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S05. E12. Strategic Ambiguity

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Elizabeth must salvage a deal but risks triggering a war with China. Daisy is angry because Matt is not keeping a promise.

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Daisy can’t handle a sick dog?  Let’s hope her baby never has so much as a cold. 

Furthermore, grow up. You adopted this dog - not Matt.  ‘Helping’ you is not the same as keeping the dog 3 days a week. 

Edited by mythoughtis
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So that was September from Fringe (Michael Cerveris) as congressman Jeff. Oorah, indeed. There's some sort of irony there that it was the (ex)military man who succeeded in thwarting the Military Industrial Complex.
It could be interpreted as the guys having Elizabeth's back, but it came off to me as kind of paternalistic.

Even when he's scolding, Chen is a teddy bear because you know he's only singing a song for the Party.

It seemed like they had the funny "Waffles cone" joke and then felt obligated to have a (stupid) story to go with it.

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3 hours ago, shapeshifter said:

So that was September from Fringe (Michael Cerveris) as congressman Jeff. Oorah, indeed. There's some sort of irony there that it was the (ex)military man who succeeded in thwarting the Military Industrial Complex.
It could be interpreted as the guys having Elizabeth's back, but it came off to me as kind of paternalistic.

Even when he's scolding, Chen is a teddy bear because you know he's only singing a song for the Party.

It seemed like they had the funny "Waffles cone" joke and then felt obligated to have a (stupid) story to go with it.

Okay, I thought that congressman's head looked familiar.

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4 hours ago, mythoughtis said:

Daisy can’t handle a sick dog?  Let’s hope her baby never has so much as a cold. 

Furthermore, grow up. You adopted this dog - not Matt.  ‘Helping’ you is not the same as keeping the dog 3 days a week. 

But she only adopted him because Matt practically begged her to and under the condition that he would help. If memory serves, she didn't want the dog because she thought it would be too much with the baby and her job.

I thought his place doesn't allow pets though. Or maybe it was Kat's?

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4 hours ago, CheshireCat said:

But she only adopted him because Matt practically begged her to and under the condition that he would help. If memory serves, she didn't want the dog because she thought it would be too much with the baby and her job.

I thought his place doesn't allow pets though. Or maybe it was Kat's?

1. The dog needed medicine several times  a day a few days and the dog walker refused to do it.  She could have boarded the dog at the vets. 

2. She shoved that dog at Matt and yelled at him, ordering him to deal with the dog at work because her job was too busy.  She could have nicely requested his assistance. 

3.Matt ended up sleeping with the dog at work. Exactly what part of her job being too busy precluded her from taking the dog home with her when she went home and bringing him back when she came to work. 

4. She is the press/ public relations person for the Secretary of State and a single mother. I’m pretty sure she knows how to say No when she doesn’t want to do something- such as adopt a dog. 

5. Again, Matt helping her does not equate to taking the dog home 3 days a week every week. Matt got a special exemption from his landlord to do so. 

Edited by mythoughtis
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That was the calmest beagle dog I've ever seen.  It must have been drugged to the gills!

I just love the easy relationship between Bess and Chen.  They are tough on each other for work purposes, but they also genuinely like and respect each other.  Them chuckling together about "aboot" was a charming scene. 

I missed it at the top of the show:  What was Professor Admiral Hero Arm Candy's fighter pilot callsign again?

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As a Canadian I have to say we do NOT say aboot .  It’s about pronounced just like a bout  like out etc

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The wheels of law enforcement certainly turn fast in that version of the US; a mere few hours after the anonymous tip, FBI agents move in on the CEO of a major aeronautics company to arrest him.

32 minutes ago, milner said:

As a Canadian I have to say we do NOT say aboot .  It’s about pronounced just like a bout  like out etc

That is to be expected from a show where the writers' extensive research on Canada is always apparently conducted solely by attending repeated performances of the musical Come From Away.

They also can't resist a dumb easy joke, just like the "waffle cone" one. And it was a facile and cheap plot contrivance to get Elizabeth in a supposedly compromising situation with the Chinese minister.

