Here’s Everything That Happened in The Diplomat Season 1

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: March 3, 2024 (Last updated: 4 weeks ago)
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Keri Russell as Kate Wyler in Episode 101 of The Diplomat. Courtesy of Netflix.

Thriller series The Diplomat was so popular after Season 1, that it earned a second season.

The series follows Kate Wyler, a determined experienced handler of international crises set to go to Afghanistan for her next assignment. However, things turn sour, and she is reassigned to London when a British naval ship is attacked under hostile fire, and the country starts to look toward Iran for answers. Plenty happens in Season 1, so I’ve broken it down into a comprehensive recap so you do not miss anything.

The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

Why is Katherine Wyler really sent to England?

So, in response to the sinking of the HMS Courageous, presumably by Iran, the U.S. President, Rayburn, and his Chief of Staff, Billie, call Katherine Wyler to the White House for a meeting. She’s an ambassador working under Secretary of State Miguel Ganon and was supposed to be in Kabul, but Rayburn wants her to go to England and play nice with the British establishment since it seems very much like the vessel was attacked in retaliation for U.S. foreign policy.

However, before Kate arrives, Billie calls her Deputy Chief of Mission, Stuart Hayford, to tell him the real reason why Kate is being sent there. She’s being groomed as a potential Vice President.

For context, President Rayburn is old and, it seems, a little gung-ho. Billie has spent years working on developing a Vice President to replace him, but something has gone wrong there, and the current VP will be taking a leave of absence and subsequently resigning.

Very few people know about this. But one of them is Kate’s husband, Hal, also a very successful – and in his case quite famous and notorious – U.S. ambassador. He arrives in England with Kate, ostensibly to help her find her feet, though she openly despises his methods, connections, attitude, and public persona.

What’s going on with Kate and Hal’s marriage?

It’s obvious immediately that something is amiss with Kate and Hal. They have an easy familiarity, but no intimacy. At first, it seems they simply disagree on methods, and it’s strongly implied that Hal’s work has previously embarrassed Kate’s boss, Ganon, and the current U.S. establishment.

When Kate and Hal arrive at Winfield House, though, an absurdly posh estate with a “residence manager” named Frances Munning, Kate inquires about whether the sheets are on the bed in the guest suite. Hayford doesn’t get the implication of this initially, but the penny drops later when Kate mentions offhandedly that Hal won’t be sticking around – they sleep in separate beds.

As it happens, Kate and Hal are getting divorced. However, Hal is adamant that this won’t happen and that he’ll win her back, and he’s similarly adamant that his presence is totally necessary to ensure she passes the “test” for the Vice Presidency.

Hal is extremely charismatic, a little smug, and, it seems, famously difficult, but he also seems to be aware of how American political power ought to work, dropping such gems to Hayford when he confronts him about the divorce as “Nobody with the temperament to win a campaign should be in charge of anything,” and “no one who likes power should have it.”

In other words, Kate needs to prove she should be the Vice President without ever knowing that she’s doing so – whether she wants the position or not.

Why does Ganon want to have Kate removed?

One gets the sense that Kate wouldn’t want the position at all. She’s entirely focused on creating real change – she makes several calls throughout the episode to Kabul, worried that talking about “women’s healthcare” is minimizing the atrocities going on there – and outright despises the idea of “the Cinderella thing”, which is what Hal describes her whistle-stop tour of London as.

The point is to play nice. She’s to dress up, visit the Foreign Office, sit in on meetings, lay memorial wreaths, and do a photo shoot for British Vogue in which she climbs into a horse-drawn carriage like a princess. The episode is structured around her itinerary, but virtually every stop goes wrong.

Kate can’t officially do anything until she has presented her credentials to the Foreign Office and the monarchy. However, when she meets the Foreign Secretary, Austin Dennison, she’s immediately pulled before Prime Minister Nicol Trowbridge, who is concerned that Rayburn is going to give a crazy public statement decrying Iran before it has been comprehensively proved they were involved.

