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S05. E16. The New Normal

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When a super typhoon threatens a small Pacific island, Elizabeth tries to relocate the population before the storm makes landfall. Henry gives a speech about climate change to evangelicals.

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The A and B plots sound cohesive enough. Let's just hope they don't spin out of control like a tornado.

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I'm glad there was another reason for Mike B's uncharacteristic outburst, because I was thinking: It's okay when we posters rag on Henry, but he's our Henry, and nobody else is allowed to do that.

What's the accepted waiting period before we can get him a puppy? Or will he just become dog sitter to Daisy and Matt's beagle?

Bess's hairdo was more like a certain nameless former SOS's tonight, wasn't it?

Was that a cornerstone from the Nauruian temple on their new home island?

Edited by shapeshifter

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Strap in, guys and gals, I have a LOT to say about this episode.

To get it out of the way, I've hated Mike B. from his very first appearance, and his comment about cats proved my hatred was justified.  His blow-up at Bess and Henry was also so completely out of line.  Yes, his sweet dog was dying, and I get how painful that is (I cried more when I had to put my first cat to sleep than I did when my dad died, although the grief over my dad obviously lasted much longer); however, that doesn't give anyone license to be a raging asshole, which he always is anyway.

Really, though, the A storyline.  I swear before god...I was too pissed off about the unbelievable inaccuracies to be moved by anything.  So, I'm a walking atlas and have been since I was a kid, and I also know a ton about tropical cyclones (long story short: when Hurricane Hugo hit South Carolina in 1989, little NUguy514 had to know what made these scary things work).  I know the vast majority of people know next to nothing about the geography of the South Pacific or the basics of cyclogenesis, but I do.

First of all, while you can pronounce "Nauru" like "NOW-roo," which was sort of how most of the cast was pronouncing it (-ish) in this episode, the primary pronunciation is "nah-OO-roo."  It was driving me crazy.

Second of all, Nauru lies one-half of a degree south of the equator; the Marshall Islands lie about nine degrees north of the equator.  Do you know what doesn't cross the goddamn equator?  Typhoons.  Why?  Because of the Coriolis effect.  There have been a very, very few tropical cyclones that have existed within a few degrees of the equator, and all of them have been minimally powerful.  Tropical cyclones need the Coriolis effect to gain spin and develop a low-pressure core, that spin and the energy provided by warm ocean water drive cyclones' intensities, and that same Coriolis effect also partly dictates cyclones' paths.  Cyclones forming north of the equator in open ocean will generally track west; eventually, many will turn to the north and recurve to the northeast if there are no high-pressure systems or anything blocking that trajectory.  Cyclones forming south of the equator will generally track west and then south and recurve to the southeast.  What Typhoon Blessing (or any other goddamn typhoon) would never, ever, ever do is track west and then turn very sharply to the south (Nauru is almost due south of the Marshall Islands).  It just doesn't happen.  Moreover, "the most powerful tropical cyclone on record" would never, ever, ever be able to sustain itself so close to the equator because of the lack of the Coriolis effect and resulting loss of spin.  Typhoon Phoebe or whatever the second storm was would also never be able to get that powerful and strike Nauru due to all of the aforementioned reasons.  As far as the Marshall Islands go, typhoons tend to be in their formative stages in that part of the Pacific, so I don't really buy that Typhoon Blessing would be "the most powerful tropical cyclone on record" quite that far east and south in the typhoon region.  One last thing: tropical cyclones in southern hemisphere and the Southwestern Pacific are actually called "cyclones," not "typhoons"; since Nauru is technically in the southern hemisphere and the Southwestern Pacific, "Typhoon" Blessing would've become "Cyclone" Blessing once it actually struck Nauru, and "Typhoon" Phoebe would've been "Cyclone" Phoebe to begin with.  ETA: I forgot the most fundamental issue with any typhoon crossing the equator: cyclones rotate counterclockwise north of the equator and clockwise south of the equator, so it's...kind of impossible for them to cross the equator and reverse rotation.

Third and most enraging of all, while Nauru is a tiny country (the third-smallest independent nation after Vatican City and Monaco), it's not some low-lying cay or atoll the way that the show seemed to be presenting it as.  Daisy mentioned that the highest point in the Marshall Islands is only 30 feet above sea level, which is basically right (33 feet, to be exact) and which means the entire nation would indeed be prone to inundation by such a large storm surge (well, it wouldn't actually happen because a large storm surge would only occur around the eye of the storm, which wouldn't go over all the islands in the Marshall Islands, but WHATEVER); however, that's not the case for Nauru.  A storm surge could not inundate the entire fucking island because its highest point is actually 233 feet above sea level.  Two cyclones in quick succession just could not obliterate the island from the face of the earth.  Catastrophic damage?  Yes.  Damage to the point that the island is no longer habitable?  Possibly, yes, because the island has almost no natural resources to begin with.  Complete annihilation?  Uh, no.  When they showed the patch of ocean where Nauru used to be, I didn't know whether to laugh or scream because it was such bullshit, and it was lazy because the writers just assumed no viewer would know.  Well, this viewer did, goddamnit!  I wish they had just made up an island nation and placed it to the north of the Marshall Islands; I would've been 167% less annoyed.

