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S05E06: Eyjafjallajökull

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When the eruption of an Icelandic volcano strands Elizabeth at an airport in Ireland with the Turkish foreign minister, she tries to broker a deal with him to save the lives of thousands of Syrian refugees. Also, Henry gives advice to Alison about an awkward topic.

Sunday, Nov. 11

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This could've/maybe should've been a Valentines Day episode instead of a Veterans Day episode.

At the end, when Bess asked if she and Henry were fate or free will, and he said "fate," it was so very meta/4th-wall-breaking ('cause they're a real life couple who got together working as a couple on a great show).

Terrific job of blocking-camera work with the love-at-first-sight/mutual-attraction between Jay and the chess champion.

Noodle's relationship termination gave me a little PTSD to mine (plural) in the 70s. I guess it's like LSD. Every 4-5 years all the kids who had bad trips have graduated out of their respective high schools and colleges, so the new crop of kids have to find out for themselves. So sad.

They finally gave Kat some endearing lines. I liked the young Turkish woman telling Kat, "I like your hair," and then Kat responding with, "Your hijab's pretty rad" (even though I thought Kat's hair this week resembled that of someone who shall remain nameless).

ETA:

Bonus points for not just Chen, but Chen being all buff, and also the Chen-like Turkish ambassador.

Plus: Playing musical chairs with sandwiches and power ports was fun, but something is wrong with the idea that they were playing games to save the lives of desperate refugees — but I guess that's life — kind of like the old Doonesbury comics illustrating "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Edited by shapeshifter
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I liked the overhead camera view of both the US and Turkish delegations facing off on the black and white tiles.  Chess, anyone? And as soon as Chen mentioned the Chinese national team earlier, I knew that was going to be the key to the episode.

Maybe I missed the explanation, but were there no restaurants, convenience stores, or maybe, say, a pub, open while they were in Shannon?

Way to stick it to Russia, Henry.

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4 hours ago, NUguy514 said:

Oh god, this was the best, funniest episode in forever!

Yes—in spite of the great human tragedy that drove so much of the plot, which was in no way minimized (IMO) by the humor—which great writers have done before (Catch 22?). 

 They even used the "right" number (in classic comedy punch-line story-building) of attempts at pronouncing the name of the Icelandic volcano (Eyjafjallajökull):

Daisy: "Eya-flag-musk-hotel"? 
Bess: "aya-fliedyuck kerkle" 
   and "ayefahder-fardu . . . Uh, yak trolls"

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5 hours ago, Dowel Jones said:

Maybe I missed the explanation, but were there no restaurants, convenience stores, or maybe, say, a pub, open while they were in Shannon?

I was bemused because I thought the initial reason they were directed to the sandwich cart was because it was the only thing open at that time of night, but they were still at it when the next morning came...then again, it might've been the principle of it by then. You don't get between Bess and her stomach ;)

Agreed that this was a fun episode. (If built on a horrific foundation, but considering that almost none of the causes they champion are ever really low stakes, they as characters and we as viewers still need to be able to relax sometimes.) I even liked the scene with Henry, Alison, and Matt; it's always nice to see the dynamic of character combinations who don't typically interact.

Edited by Emma9
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You had to have quite the willing suspension of disbelief for this one, but I suppose there wouldn't have been a story if someone thought to find a restaurant open in the city of Shannon.  Or in a refrigerator at the American consulate.  Or from a restaurant at the airport that opened in the morning.

When the volcano blew a few years ago, people were stuck for several days.  Why didn't they go to a hotel, rather than stay at the airport?  Oh, the plot.

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17 hours ago, Emma9 said:

I was bemused because I thought the initial reason they were directed to the sandwich cart was because it was the only thing open at that time of night, but they were still at it when the next morning came...then again, it might've been the principle of it by then. You don't get between Bess and her stomach ;)

Agreed that this was a fun episode. (If built on a horrific foundation, but considering that almost none of the causes they champion are ever really low stakes, they as characters and we as viewers still need to be able to relax sometimes.) I even liked the scene with Henry, Alison, and Matt; it's always nice to see the dynamic of character combinations who don't typically interact.

Aren't places closed on Sunday in a lot of places? But I imagine at an airport these establishments would not be subject to those regs.

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6 hours ago, bros402 said:

Aren't places closed on Sunday in a lot of places?

Scotland!  OMG!  Seven hours on the road and I couldn't find a coffee to buy anywhere!