The British government wants Kate to talk down the U.S. government, but Ganon, believing Hal is pulling the strings, is deliberately dragging his feet in getting Kate’s credentials approved so he has an excuse to remove her from the position.

When Eidra Park, the CIA Chief of Station at Embassy London, tells Hayford about Ganon slow-rolling Kate’s credentials, he tells her. So, she decides to lean into the Cinderella thing to make herself an overnight media darling, making it harder for Ganon to oust her.

The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 1 Ending Explained

So, Kate does the photoshoot for British Vogue. She dresses up and poses for pictures. It’s during all this formality that all the details about Kate’s failing marriage emerge, not that the press would ever know. Kate and Hal make a smart couple. Kate looks like a princess, and the British establishment love those.

But something sinister is afoot! Quietly, without anyone noticing, Hal is drugged and taken away in the back of a car while Kate smiles for the cameras.

The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 2 Recap

The Diplomat Season 1 Recap

(L to R) Keri Russell as Kate Wyler, Ali Ahn as Eidra Park in Episode 102 of The Diplomat. Courtesy of Netflix.

Who kidnapped Hal?

Kate is adamant that Hal doesn’t cheat – she even suggests things might have been easier if he did. And while that’s the kind of thing wives with husbands who do cheat would say, she nonetheless reiterates to a very skeptical Hayford that something is legitimately amiss about Hal disappearing into a car with an attractive young woman, which we saw at the end of Episode 1.

Hal has been kidnapped before. There’s apparently an Islamic State commander who really hates him due to a previous escape. But we learn early on in this episode that Hal has been taken on behalf of Iran’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rasoul Shahin, who calls Hal from Tehran. He even berates the operatives for drugging him.

Shahin wants to express to Hal that Iran had nothing to do with the attack on the HMS Courageous, and to stress that any action taken against Iran will not be taken as retaliatory, but as an unprovoked act of war that will be responded to in kind. It’s vital that Hal gets this message across, as we’ve already established that U.S. President Rayburn is a bit of a livewire.

How does Trowbridge make the situation worse?

“Don’t Call It a Kidnapping” does a good job of showing how the process of geopolitical skulduggery is stifled by a lot more red tape than most film and TV are willing to depict.

Hal’s story must be vetted. His prior relationship with Shahin must be examined, the validity of the information must be confirmed, and until it is, the story can’t be shared with anyone, despite Indian photographs of an Iranian fast boat decked out with a missile doing the rounds, making Iran look guiltier and guiltier.

In the meantime, Kate attends the funeral of the perished sailors, held at RAF Brize Norton, and there, Prime Minister Trowbridge gives a fiery Winston Churchill-style speech promising retribution. He’s vague, though. That is until the widow of one of the sailors, her son perched on her knee, calls him a coward. She has put the pieces together for herself, and she thinks it’s a mighty coincidence that a British vessel has been sunk off the coast of Iran mere days after the U.S. annoyed Iran.

Trowbridge immediately folds under the pressure and promises to rain hellfire on Tehran if it turns out they were responsible. He’s trending on social media almost immediately.

What is Kate’s dilemma?

In the wake of Trowbridge’s Churchill moment – he has historically been accused of not having a backbone, so this is big for him – anti-Islamic violence spikes immediately. A deranged man in a van mows down a family of four outside a mosque, shouting, “Go back to Iran!”

And yet Kate is still reticent for Eidra to pass Hal’s story up the chain. Eidra thinks it’s a control thing. Hayford wonders if it might perhaps be jealousy over Hal’s star power. The truth is that Kate is all too familiar with Hal’s flights of heroism, including one which saw him literally fly from Kabul to Mazar-e Shar?f to convince the Taliban leadership to hold off on seizing Kabul for one more day. He left out the bit about the plane he used to do that being intended for the evacuation of Afghan nationals working with U.S. forces.

In other words, with Hal, you must be doubly sure. Lives depend on it.

Why does Kate go to Ganon?

