The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 3 Recap – How does the Iran situation get worse?

April 20, 2023 (Last updated: last month)
Jonathon Wilson 2
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A funny and frantic episode brings the geopolitical crisis closer to calamity than ever, and the strain this has on the characters’ interpersonal relationships is plain to see.

This recap of the 2023 Netflix series The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 3, “Lambs in the Dark”, contains spoilers.

I suppose it’s a bit stressful to have the President of the United States arrive on your lawn any day of the week, but it’s especially testing for Kate Wyler in “Lambs in the Dark” for a couple of reasons.

One, she has just been told by her husband, whom she’s rapidly starting to hate, that she can’t divorce him. She’s being groomed as the next Vice President, and that’s not a gig that’s particularly amenable to divorcees.

And two, the president is coming to rub shoulders with a British Prime Minister who has just publicly promised to “rain hellfire” on a volatile independent nation and is very likely to express a similar sentiment again.

The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 3 Recap

President Rayburn has exclusively been characterized as an aging gung-ho idiot in The Diplomat, but is it just me, or does he seem alright? When Kate and Hal pull him aside to explain why he probably shouldn’t make himself available to the press and pose for photo opportunities, he says, reasonably, “You should have canceled the trip.”

Of course, Kate tried to do that, and Secretary of State Ganon wouldn’t, mostly because Hal is the source of the intel exonerating Iran and Ganon blames Hal for a lack of peace in the Middle East. And Foreign Secretary Austin Dennison wouldn’t encourage Prime Minister Trowbridge to walk back or at least clarify his statements about Iran because Number 10 can’t be seen to be walking back anything – not when a famously spineless PM has finally made a good impression on a bloodthirsty, increasingly Islamophobic electorate.

So, here we are. The best Kate can do is persuade Dennis to agree to a one-on-one sit-down lunch with the President and the PM, in which the former can explain to the latter why Iran isn’t guilty and why he should abandon all implications that suggest they might be before he stokes up at best a civil war and at worst mutually assured destruction.

Why is the current Vice President resigning?

We’ve known since the premiere that Kate was being groomed for the Vice Presidency, but we didn’t know what was happening to the sitting VP, Grace Penn.

Well, now we do. Her husband “misplaced” a $3.1 million National Institutes of Health grant and The Wall Street Journal is going to report it. Done and dusted. Kate is among a shortlist of other candidates – all, on paper, similarly ambitious careerist women – but she’s at the top of the pile because she has no actual campaigning ambition or ability and can genuinely manage crises.

Naturally, Kate is fuming about the deception. She’s annoyed with Hal, which is nothing new, Billie, which probably isn’t all that unusual, but also Hayford, whose perceived betrayal probably stings the most since he has been her staunchest ally since she arrived.

Why does the British government still blame Iran?

And the Iran problem remains. Even though the President now believes that the Iranians are innocent, the British government’s official position is still that the satellite imagery of the Iranian fast boat implies guilt, and Tehran has cautiously sent an entire battalion from the Pakistan border to the coast just in case.

Minister Shahin reaching out to Hal at the risk of his own life and that of his family should, theoretically, be proof enough, not to mention the canceling of an assassination, but since Hal contacted Shahin first he’s at risk of prosecution and the veracity of his entire account is in question. And Eidra Park knows this because the U.S. and the U.K. have a cozy longstanding intelligence-sharing agreement and a system called Sorting Hat – yes, from Harry Potter – that sends out alerts when the NSA makes requests of GCHQ and vice versa.

In other words, Eidra knows that Kate instructed her associate in Iraq, Carole, to trace Hal’s burner. So, now he must go over everything again to make sure it’s all squeaky clean.

How does the Iran situation get worse?

As it turns out, Trowbridge isn’t quite the sackless bumbling functionary he pretends to be. By telling Rayburn that the HMS Courageous is sinking, he deftly lures the well-meaning president into sending an American fleet into the Persian Gulf. Rayburn thinks it’s a rescue effort, but Dennison, when he confesses this to Kate, knows otherwise. It’ll look like an act of aggression against Iran. Trowbridge wants the Americans to be as involved in the conflict as Britain now is.

Kate must try and communicate this to Billie and Eidra. Rayburn unequivocally cannot send those ships. Billie wants to go back to Shahin for more clarity, but Kate, in a great moment of personal explosion, warns her not to be “an infinitely ravenous American” and just use what he has already given them, at immense personal risk.

The balance of geopolitical power hinges on a web of very fragile alliances. Losing Shahin as an ally probably means going to war with Iran.

The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 3 Ending Explained

The third episode of The Diplomat ends with Kate resigning – or at least trying to.

After a hysterical physical fight with Hal after he confesses to not really believing their marriage was over even when he told her to call their divorce attorney, Kate has had enough. Covered in mud and leaves, she speaks with President Rayburn and tells him she’s resigning, but gives him the lowdown on what’s going to happen if he sends the Fifth Fleet into the Persian Gulf.

It takes some convincing, but Rayburn eventually listens. No ships. But he doesn’t listen to the bit about resigning. On the contrary, he tells Kate that he doesn’t have time for that kind of nonsense. Until further notice, she will remain the U.S. ambassador to the U.K., and before long she might even be Vice President.

Maybe she’ll come around to the idea.

You can stream 2023 series The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 2, “Lambs in the Dark” exclusively on Netflix.

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2 thoughts on “The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 3 Recap – How does the Iran situation get worse?

  • April 25, 2023 at 3:36 am

    Thanks for the summary. Wife and I did not get the Irish eyes commnent by the President ro Kate, and still really don’t, but that it meant he didn’t want to hear any more nonsense from Kate about resigning was good info from you.

  • June 4, 2023 at 5:35 pm

    Response to Terence O’Neill: I replayed the comment several times because I didn’t get it either. I finally turned on subtitles…the President actually said to stop the “I resign” crap.

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