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S04.E19: Thin Ice

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Elizabeth is attending a summit in Montreal to resolve territorial claims of the North Pole when an activist group detonates a bomb and she can’t locate Jason and Piper. Also, things take a turn for the worse when Elizabeth learns that Russia was involved in the bombing, and Henry helps one of his students work through a difficult decision.

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Memo to all McCords who are not Elizabeth. Stay home, do not travel the world. Your very presence causes explosions and no one wants that.

Don't even know what to say about the Jason and Piper debacle. I guess we could give them style points. But his attitude after getting home was awful- perfectly willing to throw Piper completely under the bus and then using the argument that if they'd been where they said they'd be they might have died. He has become more of a petulant, conniving brat lately. This kid needs some perspective.

And Henry actually doing his job of teaching was so refreshing. Him having a realistic job adds balance got the show and their family. 

Sadly, this fight over the Arctic is really happening right now and not some made up plot. 

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There are reasons why senior class trips are chaperoned - you just saw one of them. Just how stupid are Bess and Henry? Didn’t they learn a thing from Stevie? Typical teenage actions and then reactions.  

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Wow, how old is the kid?  Twelve?  The fact that he and his girlfriend arranged a tryst rocks his parents to the core!  Because they thought he was going to wait until he was 35 and married? Because they think he should wait until he was 35 and married? He should be congratulated for not doing it in the back of a car somewhere, in a Drive-In cinema.  Not taken to task for being a normal teenager.

Bess should call back up Ephraim Ware and say "See that guy who blew up my hotel, endangered my son, and claimed he had nothing to do with it?  Where ever he is in this world, I want the place to blow up tonight."

Edited by Netfoot
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Loved how very hard Blake was working on his project -- he was INTO IT.  Clearly great at research and passion, not so great at moderating his presentations to a diplomatic level.  An eager bunny.

I have to make 2 very superficial comments: 

1) I simply cannot look at Sara Ramirez.  Gosh, I used to like her but her look on MS is just difficult for me to see.  Her overly glib, overly familiar take on the character is off-putting too. 

2) When Madam Secretary was putting on deodorant in the bedroom while talking to her husband, I thought that I had never seen someone put on deodorant on a TV show before!  Such a mundane little gesture that we all do but it was amusing to me and I thought for sure it was a Tea Leoni ad-lib choice to show the normalcy of their relationship in the midst of her not-so-everyday job. 

Fascinating about the Arctic Circle -- had no idea.

Edited by MerBearHou
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I had to laugh when the evil oil company exec dismissed Kat with his offhand "honey" comment and then addressed the rest of his attention to the barely-treading-water Blake nervously attending his first State Department meeting just because he was a man.  Sara Ramirez played that bit of exasperation perfectly.  I don't think Kat is used to being dismissed merely due to being a woman, and it left her a little discombobulated.  I think she's built her armor up against different insults, so this one caught her a bit flat-footed.  But what great writing, it was very telling of that character that he looked at Kat, saw "woman" and instantly evaluated her as "less." 

I don't think Bess and Admiral-Professor Eye Candy were as much angry at Jason for attempting to have sex, but angry that he'd manipulated Bess into facilitating the whole tryst and she was feeling a bit used--especially after she was still feeling the aftershocks of fearing for his life.  Plus his sucky teen attitude while he was martyring about the whole situation....

Loved the return of the admirable adversary Chinese ambassador!  I also loved how Bess flat out asked "so, what do you want?" when negotiating to have the "Arctic Adjacent" Chinese ice breakers show up to break up the standoff with the Russians.

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7 hours ago, MerBearHou said:

 

Fascinating about the Arctic Circle -- had no idea.

IRL: The Coast Guard really is down to just one ocean going ice breaker when we need several. They had a choice between that and the new large ocean going cutters, and chose the cutters. Don't know enough to know if they needed the cutters more

IRL Canada is making a lot of claims about ownership of the northwest passage for a country whose defense posture since 1992 has been "defend us, US"

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14 minutes ago, Happywatcher said:

IRL Canada is making a lot of claims about ownership of the northwest passage for a country whose defense posture since 1992 has been "defend us, US"

Even supposing that Canada's defense posture can be accurately described as "defend us, US" (and I am not in a position to say, one way or the other), does that render legitimate territorial claims somehow null and void?  Or is it that a marine passage that runs between Canada & Greenland somehow belongs to a country located nearly 3,000 Km away?