It turns out Kate is right. She manages to figure out that Hal used a burner phone to place a call to a contact in Italy, a country with sound diplomatic relations with Iran, to get a call to Shahin. The intelligence is still solid enough – the unofficial Iranian position is that they called off the assassination of a man they’d very much like to see killed, so as not to rock the boat geopolitically speaking in the aftermath of the attack on the Courageous – but there’s an element of trademark Hal finesse that wouldn’t look good if anyone found out about it.

Kate nonetheless goes to Ganon with the information, explaining that the CIA dragging their feet verifying it is because she insisted they crossed all their T’s and dotted all their I’s with Hal being the source. But President Rayburn is due to spend 70 minutes at Winfield House cozying up to Prime Minister Trowbridge, and the optics of those two rubbing shoulders after the hellfire speech would have a terrible knock-on effect.

Ganon, though, refuses to cancel the president’s visit.

The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 2 Ending Explained

Kate, much to Hayford’s chagrin, immediately drops in on Foreign Secretary Austin Dennison. She doesn’t give him any details but clarifies Iran aren’t responsible and suggests that perhaps Rayburn’s visit would go a little smoother if Trowbridge provided a little more clarity on his hellfire remark.

Of course, Number 10 will walk back nothing that was said – especially not when the PM was merely repeating Rayburn’s sentiment in the first place.

Kate takes a lot of this out on Hal. She’s adamant that he leaves the country since he keeps placing calls to hostile powers, annoying everyone, and making investigations exponentially more difficult. As Marine One hovers over the grounds of Winfield House, Hal takes that moment to tell her that she can’t divorce him, and he can’t leave, because she’s going to be the next Vice President of the United States.

The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 3 Recap

Keri Russell as Kate Wyler in Episode 103 of The Diplomat. Courtesy of Netflix.

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.

The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 4 Recap

The Diplomat Season 1 Recap

David Gyasi as Austin Dennison in Episode 104 of The Diplomat Courtesy of Netflix.

When he first said he’d rain hellfire on Tehran, people loved it so much they started killing families outside mosques. So, he said it again. In Episode 3 of The Diplomat, he tried to manipulate U.S.

President Rayburn into sending a naval fleet into the Persian Gulf under the guise of a rescue mission, and at the start of this outing, Tel Aviv has picked up reliable chatter that the British Embassy in Iran is being quietly evacuated and British nationals are being instructed to leave the country.

At a gala, which he ensures Kate Wyler is in attendance for, he publicly announces that the U.S. has backed out of the efforts to rescue the sailors still trapped aboard HMS Courageous, and says, “With fire for fire, we shall defend our island home.”

The implication is clear.

How does Kate contact the Iranians?

Because Trowbridge isn’t listening, Kate must try other channels to communicate with the Iranians. She can’t go to Shahin directly, because that would reveal his involvement and sentence him to death, so she has Eidra plant a hidden message in the press, asking for some low-key conversation.

The response comes from the Iranian Defence Minister ranting on Twitter about Foreign Secretary Dennison summoning the Iranian ambassador for a meeting. It’s only midway through Kate attacking Dennison for not looping her into this that she realizes he hasn’t called a meeting in the first place. It’s a coded response to an equally coded missive. The Iranians want to talk.

What this means is that Kate must convince Dennison to actually call the Iranian ambassador for a meeting, and she needs to be there, though not in any official capacity, so the CIA needs to sneak her in the back stairs so she can lurk in the corner until the ambassador arrives.

The ambassador, Hajjar, isn’t thrilled to see Kate, but he settles a little once Dennison reveals she’s the only reason his country hasn’t seen a retaliatory strike. He has been instructed to give Dennison a name – Roman Lenkov, a Russian mercenary who seems to have planned and provided funding for the attack on the HMS Courageous.

The problem for Iran is that Russia is their ally, and more so than that, given sanctions imposed by the West, a trade lifeline. They can’t publicly or officially accuse Russia of anything, despite it seeming very much like Russia framed Iran for an attack on a British naval carrier.