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I assume they were told to stay at the airport in case they got notice of a quick departure. But you can't tell me that at Shannon there's not a VIP lounge! (I fly into Dublin, which is huge, and there's always something open whenever a plane lands.) Also, Shannon's on the other side of the country from Dublin, which is where the Consulate/Ambassador's office is, so they couldn't go there and come back easily. (And that's probably why they chose Shannon for the airport to get diverted to...)

However...it was a really good episode, chess motif overload notwithstanding. Jay must have a pretty high opinion of himself to think that he can give a good chess game to the 8th ranked player in the world! Middle schools in Texas must be GOOD! However, the rapport that developed between the trapped diplomats seemed real, and I liked the subtext and then discussion of fate/chance.  And any chance to hear cast members sing is aces with me!

And hey, Noodle is growing up. For once, Bess was right when she told Henry to STAY OUT OF IT. Though, Gunnar? Really? Do better, Noodle! You're smarter than Stevie.

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I don't understand the ice cream protocol in that family. Noodle pulls out two containers of ice cream for her and Matt, two bowls, but then she eats out of the container. Bess comes home, tries a salad. It's apparently no good and she spits it out. Next scene, she's eating ice cream out of the container. If you're ever invited over to their home and are offered ice cream, make sure it's an unopened container. 

Kat's outfits continue to amuse me. 

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On ‎11‎/‎13‎/‎2018 at 8:04 AM, kwnyc said:

And hey, Noodle is growing up. For once, Bess was right when she told Henry to STAY OUT OF IT.

Although Henry was right when he told Noodle that non-committal was all well and good until one of the parties unwittingly becomes … um... committal.  Poor Noodle.  

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20 hours ago, roughing it said:

Although Henry was right when he told Noodle that non-committal was all well and good until one of the parties unwittingly becomes … um... committal.  Poor Noodle.  

Kinda like Noodle, per the end of the ep.

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On ‎12‎.‎11‎.‎2018 at 9:00 AM, shapeshifter said:

Yes—in spite of the great human tragedy that drove so much of the plot, which was in no way minimized (IMO) by the humor—which great writers have done before (Catch 22?). 

I think the show does an excellent job of putting comic relief in episodes that have a heavy or serious subject. They have a lot of them by nature - so many world problems are less than fun - so if you don't have writers that can manage to balance it well, a show would probably lose its appeal.

 

On ‎12‎.‎11‎.‎2018 at 3:23 AM, Dowel Jones said:

Maybe I missed the explanation, but were there no restaurants, convenience stores, or maybe, say, a pub, open while they were in Shannon?

 

On ‎13‎.‎11‎.‎2018 at 10:04 AM, kwnyc said:

I assume they were told to stay at the airport in case they got notice of a quick departure. But you can't tell me that at Shannon there's not a VIP lounge!

I was a bit confused by that as well. I assumed that it was the VIP lounge for a few reasons: Bess was welcomed by that guy at the beginning, the airport was fairly empty, there was only a pub and the small cart with sandwiches and they were all moving around pretty freely. There also were no planes at the gates. But then, there was a shot where you could see the A7 sign. Could they have shot at a regular airport and were unable to remove the signs?

 

I enjoyed the episode. I thought it was well-balanced and well-paced.

I don't know if it was intentional but I thought the set-up of Bess' staff talking with the French, German and Saudis? (I didn't catch that) was interesting. They were being cooked for, enjoying food that costs a fortune while denying humanitarian aide to people who have nothing. It seemed the most obvious with the French, and I really thought Jay was going to point that out. As arrogant as they came across, I do understand the position of the Germans but the Saudi's (or whoever it was) position was laughable. Maybe they are giving more than the US measured by the GDP but the king and princes certainly can live with one house and a plane less. I bet, they don't have to refuel.

What was that look from the Turkish foreign minister to Bess at the beginning?

That conversation between Bess and Chen... I don't know who wrote this episode but Chen's denial of humanitarian aide and then the dismissal of Bess with the words that he has to save the world and meaning a virtual world - that was great. And so punch-in-the-face-worthy! Loved Bess' reaction to it.

I loved the phone conversation between Bess and Henry. I like how they manage to sneak in a reference to Bess' run for presidency every now and then. The entire episode wasn't about that but it still felt natural. And Bess' answer cracked me up. I also liked how the conversation went as a whole, that felt very natural as well.  

Did Alison really think she could sneak into the house unseen while her father was sitting in the office facing the stairs? But that dialogue and acting... Alison's facial expression was hilarious and line delivery, too!