And if they choose to set a meeting at the Québec Citadelle, they should make a better effort at making it actually look like a historic military fort. Instead, it looked like they were coming out of an old generic church on just any street anywhere.

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I know they just wanted to show the cute dog on TV again, but what the hell kind of workplace lets someone bring in their dog? I know some small companies do have policies like that, but this is the state department.

Aside from being distracting and unsanitary, some people have allergies, it seemed really inappropriate.  Especially if you can't be right by it the whole time to make sure it behaves.

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The writer actually got somethings right this episode - The congress people caring more about catering to the special interest who finances their campaigns, bickering non-stop, and getting nothing done, and the end shot of the three white guys toasting a win that wasn't a win.

I keep waiting in show for, when someone starts telling the USA they will consider such and such thing the USA does a major provocation, someone anyone to ask, "And you will do what?  Launch a nuclear weapon at a country who has enough nucks to blow up the entire planet.  Enjoy the two seconds you live after firing a nuck because at that point, it's over for all of us."

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Hmmm. Not overly happy with the fake emotional support animal solution that Matt came up with. Cute dog, pointless storyline.

7 hours ago, HurricaneVal said:

I missed it at the top of the show:  What was Professor Admiral Hero Arm Candy's fighter pilot callsign again?

St Henry...? I missed it too. 

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9 minutes ago, Xantia said:
8 hours ago, HurricaneVal said:

I missed it at the top of the show:  What was Professor Admiral Hero Arm Candy's fighter pilot callsign again?

St Henry...? I missed it too. 

Close. It's "Prophet."

 

2 hours ago, KaveDweller said:

I know they just wanted to show the cute dog on TV again

It was cute when she adopted it. Not so cute with the cone head. I guess that's the point?

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3 hours ago, KaveDweller said:

I know they just wanted to show the cute dog on TV again, but what the hell kind of workplace lets someone bring in their dog? I know some small companies do have policies like that, but this is the state department.

Aside from being distracting and unsanitary, some people have allergies, it seemed really inappropriate.  Especially if you can't be right by it the whole time to make sure it behaves.

Well Mike B brings his dog all the time, so there is precedent...

1 hour ago, shapeshifter said:

Close. It's "Prophet."

This makes so much more sense. I heard/understood it as 'profit' and was utterly confused.

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Elizabeth and Chen are so cute!

And WAFFLES *swoons* I don't care that they brought in the cute dog for the fun of it. He was adorable and I didn't mind the storyline. My sister (who is the best tempered, most easy going, nicest, bestest person in the whole wide world) snapped at me when our dog had to go on medication for incontinence and we were working out medication schedules so I can understand Daisy stressing out. 

I liked the end scene in this ep. There was a bit of acidic zing to it with the 3 white dudes toasting and congratulating themselves despite not really winning and Elizabeth walking out on them. I enjoy the fact that it's usually positive but sometimes they do mix it up.

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I thought it was hilarious that they were trying to avoid an international incident over a bunch of fighter jets no one wanted.

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1 hour ago, TigerLynx said:

I thought it was hilarious that they were trying to avoid an international incident over a bunch of fighter jets no one wanted.

Whereas "I thought it was [maddeningly realistic] that they were trying to avoid an international incident over a bunch of fighter jets no one wanted."
And these fighter jets that were supposed to be upgrading aging equipment were "bricks."

Edited by shapeshifter
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I guess they gave the kids, save Noodle, the episode off just for managing the vow renewal with all the trimmings last week.

I realize that the McCord residence is a high security house, but with all the hand wringing about the State Dept. redshirt taking his computer home, there is Bess talking international policy with China on a laptop in her personal residence.

For some reason, Matt and Daisy's quarrel during the meeting reminded me so much of the background voiceover in the movie Airplane!  "The white zone is for passenger unloading...."

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7 hours ago, Dowel Jones said:

I guess they gave the kids, save Noodle, the episode off just for managing the vow renewal with all the trimmings last week.

When Noodle darted in and out of the scene in such a way that we see her flit across Chen's screen, I was reminded of his young daughter with simlarly long dark hair and figured he was too—it served to remind me (in the middle of his party-line rant) that Chen and Elizabeth are friends who both want a better word for their kids—at least it did for me.

