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thewhiteowl

S05. E15. Between the Seats.

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Elizabeth goes to the Middle East to finalize a deal but it is complicated by rumours of a romance. Henry gives relationship advice to Will.

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1 hour ago, thewhiteowl said:

Elizabeth goes to the Middle East to finalize a deal but it is complicated by rumours of a romance. Henry gives relationship advice to Will.

Will? Oh. Bess's brother.

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Boy if that story ever happened in real life and it came out, the social media influencer girl who faked the video would be in for a public shaming to end all public shamings. I liked this episode because it didn't shy away from all the hard choices that surely have to be made in international diplomacy. We can only hope that the actual US withdrawal from Afghanistan happens with only one girl's life being put at risk.

In the meantime, let us remember that Will was the guy who wnated to run out to do medicine in a war zone while his wife was pregnant and that he thought she would be ok with doing all the child-raising because that was their deal. He may be messed up and may have lacked good role models, but I can't say I'm really surprised or that I feel sorry for him. As recently as a few years ago, he was just a bad person.

Edited by Xantar
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26 minutes ago, Xantar said:

We can only hope that the actual US withdrawal from Afghanistan happens with only one girl's life being put at risk.

I did appreciated that the girl's groom looked like he was a kind, non-aggressive type of man. At least I am holding on to that for now.

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If this story was told in an episode 30 years ago, Matt would have had to marry her.

IRL, I would think Matt, being knowledgeable and sensitive to the culture, would have given up his window seat to the Afhgani girl so the chaperone could sit between them and the girl wouldn't be on the aisle.
At least, the chaperone would have been sitting between the girl and the man.

1 hour ago, Xantar said:

Boy if that story ever happened in real life and it came out, the social media influencer girl who faked the video would be in for a public shaming to end all public shamings.

That would be an interesting story.

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13 minutes ago, shapeshifter said:

If this story was told in an episode 30 years ago, Matt would have had to marry her.

IRL, I would think Matt, being knowledgeable and sensitive to the culture, would have given up his window seat to the Afhgani girl so the chaperone could sit between them and the girl wouldn't be on the aisle.
At least, the chaperone would have been sitting between the girl and the man.

Yes.  This.  I was surprised to see that Matt was so friendly to the Afghan girl knowing her culture and that they were actually traveling to Afghanistan and not just Florida or something.  At first I assumed they must know each other from arrangements the State Department must have had to make in order to get her to the US for her heart surgery. but then it became apparent they were strangers, and then I was kind of, whoa, Matt is usually more culturally self-aware than this.  He screws up his personal life, but he is usually pretty sensitive with foreign affairs, especially with regards to Muslim dominated countries.  Then I thought maybe they were on a State Department transport of some kind, but then that turned out not to be the case. 

That the girl didn't want to ask for asylum and wanted to stay in her country was both sad and frustrating.  I liked that Bess allowed for her choice, and didn't just make it for her, but was burdened and saddened by the truth of the girl's reality.  That the situation was resolved through an arranged marriage was so ironic I'm surprised my refrigerator magnets didn't fly into my family room to ruin my TV screen.  Resolution of a dire backwards (per my privileged first world standards) drastic cultural practice achieved through implementation of another, perhaps less dire, backwards cultural practice.  Again, I'm saying that from my US-centric cultural point of view, which is certainly not the Afghan view, but it is also the view of the writers of this show.

I am glad that the writers didn't resolve this by Matt being forced to marry the girl.  I was thinking that up to the end, until we got the reveal of the groom standing there with (I assumed) his son instead of Matt standing there.   I was worried that all the discussion of bringing a "proper" gift "picked up at the airport" was foreshadowing Matt bringing a new bride to his mother's birthday party.

The big takeaway from all this is how easy it is for social media to screw up lives.

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I could never be a diplomat.  My thought this entire episode was - "Why the hell are they wasting time talking to these despicable, backasswards, barbaric, neanderthal men who want to kill a young girl because she talked to a guy on a plane.  Just kill all the idiot men who are still living in the dark ages.  Problem solved."

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1 hour ago, TigerLynx said:

Just kill all the idiot men who are still living in the dark ages.  Problem solved

That was kind of my initial thought too.  Meet with the family, put a bullet in a random person's head, then turn to the patriarch and say "If she dies, you die.  You know I'll do it."  Okay, that is juuuust a bit outside (thank you, Bob Eucher).  In real life, diplomacy so often requires making a bad deal to avoid a worse deal and, as was pointed out, those arrangements usually prioritize the interests of the US over the moral high ground.

