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S06.E02: The Strike Zone

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I can't believe the writers didn't use the opportunity for Henry to say "Just a bit outside" in the WH training room.  Is the phrase trademarked?

It looked like the Senate Committee was taking a really long time to get to the actual controversy, that of the death and reaction of the old Senator at the campaign stop.  Why not just start with that point, rather than listen to Mike B ramble on about the bird, the road, the food, etc.

Just as an aside, in one of her early roles, Tea' Leoni played first base on the other team in A League of Their Own.  I don't remember if the movie had her throwing the ball.

I liked that exchange:  "Why is your coffee always so good?"  "That's above your pay grade, ma'am."

So Bess decides that since some protesters don't like the gas tax, it should be abandoned.  What happens if she can't drum up other funding (which never seems to be a problem on this show), and she starts getting pushback from organizations and people that would benefit from those projects?  Politics is a zero sum game.  Someone always loses a bit.

Chinese take-out?  In the White House?  You have a kitchen staff there, you know.

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I love that Nina from the State Department is coming over to work for Russell.  Yes, that was telegraphed with an anvil during the show, but I think it will be a relationship to savor in the coming episodes.  I loved how she nutted up and got tough in her own way when that ambassador first was mean to her, then later gave her advice as part of his apology.  I'm sorry they killed him off, he was an interesting character. 

Help me.  I'm liking Stevie. I even felt sorry for Dmitri when I saw his face after seeing Stevie's IG photo on her date.

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13 hours ago, Dowel Jones said:

.I liked that exchange:  "Why is your coffee always so good?"  "That's above your pay grade, ma'am."

Is it just me, or did the rest of you observed some fresh sparks flying between Stevie and Blake? Is it just me. or do the rest of you remember. similar chemistry between the President's receptionist and the President's first daughter on the West Wing?

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17 minutes ago, MaryHedwig said:

Is it just me, or did the rest of you observed some fresh sparks flying between Stevie and Blake? Is it just me. or do the rest of you remember. similar chemistry between the President's receptionist and the President's first daughter on the West Wing?

Yes, I thought I saw some flirting going on, but when Dmitri returns, who knows what will happen.

As for The West Wing receptionist, do you mean the President's body man (personal aide) Dule Hill?  Bartlett's receptionists or personal secretaries were Mrs. Landingham and her successor played by Lily Tomlin.

 

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14 hours ago, Dowel Jones said:

It looked like the Senate Committee was taking a really long time to get to the actual controversy, that of the death and reaction of the old Senator at the campaign stop.  Why not just start with that point, rather than listen to Mike B ramble on about the bird, the road, the food, etc.

I think Mike was trying to drag things out. In that first scene the lawyer said something about running out the clock so they could break until tomorrow.

It seemed like a bit of a stretch for the Senate Committee to be accusing Mike B of causing the senators death. That guy looked really old and not in good health. It was certainly shifty to run out of there, but not illegal.

I'm wondering about Blake.....is being receptionist to the president really a step up from the promotion he got last season? It is clearly a important and high stakes job, but after Bess is out of office won't he be out?

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1 hour ago, buckboard said:

As for The West Wing receptionist, do you mean the President's body man (personal aide) Dule Hill?  Bartlett's receptionists or personal secretaries were Mrs. Landingham and her successor played by Lily Tomlin

You are correct. Maybe I got confused because 'Dule' and Blake are both so good at their jobs, and fiercely devoted.

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When Blake & Stevie kissed last season, I really thought it would develop into something, even though she just said afterwards "Real friends though, right?"

I didn't like her with Dmitri, and I just don't think their relationship would ever work out.  I think a guy like that would always be a risk and a target for some enemy somewhere.  I didn't even LIKE Stevie the first 2 seasons, but now I find she's one of my favorites.  Probably because of her working for Russell, whom I adore.  