Thank you all for indulging me.  I feel better.  The more you know.[/endrant]

Edited by NUguy514
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4 hours ago, shapeshifter said:

Bess's hairdo was more like a certain nameless former SOS's tonight, wasn't it?

And "Bryce Manley" bore a striking resemblance to a certain actor, too. Swashbuckler, indeed.

Reason #2 why I could never be a national politician ( or even a local one):  To have to mortgage your own beliefs to attract the attention of a leader that, on any other day, you wouldn't piss on his him if his head was on fire.  Reason #1 occurred back in the last episode when Bess had to make the terrible choice of humanity versus national interest.  However, that being said, I feel more than a little conflicted that Henry went around the pastor's back to get his daughter to throw him under the bus, even though I didn't like him one bit. 

That was very interesting when the NOAA guy asked about Nadine, and there was just a quick shot of him wiping his eye as he turned around in the elevator.

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6 hours ago, NUguy514 said:

Thank you all for indulging me.  I feel better.  The more you know

Thank you @NUguy514!

My Rant: "Get me my motorcade". If Bess is so worried about climate change, why can't she go anywhere without three huge SUVs? I know that there are security protocals and such, but at some point you have be the change.

Edited by marinw
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2 hours ago, NUguy514 said:

Thank you all for indulging me.  I feel better.  The more you know.[/endrant]

Like @marinw said^ above: Thank you, @NUguy514!
I obsess about weather and sea temperatures myself, but have not acquired anything remotely on par with your knowledge—but enough that I assumed they justified (to themselves) fictionalizing the terminology and the science of the disaster when they characterized it as "the most powerful storm in history."

Still, do you happen to know, @NUguy514, if there is any scientific basis to this line explaining the disappearance of the island: "The coral sediment collapsed under the wave pressure. And without bedrock . . ."

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Wow did Bess's brother look like a homeless guy this episode! I'm wondering how many more shots of him like that will we see before the inevitable shave, haircut, and suit, and what it will signify. Because the other alternative (depression leading to suicide or suicide attempt) could be pretty grim.

Edited by shapeshifter
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I wonder how the people of Nauru felt about having their entire nation obliterated on Madam Secretary?  Wouldn't creating a fictitious pacific nation been a rather more sensitive approach?  It might have enabled the writers to concoct a slightly more believable scenario around a nation being wiped out be a "typhoon".  I don't know as much about geography and meteorology as the poster above, but I know enough to know the story was totally implausible for Nauru.  I also had to laugh at the pretty, slim, light-skinned, vaguely Polynesian-looking actors cast as the Nauruans.  Madam Secretary always takes this approach when dealing with Pacific nations.  Never mind that Nauruans would be much darker and almost certainly much, much larger (they're the most overweight nation on earth).  And the would-be new President had a distinctly Australian accent.  But, hey, never let the facts get in the way of a good story, right?

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I did appreciate the mention of Nadine....I still miss her.  And Bess' brother is such a slob, an annoying & unnecessary character.  

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"You spewed massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere!  Now, if you excuse me, apparently I have a plane high-speed electric train to catch!"

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5 hours ago, NUguy514 said:

I've hated Mike B. from his very first appearance.....

Ditto.

5 hours ago, NUguy514 said:

his comment about cats proved my hatred was justified.

Cats are worthy of our derision.

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1 hour ago, OZJOSH said:

I wonder how the people of Nauru felt about having their entire nation obliterated on Madam Secretary?  Wouldn't creating a fictitious pacific nation been a rather more sensitive approach?

Good question, @OZJOSH. This is pure speculation on my part, but perhaps the Nauru PTB gave the okay in hopes of getting donations, given that this UN document states: "The country is now mostly dependent on foreign aid and food imports from Australia and other countries."

*********************

30 minutes ago, Netfoot said:
6 hours ago, NUguy514 said:

his comment about cats proved my hatred was justified.

Cats are worthy of our derision.

Perhaps this episode was in part influenced by this scene from Ghost Busters, which includes both an apocalypse of biblical proportions as well as the infamous "dogs and cats, living together":

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3 hours ago, Netfoot said:

Ditto.