7 hours ago, Dowel Jones said:

I realize that the McCord residence is a high security house, but with all the hand wringing about the State Dept. redshirt taking his computer home, there is Bess talking international policy with China on a laptop in her personal residence.

Good point. I missed the irony (am I using the word correctly?) but it had to be set that way on purpose to give a little dig at the injustice of the justice system, right? Or maybe they will revisit MSec's indiscretion during the campaign? Oy. Maybe Noodle flitting through the background will be proof of MSec doing State business over her private (Comcast?) internet?

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On 1/14/2019 at 9:20 PM, Xantia said:

Hmmm. Not overly happy with the fake emotional support animal solution that Matt came up with.

Same. ESA abuse isn't a laughing matter, and I don't like seeing it treated as one. (And I say this as a completely obsessed dog person who would honestly want to see more safe and sane ways pets can be integrated into society - people flat-out lying, taking advantage of a system designed to work for those who need their highly-trained service animals in order to let their own pets run amok, damages the concept in everybody's eyes...pardon.) [/soapbox]

Regarding Waffles, I posted when she got him that a single working mother struggling to manage childcare would be very likely to have issues taking care of him, and I guess it's at least something that they followed through on the ramifications of that. (Not to mention the cute factor. Poor Waffles Cone. And yes, I laughed.)

There are pet-sitting/boarding services that explicitly offer to give meds, though - especially in a town like DC, I'm sure there are plenty. You just have to pay more for them. Similarly, Matt could've probably increased his deposit with his landlord instead of being a scammer. Pets are expensive. And there I go again, sorry.

The episode proper was pretty good; I liked the one-off ex-staffer character. And that there wasn't a perfectly satisfying ending. And that they didn't go through with launching a shutdown plot arc, which I was briefly afraid of, and which would've been just too painful.

Edited by Emma9
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On ‎1‎/‎15‎/‎2019 at 7:27 PM, shapeshifter said:

Whereas "I thought it was [maddeningly realistic] that they were trying to avoid an international incident over a bunch of fighter jets no one wanted."
And these fighter jets that were supposed to be upgrading aging equipment were "bricks."

That's why I laughed.  This is exactly why so many people have such disdain for the government.  In the private sector, if you don't do your job, go over budget, and create a lousy product nobody wants, you get fired.  Whereas, politicians double down on their stupidity, and not only buy the useless product, they try to get their "Allies" to do the same, and if said "Allies" don't want the worthless fighter jets, they'll "help" them buy them.

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On 1/14/2019 at 3:07 AM, CheshireCat said:

I thought his place doesn't allow pets though. Or maybe it was Kat's?

It doesn't. Daisy admitted on the couch that she knew going in that his landlord didn't allow pets. At the end, Matt told her he'd convinced him to make an exception and had Waffles declared an emotional support animal.

Why didn't they just find a different ally to give the jets to, after Bess pointed out all the complications of choosing Taiwan? They didn't even discuss the possibility, which seems like stupidity for the sake of plot.

I don't like Matt and Daisy when they're interacting, they both turn into non-adults, and rather than being cute it begs the question of how they keep such important jobs. That "subtle" back-and-forth about "China" and "America" at the staff table was like something from a show in another, less realistic genre. Well, Matt is sometimes like that anyway, but it's worse with the two of them.

The Secretary of Defense's constant refrain that the F-40 was "a great plane" made me wonder if *he* was being bribed. Or just dumb.

Edited by Noneofyourbusiness
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20 hours ago, Noneofyourbusiness said:

It doesn't. Daisy admitted on the couch that she knew going in that his landlord didn't allow pets. At the end, Matt told her he'd convinced him to make an exception and had Waffles declared an emotional support animal.

He didn't have Waffles declared an emotional support animal. He lied and said Waffles was an emotional support animal. Which is really not cool. He was trying to help Daisy, but still not cool.

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5 hours ago, KaveDweller said:

He didn't have Waffles declared an emotional support animal. He lied and said Waffles was an emotional support animal. Which is really not cool. He was trying to help Daisy, but still not cool.

There is no emotional support animal registry or certification - a person can just go "I need an emotional support animal" - then they have one.