Jason was vaguely there and didn't annoy me.  I'm not missing Noodle in the least.  I'm like Mike B, she's just the forgotten-name, middle McCord child to me.  *LOL*

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I occasionally watch this by osmosis because another member of my household watches it; but I may be tuning more often to hear Wentworth Miller's voice! /shallow

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I'll admit I laughed pretty hard at Bess' fantasy of knocking out Mr. Met with her pitch.  I also liked the idea of Mike B. having murdered that Maine State Senator to avoid Bess being embarrassed during the campaign, even if it wasn't true.

Otherwise, I thought the episode was kind of boring.  I don't care about the potential Stevie love triangle, and I really don't understand why Bess' Oval Office color scheme seems to be gray on gray.  It makes the whole place look so dour.      

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Yes, Tea WAS in A League of Their Own...and all those actors had to do a baseball boot camp. I don't like that they try to make Bess more relatable by having her not being good at something. 

Also, I DO NOT CARE ABOUT DMITRI. Oh, please go away that plot line. (If they're going to bring back anyone, make it Sara Ramirez or Bebe Neuwirth.)

The gas tax plotline actually did have several purposes: if Bess walks back a policy based on public outcry, is it weak (as Russell says), or is her pivoting based on re-evaluating the situation? And, as Henry points out: we haven't had a woman president. We have to see what she's like by letting her lead. (I'm liking Henry more than almost any other season. Please don't let him have to step in and fly Air Force One.) Finally he fulfills has Arm Candy promise as FGOTUS!

And I think the whole dead Senator thing was being used as an example of how the opposing party (whichever that is) will do anything to create dissension and knock the president out...including making up things out of whole cloth.

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This episode was good, but why, OH WHY, do we need more Dmitri? They shouldn't even *touch* something as dicey as a spy until a few months after that treaty is set in stone!

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Testing tire pressure is always a good idea!

We have a Carbon Tax here in Canada, which has met with varrying amounts of pushback.

In McCord's case, the scheme could work if it there was some sort of "Cash for Clunkers" program and other ways to encouirage drivers to trade in gas guzzlers for electric cars or hybrids. And POTUS may want to look at her own motorcade to set a good example. A callback to the time when she asked her driver not to idle the car all night.

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8 hours ago, kwnyc said:

(I'm liking Henry more than almost any other season. Please don't let him have to step in and fly Air Force One.)

Well, now that you’ve typed it out loud…

😉

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1 hour ago, marinw said:

...trade in gas guzzlers for electric cars or hybrids...

You realize electric cars have to be charged up, right?  With current generated by power stations burning coal, oil, uranium, etc?  Electric cars only shift the pollutants from your tailpipe to the chimney of your nearby generating station.

Also: A couple years ago some British agency for the environment publicly announced that by 2030 all cars in Britain would be electric. Next day, the Generating Board pointed out that there aren't enough power stations in the country to charge all vehicles in Britain (were they electric), as well as provide for normal, daily power usage, and that it would be physically impossible to build enough new power stations to handle the job by 2030.

Electric cars are not the obvious solution they appear to be.

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14 hours ago, kwnyc said:

Please don't let him have to step in and fly Air Force One.

OMG.  You just had to put this out there, didn't you?  *facepalm*

It is inevitable.  Should we start a betting pool?  My money is on November sweeps.

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I loved Blake singing "Amazing Grace" over the dead bird's grave and then quickly finishing once he realized everyone had walked away.  I also like dopey-tired Bess at the Quilting Festival.  LOL moments for me which I appreciate in a show that tackles such serious things.

Ugh, no to Dmitri.  Nononononono...

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1 hour ago, MerBearHou said:

I loved Blake singing "Amazing Grace" over the dead bird's grave and then quickly finishing once he realized everyone had walked away.  I also like dopey-tired Bess at the Quilting Festival.  LOL moments for me which I appreciate in a show that tackles such serious things.

Yes. This season seems to be shaping up to be one of the best.
  
  

1 hour ago, MerBearHou said:

Ugh, no to Dmitri.  Nononononono...

So say we all. Am I right?
If there must be Dmitri, let it be as in this episode:

  1. Other characters *briefly* mention the existence (or non-existence) of Dmitri
  2. *Very brief* shot of Dmitri in a land far far away.