Cats are worthy of our derision.

giphy.gif

6 hours ago, shapeshifter said:

Still, do you happen to know, @NUguy514, if there is any scientific basis to this line explaining the disappearance of the island: "The coral sediment collapsed under the wave pressure. And without bedrock . . ."

Erosion is certainly a likelihood with waves that powerful, but erosion to the degree that an entire 8-square-mile island would just collapse that quickly and completely into the ocean because of two cyclones?  Not a chance in hell.

And @OZJOSH is exactly right about the actors cast not really representing what the average Nauruan looks like.  They looked more Polynesian (Nauru is part of Micronesia), and they were way too skinny.  The only factual aspects of this episode were that Nauru and Marshall Islands and Samoa are places that exist in the Pacific Ocean.  Oh, and typhoons are real.

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8 hours ago, shapeshifter said:

Wow did Bess's brother look like a homeless guy this episode!

I know!  When we first saw him sitting in that chair, I thought "Man, when Bess isn't home her residential security really sucks....that homeless guy just walked right in off the street.  I wonder if that is going to be the plot of the week?  Nah, Russell already had the have-a-heart-warming-and-politically-significant-interaction-with-homeless-person plot this season.  OMG.  That's Eric Stoltz, playing her brother Will.  Wow, he's looking rough these days...."

The moment with the NASA guy asking about Nadine was nice.  The Johnny Depp wannabe plot detail was hilarious.  Jay being incredibly competent was also really great.  And dammit, show?  Don't kill off the only thing likeable about Mike B.!  Also, I hate you because you made me cry.

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11 hours ago, NUguy514 said:

I wish they had just made up an island nation and placed it to the north of the Marshall Islands;

I loved all your post but apart from the factual errors there is another good reason to make up an island. They are talking about a real place where real people live and tell story that destroys it completely? This is not a science fiction series, where you see NYC destroyed and don't take it personally. This can seriously alarm a whole nation by implying their island can disappear in the next severe storm. The dangers of climate change are certainly important to talk about but not by using a real place at the present time with wrong facts to boot.

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2 hours ago, meira.hand said:

They are talking about a real place where real people live and tell story that destroys it completely?

They probably had a buncha S.I.D.S. lining up to pay for that particular piece of Product Placement!

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20 minutes ago, Netfoot said:

They probably had a buncha S.I.D.S. lining up to pay for that particular piece of Product Placement!

"S.I.D.S."?

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Still not used to climate change being a partisan issue...but not sure the show did the issue any favours by having a story that can so easily be factually dismissed as unrealistic.

Not a fan of Mike B, but definitely cried over his dog. I thought the actor did a great job in that scene, too.

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29 minutes ago, secnarf said:

Not a fan of Mike B, but definitely cried over his dog. I thought the actor did a great job in that scene, too.

I have held the unpopular opinion of enjoying appearances of the character of Mike B -- until maybe this episode when he yelled at the McCords. 
But I'm not sure I will like him without his dog.
   
   

32 minutes ago, secnarf said:

Still not used to climate change being a partisan issue...but not sure the show did the issue any favours by having a story that can so easily be factually dismissed as unrealistic.

Good point. But hopefully those who might be influenced by a fictional TV show won't know any better.

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12 minutes ago, Netfoot said:
2 hours ago, shapeshifter said:
2 hours ago, Netfoot said:

They probably had a buncha S.I.D.S. lining up to pay for that particular piece of Product Placement!

"S.I.D.S."?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_Island_Developing_States

Ah! Thanks, @Netfoot. I could only find the other meaning.
Anyway, yes, that was my thought too when I posted:

10 hours ago, shapeshifter said:

perhaps the Nauru PTB gave the okay in hopes of getting donations, given that this UN document states: "The country is now mostly dependent on foreign aid and food imports from Australia and other countries."

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15 hours ago, shapeshifter said:

Wow did Bess's brother look like a homeless guy this episode!

I expected Mike B to talk to her about how her brother needed a makeover for the sake of her image.

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9 hours ago, Noneofyourbusiness said:

I expected Mike B to talk to her about how her brother needed a makeover for the sake of her image.

Mike B's image consciousness on behalf of Bess could be the impetuous for Will's makeover, but I was thinking a romantic interest might motivate him to get a haircut and put on some pants. But I expect that:

  1. the nudge for Will to clean up his style comes from Mike B
  2. Will resists
  3. Bess sticks up for Will's right to look homeless 
  4. but then Will's daughter tells him he's an embarrassment. IDK. How old is his daughter?

But now I'm reading @Athena5217's post below, and yes, Noodle should be part of the makeover.

Edited by shapeshifter

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13 hours ago, OZJOSH said:

 I also had to laugh at the pretty, slim, light-skinned, vaguely Polynesian-looking actors cast as the Nauruans.

Doesn't Nauru have the most obese people per capita in the world?

