinces Billie to talk to Rayburn. Billie and Stuart try to convince Kate personally that she would make a compelling vice president. “Doing it for the country, not the power,” appeals to Kate. No campaigning, no public-facing shenanigans; even the women would be alright with Kate’s profile. She has merit and they want her to see it.

Kate indicates that might be a possibility, attracting laughter from Billie and Stuart. Kate takes Hal outside and confronts him about how her name came up. His explanation makes it sound like she was not the first choice but Kate feels more threatened by the possibility that Hal might have done it to stay together. They were getting a divorce and everything was stored. Is this a ploy for him to get Kate back?

Hal accepts it and Kate loses it. She punches him, tackles him in the midriff and rolls around in the dirt. It is a visceral release of emotion and energy that Kate’s security detail catch from afar. Her unkempt appearance baffles Billie, who says Rayburn didn’t listen to her. Kate tries her hand at convincing him to not send the ships, and offers her resignation. She also tells him about Saman Karimi, a former Quds commander with a legendary reputation. He is rogue and fearless and would retaliate hard if the ships are sent.

Kate tries to remind Rayburn that this wouldn’t be to regain the US’s lost reputation; it is a high-handed response that risks American lives. The final blow is Kate quoting something Rayburn said to her previously. He calls Billie and instructs her to make sure no ships fly to the Gulf. Kate is not quitting after all!

The Episode Review

Kate is a thoroughbred diplomat, the kind that is hard to find these days. She has learnt the trade the hard by putting in the hours and splitting hairs. Her resilience and unbelievable skill of diplomacy are no less than art. Trowbridge sees high on his power ride and we have avoided a major faux pass. This does not mean the controversy is over and the tensions are still high.

The single setting helped bring all the players into a room and the writers managed to optimize it. Keri Russell has taken to Kate quite remarkably. It is almost as if she understands Kate’s every vein, and her diction is measured and laced with the right amount of diplomacy and human indignance.

Hal’s betrayal perturbed her deeply but she still carried through and talked to the POTUS with caring about how she looked – unkempt and unprofessional – and convinced him to change his mind. She will be quite popular come the awards season. And so will the show, which has kept the momentum in episode 3 to escalate its narrative in an intriguing manner.

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