Maybe somewhere around the penultimate episode, that distant peek at The Life And Times Of Dmitri Petrov will consist of him exchanging joyful nuptials with someone NOT Stevie in Russia or the Canadian Yukon or in an Inuit village.

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So, I've already made my Mike B hate extremely clear; however, I think my hatred also extends to Kevin Rahm.  I just think the dude is a sucky actor, he has no setting other than smug dickhead (even when he's aiming for sympathetic, he still manages to be an abrasive shithead), and the way he pronounced "Iran" and "Bangor" in this episode made me want to punch him in the face.  Sadly for me, we're likely stuck with him through the end. *barf

Along the same lines, Dmitri?  Really, show?  WHOOOOOO CAAAAAARRRRRRES?  No one fucking cares.  You ditched Jay, Noodle, Kat, and even Matt for Dmitri and Nina (about whom I also don't give two shits)?  Awful.

Edited by NUguy514
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And Henry telling the Chief of Staff how to handle Potus.  Think not.  Time to step back Henry and remember your place in the pecking order.

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11 hours ago, shapeshifter said:

Yes. This season seems to be shaping up to be one of the best.
  
  

So say we all. Am I right?
If there must be Dmitri, let it be as in this episode:

  1. Other characters *briefly* mention the existence (or non-existence) of Dmitri
  2. *Very brief* shot of Dmitri in a land far far away.

Maybe somewhere around the penultimate episode, that distant peek at The Life And Times Of Dmitri Petrov will consist of him exchanging joyful nuptials with someone NOT Stevie in Russia or the Canadian Yukon or in an Inuit village.

You know, now that you uttered the phrase "the penultimate episode, that distant peek at The Life And Times Of Dmitri Petrov" that means that the entirety of the penultimate episode will be dedicated to Dmitri, and the series finale will be dedicated to Henry's grief

6 hours ago, cameron said:

And Henry telling the Chief of Staff how to handle Potus.  Think not.  Time to step back Henry and remember your place in the pecking order.

I would have liked if Russel had said something more to Henry, since yeah, she's his wife, but his wife is the leader of the free world.

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I love this show so much. I remember squeeing and binging when I found it in S2 and it hasn't disappointed.

They don't need to scrape the barrel for ideas and Bess is the perfect amount of intelligence and empathy. She wins enough but has some bad losses too to keep things balanced.

I was dreading the Senate inquiry thing but they've kept it pretty humourous. It's serious but not dour so I'm enjoying it.

I like the idea that obviously Mike B didn't kill the senator but yet I can see him doing it 🤣

I am  probably one of the few who liked Henry's argument with Russell about Bess. He came off as encouraging husband to me and in that moment he was speaking from the perspective of a husband who wanted his wife to fly free.

I actually agree with Russell and think it's an awful idea to walk back that fuel tax (I don't get why she did it, felt OOC for Bess) but I appreciate where Henry was coming from.

Hell let him fly Airforce One and save everyone while he and Bess banter as they're navigating the crisis. It would be awesome 😂

Love love love the new Bess and Russell dynamics and how weird it is that he has to be nice to her even though he looks like he's going to pop a vein. 

Is Keith Carradine going to make an appearance? Loved Conrad and Bess's friendship. It'll feel like something is missing if he never shows up again.

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12 hours ago, Mellowyellow said:

Love love love the new Bess and Russell dynamics and how weird it is that he has to be nice to her even though he looks like he's going to pop a vein. 

My fave relationship in the whole show!

I just wish Stevie was still working for him, then her boss would be bossed around by her mom....*LOL*  Talk about potential for a Russell exploding head!

Have we gotten any idea of what Stevie is doing?  Is she living in the WH with Capt. Dr. Professor FGOTUS Arm Candy and grumpy kid?

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8 hours ago, leighdear said:

Have we gotten any idea of what Stevie is doing?  Is she living in the WH with Capt. Dr. Professor FGOTUS Arm Candy and grumpy kid?