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15 hours ago, OZJOSH said:

I wonder how the people of Nauru felt about having their entire nation obliterated on Madam Secretary?  Wouldn't creating a fictitious pacific nation been a rather more sensitive approach?

I assumed it was not a real place until I read the posts here. Usually when there is a storyline involving a war or big disaster on these types of shows they make up a country. I’m happy for Madam Secretary to raise my geographic awareness, but I’d rather it not be with a storyline like this.

Nauru seems to have plenty of environmental problems from mining and there could have been a great plot involving some American company with lots of campaign money to donate but Bess won’t take it because the company had mining operations in Nauru that destroyed the land. I bet there is a perfect Thomas Aquinas (cue Henry) quote for that ethical dilemma.

I think I was equally depressed by Mike’s dog and Eric Stoltz looking so old and ragged. He needs a makeover from Noodle ASAP.

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6 hours ago, Athena5217 said:

I was equally depressed by Mike’s dog and Eric Stoltz looking so old and ragged. He needs a makeover from Noodle ASAP

Should I be worried that this is leading up to a PSA episode on suicide prevention?

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This show has already left me crying once before over Bess's horse, but I didn't even think about what might be going on until Mike B answered the door talking about MRIs. Then I was a goner for the rest of it.

For all that I worry about what the forus on specific parallels to real-world politics could mean for this show's renewal chances, I have to say that way these characters talk about things feels so much more real and powerful than when the same ground is covered on certain other shows. (*cough* Shonda Rimes)

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On 3/18/2019 at 8:38 AM, BuckeyeLou said:

And Bess' brother is such a slob, an annoying & unnecessary character.  

isn't everyone on TV's?

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9 hours ago, Athena5217 said:

I assumed it was not a real place until I read the posts here. Usually when there is a storyline involving a war or big disaster on these types of shows they make up a country. I’m happy for Madam Secretary to raise my geographic awareness, but I’d rather it not be with a storyline like this.

...

I think I was equally depressed by Mike’s dog and Eric Stoltz looking so old and ragged. He needs a makeover from Noodle ASAP.

I also thought it was a made-up place!

I felt sad about Mike's dog.  I've had far too many dogs over the years that have gone to the Rainbow Bridge; I know what that feels like for me.

On 3/18/2019 at 12:09 AM, shapeshifter said:

Bess's hairdo was more like a certain nameless former SOS's tonight, wasn't it?

I don't know what this means.  What's a "former SOS"?

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1 hour ago, zoey1996 said:

I don't know what this means.  What's a "former SOS"

SOS = Secretary of State 

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12 minutes ago, shapeshifter said:

SOS = Secretary of State 

Thanks!  Makes sense, and I understand the comment now, too.

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I'm not au courant enough about real world weather science or Pacific geopolitics to be bothered by innaccuracies or misplaced attention, but what impressed me about this episode was how well it was unified around the theme of loss - the island nation, the dog, Bess' potential presidency...

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i think that this might be the beginning of the end...it might be nice if they just went into the sunset on a high note.

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On 3/19/2019 at 6:32 PM, Notwisconsin said:

i think that this might be the beginning of the end...it might be nice if they just went into the sunset on a high note.

Who here thinks they'll actually be bold enough to rename it Madam President? (I am actually asking)

Edited by Noneofyourbusiness
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On 3/18/2019 at 10:27 PM, MaryHedwig said:

Doesn't Nauru have the most obese people per capita in the world?

I believe that is American Samoa

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I like Mike b, and I really felt with him because Gordon is so cute and friendly.  

I also didn't mine him yelling at sos and Henry.  Yes, it was nice to take a public stand.  But it was kind of an indulgence, particularly when someone has worked so hard on your behalf.  The decision to change the game up IN THE CAR....ON THE WAY THERE was a little selfish in light of the fact that Mike b spent a lot of time setting it up.  

I have no problem with there being real consequences for actions, even if they are well intentioned and righteous.  If Bess can't even play the game enough.for her husband to give an agreed upon speech for a group of people who aren't even politicians (though they donate) she may be too inflexible for the big desk.  

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I for one really liked Mike B. in this show telling off Elizabeth and calling her pompous and blue blood in her attitude.  She certainly always comes across like that.  Thinks her mission in life is to save the whole world.

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On ‎3‎/‎18‎/‎2019 at 8:26 AM, OZJOSH said:

I wonder how the people of Nauru felt about having their entire nation obliterated on Madam Secretary?

I would imagine that they're grateful someone raised awareness to their dire situation.

Quote

I don't know as much about geography and meteorology as the poster above, but I know enough to know the story was totally implausible for Nauru.

