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S04.E20: The Things We Get to Say

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Elizabeth must watch what she says and does when she deals with a refugee situation while being shadowed by Neal Shin, a newspaper reporter who may use his access to write a tell-all book.

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11 hours ago, MerBearHou said:

Love Tim Kang.  Great to see him again.  

I don't know anything about him, but he really made the episode.   Very little speaking, and yet he really stood out.

Overall, I thought it was a good episode, because it was different (having a journalist shadow Elizabeth).  I also liked the way Henry turned the conversation when the reporter asked him if he did government work.  Also Stevie's realization  that she may have said too much.   There were alot of subtleties in this episode and they all worked.

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Hi Tim Kang! This is quite a change from the FBI Agent from The Mentalist or that special forces guy in Rambo. I really liked his performance here. He was equal parts bitter, cynical, and still compassionate anyway. 

I also really liked Wallis Currie-Wood's performance when Stevie was talking to the reporter and slowly realizing how little of her shit she has put together.

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4 hours ago, Netfoot said:

WHAT is with the wet/dry vac fetish?!??

I think Bess has locked onto a gift that she knows has been incredibly useful to her in the past, but which isn't often thought of as a "gift" for celebratory occasions.  My mom sent me off to college with a Dustbuster hand  vacuum, and that thing got LOTS of use, since the shared vacuums in the dorms were always lost or broken when we needed them.  Since then, every time a niece or nephew or a friend's kid goes off to college, that's what I send with them.  I always get this puzzled look of "Huh?" when they open it, but the gift has been universally appreciated (based on feedback) by those I've given it to.  I've also been known to mail off random packets of large safety pins to my nieces, which always gets a "how did you know!" email back.  I'm down with the wet/dry vac fetish...

I loved this episode.  Just loved it.   Sometimes having an outside observer come in gives a different perspective on our familiar characters.  It is a common trope, but I don't mind it.  M*A*S*H used it very effectively several times, and Hawaii 5-0 had an episode like that in the early seasons.  If done right, it can give insights as well as advance the plot.  I'm not sure it advanced the plotline last night, but it certainly gave some very good character perspectives.  Loved the family interactions with him, Stevie's insecurity and Admiral-Professor Arm-Candy's deflection, loved that Bess owns her past, warts and all, and is open minded enough, or committed to the truth enough, that she strives for transparency and openness, even to her detriment.  

Tim Kang!  Oh, I had a terrible "who is that guy?  I know that guy?  From where?" moment, then y'all nailed it with The Mentalist.  He played it just right.  He was so stressed, and so dedicated.  I loved his quiet surprise at Bess owning her past, and refusing the thumb drive with the incriminating evidence.  And also his surprise at his warm-ish reception by her even after his article was less than completely flattering.  Kat's suspicion of his note writing, and his wry surrendering of his notes were spot on. 

 

Also?  I...think there's something else on that thumb drive that Bess either doesn't know about, or is deeply, deeply personal, because Tim Kang didn't bat an eye when she openly copped to her morally spotty past CIA activities, but his soft hesitation, then ultimately giving it to Blake for that mysterious "someday" tells me there's something more than Bess thinks on that drive.

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I would love to see him brought back for a recurring role of some sort. If not as a reporter, somewhere in the administration. 

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On ‎07‎.‎05‎.‎2018 at 2:21 PM, HurricaneVal said:

I loved this episode.  Just loved it.   Sometimes having an outside observer come in gives a different perspective on our familiar characters.  It is a common trope, but I don't mind it.  M*A*S*H used it very effectively several times, and Hawaii 5-0 had an episode like that in the early seasons.  If done right, it can give insights as well as advance the plot.  I'm not sure it advanced the plotline last night, but it certainly gave some very good character perspectives. 

I think the plotline was secondary. It was important as an issue but at the same time, I think what mattered were the different perspectives and how what Bess does looks like to an outsider. I also felt that it made the viewer see it through the journalists perspective. In some scenes it made sense, like when Bess talked to Morejon and the viewer was "stuck" with the journalist. But in the scene with Russell it didn't make much sense. We get these scenes all the time and yet, I still felt like I was seeing it through the eyes of the journalist. I felt I was observing more than I was participating, so that was some brilliant writing and directing, too.