The other thing not mentioned was the dippy social media "influencer".  If I were in Bess's shoes, I would have her brought to the Embassy, confiscated the camera with all the raw footage, made copies of it to show the Afghan media, and then had a long, private conversation with her, somewhere around 85-90 decibels.  Then I would have cut short her visa, sent her home to Daddy with a letter detailing what she had done and the possible consequences, along with another copy of the unedited footage that she put together, so she could explain her actions.  And then, I would have leaked it to the American media.

Oh yeah, good lead in with the first world problem of prayer/no prayer at the dinner table. Now that Bill will be taking up residence as Casa McCord, look for some Hallmark storylines.

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10 hours ago, Xantar said:

Boy if that story ever happened in real life and it came out, the social media influencer girl who faked the video would be in for a public shaming to end all public shamings.

I can't think of a single reason she shouldn't be censured and condemned.  What if that young woman had been killed?  Matt should sue her into oblivion.

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8 hours ago, shapeshifter said:

I would think Matt, being knowledgeable and sensitive to the culture

Not to mention the chaperone, who is supposed to know that the girl comes from a Salafist region and village. It would have been her job to protect against such an incident happening and suggest from the start that she acts as buffer by sitting between them. But the show often has the characters forget their professional skills or what they have learned on the job simply to bungle a situation and easily generate a sub-plot that will help drive the episode.

2 hours ago, TigerLynx said:

Just kill all the idiot men who are still living in the dark ages

Don't forget the women. Many think exactly the same way as the radicals and act as enablers for such barbaric traditions.

1 hour ago, Dowel Jones said:

The other thing not mentioned was the dippy social media "influencer". 

They said her father was an FSO, i.e. Foreign Service Officer, which means Bess had the means to exert direct influence and apply some of the measures you propose since he is an employee of the State Department. But the girl had fulfilled her role in the plot, so we never heard about her again.

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1 hour ago, purplemouth said:

The show plot had more dire consequences, but this did happen in real life last summer: https://www.thrillist.com/news/nation/twitter-airplane-love-story-viral

I remember when that happened, but fortunately that story didn't ruin a young girls life. 

I knew that girl taking pictures was up to something when they kept focusing on her. Shows don't usually pay an actor to say a line if it is just about opening a window. But I didn't get why no one mentioned her again or had anyone yell at her. She must have heard about what happened from her tweets. And I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but that's why it would have been interesting to see her.

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22 hours ago, Dowel Jones said:

In real life, diplomacy so often requires making a bad deal to avoid a worse deal and, as was pointed out, those arrangements usually prioritize the interests of the US over the moral high ground.

Which is why I said I could never be a diplomat.  My first response would have been, "You brain dead idiots want to murder this young girl because she talked to a guy on a plane?  Are you really this despicable and fucking stupid?"

The writers really did drop the ball on not having any follow up with the idiot girl who posted the video in the first place.

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My husband happened to be working next to me and couldn't resist watching this episode. 

I was raving to him about how good the writing is for this show but when they said they had a plan to save the girl, Hubs complained that this show had too many "happy endings" and they should just show what the reality for this girl is really like.

Cue arranged marriage which made him eat his words! 

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I really have no use for the character of Bess' brother....he is annoying & whiny, am I supposed to feel sorry for his "sad sack" life?  I would rather have seen Henry giving relationship advice to Stevie or Noodle...what ever happened to Noodle's boyfriend?  

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On 3/5/2019 at 8:46 PM, BuckeyeLou said:

I really have no use for the character of Bess' brother....he is annoying & whiny, am I supposed to feel sorry for his "sad sack" life?  I would rather have seen Henry giving relationship advice to Stevie or Noodle...what ever happened to Noodle's boyfriend?  

He broke up with her after she took her parents' advice and asked him if their relationship was going anywhere.

On 3/4/2019 at 7:36 PM, TigerLynx said:

I could never be a diplomat.  My thought this entire episode was - "Why the hell are they wasting time talking to these despicable, backasswards, barbaric, neanderthal men who want to kill a young girl because she talked to a guy on a plane.  Just kill all the idiot men who are still living in the dark ages.  Problem solved."