On ‎3‎/‎18‎/‎2019 at 3:10 PM, meira.hand said:

I loved all your post but apart from the factual errors there is another good reason to make up an island. They are talking about a real place where real people live and tell story that destroys it completely? This is not a science fiction series, where you see NYC destroyed and don't take it personally. This can seriously alarm a whole nation by implying their island can disappear in the next severe storm. The dangers of climate change are certainly important to talk about but not by using a real place at the present time with wrong facts to boot.

From what I read, it doesn't sound like they pulled the story out of thin air. Nauru is more or less on top of the list for the most vulnerable countries to be affected by climate change and erosion has already claimed parts of the island. Mining has laid bare the middle of the island, and, according to what I read, they mined the island down to the coral reef in many places, so that they can only inhabit the outer areas. (Didn't they say in the episode that the temple was located in the center of the island? Makes me wonder how that could be possible. ;-)) What I read didn't say what it means that the island is laid bare in regards to stability, but I would think that it does make the island's middle instable, or less stable than it would be if it hadn't been laid bare as the corals are, apparently, also dying due to warming waters and are dying faster. Nauru and a couple of other islands in the area are expected to be severely impacted and/or (start to) disappear by mid-century, barring unforseen circumstances that make them disappear sooner.

I also read that a cat 5 cyclone devastated a few islands in Micronesia in 2015 and that the Marshall islands are suffering from storms that are getting intenser and more frequent in addition to rising sea levels and in connection with the Marshall Islands, I read that the threat to the islands isn't just rising sea levels but the stronger storm surge/force of waves as well and that stronger waves threaten to make them disappear much quicker than rising sea levels would.

So, I'm under the impression that they took the worst case scenario that might not happen today or tomorrow but is possible in the (somewhat) near future. I think that may have been the point of the episode, raise awareness and show what could happen rather than depict something that is happening right now.

On ‎3‎/‎18‎/‎2019 at 12:09 AM, shapeshifter said:

Bess's hairdo was more like a certain nameless former SOS's tonight, wasn't it?

I didn't think so but I thought it looked a lot better like it did for most of the season.

Quote

Was that a cornerstone from the Nauruian temple on their new home island?

That's what I thought it was, too. Although, it looked kind of very fake.

On ‎3‎/‎18‎/‎2019 at 5:53 AM, marinw said:

My Rant: "Get me my motorcade". If Bess is so worried about climate change, why can't she go anywhere without three huge SUVs? I know that there are security protocals and such, but at some point you have be the change.

They explained that in S2. Blake looked into it when Bess wanted the SUVs to not stand outside with their engines running and, in short, Blake found out that changing it is very complicated.

On ‎3‎/‎18‎/‎2019 at 8:26 AM, OZJOSH said:

 I also had to laugh at the pretty, slim, light-skinned, vaguely Polynesian-looking actors cast as the Nauruans.  Madam Secretary always takes this approach when dealing with Pacific nations.  Never mind that Nauruans would be much darker and almost certainly much, much larger (they're the most overweight nation on earth).  And the would-be new President had a distinctly Australian accent.  But, hey, never let the facts get in the way of a good story, right?

They can only work with the actors that appear for the casting. I would imagine that there aren't that many actors that fit the bill out there to begin with, so I would think they probably cast the actor that got the closest.

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As depressing as the episode was, I thought it was one of the best. It was so intense, the writing was great and so was the acting. I also liked that it was sort of a follow-up to the S3 premiere even if it wasn't directly linked to it and that every story of the episode was part of the main story.

I thought for sure that something was going to happen to one of the planes at the beginning. I'm glad they didn't but those were some very scary noises that the planes made. I don't have a fear of flying but even if someone had offered me all the money in the world, I don't think I would have gone on either plane.

I probably could have done without Stevie at the beginning, or rather, they should have toned her down a little. She seemed far too self-important. I mean, she's still only Russell's intern. But I did enjoy the "acronym fight" (even if I couldn't have repeated half of what they said :-P)

I'd really love to know where this running gag with the dry-wet-vac comes from. But yuck, using it in the bowl. I know it would have gone into the dishwasher afterwards but still. Ew!

I'm really liking Blake's and Nina's relationship. They kind of opposites but at the same time, they seem to have quite a lot in common.

I don't know how they do it but I love that they manage to get the actors back on the show that had previously filled a certain role/position even if it's been a while since we've seen them. In other words, it was nice to see the NASA administrator again. I think it would have been good if he had elaborated a bit more on why the storm was a freak since the frequency doesn't seem to be the only abnormality but that was a nice little tidbit about Nadine. Although, I did expect him to ask how she was or Bess to tell him. I wouldn't have minded an update (but maybe they filmed an update and it was cut for time).