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Boy, I am just sick of this smug, self-righteous attitude from Jason. Sure he gets a pass for being a smart kid, but enough is enough. Maybe getting away from this Piper girl will improve the character, but I doubt it.

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22 hours ago, MerBearHou said:

 2) When Madam Secretary was putting on deodorant in the bedroom while talking to her husband, I thought that I had never seen someone put on deodorant on a TV show before!  Such a mundane little gesture that we all do but it was amusing to me and I thought for sure it was a Tea Leoni ad-lib choice to show the normalcy of their relationship in the midst of her not-so-everyday job. 

 

ME TOO! And then I spent an inordinate amount of time wondering why she was putting on (ROLL-ON!) deodorant when she hadn't showered yet! Or did she shower and put her pajamas back on!?!?!

20 hours ago, HurricaneVal said:

Loved the return of the admirable adversary Chinese ambassador!  I also loved how Bess flat out asked "so, what do you want?" when negotiating to have the "Arctic Adjacent" Chinese ice breakers show up to break up the standoff with the Russians.

I LEGIT laughed out loud at "Did you know <orcas> sleep with only hemisphere of their brain at a time? Such inquisitive creatures..." SNORT. I tweeted the actor (@fjue) and his reply was "Thank you so much for reminding me about that line!" His delivery was genius.

 

7 hours ago, KHenry14 said:

Boy, I am just sick of this smug, self-righteous attitude from Jason. Sure he gets a pass for being a smart kid, but enough is enough. Maybe getting away from this Piper girl will improve the character, but I doubt it.

agreed-  but I attribute a lot of it to being 16 and a dumb boy. I think it's a realistic response from someone that age, even if we don't like it.

Also genius? Sebastian's facial expressions during Piper-interruptus. First, the security wave-off behind the door --"all good-don't go in there" and then the big eyes/puffed-out-cheeks/heaved sigh of "Kids! Amirite?!" as MS exited with a flustered OMG! HAHAHAH

I heart Blake.

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2 hours ago, betsyboo said:

ME TOO! And then I spent an inordinate amount of time wondering why she was putting on (ROLL-ON!) deodorant when she hadn't showered yet! Or did she shower and put her pajamas back on!?!?!

Wow. I was embarrassed about how much time I thought about that scene as well. Besides your point, I don't think she was getting good coverage.

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I'm usually under the impression that the subjects that they touch on are well-researched or, at least, presented in a balanced and credible way but I didn't consider their support of nuclear power  either. Rather, I found it ignorant.

I don't think that Blake would ever have claimed and in such a dismissive way no less that people died at Chernobyl only because there wasn't a containment dome. If he spent hours researching the subject he would know that this would have to have been one hell of a dome to sustain the explosion, that containing the fire inside a containment dome might have caused a chain reaction and led to other explosions and that firefighters likely would have died, anyway and radioactive smoke would have risen into the atmosphere as well. And that the most radioactive contamination was done by the smoke which rose into the atmosphere and then came down as rain elsewhere. So, one's position on nuclear power aside, I don't think that Blake would ever make an ignorant comment like that on a subject that he researched.

They also ignored the Fukushima incident and more importantly, they never mentioned the risks and difficulties of storing nuclear waste. That seemed quite the oversight for a bunch of people determined to save the planet as the consequences can be devastating to nature if nuclear waste isn't stored correctly and there is only the tiniest of leaks.

And "virtually accident proof" is like the unsinkable Titanic, right? Chernobyl ultimately blew up because of human error. Where there are humans involved human errors are made and as rare as accidents are, if there is an accident, the consequences are substantial and potentially devastating. And certainly infinitely more serious than a ridiculous "children glow in the dark" comment.

I don't mind that they argued for nuclear power as the transition power. I can absolutely see the advantages. I mind that they did it in such an ignorant and unbalanced way that it made them all look ignorant and like lobbyists for nuclear power instead of Senior Staff plus head of the State Department.

Bess can get passionate about subject but considering how upset Bess was in S1 over a report written by an oil lobbyist, I don't believe that she would have acted the way she did. They could have written it more balanced and less ignorant and Bess could still have been in favor of nuclear power and passionate about the need for it. I thought the way this was handled was unworthy of how most of the show has been done so far.