I don't recall if the US granted asylum to the suspected Turkish coup leader in the previous season. I hope they did. Otherwise, I don't think it was necessary to throw that in.

The Turkish foreign minister could have asked Bess to step aside instead of almost creating an international incident.

I completely forgot about Matt's girlfriend. Nice that they didn't. I also liked that they found a way to include Matt in the episode and somewhat into the story. I don't know if this is the first scene he and Henry had together but they, too, work well together.

And great acting again when Henry reacted to Alison's comments about monogamy. The whole conversation and reactions were done so, so well!

I liked the tidbit of Henry and Bess background even if it wasn't much and not really something new. But it was nice that they had him remember and that they were committed so early on was not only a great contrast to Alison but to how many relationships are portrayed on TV as a whole.

I'm not sure Henry would have gotten involved in Alison's "love life" (if you can call it that) but I can see why he did. If your daughter starts with "maybe monogamy is too much for me" you probably do wonder where you went wrong as a parent. And what kind of attitude is that anyway? I understand that Alison got upset but wow, was she a brat in this episode. I don't think I've ever seen her like that.

I certainly admire Bess' patience with the Turkish delegation. I'm not sure I would have been able to stay polite for as long as Bess did but I did like how the relationship gradually thawed and how they portrayed that. I think they made great use of optics in this episode. (That the Turkish joined the Americans in the pub while Bess and the foreign minister stayed at a distance and were seated in chairs with their backs to each other etc). And that Bess and the Turkish foreign minister bonded over their inability to sing was cute. One of those examples that the writers know how to insert comic relief into the episodes.

It took me a moment to realize that Blake was holding up a piece of paper with the United States seal while Bess was having the video chat with the Russian foreign minister. I mean, seriously?

I thought for sure that there'd be a fight over who gets to take-off first though. Maybe they cut it for time?

I laughed out loud at the pet hippo! How could they deliver those lines with a straight face?

But a visa? Wouldn't it be more of a customs/quarantine waiver?

I was a bit slow to catch on to the chess theme but I don't play. But once the Dutch chess player mentioned that the Russian guy cheated, it was obvious that Bess would use that to get the money. And I enjoyed the overall theme/set-up and that Bess went to the Chinese and not the Russians. But I wouldn't have minded if Bess and the Turkish foreign minister had been able to work something out and if that had included the US taking in more refugees. Yes, money is important but so is actually taking refugees. And reducing arms deals that support the wars that create the refugees.

Shouldn't Bess have pointed out to the Turkish foreign minister that the US could just as easily block their desire to become a rotating security council member?

I have mixed feelings about Henry's rant. It seemed to be about so much more than just a chess game. I mean, it technically was because it was about Russia's cheating in general but it felt like it needed to be about more than Russia even. The show just hasn't had the stories to set this up. It was a real-life rant in a fake universe where things that would have warranted it didn't happen. Or, at least, they weren't subject of any episodes, so, I was waiting for Bess to ask Henry what was going on and what this was really about.

Thanks show for ending with a cute Bess and Henry scene!

On the fashion front: are crop tops really in again? Must they be? (And does Alison have to wear them in every episode especially when they're airing in fall/winter? I know they couldn't predict how cold it would in the DC area this time of year but Henry was wearing long sweat pants and a sweater to go for a run!)

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16 minutes ago, CheshireCat said:

It took me a moment to realize that Blake was holding up a piece of paper with the United States seal while Bess was having the video chat with the Russian foreign minister. I mean, seriously

I missed that. If I ever rewatch, hopefully I'll notice. 

 

17 minutes ago, CheshireCat said:

was a bit slow to catch on to the chess theme but I don't play.

That's how it is for me whenever a show has a poker scene. 

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@CheshireCat Bess's staff was talking to the Emiratis (from the United Arab Emirates), not the Saudis. :-D

It was so petty, but I loved the different factions using food, electricity, and bathrooms as negotiation tools.

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2 hours ago, NUguy514 said:

@CheshireCat Bess's staff was talking to the Emiratis (from the United Arab Emirates), not the Saudis. :-D

Thanks.

It would have been fun if they had used Bahrain and a brother of the guy who was shot in S1.

 

10 hours ago, shapeshifter said:

That's how it is for me whenever a show has a poker scene. 

I don't play that either ;-)

 

A couple more thoughts: what are the odds that Jay and the Dutch chess player have a chance? Matt and Roni I get. She's originally from the US and she is "just" deployed. But the Dutch chess player is based on the Netherlands and Jay doesn't really have much time to travel. When he travels it's to different parts of the world and when she travels it's to where chess games are.

