Secret service, intelligence, and international relationships are probably among the most fascinating topics in a TV series. Between 2022 and 2023, there were already two great examples of Netflix shows that successfully touched that area: The Recruit and Treason. Then, in April, The Diplomat arrived, with a thick plot spinning around the complicated relationships among the biggest countries in the world after a military attack against the British Navy. Kate Wyler is sent to the UK as the new American ambassador. The plot goes on with many twists until a frantic ending occurs: what happened? What did Kate realize in the last scene? And is her husband Hal alive? Let’s have everything explained.
You can watch the official trailer for The Diplomat here on Youtube.
The Diplomat plot: who’s responsible for the attack?
The Diplomat starts with an attack on the British Navy, where many officers die. The US needs to assign a new ambassador to the UK, and the choice falls on Kate Haley, an experienced ambassador who was supposed to work in Kabul soon. Kate is surprised: Hal, her husband, is more experienced in that role and available for that position, so it’s unclear why the Oval Office picked her. She accepts the job anyway.
For many episodes, the plot of The Diplomat feeds the doubts around her husband Hal: he looks proud and happy for Kate’s spotlight, but he also seems able to pull strings like a puppet master, driving the events behind her back. It never looks like he’s plotting against Kate, though: he always acts reasonably, and his actions lead Kate to discover that Iran was not responsible for that attack, differently from what the British PM quickly implied.
At that point, we see Kate trying to convince the American President to avoid publicly supporting the British PM’s intentions to attack Iran. She succeeds, winning the President’s trust. After that, in a key moment of The Diplomat plot, the Iranian ambassador writes down the name of the real responsible for the attack just moments before dying: the name is the Russian Roman Lenkov.
From that moment, we see the British PM pushing his whole team to devise a retaliation plan against Russia. At some point, we start to understand the PM’s real motive behind his approach: he needs a strong, foreign enemy to attack in order to build the image of a patriot hero around himself, which is required in days when the independentist movements were gaining consensus in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Kate has a hard time trying to calm down the British PM’s desire to attack Russia. At some point, there is an important meeting between Kate and the Russian ambassador, and again, the latter helps Kate discover the information about where they can arrest Lenkov. This leads Kate to doubt the involvement of the Russian government in that attack: maybe Lenkov was actually hired by someone else. This would match the information in possess by British intelligence, which never managed to confirm that any Russian organization gave the go for that operation. This leads us to the ending of The Diplomat, let’s have it carefully explained.
The Diplomat ending explained: what did Kate realize? What happened to Hal?
At the ending of The Diplomat, we see Kate and the British Foreign Secretary Austin Dennison going in Paris to get an agreement with the French Minister of the Interior about arresting Lenkov in French territory. Reluctantly, the French Minister agrees but reveals privately to Kate that, according to her intelligence information, the UK is actually planning to kill Lenkov once caught. This comes as a shock for Kate: she confronts Dennison on the streets, and that’s where she realizes the crucial piece of information that the plot implies. Meanwhile, her husband Hal is meeting a Tory MP who requested to talk with some key roles at the White House.
In the conversation between Kate and Dennison, we understand that Dennison is totally unaware of any intention of the UK to kill Lenkov. That would need special authorization from him, and he suspects that some meeting was planned for him to get that. At that point, Kate realizes that the only one who can want Lenkov dead at that moment is precisely the one who hired him, and she has a clarifying insight: it was the British PM who secretly ordered Lenkov to attack, with the simple goal to have a motive for a retaliation response that can save his public image as a PM.
It’s a serious accusation, and we immediately understand that whoever may have this kind of suspect could be another target of the PM. While we observe all this, the ending of The Diplomat explodes: in London, the Tory PM opens the door of his car, and he blows up, with Kate’s husband Hal and Stuart Heyford, the Deputy chief of mission, very close to him.
The final scene of the series shows the police gathering around Kate and Dennison, communicating something urgent to Kate: most likely, they are already informing her about the explosion in London, updating her about her husband’s condition.
Is Hal Wyler alive? The ending of The Diplomat hasn’t clearly explained that, leaving this question unclear. We see the car very close to the corner where Hal stands, so most likely, the blast hit him. He could be only injured, though: we don’t know whether he’s dead or not. That would be a matter for Season 2 of the show, where many possible points could be explored: how will Kate and Dennison act now that they suspect the British PM? Will Kate become Vice President, and is Hal really glad to leave the spotlight to Kate, or is he actually aiming at something else for himself?
The plot and the ending of The Diplomat gave enough to think, without having everything clearly explained. But that’s part of the beauty of a series like this.