I know. In the episode this one was a followup to, I was thinking the whole time that Bess was over-prioritizing peace in Afghanistan. If it means letting the Taliban into the government and kicking the women out of said government, then it's not worth it. I mean, killing Taliban members is an end unto itself. If that's the price of peace, it's more moral to continue the war.

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On 3/4/2019 at 11:41 AM, Xantar said:

Boy if that story ever happened in real life and it came out, the social media influencer girl who faked the video would be in for a public shaming to end all public shamings.

I said she should be made to go in public and admit to being human garbage.

On 3/5/2019 at 12:02 AM, KaveDweller said:

And I'm sure it wasn't intentional

Creating lies from other people's lives and posting them for the world to see is inherently a bad thing even when it doesn't lead directly to an honor killing. What a miserable creature, as my Mom put it. She must have something better to do with her time.

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6 hours ago, Noneofyourbusiness said:

Creating lies from other people's lives and posting them for the world to see is inherently a bad thing even when it doesn't lead directly to an honor killing.

I suppose this episode could be considered a PSA about the potential fallout from home grown fake news on personal social media accounts. 

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On 3/5/2019 at 7:12 PM, Mellowyellow said:

Hubs complained that this show had too many "happy endings" and they should just show what the reality for this girl is really like.

Cue arranged marriage which made him eat his words! 

As political shows (and CBS shows) go, I think this one has a pretty decent record in terms of having plotlines be resolved in ways that are tolerable to the characters, but not always perfect or even satisfying. I was just thinking about that in the episode with the shady defense contractor, when the upshot ended up being that the US still ended up paying for a bunch of crappy unnecessary planes, much to Bess's displeasure.

On 3/8/2019 at 7:02 AM, Noneofyourbusiness said:

Creating lies from other people's lives and posting them for the world to see is inherently a bad thing even when it doesn't lead directly to an honor killing. What a miserable creature, as my Mom put it. She must have something better to do with her time.

You're not wrong, and may I say that's an impeccably appropriate username you've got there! 😉

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4 hours ago, Emma9 said:

You're not wrong, and may I say that's an impeccably appropriate username you've got there! 😉

It was my initial reaction to my first signup process on a board asking me for my name c. 2005.

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The other thing not mentioned was the dippy social media "influencer".  If I were in Bess's shoes, I would have her brought to the Embassy, confiscated the camera with all the raw footage, made copies of it to show the Afghan media, and then had a long, private conversation with her, somewhere around 85-90 decibels.  Then I would have cut short her visa, sent her home to Daddy with a letter detailing what she had done and the possible consequences, along with another copy of the unedited footage that she put together, so she could explain her actions.  And then, I would have leaked it to the American media.

Seconded! And then I would have liked to have punched her in the face. What the hell are you doing, making up stories about other people on the plane and posting them online as fact?

Like many said above... yeah, I'd never be a good diplomat either. LOL.

Nevertheless, I really wanted that social media girl to get taken to task and made to see what a terrible mess she made, all in her attempts to be cute. I found this episode infuriating for so many reasons, all starting with her.

So much for the calm I gained from watching the episode involving Russell and the panda cam. I think I need Russell's 15 minutes "off the grid," because I'm still mad about this episode. I'm glad they don't end every episode as sunshine and roses, because we know that's not reality, but sometimes reality really sucks.

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4 hours ago, sinkwriter said:

And then I would have liked to have punched her in the face.

The best thing would have been to make her attend the stoning-to-death of the young woman so she could see for herself the consequences of her actions.  But for this to happen, they would have had to have the woman die.  Naturally, a "happy ending" was written instead, so Madam Secretary could be seen to pull some sort of success out of thin air.  But every story doesn't have a happy ending, and maybe this show, the cast, and the viewing public should occasionally be made aware of that.

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22 minutes ago, Netfoot said:

The best thing would have been to make her attend the stoning-to-death of the young woman so she could see for herself the consequences of her actions.  But for this to happen, they would have had to have the woman die.  Naturally, a "happy ending" was written instead, so Madam Secretary could be seen to pull some sort of success out of thin air.  But every story doesn't have a happy ending, and maybe this show, the cast, and the viewing public should occasionally be made aware of that.