The show really like to wipe out entirely governments, doesn't it? They did so with Venezuela in S3 and now Nauru. But I felt sorry for the young man who suddenly had the responsiblity of his entire nation on his shoulder. Although, it was kind of cute that he thought he was wasting Bess' time. Poor guy!

It took me a moment to get what Henry meant when he said no pun intended after he said refugee-climate. I still don't quite see it but okay.

I thought the comparison to Ashley Whitaker was a bit forced. Wouldn't it have made more sense if Bess had compared it to one of the kids? Shouldn't Stevie be 24 or 25, so barely older than David?

And Henry reads Alison's instagram feed? Why? Was that supposed to be a hint to back in S1 when their devices were linked with their children's?

But Bess looking for the emergency chocolate was hilarious. It would be kind of stupid to hide it in the freezer though since you'd have to wait hours before you can eat it :-P

Russell looked so uncomfortable in that meeting between Henry and the pastor. And was it just me or did the pastor sort of patronize his daughter and was meant to and was she not pleased with it?

I thought the island owner and his lawyer were a stroke of genius. The casting was fantastic - they played off of each other so well. I was chuckling quite a bit.

I was waiting for Conrad to tell Bess that it would be political suicide for her and her campaign if they went for the bill. I'm glad they didn't, although, I guess, he was implying it when he said it could hamstring their environmental agenda for years. I doubt he's going to pass much more significant legislation in that regard and the laws that were passed were passed and I don't think anyone would try to repeal a law simply because Conrad's administration lost the appropriations bill fight.

I love it when Bess and Henry work together like they did here and when Henry uses his religious knowledge to help her. That's how I like him best! More of this please!

That stare down between Mike B and Will... I laughed so hard! Could Will have looked any worse? (And why was he wearing a cap?)

And Mike B losing it was great. I mean, I didn't like that he got mad at Bess but I thought it kind of suited the character and I thought everyone reacted the way they should/would react. Nice little detail that he ignored Henry and only spoke directly to Bess and I liked that Henry defended Bess and Bess still got to defend herself. But, I have to say, Mike B, you knew what you were signing up for from the beginning.

Why did Lucy look so nervous when she told Bess that she had an urgent phone call? She's not exactly new to the job. I'm sure she had to tell a cabinet member that they had an urgent call while in a meeting with POTUS before.

No one's using the word Fräulein anymore, Mike! But I did not see the sick dog coming. Why did they do that? That was probably the most depressing part of the episode although, they did a nice job of lightening the mood with remembering Gordon as a puppy. And it's so like Mike to get five different opinions. And, as sad as it was, it was interesting to see a very different side of him.

Was Gordon supposed to have died in Mike's lap? And the reaction from the pastor dad towards his daughter was supposed to be positive, wasn't it? I know it was supposed to be subtle but that was really subtle.

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15 hours ago, CheshireCat said:

From what I read, it doesn't sound like they pulled the story out of thin air. Nauru is more or less on top of the list for the most vulnerable countries to be affected by climate change and erosion has already claimed parts of the island. Mining has laid bare the middle of the island, and, according to what I read, they mined the island down to the coral reef in many places, so that they can only inhabit the outer areas. (Didn't they say in the episode that the temple was located in the center of the island? Makes me wonder how that could be possible. ;-)) What I read didn't say what it means that the island is laid bare in regards to stability, but I would think that it does make the island's middle instable, or less stable than it would be if it hadn't been laid bare as the corals are, apparently, also dying due to warming waters and are dying faster. Nauru and a couple of other islands in the area are expected to be severely impacted and/or (start to) disappear by mid-century, barring unforseen circumstances that make them disappear sooner.

I also read that a cat 5 cyclone devastated a few islands in Micronesia in 2015 and that the Marshall islands are suffering from storms that are getting intenser and more frequent in addition to rising sea levels and in connection with the Marshall Islands, I read that the threat to the islands isn't just rising sea levels but the stronger storm surge/force of waves as well and that stronger waves threaten to make them disappear much quicker than rising sea levels would.

So, I'm under the impression that they took the worst case scenario that might not happen today or tomorrow but is possible in the (somewhat) near future. I think that may have been the point of the episode, raise awareness and show what could happen rather than depict something that is happening right now.

Nauru is indeed extremely vulnerable to climate change; while the interior of the island has been made into a wasteland from the overexploitation of phosphate mining, there is also a near-total lack of fresh groundwater and arable land.  Beach erosion is also an issue, but the island will not just collapse into the sea as the show portrayed.  Moreover, as I said, category-five (or even category-one) cyclones physically cannot hit Nauru because there is no Coriolis effect at the equator, where Nauru is located, and they certainly wouldn't turn south in the northern hemisphere and enter the southern hemisphere, especially at that strength (I cannot overemphasize enough how very, very, very, very, VERY wrong the show was about that).  The whole storyline was garbage, at least as it applies to Nauru; if the story's focus had been on the Marshall Islands, that would've been at least within the realm of possibility, even if extremely unlikely with historical typhoon tracks, and I wouldn't have ranted about it.