They have referred to her working for amnesty international. There was also a comment that made me think she wasn't living at the white house, but I can't remember exactly. Maybe she is living in Bess and Henry's place in DC? I assume they wouldn't have sold when they moved into the WH, cause they have to have somewhere to go when she finishes her term(s). 

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Late to the party:

On 10/18/2019 at 7:54 PM, KaveDweller said:

I assume they wouldn't have sold when they moved into the WH, cause they have to have somewhere to go when she finishes her term(s). 

They never sold the family farm, so I would imagine that they'd go there rather than the house in DC. I think it would be much more convenient in terms of security as they'd have the land to build a guest house for the Secret Service and you have fewer tourists stopping by. I don't think anyone would want to live in Georgetown after having been President and even less so when you've been the first female President.

 

On 10/15/2019 at 7:41 AM, marinw said:

 And POTUS may want to look at her own motorcade to set a good example. A callback to the time when she asked her driver not to idle the car all night.

From what I understand, it was ony for one night though. Blake said it would need an act of Congress and the President can't overrule that. So, unless they addressed that issue off-screen and she got it done, I don't think the President has any more power over that than over the Secretary of State's motorcade.

What I believe she could do is getting more fuel efficient cars though.

On 10/14/2019 at 11:28 PM, kwnyc said:

Yes, Tea WAS in A League of Their Own...and all those actors had to do a baseball boot camp. I don't like that they try to make Bess more relatable by having her not being good at something.

Do you mean throwing out the pitch? Since she didn't embarrass herself, I didn't mind that she had difficulties at first. I think it's pretty realistic - if you don't normally throw a ball it's probably likely that you're not good at it right away.

.

I could have done without the nightmare or, at least, I could have done with a shorter one, and I thought the press conference at the beginning was just this much too long (maybe drifting into a voice-over style half-way through would have been a good idea?) but other than that, I liked the episode.

While predictable, I liked that they touched on the gender issue and especially, how they touched on it and dealt with it.

Absolutely loved Russell in this episode. He’s such a great character and while it may be a stretch that he’d have truly come back, I don't mind that they brought him back at all.

I’m glad that they didn’t just brush past the fact that he was somewhat antagonistic at times during Bess’ tenure as Sec of State and acknowledged the changed dynamic. I also thought it was a cute touch that she was chalking up his niceness to the fact that he had to be nice to her now. It’s not "he had to be not nice to her before" or he might be genuinely complimenting her, no, it’s he has to be nice now.
That said, I imagine that it would be a bit difficult to believe that he’s sincere now after he’s been so critical for four plus years. I also find it a bit weird that he’s calling her ma’am now. “Madam President” feels okay, probably because he’s referred to her as Secretary of State or Madam Secretary before but ma’am is just a little odd. (It’s those moments that make me miss campaign and transition episodes. It feels like the characters all had time to get used to the change and the viewers didn’t).

Russell’s expression when he was offered breakfast was priceless. So was Henry’s when he and Bess were talking about the food. And I could certainly relate to Bess' comment about cashew cheese. It's not something I would want to try.

I'm curious though what the whole healthy eating thing is all about. Since it hasn't come up with Conrad and he didn't strike me as the kind of guy who would have kept a diet that included cashew cheese and old-fashioned oats, did Bess and Henry hire a chef who specializes in that kind of food? If so why? I recall Bess making a comment about all the state dinners and her liver being able to metabolize gasoline, so did they decide to go the healthy food route to eat healthy when they don't have state dinners? But even if they did, couldn't they just tell the chef to make something else if they wanted something else? Or did they hire one of those people who are immensely proud of what they do and get offended when you ask them to move away from their specialty?
Anyway, I thought it was a bit confusing.

Loved the scene of Russell coming back into his office bumbling and talking to his assistant while he didn’t catch a word. And while I get where Nina was coming from, I also understand that Russell can’t afford an assistant who can’t tell when she is worked for information and I don’t think that is something that you can necessarily learn or that you have the time to learn. Even less so when this is the administration of the first female President.
Would Russell really have hired all those young assistants, though? Yes, he needed to so he could hire Nina but it seems a bit out of character for him.