ITA with your first sentence, @Netfoot, in the context of the episode's events. Maybe someone will make a movie or episode with that happening, which would satisfy viewers' own non-violent form of bloodlust WRT producers of fake news and stupid not-news videos. But has anything like this happened IRL? Or was the plot just inspired by some insipid video trash talker who has not yet triggered any assassinations of innocents? I ask because typically MSec plots are ripped from the headlines. 

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8 hours ago, sinkwriter said:

all in her attempts to be cute.

And her narration wasn't even cute, it was grating. "And then it happened." Oh, please.

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On ‎3‎/‎4‎/‎2019 at 1:18 PM, shapeshifter said:

IRL, I would think Matt, being knowledgeable and sensitive to the culture, would have given up his window seat to the Afhgani girl so the chaperone could sit between them and the girl wouldn't be on the aisle.
At least, the chaperone would have been sitting between the girl and the man.

Matt's mother is from Pakistan and he was born and raised in the US. He's more aware than of the culture than others but he's also less aware than someone who grew up in a Middle Eastern country and/or is confronted with the culture daily. The ease with which he chatted was very American and it probably wasn't on his mind that he should be mindful of his interaction with this young girl because it's not part of his daily life.

The chaperon, however, should have known better! Maybe she was new at the job?

On ‎3‎/‎4‎/‎2019 at 8:46 PM, Dowel Jones said:

 Then I would have cut short her visa,

The visa would have been issued by the Afghan government though. I don't think that Bess would want to spend any political capital on getting the Afghan government to revoke the visa. As infuriating as this young girl's actions were, she would not have been worth it for Bess.

On ‎3‎/‎4‎/‎2019 at 10:22 PM, Florinaldo said:

They said her father was an FSO, i.e. Foreign Service Officer, which means Bess had the means to exert direct influence and apply some of the measures you propose since he is an employee of the State Department.

He was? I didn't catch that. But I guess it explains what the girl was doing in Afghanistan in the first place. I would also assume that that means the father was working in the embassy, so, now I'm annoyed that Bess didn't at least track him down and tell him that his daughter just started an international incident and put the deal she was there for at risk. What a missed opportunity.

On ‎3‎/‎13‎/‎2019 at 7:27 AM, Netfoot said:

  Naturally, a "happy ending" was written instead, so Madam Secretary could be seen to pull some sort of success out of thin air.

If you can call an arranged marriage to a man who is more than twice your age and who has the right to force you to be intimate with you, a happy ending.

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10 minutes ago, CheshireCat said:

If you can call an arranged marriage to a man who is more than twice your age and who has the right to force you to be intimate with you, a happy ending.

Happier than being stoned to death...

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1 hour ago, Netfoot said:

Happier than being stoned to death...

Well, that's definitely true. (Although, depending on how your married life turns out, it may only be happier because stoning seems to be one of the most, if not the most, horrible way to die. But, like another poster said, let's hope the husband was kind).

.

As for the episode, even though though this show does follow-up episodes for previous subjects, for some reason I didn't think we'd get one to the Afghanistan story. But I really liked that we did and got to see how the deal they struck turned out and that the former minister of education wasn't holding a grudge.

The family dinner was a fun beginning. That was a clever way how Sophie and Bess ended the fight/discussion about saying grace. I really don't know what Will's problem was but as Henry said, it wasn't about religion. And that entire discussion made it feel like a real family dinner. And they even managed to fit in Bess' non-existent cooking skills. Although, I don't think I would have assumed that Will was much better at it.

Oh, how I love it when Bess wants something from Henry and Henry really wants to avoid talking about a subject. I chuckled several times during the scene in the bedroom. Loved both of their expressions and the dialogue in general!

I guess, it's how it is but who cares which folder is on top? And seriously Gordon? You're spending tax dollars on food so you can show-off to the State Department?

I don't know why, but I wish we got more scenes like Bess and Gordon riding up together in an elevator. Generally, I'd like more scenes with Bess and other cabinet officials. And I'd still love to get at least a mentioning of a cabinet meeting. In any case, there was something that I really liked about that scene of them arriving together.

I also liked the short exchange between Blake and Nina that showed that Nina is really good at her job and Blake isn't obnoxious about it. As in, he managed to let go of it and accepted that it's now her job. But it also made me realize that, after Bess couldn't decide on a replacement for Nadine and then couldn't decide on a replacement for Jay, it would have been fun to see her try to find a replacement for Blake.  