Really, though, the reason I know they did basically no real research on this is that I tutor the kid of someone who works on the show in a pretty high position.  I told both my student and the other parent why this storyline was completely implausible (as humorously as I could), they laughed and told the parent who works on the show after I left, and we all laughed about it after the subsequent lesson when the parent who works on the show told me that they on the show didn't really care about the facts and he/she didn't care if it was bullshit.  Never let facts get in the way of a good story, and all of that.  Unfortunately for my particular viewing pleasure, there were just so many factual inaccuracies that it completely hindered my ability to care about or be entertained by the story.

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7 hours ago, NUguy514 said:

 Moreover, as I said, category-five (or even category-one) cyclones physically cannot hit Nauru because there is no Coriolis effect at the equator, where Nauru is located,

The 2015 cat 5 cyclone I read about passed Kiribati (which I understand is Nauru's "neighbor" and also at the equator) at full strength and formed during an El Nino event. From what I read, it sounded like it shouldn't happen but now does happen and storms are predicted to get worse in the area, hence my conclusion that the episode took the worst case scenario from some time in the near future. (And why I think the NASA administrator should have been more specific about why the storm was a freak).

The show is usually well-researched, for TV standards, at least (they got advise from nuclear experts for their episodes dealing with nuclear power/weapons), so I don't think what they portrayed in this episode is out of the realm of possibility.

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2 hours ago, CheshireCat said:

The 2015 cat 5 cyclone I read about passed Kiribati (which I understand is Nauru's "neighbor" and also at the equator) at full strength and formed during an El Nino event. From what I read, it sounded like it shouldn't happen but now does happen and storms are predicted to get worse in the area, hence my conclusion that the episode took the worst case scenario from some time in the near future. (And why I think the NASA administrator should have been more specific about why the storm was a freak).

The show is usually well-researched, for TV standards, at least (they got advise from nuclear experts for their episodes dealing with nuclear power/weapons), so I don't think what they portrayed in this episode is out of the realm of possibility.

What cyclone are you talking about?  Kiribati has never been directly impacted by a category-5 typhoon or cyclone.  The typhoon that affected Micronesia in 2015 was Super Typhoon Maysak and didn't affect Kiribati at all.  Cyclone Pam occurred in the southern hemisphere in 2015, but it affected mainly Vanuatu, not Micronesia; the only effects it had on Kiribati were some heavy rain and swells, and it was nowhere near Kiribati when it was at its strongest.  There was also Tropical Storm Bavi that formed northeast of Kiribati's capital and did affect Micronesia, but it didn't affect Kiribati and never even became a typhoon, much less a category-5 typhoon.

I get that you want to defend the show's honor, but it's not really defensible in this case.  The "strongest typhoon in history" making basically a 90º left turn south and crossing the equator to annihilate Nauru, followed by another near-category-5 cyclone striking Nauru again is meteorologically and physically impossible because of the Coriolis force.

And I'm going to repeat that I know someone who works on the show who told me the storyline wasn't trying to reflect reality.

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2 hours ago, NUguy514 said:

I get that you want to defend the show's honor, but it's not really defensible in this case.  The "strongest typhoon in history" making basically a 90º left turn south and crossing the equator to annihilate Nauru, followed by another near-category-5 cyclone striking Nauru again is meteorologically and physically impossible because of the Coriolis force.

Even if the storm couldn't have hit Nauru and the Marshall Islands, they never told us where the storm originated, so we don't really know what kind of a turn it made or on which side of the equator it formed.

Quote

And I'm going to repeat that I know someone who works on the show who told me the storyline wasn't trying to reflect reality.

I wasn't trying to argue that it's an exact prediction of the future or all accurate. What I'm saying (or trying to) is that with everything we know about strengthening storms, changing weather patterns, warming oceans and disappearing islands, I'm not willing to consider the episode as completely unrealistic because the events they showed will not happen in the (exact) manner or the correlation (not sure if that's the right word) that they showed. The way I see it, there's only one thing from the episode that we can be sure won't happen. But other than that, who knows how things will develop.

(And I'll send you a PM for the rest :-))


 

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8 hours ago, CheshireCat said:

Even if the storm couldn't have hit Nauru and the Marshall Islands, they never told us where the storm originated, so we don't really know what kind of a turn it made or on which side of the equator it formed.