 

2 hours ago, betsyboo said:

ME TOO! And then I spent an inordinate amount of time wondering why she was putting on (ROLL-ON!) deodorant when she hadn't showered yet! Or did she shower and put her pajamas back on!?!?!

I wondered the exact same thing. Or maybe it's one of those moments when you do something that makes no sense because you're so distratced and realize afterwards that it made no sense?

 

23 hours ago, HurricaneVal said:

I don't think Bess and Admiral-Professor Eye Candy were as much angry at Jason for attempting to have sex, but angry that he'd manipulated Bess into facilitating the whole tryst and she was feeling a bit used--especially after she was still feeling the aftershocks of fearing for his life.  Plus his sucky teen attitude while he was martyring about the whole situation....

Yes, that's my interpretation as well. As a matter-of-fact, they told Jason that in two days he has not uttered a single word of apology for deceiving Bess. When Bess came back and she and Henry were in the kitchen, she also told Henry that it had been an official trip, so she was clearly upset that Jason had misled her.

 

I don't know what it is with this show but they have an uncanny ability to set off explosions that Bess is involved in so that I never see them coming even if I know they're coming. I had seen the preview for this episode and I still jumped when the explosion happened and each time I watch the Iran episode again from S1, I jump, too.

I wish they would have included Bess' PTSD. They did in S2, so I'm assuming they sacrificed it here for the sake of the story but I would think that this would have been worse for Bess than S2 since she was close to the explosion again and her family was involved. But I suppose that maybe her comment to the Russian foreign minister was meant to hint at that?

I thought that the call to Russian foreign minister was well done, I liked how it came through that even though they were arguing he was sincere about Jason. I think it's these little things that let us see these characters not as pure adversaries. The Russian foreign minister is more so than the Chinese but still, he's human.

I loved that Bess sort of ran away from her detail and that they chased after her. I really wouldn't have minded to see them wrestling her into the stairwell. That could have been fun to watch. I don't envy her detail though. I'm sure that every one of them who has a family can understand her desire to look for her son but they can't let her. That must be just as tough as having to accept that you can't do it. This side of the job really sucks!

Everything that followed was priceless. I did not see that coming. I was expecting that Jason forgot his phone but this was so much better. And it was awesome how long it took Bess to realize what exactly was going on. For a moment, I wondered if she's ever realize or if she'd just shut the door again, relieved that nothing happened. But I liked that she left as soon as she realized what was going on and that she didn't yell at Jason.

Would security really permit the Secretary of State to have a street-facing, street-level room though? I'm skeptical.

I love Bess and Chen and their relationship. I almost felt sorry for Chen when Bess brushed him off in the lobby of the hotel but you kinda knew that something was coming that would require Bess to ask the Chinese for their help.

I would have loved if someone had asked Jason whatever happened his and Piper's "spiritual connection" that doesn't require them to have sex. Guess the spirits left?

Interesting decision Conrad made at the end and good scene between him and Bess in the Oval Office later. I thought for sure that Bess would say that he had made the right call, so it was a surprise that she didn't. But yeah, how do you decide what is right in that very moment? Short scene in the situation room but with a lot of impact.

It's so, so nice to have Henry back at the war college. I wouldn't have minded if the scene between Henry and Hill's son had been a tad bit shorter but as long as Henry stays a professor, I'll take it. And despite Hill's anger, she seemed reasonable about it and, contrary to Morejon, she didn't blame what Henry did on Bess. But seriously, Henry, after you were with the CIA for a minute there you're suddenly a former spy? That made me laugh. I think he could have come up with a better answer and I don't really consider him a spy. He was an asset then a handler then a supervisor. He has no idea how to be a spy as we've been shown repeatedly. (And since when can he talk about it?)

I guess, the way Henry talked about flying explains his need to play superman for two seasons?

No Russell but Stevie made a return!

Curious to see where they're going with Blake and I like that they didn't forget about that story. And it's always good to see "old" characters. I like that about the show.