He should get a doctors note saying it is needed (I believe that is allowed under the FHA)/

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17 hours ago, KaveDweller said:

He didn't have Waffles declared an emotional support animal. He lied and said Waffles was an emotional support animal. Which is really not cool. He was trying to help Daisy, but still not cool.

I meant he had his landlord declare that Waffles is one and therefore can stay. As bros402 said, there's no official registry.

Edited by Noneofyourbusiness

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On 1/18/2019 at 3:10 PM, Noneofyourbusiness said:

I meant he had his landlord declare that Waffles is one and therefore can stay. As bros402 said, there's no official registry.

There may not be a registry, but you're supposed to have a doctor to declare you have some kind of need for one in order to have the animals in areas they wouldn't otherwise be allowed.

But regardless, it is a lie for Matt because Waffles doesn't give him any emotional support. He was just getting around a rule. People who lie about that make it harder for people who really require the support to be taken seriously. 

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19 minutes ago, KaveDweller said:

But regardless, it is a lie for Matt because Waffles doesn't give him any emotional support. He was just getting around a rule. People who lie about that make it harder for people who really require the support to be taken seriously. 

I wonder if this will come back to bite Matt in the butt later (pun intended).
Or if his emotional support chickenscanaries will come home to roost later.

{posted in honor of my late father, a great punster until the end—groans encouraged}

Edited by shapeshifter
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I was wondering why Matt and Daisy didn't get fired over the dumb Waffles situation.  The government has a bunch of new worthless jets it doesn't want to buy, they nearly had an international incident or worse over trying to pawn some of them off on Taiwan, and those two morons are arguing about a dog.  Our tax dollars at work.  {face palm}

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On ‎14‎.‎01‎.‎2019 at 7:34 AM, mythoughtis said:

1. The dog needed medicine several times  a day a few days and the dog walker refused to do it.  She could have boarded the dog at the vets. 

If I had been in Daisy's shoes, I wouldn't have had the heart to do that. Animals get attached to people, he couldn't have gotten individual care at the vet and there would also be a lot going on, a lot of smells he's not used to etc.

 

On ‎14‎.‎01‎.‎2019 at 7:34 AM, mythoughtis said:

3.Matt ended up sleeping with the dog at work.

After he told the dog about his early morning or late-night calls with Ronnie, he said that it's morning and he's already tired, so I think he was merely taking a nap at work. My guess is, Daisy took the dog home for the night then dropped him off again.

 

On ‎14‎.‎01‎.‎2019 at 7:34 AM, mythoughtis said:

5. Again, Matt helping her does not equate to taking the dog home 3 days a week every week. Matt got a special exemption from his landlord to do so. 

I think that if you're pushing like Matt pushed even though he knew that she wanted to be responsible, taking him three days a week is helping. The way I understood it is also that it's only temporary.

 

On ‎16‎.‎01‎.‎2019 at 12:30 AM, Dowel Jones said:

I guess they gave the kids, save Noodle, the episode off just for managing the vow renewal with all the trimmings last week.

At first, I wondered if some production assistant was accidentially in the view of the camera.

 

On ‎16‎.‎01‎.‎2019 at 12:30 AM, Dowel Jones said:

I realize that the McCord residence is a high security house, but with all the hand wringing about the State Dept. redshirt taking his computer home, there is Bess talking international policy with China on a laptop in her personal residence.

On ‎16‎.‎01‎.‎2019 at 7:46 AM, shapeshifter said:

Good point. I missed the irony (am I using the word correctly?) but it had to be set that way on purpose to give a little dig at the injustice of the justice system, right? Or maybe they will revisit MSec's indiscretion during the campaign? Oy. Maybe Noodle flitting through the background will be proof of MSec doing State business over her private (Comcast?) internet?

Bess said in the pilot that the residence was swept for bugs every day and Stevie said that she can't get around the firewall in the first season episode when Henry's father was visiting. Russell was also comfortable enough to discuss the War-College-As-Intelligence-Cover-Gig in Bess' home.
Hall/McCreary have said in a Washingtonian interview that they know something about the secured phones would be different but they've hanged because TV but from what they've mentioned and shown on the show, I'm assuming that Bess' house is secured in a way that allows her to conduct business from her home.

