The Diplomat Ending, Explained: Who Attacked HMS Courageous?

Netflix’s political thriller, ‘The Diplomat,’ follows the story of Kate Wyler, whose sudden reassignment from Afghanistan to London changes the course of her life. She is known for her sharp wit and excellent judgment in times of crisis, having served in some of the most politically volatile places in the world. So, when the time comes to handle the conflict between the UK and Iran, she is sent for the job.

What is sold to her as an easy job where all she has to do is show up in solidarity, Kate finds herself getting entangled in a mess that can have devastating consequences. To solve the problem, she needs to get to its root and find out who triggered this crisis in the first place. She makes a shocking discovery, but it might have been too late by then. Here’s what happens at the end of ‘The Diplomat’ and what it means for Kate. SPOILERS AHEAD

The Diplomat Plot Synopsis

Image Credit: Alex Bailey/Netflix

HMS Courageous, a British warship, is bombed in the middle of the ocean, and the circumstances point suspicion towards Iran. The UK is in the mood to retaliate and wants America to stand by it. The American President is happy to comply, but people on both sides don’t want to unnecessarily escalate things when there’s nothing to prove that Iran had a hand in this attack. Due to her expertise in mitigating such situations, Kate is sent to London as an American ambassador.

At first, Kate believes she is being sent a part of the show, considering how her country doesn’t want to get involved in tense circumstances. Soon, however, she discovers that this is much more than a simple job. She is being judged and evaluated on her ability to work under stressful circumstances and the political maneuvers she resorts to. She is being considered as a candidate for the next Vice President.

While Kate considers the offer, she is torn between her political ambition and failing marriage. Being VP means she won’t be able to divorce Hal, a shrewd diplomat who can’t help but meddle in her affairs. At first, she is more interested in being free of Hal and living freely. But then, she gets a taste of what it could be like to be in a position of power and make decisions to change the world. As she toys with the idea of taking the job, she has to ensure that the leaders of America and the UK don’t make any decisions that could lead to the next great war.

The Diplomat Ending: Did Trowbridge Plot the Attack on HMS Courageous?

Image Credit: Alex Bailey/Netflix

Tensions surfaced between the UK and Iran after an unmotivated attack on the British warship. Considering the circumstances, Iran looked like the only suspect. However, many people, including Kate, were convinced that they were being used as a scapegoat by someone else. Kate doubts the situation momentarily when a satellite image shows an Iranian boat leaving the country’s coast and then appearing in the waters near the warship. To anyone looking for proof, this is enough. But Kate knows there is more to the story.

Hal tries to take the blame off of Iran by initiating the events that lead to his kidnapping and an Iranian minister reiterating that the government knows nothing about the attack. When the British Prime Minister, Nicol Trowbridge, shows no inclination to have an open mind about the situation and seems hell-bent on attacking the Middle Eastern country, Kate and her team realize that the only way to calm him down is by figuring out the identity of the real culprit.

When Ambassador Hajjar tells them about Roman Lenkov, the blame shifts to Russia, it doesn’t make sense Russia, which is already engaged in another war, would do something as reckless as to bring more trouble to its shores. But then, they think it might be a trick to distract the world’s attention. Russia must have wanted to frame Iran and fire the conflict between the UK and Iran, knowing that the US would get involved too. The West will be busy dealing with this new problem, and the spotlight won’t shine on Russia’s war.

Kate knows that once confronted, Russia will deny any role in the attack, which is what happens. But then, something else forces her to give the situation more thought. Roman Lenkov is the leader of the mercenary group, which has strong ties with the Russian government. The Kremlin has repeatedly used the group’s services, so one would think that they would protect Lenkov. Instead, the Russians hand him over to Kate. They give her an address in France and the exact time he will be there. This information would have been impossible to come by otherwise, which is why Kate wonders, are Russians doing this to clean their hands off the whole thing, or are they innocent in this case?

Whatever the Russian role in the attack, they now have Lenkov. Kate believes that getting him arrested will do the trick. She has to get the French authorities to allow them to execute this operation on their soil. She convinces them, but then the French reveal that the plan is not just to arrest Lenkov and find out who hired him. The British forces intend to assassinate him. When Kate asks Dennison about this, he is shocked. This was never discussed with him, and no one let him in on the loop of what the PM had decided.

This is when Kate puts two and two together. The only people who’d want Lenkov gone are the ones who want to shut him up. Trowbridge bypassed Dennison and kept the Americans in the dark about the assassination because he didn’t want Lenkov to be captured alive. Because it was Trowbridge who had hired Lenkov to orchestrate the attack on HMS Courageous. Why did he do that?

As Roylin tells Kate, UK politics is in a state of upheaval. There is a wave of discontent in Scotland and Northern Ireland, wanting to separate from the union. Trowbridge’s popularity has declined steeply, and he needs something to establish him as a reliable leader. No matter their differences, the people of a nation always band together in a state of crisis, and Trowbridge needed that. When it didn’t happen by itself, he decided to make his own crisis and reap the political benefits.

If the people saw Iran or Russia as their enemy, they wouldn’t pay as much attention to the follies of their Prime Minister. It is possible that Roylin advised Trowbridge to do this. We know that despite their differences in public, she has his ear. When she tells him to bomb Russia, he doesn’t think twice before pushing the agenda. It makes sense that he actually did it when she told him to explode their own ship so that he could hold on to his office.

Do Hal and Stuart Die?

A desperate Trowbridge didn’t care that he would kill his own people, but other party members did. He knew Dennison would never agree to such tactics, so the PM kept his minister out of the loop. No matter how much he tried to hide it, the secret was bound to come out sooner or later. When the Tory MP, Merritt Grove, found out about it, he knew he had to tell someone. He couldn’t trust the members of his party because he knew that any of them could be an accomplice in the crime. It had to be an outsider.

As an ambassador of the US, Kate was supposed to speak at an event at Chatham House. Grove was present at the event, and he thought about speaking it to her. Instead, her husband showed up, and his words impressed Grove. He arranged a meeting with Hal to tell him everything, mentioning it as a matter of urgency. When Kate found out about it, she thought Hal was pushing for his own agenda. He wanted to become Secretary of State, so she asked Stuart to stop the meeting. Still, Hal didn’t want to waive away the MP, so he showed up for the meeting.

By that time, Ronnie was already there. When Grove saw her, he refused to talk. He would only speak with Hal, so he left the restaurant where they were supposed to meet and headed for the car. Hal was just a few feet away from him when Grove’s car exploded. In Paris, security shows up and reveals the news to Kate and Dennison. We see a concerned look on her face. Does this mean Hal is dead?

Considering that he was in close vicinity of the blast, Hal must have sustained injuries. So would have Stuart, who was almost the same distance from Grove. However, they were both far enough to die of it. The same, however, doesn’t hold for Grove and Ronnie. They were right next to the car when it blew up, so we can assume they are both dead. It’s clear that Trowbridge had him killed when he found out, most probably from Roylin, that Grove was talking to Hal.

They rigged the car, hoping to shut up Grove before he could tell anyone about the plot involving the PM and Roylin. It would have destroyed their careers, and they would have been sent to prison for the rest of their lives. They were so close to wrapping up the problem by killing Lenkov, so they decided to kill Grove and shut up anyone who could rat them out.

Read More: Is The Diplomat Based on a True Story?