I'm confused about the office set-up. Aren't there only three offices in that hallway? There seem to be only three doors, at least, I've never been able to see more. And the office that seemed to Kat's in that episode is also the office Daisy has gone into in other episodes. Unless Kat simply dragged Blake into the closest office because this was not a conversation they should have had outside an office? And why is the Chief of Staff's office the farthest from Bess' anyway?

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On 4/30/2018 at 6:20 AM, Netfoot said:

The fact that he and his girlfriend arranged a tryst rocks his parents to the core!

Maybe it was the fact (per Bess) that they wanted to have sex in a country that speaks French.

 

On 4/30/2018 at 4:13 PM, Happywatcher said:

Don't know enough to know if they needed the cutters more

Because they have to go all around the world busting ships in other countries' territorial waters, and on the high seas, for drugs and such.  I am not making that up.

 

News flash for Lt. Hill:  The USAF has other airplanes besides fighters, if you really wanted to fly without killing people.  A friend of mine spent nearly his entire 20 year career flying refueling tankers all over the world.  Really good stories about it, too.  And then there's Military Airlift Command, and probably spy stuff, too.  Yes, they spent a good deal of money and time training him to be a fighter pilot, but, in real life, there is some debate within the Defense Department on the continuing viability of manned fighters given the current and future technologies, so your job prospects might be short anyway.   But you went with the CO route, kid.  Good luck getting that job with United Airlines.

Will they deal with the proposed sanctions against Russia in a future episode?  It was rather brushed aside in the crisis.

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I must have missed something.  What do we know about Lt. Hill's father?  What happened to him?

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12 hours ago, Dowel Jones said:

Will they deal with the proposed sanctions against Russia in a future episode?  It was rather brushed aside in the crisis.

Yeah, that seems to happen from time to time.

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13 hours ago, Dowel Jones said:

Will they deal with the proposed sanctions against Russia in a future episode?  It was rather brushed aside in the crisis.

Is it really something that needs to be dealt with? There usually isn't much fuzz about sanctions in RL either. Normally, it's sanctions are imposed, country will sulk, possibly whine about being treated unfairly and that's that. But Bess mentioned to Conrad that Russia won't object to the Chinese becoming a full member of the arctic council if Russia blinks first. Russia blinked first. Judging from how politics goes, I'd say that means case-closed. For now anyway. It may come up again later when the lifting the sanctions can be used as an incentive or Russia asks for the sanctions being lifted in exchange for something else or the sanctions are about to be lifted and Russia pisses the US off again and the US uses not lifting the sanctions as a threat to keep them in line.

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At that climactic scene in the situation room, where the line was "It's your call, Mr. President," was anyone else thinking he should respond, "I say let's go to a commercial"? Because the way the music cues built up the tension, you just KNEW that was what was coming.

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6 hours ago, CheshireCat said:

Is it really something that needs to be dealt with?

I guess my question is really about the US's reaction to the fact that Russia infiltrated several agents into an American NGO, and set off a bomb at a convention.  While no deaths resulted, the only repercussion seems to be a sharply worded Skype with the Russian President.  Granted, they didn't have a lot of time in the program to put it forward past the discussion stage, it would seem appropriate for Dalton to do something public, as the news will get out pretty soon.

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On April 30, 2018 at 6:23 AM, mythoughtis said:

There are reasons why senior class trips are chaperoned - you just saw one of them. Just how stupid are Bess and Henry? Didn’t they learn a thing from Stevie? Typical teenage actions and then reactions.  

I had three kids too. They find new ways to pull the wool over your eyes. Right? 
As did we.
Although I seem to have an inordinate number of coworkers who lived chastely through their teens.
 

 

On April 30, 2018 at 10:54 AM, MerBearHou said:

Fascinating about the Arctic Circle -- had no idea.

Within a week of the episode, NPR had an interview in which someone from the NSIDC stated that by 2030 there will be no ice in the Arctic.

 

 

On May 1, 2018 at 9:15 AM, betsyboo said:

I LEGIT laughed out loud at "Did you know <orcas> sleep with only hemisphere of their brain at a time? Such inquisitive creatures..." SNORT. I tweeted the actor (@fjue) and his reply was "Thank you so much for reminding me about that line!" His delivery was genius

It's so nice to hear that the actor is as delightful as the character!