Who dies in “He Bought a Hat”?

As ever, nothing gets past the Russians, and Hajjar promptly runs into some difficulties. He struggles to breathe, collapses, and quickly expires on the floor of the Foreign Secretary’s office.

The implication is that the Russians assassinated him, but the optics suggest Britain might have done it, which is why Kate, who leaves through the back door and quickly loops around through the front, makes sure that the paramedics continue working on him until long after he’s dead. The official pronouncement needs to be in the hospital, not the British Foreign Office.

After, Kate and Dennison share a drink, an insensitive giggle – mostly at the absurdity and severity of the situation they both suddenly find themselves in – and what is unmistakably A Moment™.

The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 4 Ending Explained

Given that bubbling in the background of “He Bought a Hat” is the continued breakdown of Kate and Hal’s marriage and repeated assurances – mostly from Kate – that she cannot be appointed as Vice President without him, this new wrinkle only complicates matters further.

And it prompts an interesting reaction in Kate, who immediately heads back to Winfield House and has wordless sex with Hal – who bought a hat, by the way.

Oh, and Eidra passes on the information about Russia’s involvement to a source, though with a cautionary word that, if anyone asks, it didn’t come from Britain or America. I’m sure that will stick!

The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 5 Recap

(L to R) Rory Kinnear as Nicol Trowbridge, David Gyasi as Austin Dennison, Pearl Mackie as Alysse, Ato Essandoh as Stuart Heyford, Keri Russell as Kate Wyler, David Bark-Jones as Kemper-Waithe, Rupert Vansittart as Hoope, Bhav Joshi as Anu Cross in Episode 105 of The Diplomat. Courtesy of Netflix.

In Episode 4, an Iranian ambassador died after sharing very sensitive information that Russian mercenaries were to blame for the attack on the HMS Courageous. The logical assumption is that he was poisoned by the Russians, probably before he even got to the Foreign Office, where he died on the Foreign Secretary’s floor.

Naturally, the handling of this situation needs to be incredibly sensitive. British Foreign Secretary Austin Dennison needs to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Miguel Banon at the former’s countryside estate, Chevening House, but there’s so much paranoia surrounding the ambassador’s death that even Dennison must be screened by Kate’s security to make sure he doesn’t poison anyone.

The initial meeting is a mess, delayed by security necessities, a ludicrous discussion about the suitability of Kate’s chair for her slender feminine frame, and a lot of toing and froing about whether the U.K. or the U.S. can be seen to publicly apologize to Iran.

What’s more is that they can’t accuse Russia, despite having credible evidence supporting their involvement, without first exonerating Iran, which will be difficult to do without a proper apology, which nobody is willing to give.

Politics!

What does Trowbridge want to do about Russia?

There’s also the fact that Kate was present for the Iranian ambassador’s death, which nobody but Dennison is supposed to know but that she keeps accidentally implying when she gets too annoyed with the discussion, and the fact that Trowbridge, not initially present, wants to cut ties rather publicly with the U.S. and prove that American might is not always right.

And then Trowbridge himself turns up.

Trowbridge arrives in a convertible, looking and sounding ridiculous, and very much with a point to prove about a strong response to Russia, naturally with no real thought spared for the potential consequences of antagonizing a nuclear superpower.

Like the car, Trowbridge’s approach to politics is all about showing off. Everyone else present thinks he’s an embarrassing lunatic, but they all work for him, so what is there to do?

Does Hal cheat on Kate?

While Kate tries to brainstorm proportionate responses to Russia that’ll make the U.K.’s point clear without risking war, Hal spends the afternoon with Dennison’s sister, Cecilia, whom Kate initially assumes is his wife.

This is all part of Hal’s final effort to win Kate over by playing the “doting wife”. He deliberately doesn’t offer any advice on geopolitics whatsoever, even when the PM asks him. He goes for a picnic and a swim with Cecilia and gets high and crucially not hard when they skinny dip in a deeply unsanitary body of water.