 

On ‎17‎.‎01‎.‎2019 at 1:17 AM, Noneofyourbusiness said:

Why didn't they just find a different ally to give the jets to, after Bess pointed out all the complications of choosing Taiwan? They didn't even discuss the possibility, which seems like stupidity for the sake of plot.

My takeaway was that Taiwan was their only current arms deal and that, if no one else they'd want to sell the jets to is interested in any kind of military deal, it doesn't seem to make much sense to approach them and ask if they happen to want jets.

 

On ‎17‎.‎01‎.‎2019 at 1:17 AM, Noneofyourbusiness said:

The Secretary of Defense's constant refrain that the F-40 was "a great plane" made me wonder if *he* was being bribed. Or just dumb.

I think he was simply being a good soldier. I imagine that, as SecDef, he had to sell the jets to his people and has to give the impression that he's confident in the product.  

 

On ‎14‎.‎01‎.‎2019 at 7:39 PM, TigerLynx said:

I keep waiting in show for, when someone starts telling the USA they will consider such and such thing the USA does a major provocation, someone anyone to ask, "And you will do what?  Launch a nuclear weapon at a country who has enough nucks to blow up the entire planet.  Enjoy the two seconds you live after firing a nuck because at that point, it's over for all of us."

I guess, that's why they referred to it as mutually assured destruction in previous episodes.

That said, from what I understood, Bess wasn't talking about a nuclear war, she was simply talking about a military response.

 

On ‎16‎.‎01‎.‎2019 at 10:14 AM, Emma9 said:

 And that they didn't go through with launching a shutdown plot arc, which I was briefly afraid of, and which would've been just too painful.

They already had a shutdown story in season 4. I guess, chances are that, as a procedural, they're not going to repeat it.

 

I liked the episode for the realism of it and all that it dealt with even if it did leave me a bit... sad, maybe? But I thought the overall feel that the episode conveyed and left me with fit the title to a T.

Too bad that Henry was flying the F-40 at the beginning. Otherwise, Bess could have given a much better answer to POTUS and Co having an issue with the plane. Although, I would imagine that her heart skipped a beat or two. And her reaction to the cost overrun was awesome!
I thought the scene was a whole felt a bit like "old times". Bess, the Secretary of State who deals with foreign countries all the time and happened to be an analyst at the CIA, warns Conrad about what China will do and the guys are sort of dismissive about it because they just know better than the person who's the expert on it. Only Russell seems to be a lot more in Bess' corner than he used to ;-)

And what was that, was SecDef inviting her to take a seat? Seriously? It distracted me so much I actually had to rewind and listen to what they said again.

Why was Bess wearing that blueish-grey suit in the oval office? It totally blended with the sofa. Was that deliberate? If so, why? (But I did love that whole outfit).

That was a lot of medication that poor dog had to take. I'd have worried if such a small organism can handle all of that. And I loved that Jay pointedly closed his blinds.

If Bess wants to keep the circle tight on the Tawain deal (and I loved that she said that and in the next sentence, Jay said "all the departments..."), I would suggest to close the doors. Just saying. I really liked the deputy assistant secretary (who comes up with these titles?). Good casting. Although, I did not understand a word of what he said about strategic ambiguity. But, I guess, that's the point of strategic ambiguity?

I was a bit distracted by the grey-haired dude who came rushing down the corridor as Blake and Gary were walking down it. I thought he wanted to talk to them. But, yeah, I really wonder why Gary has no friends considering how "up-beat" he was.

Bess got the t-shirt signed. At least, I don't think it was signed before.

I really thought Bess was going to let Chen know - personally or through back channels - that China had nothing to fear from the fighter jets. And PJ pants, a blouse and a blazer. Bess is setting new trends ;-) But I think that was a cute idea from whoever came up with it.

I liked the scene with Blake and the FBI agents. I think that Blake was himself without being too fumbly. But I hope, they did not want us to think for a second that Blake had opted not to cooperate and was going to tip off Gary or something. And I thank the writer for not making Blake having to come up with an excuse because Gary wants to leave the bar early and they're not done with the search.