Well, since it was initially headed toward the Marshall Islands, a country in the northern hemisphere, it had to form in the northern hemisphere.  Even so, it really doesn't matter where the storm originated, what kind of a turn it made, or on which side of the equator it formed because none of it was accurate:

historical-hurricane-tracks-map-noaa-his

This is a map of 150 years of cyclone tracks through 2016 (I know I PM-d this map to you, but I thought others might find it interesting as well).  Typhoon tracks historically are generally to the west-northwest, often with eventual recurves to the north and east.  Since Nauru is almost directly south of the Marshall Islands and in another hemisphere, it doesn't really matter if Blessing made a 90º turn to the left (which it sort of would have had to do because of how typhoons track from east to west) or to the right (which would mean it was tracking in the opposite direction of every typhoon in the last 150 years) because no cyclone in either hemisphere makes a direct turn toward the equator and then crosses it.

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1 hour ago, NUguy514 said:

Well, since it was initially headed toward the Marshall Islands, a country in the northern hemisphere, it had to form in the northern hemisphere. 

Not necessarily. It could have formed in the southern hemisphere and would never have reached the Marshall Islands to begin with and they have really crappy scientists in the MSec universe ;-) (And before you say no storm would track north again, there was one major storm and one tropical system that tracked north again after going south in the area within the past few years. There also are a few storms with zig-zag patterns).

That said, with what I've read about storms in the area and am seeing and reading about in regards to the effects of climate change, there's little that you can say that will convince me that this episode/its premise was entirely unrealistic when looking to the future, so I think it might be best we agree to disagree :-)

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While the exact circumstances of this episode are unrealistic, the premise that a coral island can be wiped out in a single day due to severe weather and storm surges caused by climate change is reality. The obliteration of East Island was widely reported in the media on October 24th and 25th of last year. If we count backwards from the air date in March, this episode was written sometime around late November/early December. I don't think that's just a big old coincidence. I find all of the climate change story lines on the show are pretty much ripped from the headlines, or at the very least strongly influenced by real-world science and natural disasters that have actually occurred. I'm always surprised when people comment that they think these stories are exaggerated and the effects of climate change are not as bad as portrayed.

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On 5/6/2019 at 8:50 PM, CheshireCat said:

Not necessarily. It could have formed in the southern hemisphere and would never have reached the Marshall Islands to begin with and they have really crappy scientists in the MSec universe 😉 (And before you say no storm would track north again, there was one major storm and one tropical system that tracked north again after going south in the area within the past few years. There also are a few storms with zig-zag patterns).

That said, with what I've read about storms in the area and am seeing and reading about in regards to the effects of climate change, there's little that you can say that will convince me that this episode/its premise was entirely unrealistic when looking to the future, so I think it might be best we agree to disagree 🙂

If it formed in the southern hemisphere, it would not have been called a typhoon and would never have been headed toward the Marshall Islands in the first place.  I never said anything about the tracks of cyclones in the South Pacific, which do tend to have much more random tracks than those in other parts of the world and can zig and zag all over the place (Cyclone Winston is a perfect example), but they still never zag up to the equator.

On 5/6/2019 at 8:50 PM, orza said:

While the exact circumstances of this episode are unrealistic, the premise that a coral island can be wiped out in a single day due to severe weather and storm surges caused by climate change is reality. The obliteration of East Island was widely reported in the media on October 24th and 25th of last year. If we count backwards from the air date in March, this episode was written sometime around late November/early December. I don't think that's just a big old coincidence. I find all of the climate change story lines on the show are pretty much ripped from the headlines, or at the very least strongly influenced by real-world science and natural disasters that have actually occurred. I'm always surprised when people comment that they think these stories are exaggerated and the effects of climate change are not as bad as portrayed.

Yes, a tiny, low-lying island like East Island (basically a sandbar of 11 acres) was obliterated by a powerful cyclone.  That's way different than an island of 5,184 acres and a high point of 231 feet being obliterated by two powerful cyclones that scientifically can't hit it.

I want to be clear: seas are rising, storms are getting stronger all over the world (Mozambique was just hit by the strongest cyclone in its history, barely a month after another cyclone killed over a thousand people there and a few other African nations), and islands are disappearing because of the rising waters.  However, the scenario laid out in this episode concerning this particular island was scientifically inaccurate, and I am not just saying that for shits and giggles or to deny climate change.

I don't think any of the geography or science matters at this point, though, so I'm bowing out of this discussion.

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I have no idea what they are going for with Bess' brother.  Is he supposed to be depressed, or has otherwise given up?  If not, why he is parading around their house dressed like a homeless person? 

And while I'm sure it won't stick (I haven't seen the rest of the season's episodes), Mike B was right to walk away from advising Bess.  You don't sink a speech in front of an important group to lecture the crowd on the episode's cause du jour.  

As for poor Gordon, I just get killed by storylines involving dying pets.  That was a moving scene by everyone.   

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