As it turns out, Hal can’t get it up for anyone other than Kate, much as he’d perhaps like to. When he later reminds Kate of this – it’s clearly not the first she’s hearing of it, justifying her adamance that he doesn’t cheat back in Episode 2 – she thinks it’s preposterous that he believes this is a way to save their marriage. And she’s right, isn’t she?

So, it turns out Hal does cheat after all, just not in as comprehensive a way as he’d like.

The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 5 Ending Explained

The episode ends by throwing a bit of a curveball.

Outside, Hayford gets a call from Eidra sharing two crucial pieces of information. The first is that the Iranian ambassador died of a heart attack, and seemingly wasn’t fed Novichok by Russian assassins, the Foreign Secretary, or anyone else.

The second is that Kate has asked the Department of Defence for a list of potential targets to bomb in Russia.

It’s this list, to the surprise of everyone, that Kate presents to Trowbridge as his next step. He can pick a target, the Americans will bomb something, and his point to the British public will be proved.

The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 6 Recap

The Diplomat Season 1 Recap

(L to R) Keri Russell as Kate Wyler, Rufus Sewell as Hal Wyler, Rory Kinnear as Nicol Trowbridge in episode 106 of The Diplomat. Courtesy of Netflix.

In the pantry of Chevening House, Hal and Kate bump into Prime Minister Trowbridge. As it turns out he’s not as stupid as he looks, acts, or sounds. But he’s a career politician in a system designed to surround him with people who either want his position or simply don’t want him to have it, he has an impossible problem to solve, and he must somehow solve it without letting down his constituents or starting a nuclear war.

Enter Kate. As predicted, her offering the PM a list of potential Russian bombing targets was just a play, but nonetheless a dangerous one. Over wine and cheese, she’s able to persuade Trowbridge into considering a bloodless option, but it needs to be a good one.

So, Kate and her team, including a haggard Hayford and Dennison, with whom Kate shares a terribly awkward misunderstanding about their unspoken feelings, are able to put together a comprehensive diplomatic package that will squeeze Russian money being laundered in London. Since the sanctions already imposed on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine don’t touch the real oligarch money, which is all offshore, this is a mighty blow to the Kremlin.

Trowbridge decides to bomb Russian troops in the Aleppo-Raqqa-Hama triangle instead.

Kate thinks Trowbridge has gotten this plan from someone else, and Hal has an idea of who it might be. According to Cecilia, Trowbridge still has a relationship with his former advisor, a hard-line Tory journalist named Meg Roylin who has cropped up a couple of times already. She and the Daily Mail are, apparently, the reason why Trowbridge is in Number 10 instead of Dennison.

How did Margaret Roylin prevent Austin Dennison from becoming Prime Minister?

Since Dennison won’t let Kate speak to Roylin, who has a house just down the way, Hal arranges for Cecilia to sneak her there in the PM’s new convertible. On the way, Cecilia reveals why her brother hates Roylin so much.

After Cecilia lost a baby to a partner who, in her words, kept her in a situation akin to house arrest, she threatened to commit suicide if Dennison didn’t abuse his office to get her off-prescription oxycontin. So, he did, Roylin found out, and the Daily Mail ran a story about him having a pill problem.

What is Trowbridge trying to achieve?

So, while we can understand why the Dennisons hate Roylin, it’s hard not to respect her. You’re not supposed to like her, of course; she’s like an elderly female Piers Morgan, or Thatcher with a pen (her being called Margaret isn’t an accident and doesn’t go unremarked upon). But she’s very smart, totally believable as the brains behind Trowbridge, and reveals to Kate what he’s really up to.

Trowbridge, it turns out, is about to lose the United Kingdom. A to-do in Scotland is going to create a second referendum, and they’re going to vote for independence, and then Northern Ireland and eventually Wales will follow suit. Trowbridge needs a giant show of unified power to keep Scotland on side, and thus keep the U.K. intact.

It’s also Roylin who offers a potential solution.

What’s the plan to attack Russia?