I did not see the twist coming that it was the defense contractor that leaked the information. But nice twist. I thought that made it a lot more interesting than if it had simply been Gary and they'd have spent the episode trying to sell the jets to Tawain without offending China.

I really did not need Henry in that scene in front of the situation room. Somehow, the administration managed to have those conversations without him before and usually, it was Bess who said what Henry's now saying. I just don't think it works.
I thought it was a weird scene in general. From the body language and tone, it seemed that Henry disagreed with what Conrad was about to do. Bess' body language as the guys went into the room also suggested she wasn't on board even though she had said so a minute or so before. Was that to convey the situation seemed like a lose-lose situation?

Did I hear correctly, though? They decided to name the AG Hank, suggesting that he's also named Henry? Couldn't they have been a little more creative, maybe?

Would Bess' detail really not have spotted the photographer? I'm not sure I find that convincing. He didn't seem to be that far away and he could easily have been a guy with a gun. And where was Chen's detail? Or did he not have any because it was a deliberately small footprint? And who was the third guy at the table? I thought it was kind of cute that they ad Bess and Chen share a laugh at his expense and I also like that they're allowing us to see the Chen behind the politician.

I laughed out loud when Blake said maybe China and America can talk about it some other time or something along those lines. But while I like call-backs, I don't know if I really needed the Daisy-and-Matt-squabble-at-a-meeting call back. (Even if it did get us Blake's comment).

I really wanted to punch that congressman who was holding the press conference. (And who chose Bess' blouse in that scene?)

Did Bess and Russell really need to bring the guy from Tapei to speak to the representitives? He kind of only repeated what Bess and Russell had already said. I expected a lot more from him than what he said.

Again, I did not need that scene between Henry and the congressman afterwards. Even if it led to the revelation at the end, it felt like it did nothing to move the story forward, so maybe they could have handled it differently? I actually thought it would lead to someone leaking that the defense contractor committed espionage and when they had the scene between Blake and Gary afterwards, I thought Blake was in coded words, suggesting he leak that, since he really had nothing to lose anymore.

I love how sure Conrad is that Bess is going to win and that he's already showing her so much support. I also like her reactions to whenever it comes up because she's always somewhat humble. I wonder if the choice he made also had something to do with the fact that he wants Bess to win. I can't imagine that it would look that good if he took on a defense contractor of that Magnitude. She's part of his administration after all.

I don't know why but that scene with the members of congress getting into an argument and Bess' comment made me laugh out loud, too. She and Russell were so enjoying this moment.

And the end, what can I say? Even though it was ambiguous, I thought it was brilliant. I wonder if it was also a deliberate choice because I felt that Conrad was also sort of teaching Bess a bit about what it would be like to be President. There were a few scenes that felt like teachable moments for Bess. Not because she's inexperienced or anything but kind of to tell her: this is what you decided to sign up for. (And each time they bring up Bess' presidency, I want a spin-off series covering it ;-))

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2 hours ago, CheshireCat said:

My takeaway was that Taiwan was their only current arms deal and that, if no one else they'd want to sell the jets to is interested in any kind of military deal, it doesn't seem to make much sense to approach them and ask if they happen to want jets.

It makes more sense than to keep trying to foist them on Taiwan after the point where Taiwan has told them explicitly it doesn't want them and has a political reason not to want them. Whereas the UK or France has no reason to turn down some free extra American-made jets for their military.

Edited by Noneofyourbusiness
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6 hours ago, Noneofyourbusiness said:

It makes more sense than to keep trying to foist them on Taiwan after the point where Taiwan has told them explicitly it doesn't want them and has a political reason not to want them. Whereas the UK or France has no reason to turn down some free extra American-made jets for their military.

This.  It made the USA look very foolish.  It seems the show likes to alternate between the USA, Russia, and China being dumb.  It's unlikely the USA, Russia, China, etc., would launch a nuclear weapon.  It could happen, but most of these countries are very well aware at that point, it's over for everyone.  It's much more likely a fanatic getting their hands on a nuke would initiate World War III which would be over in less than 10 minutes.

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