 

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Tim Kang!  Oh, I had a terrible "who is that guy?  I know that guy?  From where?" moment, then y'all nailed it with The Mentalist

I'm so glad I read that it was him beforehand so I wasn't distracted by trying to figure out who he was.

 

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Also?  I...think there's something else on that thumb drive that Bess either doesn't know about, or is deeply, deeply personal, because Tim Kang didn't bat an eye when she openly copped to her morally spotty past CIA activities, but his soft hesitation, then ultimately giving it to Blake for that mysterious "someday" tells me there's something more than Bess thinks on that drive.

I'm not sure if it's more than Bess thinks or if it's merely more than we know. She was in the CIA for up to 20 years (they seem to have settled on that even if it doesn't quite fit with the rest of what they established but okay, nobody's perfect). She was a Middle East specialist, task force leader and apparently, quite the senior analyst towards the end of her career given what we've seen and were told. We know she was involved in at least one "enhanced interrogation" in Iraq, we also know that she was on the team sorting through the intel that came in before the embassy bombing. In season 2 she also told Henry that when she was an operative, she didn't know that she was in too deep before it was too late. And Conrad mentioned that she built her CIA career on weighing the greater good vs individual harm.

So, I don't think that it has to be something she doesn't know about or something personal. It's definitely possible but I think that there are a lot more skeletons like the ones which were mentioned in her closet. You probably don't get to where she was in the CIA at a time when she was in the CIA without more than one controversial interrogation.

 

19 hours ago, mythoughtis said:

I would love to see him brought back for a recurring role of some sort. If not as a reporter, somewhere in the administration. 

Would he be as fun in the administration? I'm not sure. I think part of his appeal was his quiet observing. I don't think that would work that well in the administration.

 

I'm definitely with HurricaneVal, I loved the episode. So many good parts in it, so many layers, and I loved the different perspective. I thought it was interesting that the journalist kind of seemed to be a journalistic Henry. I also think that I could have watched a conversation between the two on ethics. I got the impression that underneath it all they have the same moral compass but are coming at it from two different angles.

The scene between Henry and the journalist was so well done. You could sense that Henry was protective of Bess/his family but at the same time, he made a very good point that no one could really argue with.

Wouldn't the Stevie story be public knowledge though? I'm sure the WH would have issued a statement and I'm sure it would have leaked that Stevie was the one who found Russell and the WH would likely have confirmed that. And even if it didn't leak that the Secretary of State's daughter started working in the WH afterwards, I have a hard time believing that she hasn't run into anyone from the press pool in 2 years and that and how Stevie ended up working for Russell is still unknown to the public.

I was surpised that Stevie still plans to go to law school though. Where? When?

I missed the McCord's dysfunctional family dinners. They're fun to watch. Liked the call back to S1 when it was Alison who was whining about the break-up and Jason was the smart ass. I also thought that Herzer's line delivery in answer to how Bess' job impacts the family was perfect. The question and answer made me laugh out loud. And while that pretty much said it all, I wouldn't have minded to see some of the more elaborate answers.

I am a bit fuzzy about what the journalist was doing though. Was he writing a single article/profile about the public and private Secretary of State? That would have been a very long article. A multiple-part-piece would have made more sense especially since he apparently went into detail about issues, too. (And I'm not quite sure why that would be part of a profile).

The beginning was kind of fun with Daisy so opposed to him and Bess so thrilled. I expected to see more reluctance from Bess since she usually hates publicity but it makes sense since she's a friend of transparency, so that probably trumps her hate for publicity. And it also makes sense since she doesn't think she's got anything to hide.

I was surprised that no one at least suspected that Morejon found out about the Honduran refugees through the journalist. It seems like there really weren't that many people in the know about it. Or are we supposed to assume that it was just a shot in the dark from Morejon and he hit?