Hal – who, by the way, provides most of the episode’s comedy when he’s sent to pick up Secretary of State Ganon, who hates him, from the airport – pitches the idea to Dennison. The U.K. can attack the Lenkov Group, mercenaries who are really the Kremlin’s private army, who’re operating in Libya. Since Libya has already requested aid from the U.K., it will be considered an act of defense to fight the Russians there, but the damage will be done all the same.

There’s a problem, though. In fact, there are a couple. The CIA and MI6 can’t seem to figure out where the Lenkov Group got the order to attack the British warship. It wasn’t from the FSB or GRU. It wasn’t from the Kremlin. All the usual people who should know don’t, and Eidra is hesitant to authorize the operation without the intelligence to support it.

And then there’s Ganon, who inexplicably nixes the plan completely. He’s angling toward the presidency himself and doesn’t want to give Rayburn a victory. He refuses to even run it up the chain.

The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 6 Ending Explained

The episode ends with Kate going over Ganon’s head. The plan is authorized and everyone – except Ganon, anyway – celebrates.

But the interpersonal relationships are more complicated than ever. Hayford and Eidra decide to go public with their relationship since Hal had already figured it out, and things are getting very complicated between Hal, Kate, and Dennison.

We’ll have to see how the final two episodes bring these guys together or push them apart.

The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 7 Recap

Rufus Sewell as Hal Wyler in episode 107 of The Diplomat. Courtesy of Netflix.

Workwise, Kate is due to meet Russian Ambassador Oleg Balakin at the Foreign Office. The point is to tell him, unequivocally, that the British government knows that the Lenkov Group were hired by the Russian government to sink the HMS Courageous and that in retaliation they will be combating Lenkov troops in Libya.

What does the Russian ambassador give to Kate?

Everyone is terrified of Balakin and we see why immediately. He’s a nightmare. He snaps, he rants, he reels off a litany of insults about the U.S. and the U.K. and their respective hypocrisies. But he also writes Kate a message on a cigarette rolling paper giving her instructions to leave the office through a back door and meet someone else. While she leaves, he keeps ranting to himself, creating the illusion she’s still in the room.

The woman Kate meets with tells her that Roman Lenkov has a child with a woman named Laurissa Safonova, who lives in a villa he owns in Cap d’Antibes called La Colline, where he will be on the 30th of the month for three days.

The Russians are giving up Lenkov, which can mean one of only two things: They’re either playing a very risky con, or they didn’t sink the HMS Courageous.

Who does Kate meet with in Washington?

Predictably this causes panic. Everyone needs to know so a plan of action can be drawn up, but telling anyone over the airwaves is a bad idea, so Kate needs to go to Washington to brief the higher-ups in person.

It’s not a good time to be in Washington, though. Hal gets it on good authority from Billie that Rayburn is going to fire Ganon. Communications are breaking down between the U.S. and the U.K., and Kate is barely able to get a word in edgewise.

There’s an interesting parallel here between her running into a friend, Jill Klein, whom she goes out for a drink with, and Hal doing the same in Blighty. Kate’s friend tells her some of what has been going on in Kabul, and you can tell from Kate’s wistful stare that she’d probably rather be there than doing what she’s doing now.

Hal’s friend, meanwhile, asks him if he’s going to be replacing Ganon as the Secretary of State. And while the idea doesn’t seem to have occurred to him prior to the conversation, it certainly occurs to him after.

The Diplomat Season 1 Episode 7 Ending Explained

Kate gets back to England with a terrible hangover looking like she has been dragged through a hedge backward. And it’s not good news for anyone. The Americans don’t want to go ahead with the Libya plan without solid intelligence on Russian involvement in the sinking of HMS Courageous, but Prime Minister Trowbridge had already promised the Libyans that the U.K. was on its way.

What’s worse is that Jill reminded Kate of all the good she could be doing elsewhere, instead of being talked over in the Oval Office, and all she wants to do is talk to Dennison, which circumstances have ensured she hasn’t been able to do.