For some reason, Matt claiming he was his mother's gift made me envision him tied up with ribbon and a bow on top of his head. But if his mother rarely sees him and wasn't expecting him then I would think he would indeed have been enough of a gift.
Like HurricaneVal, I didn't realize that Matt was already on his way to Afghanistan until they showed him there. Since they had talked about him buying a gift at the airport right before, I was expecting the scene would be a follow-up to that.

I thought there was far too much Matt after the Afghan girl fled into the embassy. We had just seen what had happened on the plane and while his behavior was certainly realistic, we didn't really need the narrative. I'm sure they could have found a way to skip that and fill those precious seconds with something else.

I thought it was interesting that the Afghan girl didn't want asylum, and when she fled to the embassy, she probably didn't think about anything but saving her own life. But what did she think they could do?

I wasn't surprised that Matt suggested he talk to the girl's parents but I was surprised that they went for it. Someone who wants to kill their own daughter based on a social media video doesn't strike me as someone you can reason with.

But this whole story was a really nice way of incorporating the former minister of education.

Henry, I think you were a bit misleading when you said that you and Bess went to counseling. Sure, you did. But those weren't your regular "we have troubles in our marriage" reasons.

I did not see the separation coming. I was a bit disappointed and I am hoping that they can patch things up again.

Would Bess really be allowed to take a walk on the embassy grounds when there's an angry crowd at the fence and walk on the fence-side no less, completely exposed to the crowd? How can they be sure that there isn't someone with a gun somewhere in that crowd?

Why didn't they make more out of the falsified numbers of honor killings? It seemed too significant to play as little of a role as it did. And instead of letting Matt tell us what we had just seen minutes ago, maybe they could have let Bess stand up to Gordon? Because that's what she would have done. I like him but sometimes he can be such a man and so patronizing. Soldiers know that they may have to go to war when they enlist. This Afghan girl went to have heart surgery. And she didn't deserve to be killed any more than those soldiers deserved to be injured and her life isn't worth any less than those of the soldiers. And I absolutely hated that Bess just stood there and let Gordon tell her off and devalue the life of a young woman and didn't get to give a proper response. (Mentioning that the government falsified the honor killing numbers when Gordon said the government had complied with every stipulation would have been a start).

I really thought that Bess was going to send the girl away and that she'd get killed after that, so I'm really glad that they didn't go there. This show has had a few episodes where the ending wasn't satisfying but it still felt right, in a way. If the girl had been killed, it would have just felt wrong.

I also liked that the minister of education came up with the solution. I guess, that's why she isn't holding a grudge against Bess. She seems to understand that sometimes you have to do things you absolutely don't want to do in order to achieve something.

I hope that Will isn't walking around in the bathrobe all day long. But then, I guess, he still works, so probably not. I just didn't think that it was a good look on him. It made him look homeless rather than heartbroken. That said, some sibling-banter and bringing up Bess' non-existent cooking skills again was a nice way to end the episode. (But seriously, she can't even make eggs?)

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On 5/4/2019 at 12:15 AM, CheshireCat said:

Would Bess really be allowed to take a walk on the embassy grounds when there's an angry crowd at the fence and walk on the fence-side no less, completely exposed to the crowd? How can they be sure that there isn't someone with a gun somewhere in that crowd? 

I thought that was such a weird scene.  I don't believe for a moment that the security at the Embassy would ever leave the SoS so exposed to a crowd of protesters in what was a very volatile region. 

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10 minutes ago, txhorns79 said:

I thought that was such a weird scene.  I don't believe for a moment that the security at the Embassy would ever leave the SoS so exposed to a crowd of protesters in what was a very volatile region. 

It's volatile and also a region where certain people have a huge problem with women in power and where, I would think, terrorists would be highly motivated to try and assassinate her. Probably even more so after this controversy broke.

Like you said, it was weird. In S3, she stated they hated when she came up on the roof and in S1 they didn't even want to let her go to her daughter's high school soccer game. So, it makes little sense that they would allow her to take a stroll like that. It's understandable that she would want to and I think it's fine that she was outside. But they should have done a better job making it look like she's secure and I think they could have done so even with budget constraints and without additional security. (Let her not walk on the side of the fence for starters, and also, have her detail closer to her/maybe one right beside her).

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