So, they made Henry part of Bess' staff now, too? She told him to go call the President at the end to give him his advice. All fine and well, but Bess should make the request for the waiver first. I highly doubt that Henry can make it on her behalf. It would look very odd and I don't think that's how it works especially since it's completely unrelated to Henry. I wish they had taken the time and shown him coming back and handing her the phone because she has to make the request first. Or that Henry wasn't really going to get the phone and that this was something that would be dealt with the following day.

Oh, and where did all the people go when Bess fell asleep at the table in the airport at the end?

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3 hours ago, CheshireCat said:

what are the odds that Jay and the Dutch chess player have a chance? Matt and Roni I get. She's originally from the US and she is "just" deployed. But the Dutch chess player is based on the Netherlands and Jay doesn't really have much time to travel.

They could have them get together if she plays a tournament in DC, and then if there's only one more season, they could have a lot Skype angst finally resolved when Jay announces he's moving to The Netherlands. Or some other variation on that theme, including a version in which they break up because of the chrono-geographical obstacles.

Edited by shapeshifter

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21 minutes ago, shapeshifter said:

They could have them get together if she plays a tournament in DC, and then if there's only one more season, they could have a lot Skype angst finally resolved when Jay announces he's moving to The Netherlands. Or some other variation on that theme, including a version in which they break up because of the chrono-geographical obstacles.

Are there that many chess tournaments in DC?

They established that Jay has WH ambitions in S1. They haven't revisited that issue but now that he does get a shot at the WH, I'm not sure he'd just move to the Netherlands. I'm also not sure he'd move because it would mean he'd barely get to see Chloe.

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37 minutes ago, CheshireCat said:

'm also not sure he'd move because it would mean he'd barely get to see Chloe.

True. I wasn't thinking of that. 

 

37 minutes ago, CheshireCat said:

Are there that many chess tournaments in DC?

It only takes one to be sure it's Twu Wuv.

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But a visa? Wouldn't it be more of a customs/quarantine waiver?

I know the answer to this one! My wife works as an animal handler at JFK, and animals traveling from some countries DO have to have a visa! (Along with a bunch of clearances.)

Also, the Dutch player could also get a job as a college chess coach in the US. (My alma mater, UMBC, which is in the Balt/Wash corridor, has won the national chess championship at least 8 times, and has a full-time coach and gives scholarships.)

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12 hours ago, kwnyc said:

I know the answer to this one! My wife works as an animal handler at JFK, and animals traveling from some countries DO have to have a visa! (Along with a bunch of clearances.)

That's interesting, thanks. I only know that our cat doesn't need anything other than a health certificate from the vet and so far, only one out of three CBP officials wanted to see it.

 

12 hours ago, kwnyc said:

Also, the Dutch player could also get a job as a college chess coach in the US. (My alma mater, UMBC, which is in the Balt/Wash corridor, has won the national chess championship at least 8 times, and has a full-time coach and gives scholarships.)

Good point/idea. Would she still be able to do tournaments though? I guess, she could for the US? But she did seem to be a very proud Dutch.

While I hope that they'll keep the relationship on the down low like Matt's, I am curious to see where they're going with this.

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3 hours ago, CheshireCat said:

I am curious to see where they're going with this.

Matt and Roni, Jay and the chess champ, and Stevie and Dmitri all get a (rent-controlled) apartment in DC.  Zany hijinks ensue. 

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8 hours ago, Dowel Jones said:

Matt and Roni, Jay and the chess champ, and Stevie and Dmitri all get a (rent-controlled) apartment in DC.  Zany hijinks ensue. 

Well, CBS could use another hit sitcom! ;-)

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It took me a moment to realize that Blake was holding up a piece of paper with the United States seal while Bess was having the video chat with the Russian foreign minister.

When I caught on that that's what Blake was doing, I thought it was hilarious. I suppose it would be undignified if the Russian foreign minister realized that Elizabeth was actually crammed in a closet with her team members, to have the call (LOL), so they have to have a fake seal to make it seem like she's in an official conference room.

Nevertheless, I kept watching Blake during that scene, and was rewarded because after Elizabeth ended the call and Blake was free to stop holding up the paper, he shook his arm out and made a face like "Owwwww" which was so funny, and a nice touch, because that's exactly what I was thinking - how long has he been holding that paper up for the call?

Gotta love the little details... ❤️ 

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