The episode ends with Kate, in frustrated tears, sitting on one side of the bed while Hal, facing away, sits on the other, the distance between them never having been greater.

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The Diplomat Season 1 Recap

Keri Russell as Kate Wyler in episode 108 of The Diplomat. Courtesy of Netflix.

Foreign Secretary Dennison gives Kate the news that Prime Minister Trowbridge has come around on the plan to arrest Roman Lenkov. He wants to have British Special Forces involvement for the photo opportunity, and it’s up to him and Secretary of State Ganon to fly over and make nice with the French, who’ll hate their arrest being overtaken by the British.

This becomes Kate’s responsibility instead since Ganon thinks it’ll sound better coming from her. She’s to travel with Anu, Dennison’s meek assistant at the Foreign Office, but Dennison claims he doesn’t like the idea and wants to make the trip himself – with Kate. Uh-oh.

And then there’s Hal. On a call with Billie, Eidra explains that Lewis Quainton, the old associate Hal went for a drink with in Episode 7, is working for the Saudis, and the CIA wants to use him as an asset in the matter. Billie nixes the idea, though, because of Kate’s shortlist status for the Vice Presidency.

Why do Hayford and Eidra break up?

These developments have knock-on effects for the major characters, starting with Hayford and Eidra.

Since Billie has asked Hayford to loop Eidra into Kate being scouted for the VP spot, he’s also forced to reveal that, if she returns to Washington, he’ll be going with her. This, after telling Eidra not to take a job in Egypt and to go public with their relationship, offends her. Why would he do that if he was going to be leaving anyway?

A long-distance relationship evidently not part of her agenda, Eidra throws Hayford out of her office with assurances that their relationship seems to have just ended.

What is the Chatham House Rule?

Kate and Hal, meanwhile, are still trying to make things work, and trying to rearrange their relationship and responsibilities in new ways. He’s clearly a bit jealous about her and Dennison jetting off to France, so she invites him on the trip, but they settle for him giving a speech at Chatham House in her stead.

To Hayford, Kate describes Hal as a racehorse – you have to run him, or he’ll tear down the barn. It seems as apt a description as any, especially since he has asked for the Chatham House Rule – that anything you say there can be cited but not attributed – to be waived and the speech to be sent to Billie.  He clearly has plans for it.

Why do Hal and Kate break up (again)?

Hal gives an amazing speech. He loves the limelight. In the aftermath of it, though, he’s approached by a conservative MP named Merritt Grove who asks him for a conversation with some degree of urgency. What he really wants, one presumes, is a conversation with a representative of the United States.

Hal reports this to Kate. He tells her that he offered to put him in touch with Billie – imagine, a lowly Tory backbencher on a direct line to the White House Chief of Staff – and then agreed to meet with him for drinks himself. Kate goes ballistic, accuses Hal of trying to manipulate his way into the soon-to-be-open Secretary of State position, tries to cancel the meeting, and then sends Hayford to babysit.

The timing is terrible for Hal since this also pushes Kate even closer to Dennison. She even wears the lovely red gown that was packed for the ball to make a big impression.

Who hired Roman Lenkov?

However, the big moment is ruined when Kate finally gets the French to sign off on the “arrest” of Lenkov, only to be informed that it’s really intended to be an assassination. The British Special Forces have no intention of allowing Lenkov to be taken alive.

Kate storms out, and Dennison follows. Both discuss why Trowbridge, who would have to authorize such a hit, would want Lenkov dead. Wouldn’t it be better than he be arrested, alive, so he can expose who hired him?

Both reach the same realization at the same time. The only person who would want Lenkov dead is the person who hired him – Nicol Trowbridge.

At the same time, both Hal and Hayford approach Merritt Grove, who pulls open the door to his car… which explodes. The casualties of the blast are unclear as we end The Diplomat Season 1 in a moment of confusion and panic.

And that completes our recap of The Diplomat Season 1. What was your favourite episode? Comment below.

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