I think my favorite part of the episode was the conversation between Henry and Russell. For once, I didn’t mind Henry getting involved. I did think it was a bit presumptuous of him to tell Russell what his job was after he’d done it for eight years, but Russell’s push back was great – although I’m not sure it’s a smart idea to tell the husband that he’s getting twice as many threat reports about the wife than he did for her predecessor.
But I loved the dynamic and how the conversation went and that they both were right in their own way and I especially loved what Henry said at the end of the conversation. The scene just works and I could watch it over and over.

Also loved the scene in the Oval Office afterwards, how Bess picked up on Russell having something to say and that she did not dismiss what Russell had to say outright. Russell is such a loyal servant and balancing loyalty and protectiveness with all the attacks and whatnots that he sees can't be easy.

I liked how they used the protesters to show that Bess is a different President and comes from a different (diplomatic) background and that they sort of built on what happened during the campaign town hall, and that she does listen.

On the other hand, I wish they had not used a gas tax as I don’t think that is the right issue she should have given in to. The last thing she did as Secretary of State was a climate migration deal and as her tenure as Secretary she also did a climate change deal, so, I think it would have been more fitting if they had used the issue to encourage people to drive more fuel efficient cars, to walk rather than drive short distances and to push for improvement to public transport in the cities, for more cities to get public transport and to make it more affordable etc.
I also have little sympathy for protesters who label her as out of touch when what she says was true. Sure, you have to spend a few minutes checking your tire pressure regularly but they did have the time to protest, so I'm sure they could do that as well. (Although, part of that should probably also have been the media's job. While they didn’t give us information on that, I wasn’t under the impression that it happened). 

Enjoyed the moment when Bess stops on her way out to throw the pitch to let them know that she would be backing off the gas tax. It was so very Bess.

I really liked the conversation between Bess and Henry after Bess’ nightmare or rather, I loved the little nuggets in it – the part about Allison and that Henry only hears from her when he’s lurking on her Instagram (it feels so true for a young adult like Allison) and Bess saying that she loves when it’s not up to her. It was just that one sentence but I still felt that it was relatable in so far that it made me aware of the tremendous responsibility resting on her shoulders. She certainly had decisions to make as Secretary of State but she also had to run several by someone else first and some decisions she didn’t have to make. Now, she has to make them all.

Did they really have to bring back Dmitri? If they had to bring back someone couldn’t they have brought back Jareth? Or how about Stevie simply has a normal relationship with a normal guy? The one she's dating now she seems nice. Not that I know why she has to be dating and why we have to give prescious minutes on screen to her dating life in the first place but since we apparently have to, why not without Dmitri?

I’m still not sure what to make of the Senate investigation/the Iran hack. I like that they use it to incorporate things from the campaign and that they’re still showing us parts of the campaign and even though I don’t think that they’re adding much to the actual story, I’m not sure I’d want to miss the flashbacks because I feel like this shortened season kind of robbed us of a campaign/transition (half)season.
I also don't mind the general idea of a Senator like Hanson and that he would launch an investigation (even if it does eat up precious screen time, too) as I don't find it hard to believe that it could happen.

But did it have to be an Iran hack/possible election interference? From interviews I’ve read, I understand their motives and what they want to achieve but I'm sure they could have achieved that with another election issue or non-issue or maybe even something election-unrelated (that does in some way connect to the campaign so that they can still show the flashbacks). Hanson does not strike me as the kind of guy who would have needed much of a reason to launch an investigation anyway, so they could easily have let him make an issue out of a non-issue and go from there.

Would vulnerability really have been Bess’ “superpower”? I can see how it would make her relatable. I could also see how some voters would have scoffed and taken it as proof that she was not tough enough to be commander-in-chief (even though she was at CIA, in Iraq, went to Iran, Algeria and Libya, just to name a few of the things she did that should proof that she’s plenty tough).

And whoever thought of including Mike’s comment about his own divorce is genius. I don’t think they mentioned that he’d gone through a messy divorce after S1, so kudos for remembering and throwing that in!

 

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