I'm still having difficulties reconciling Jay and Chief of Staff and Kat and policy advisor. Jay still doesn't seem to have enough presence to be chief of staff. He doesn't seem to commandeer a room. Nadine could. Bess can. Kat can. Even Blake and Daisy can. But somehow Jay can't.

One thing that I wish they would have challenged a little more is the journalist's idealistic point of view and that that may be fine for the public to have but Bess can't afford to have. I really wanted Bess to ask back what she was supposed to do regarding the private prisons. I mean, what was she supposed to do? Use the oppo research and blackmail Morejon into voting for the bill? What if he'll take his chances on it? What if he retaliates? What would they have gained then? What if Bess wouldn't have given in and struck that deal with the private prison guy? Then the kids would have been sent back, and the immigration reform would have been held hostage.

Yes, Bess gave someone who probably doesn't deserve it a second chance. But she also got done everything she needed to get done. And while I agree with what the journalist said to her about what the public wants, it seemed like an odd thing to say and odd thing to say in that scene. Again, what was she supposed to do? The public may want illusions but she can't afford to live in illusions. I'm sure she would love to but she needs to live in reality and I would have liked that emphasized a bit more, I think. Because, ultimately, it's people like her who give the public the possibility to live in illusions.

(And why did he look at the Afghanistan deal so one-sided when he's heard several sides now and even Bess' friend thinks that it might have been right and how did the Iran deal make the world less safe? They just started Phase 2 talks, so that sounded like they'd thrown it in there simply to mirror what certain parties say in RL not because it's accurate in the show's universe. I guess, the former is an example of having the luxury of being able to live in illusions again. The deal they made with the Taliban sucks and Bess is probably the first to admit it but the other option would have been to let the war continue. What kind of a chance would that have given Afghanistan?)

This reminded me a lot of S2 when Bess has the discussion with Will about how she sees every horrible angle and doesn't have the luxury of living on an island like he.

I also think that Bess' approval ratings disagree with what the journalist said. She's always done things like that and it hasn't hurt her. To the contrary. I always assumed that that is because she's honest and people like honesty and because she gets things done and people like that, too.

What I liked the most, I think (there was a lot that I liked so it's hard to say) is that the journalist's view changed. I don't think that he necessarily went into the interview biased, as Henry suggested. I think he went in with the distrust of politicians and cynicism that many journalists have. But that's not even what I mean, though he did seem to realize that she's simply honest. But he thought she was hurting her chances to become President with how she did things and that changed. I'm not sure why it changed, maybe that has something to do with writing the story and writing "the truth" as his wife told him to. But I liked that, I liked the sublety of it. I liked the sublety of the entire end, really.

Stevie's awkwardness was fun when Bess came to see Russell and that discussion between Bess and Russell and Bess' insistence that it was off-the-record was hilarious. Absolutely loved it! (And we got a call-back to the oppo research, too!)

What I thought was interesting was that Bess didn't argue when the journalist mentioned that "if she wants to lead the country". And Russell wanted the journalist to follow her and she agreed even though she probably knew why he wanted it? Okay then. It looks like Bess' weakness is that she can't say no when someone asks her to serve. Which is kind of cute and quite the unique weakness to have.

All in all it was another episode that I wouldn't have minded had it been longer even if I can't say that I missed something specifically. It was just fun to watch and I would have liked to have more to watch.

Edited by CheshireCat
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This was not my favorite episode.  The reporter's presence changed the whole dynamic.  I get it that this was the point -- for us to view the characters and plot through a different lens ... but, for me, one of things I really enjoy about the series is the chemistry of Elizabeth's team.  It was a great acting by Tim Kang but he sure did kill the vibe among the other cast members this week.

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Loved loved loved this episode. It was such a quiet and understated episode but beautifully written. I watch a fair bit of garbage during the week so this is like a cleanse. 

I just adore Bess. She's compassionate, honest and somewhat idealistic even though her actions are always grounded in reality. I love that the way they write her, she's genuinely trying to do her best, be her best self (owning her past actions, won't use oppo research) but yet she thinks of practical solutions and works with what she's got to do what she needs to do. 

