The Diplomat: Grade the Premiere of Keri Russell's Netflix Political Drama


At the start of Netflix’s The Diplomat, Keri Russell’s Kate Wyler is an American ambassador set to assume that role in Afghanistan. But then a British aircraft carrier comes under terrorist attack… and suddenly she’s headed to London at the president’s behest.

In a moment, we’ll want to hear what you thought of the premiere of the political intrigue drama from Debora Cahn (Homeland, Grey’s Anatomy). But first, a quick recap:

the-diplomat-premiere-recap-keri-russell-season-1-episode-1Kate is married to Hal (The Man in the High Castle‘s Rufus Sewell), another American ambassador who’s beloved and connected but who has fallen out of favor in diplomatic circles — something to do with his calling the secretary of state a war criminal? Kate is vehemently against changing her plans; she’s more of an on-the-ground problem-solver than a perfectly coiffed functionary, and she’s ready to do real work in Kabul. But the president makes it clear she doesn’t really have a choice, so she reluctantly agrees to be the equivalent of “an emotional support dog” in Europe. What’s more: We soon learn that the current vice-president is planning to step down, and the United Kingdom gig is a test to see if Kate can eventually take the role… except she’s completely unaware of that fact.

Soon, Kate and Hal are in London, getting ushered into the massive estate that will be their home. But on her very first day of duties, she chafes at the job: The attack’s death count keeps climbing, and no one is sure yet who’s behind the bombing, but her schedule is full of photo ops and other frippery. The person on the receiving end of most of Kate’s irritation is Stuart (Chicago Med‘s Ato Essandoh), her right-hand man at the embassy who knows about the veep plan.

It quickly becomes clear that a) Kate and Hal have very different styles when it comes to their work, and b) Hal is bored in his new role as trailing spouse. So he busies himself giving Kate unasked-for advice on her new job (he pushes her to flaunt convention by making a crucial diplomatic connection before the U.S. Secretary of State does, though she refuses) and meddling in affairs of state (he maneuvers things so the connection happens, anyway). And because that connection — with England’s Prime Minister (Penny Dreadful‘s Rory Kinnear) — puts the Secretary of State (Station 19‘s Miguel Sandoval) in an awkward position, he decides to slow-roll her security clearance: a sure sign that he’s thinking of having her vacate her position ASAP.

keri russell the diplomat netflix

When Stuart alerts Kate that her job is in danger, she decides to acquiesce to some of the pomp and circumstance that goes along with her role. “You know who you can’t fire?” she asks glibly, “Cinderella.” So she gets dolled up, along with Hal, and consents to a photo shoot and interview for British Vogue. And in the process of making that happen, she confesses to Stuart that she and Hal are splitting up. “He will get me on my feet,” she says matter-of-factly, “and then he will go.” But when Stuart confronts Hal about this turn of events, Hal is adamant that he and Stuart together will be able to get Kate to the point where she’ll make a fantastic vice president — sure sounds like he’s still invested, no?

But all of that will have to be tabled for now, because during the shoot, when Hal gets into a car with a woman he thinks is a stylist, she immediately puts a syringe to his neck and injects him with something, assuring him he’s perfectly safe as he sit there, stunned, and the vehicle drives away.

Now it’s your turn. Grade The Diplomat‘s premiere via the poll below, then hit the comments with your thoughts!

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