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13 hours ago, Dowel Jones said:

I guess my question is really about the US's reaction to the fact that Russia infiltrated several agents into an American NGO, and set off a bomb at a convention.  While no deaths resulted, the only repercussion seems to be a sharply worded Skype with the Russian President. 

And sanctions.

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On 30/04/2018 at 7:39 PM, Netfoot said:

Even supposing that Canada's defense posture can be accurately described as "defend us, US" (and I am not in a position to say, one way or the other),

It cannot really be described that way of course; it is a caricature of the facts considering that Canada does not need as active territorial defense activities as countries smack int he middle of the world's real hot spots (South America, Middle East, etc.) and also that it is heavily involved with the US in defense alliances, including good old NORAD.

Another aspect which strained credibility in that episode was that there was no mention of an icebreaker from Canada. There is one stationed on the West Coast servicing the Northwest Passage and the Arctic Archipelago (I once saw it docked in Victoria BC), which could have been a more friendly alternative to China. But I suppose it was (conveniently for the purposes of the plot) engaged elsewhere.

They took pains to putting in a brief establishing shot of Old Montréal (Google view or CGI?) before getting back to generic settings.

Edited by Florinaldo

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On 4/23/2018 at 12:44 AM, CooperTV said:

...when an activist group detonates a bomb...

This is why people hate political correctness. An ACTIVIST group? The use of "activist" as a euphemism for "terrorist" is something a special snowflake would insist on. After all, calling the Taliban or the Kmer Rouge terrorists might hurt their feelings. JeeZ!!!!

Also, the kids were seventeen or something. The should have had a chance to get laid.

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25 minutes ago, Notwisconsin said:

The use of "activist" as a euphemism for "terrorist" is something a special snowflake would insist on.

Be glad they didn't say "discharge a device" in case anyone was triggered by the word "bomb".

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1 hour ago, Notwisconsin said:

This is why people hate political correctness. An ACTIVIST group? The use of "activist" as a euphemism for "terrorist" is something a special snowflake would insist on. After all, calling the Taliban or the Kmer Rouge terrorists might hurt their feelings. JeeZ!!!!

Except that it wasn't the activists who detonated the bomb but the Russians who infiltrated it and hijacked the protest for their own purpose. From what I understood the activists had been, were and are non-violent.

But putting "when Russian spies detonate a bomb" in the summary would kind of have given away a plot twist ;-)

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Jason behaved terribly to his parents afterward, but I did like that he eventually apologized with sincerity, and I loved the end scene between him and Stevie.

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On May 6, 2018 at 8:39 PM, CheshireCat said:

 

On May 6, 2018 at 6:54 PM, Notwisconsin said:

 

On April 22, 2018 at 11:44 PM, CooperTV said:

Elizabeth is attending a summit in Montreal to resolve territorial claims of the North Pole when an activist group detonates a bomb and she can’t locate Jason and Piper. 

This is why people hate political correctness. An ACTIVIST group? The use of "activist" as a euphemism for "terrorist" is something a special snowflake would insist on. After all, calling the Taliban or the Kmer Rouge terrorists might hurt their feelings. JeeZ!!!!

Except that it wasn't the activists who detonated the bomb but the Russians who infiltrated it and hijacked the protest for their own purpose. From what I understood the activists had been, were and are non-violent.

But putting "when Russian spies detonate a bomb" in the summary would kind of have given away a plot twist ;-)

Note to CBS and all those responsible for episode descriptions:
Less is more, especially regarding political adjectives.  
Just "a group" instead of "an activist group" would have in no way taken away from the suspense or mystery.

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3 hours ago, shapeshifter said:

Note to CBS and all those responsible for episode descriptions:
Less is more, especially regarding political adjectives.  

If this is the same person responsible for the blurb for S4E13 Reading the Signs ("Elizabeth seeks creative solutions when the president of Sri Lanka’s psychic convinces him to not move forward with a trade agreement with the U.S.") s/he is at least improving a bit.

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2 hours ago, Driad said:

If this is the same person responsible for the blurb for S4E13 Reading the Signs ("Elizabeth seeks creative solutions when the president of Sri Lanka’s psychic convinces him to not move forward with a trade agreement with the U.S.") s/he is at least improving a bit.

Hah! Good point!

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Random thought: would a woman who came this close to losing her husband to radiation poisoning really be so dismissive of the risks of nuclear power?

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