Tea Leoni is perfect in this role. 

The wet dry bag thing is hilarious ?

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On 5/7/2018 at 2:21 PM, HurricaneVal said:

I think Bess has locked onto a gift that she knows has been incredibly useful to her in the past, but which isn't often thought of as a "gift" for celebratory occasions.  My mom sent me off to college with a Dustbuster hand  vacuum, and that thing got LOTS of use, since the shared vacuums in the dorms were always lost or broken when we needed them.  Since then, every time a niece or nephew or a friend's kid goes off to college, that's what I send with them.  I always get this puzzled look of "Huh?" when they open it, but the gift has been universally appreciated (based on feedback) by those I've given it to.  I've also been known to mail off random packets of large safety pins to my nieces, which always gets a "how did you know!" email back.  I'm down with the wet/dry vac fetish...

I loved this episode.  Just loved it.   Sometimes having an outside observer come in gives a different perspective on our familiar characters.  It is a common trope, but I don't mind it.  M*A*S*H used it very effectively several times, and Hawaii 5-0 had an episode like that in the early seasons.  If done right, it can give insights as well as advance the plot.  I'm not sure it advanced the plotline last night, but it certainly gave some very good character perspectives.  Loved the family interactions with him, Stevie's insecurity and Admiral-Professor Arm-Candy's deflection, loved that Bess owns her past, warts and all, and is open minded enough, or committed to the truth enough, that she strives for transparency and openness, even to her detriment.  

Tim Kang!  Oh, I had a terrible "who is that guy?  I know that guy?  From where?" moment, then y'all nailed it with The Mentalist.  He played it just right.  He was so stressed, and so dedicated.  I loved his quiet surprise at Bess owning her past, and refusing the thumb drive with the incriminating evidence.  And also his surprise at his warm-ish reception by her even after his article was less than completely flattering.  Kat's suspicion of his note writing, and his wry surrendering of his notes were spot on. 

 

Also?  I...think there's something else on that thumb drive that Bess either doesn't know about, or is deeply, deeply personal, because Tim Kang didn't bat an eye when she openly copped to her morally spotty past CIA activities, but his soft hesitation, then ultimately giving it to Blake for that mysterious "someday" tells me there's something more than Bess thinks on that drive.

all of this. thank you for saving me the time of having to type it myself!! :-)

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The minute I saw the journalist, I was all, "It's CHO! I've missed you!" LOL. I loved him on The Mentalist. He was my favorite character (along with Simon Baker's, of course).

I know it's not the usual type of episode, and they can't do that kind of thing all the time, but I liked the fresh take, seeing him observing them all, and watching them do their best to protect Madam Secretary and protect and defend the work that they do, even when it's difficult. And I thought Tim Kang did a fantastic job. It made for a very interesting episode.

On a side note, I thought he was going to give the drive to Daisy (which might make her lighten up on him a little, LOL). But giving it to Blake is good, too. (And I liked Blake's wary eyeballing of the flash drive and saying carefully, "What is it?" That was fun.)

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Did Blake take a chocolate pastry off of Bess' plate?

Yeah! What was up with that?? I thought maybe they'd explain it eventually, but they never went back to it. (I think it was a brownie, or something like that.) I loved the look Elizabeth gave him as he kept right on walking away with it, too. Funny.

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40 minutes ago, sinkwriter said:

On a side note, I thought he was going to give the drive to Daisy

So did I.

 

40 minutes ago, sinkwriter said:

Yeah! What was up with that?? I thought maybe they'd explain it eventually, but they never went back to it. (I think it was a brownie, or something like that.) I loved the look Elizabeth gave him as he kept right on walking away with it, too. Funny.

Maybe they had an explanation in that or another episode and it had to be cut for time? I'm thinking that it was somthing along the lines of Bess having made a comment to Blake that she needs to eat healthier or Blake simply looking out for her since she is eating a lot of pastries.

It was definitely a cute, fun moment.

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Was that an entirely real baby, or was there some CGIing going on to make it look at Tim Kang so alertly and so directly and to smile right at him with perfect timing?

 

On May 8, 2018 at 2:02 PM, CheshireCat said:

I missed the McCord's dysfunctional family dinners. They're fun to watch.

The McCord family dinners are the antithesis of the near perfect Reagan family dinners (on Blue Bloods)—in a good way.

 

5 hours ago, sinkwriter said:
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Did Blake take a chocolate pastry off of Bess' plate?

Yeah! What was up with that?? I thought maybe they'd explain it eventually, but they never went back to it. (I think it was a brownie, or something like that.) I loved the look Elizabeth gave him as he kept right on walking away with it, too. Funny

I missed this entirely, but if several of you saw it, I really hope it wasn't a poison brownie meant for Elizabeth that will kill off Blake! ???????

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Best part of the episode - so little of Henry.  

I would hope given the current climate of cyber threats, no government employee would accept a flash drive from a reporter (or anyone else!) and ever consider checking it out on their government issued computer.  That's a really good way for a staff person to get fired.  I know that Blake just dropped it into his desk drawer, but there's no way he should have taken it or kept it in his desk.  It should have been treated as the potential weapon it could be.  

Agree with the usefulness of a gift like a wet/dry vac.  I've given the following to friends when they are moving - a box with toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap, Band-Aids, a package of 60-watt light bulbs, a pair of utility scissors, a container of chocolate chip cookies, and a gift card for Target or Menards or a local greenhouse.   All have been greatly appreciated. 

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20 hours ago, Calvada said:

I would hope given the current climate of cyber threats, no government employee would accept a flash drive from a reporter (or anyone else!) and ever consider checking it out on their government issued computer.  That's a really good way for a staff person to get fired.  I know that Blake just dropped it into his desk drawer, but there's no way he should have taken it or kept it in his desk.  It should have been treated as the potential weapon it could be.   

For a moment, I had that thought as well: what if he accepted the book deal offer and there's a virus of sorts on the flash drive that gives those from the book deal access to the computer? Or even if he didn't accept the offer and they gained access to his computer and would accidentially gain access to the State Department's.

But, I think that while this is a possibility in the real world, I don't think MSec is that kind of show. And if the drive were plugged into the State Department's/government's computers, it would likely trigger an alarm/firewall. I would imagine that the journalist has a pretty sophisticated firewall/virus program as well since he'll likely get a lot of spam and in our day and age, possibly also flash drives from sources, so he'll want to be protected.

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21 hours ago, Calvada said:

Agree with the usefulness of a gift like a wet/dry vac.  I've given the following to friends when they are moving - a box with toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap, Band-Aids, a package of 60-watt light bulbs, a pair of utility scissors, a container of chocolate chip cookies, and a gift card for Target or Menards or a local greenhouse.   All have been greatly appreciated. 

That's a great suggestion list, @Calvada. Would a gift card for at least a large pizza +delivery at the local place be a good idea too? Or is that just for my family?

 

21 hours ago, Calvada said:

I would hope given the current climate of cyber threats, no government employee would accept a flash drive from a reporter (or anyone else!) and ever consider checking it out on their government issued computer.  That's a really good way for a staff person to get fired.  I know that Blake just dropped it into his desk drawer, but there's no way he should have taken it or kept it in his desk.  It should have been treated as the potential weapon it could be.  

I don't know why that didn't occur to me while watching, but Blake not only plunked it into his drawer, but had a deer-in-headlights look. I wonder if actor Erich Bergen was trying to convey some of those concerns that were missing from the script. 

The place where I work—a library filled with computer labs used by students—is a great place to check out a suspect flash drive's contents (rather than my home computer). During a recent IT audit, the one thing they were doing right was cyber security. But, yeah, if it wasn't a work-related flash drive, I would look at it on one of our a public computers that doesn't require a login and that is not in view of any security cameras, heh, but from the days of 5¼" floppies to the present, Neil Shin-types have never shared files with me.

Edited by shapeshifter

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