Dear Readers: Today we continue with Lyttenburgh’s incisive review of that American TV show “State of Affairs”. Lyttenburgh was both upset and hilarified by their dumb-ass portrayal of Russian submariners. Not to mention the show’s (probably inadvertent) revelations about the mindset of Hollywood writers! In short, “it’s a fine state of affairs” when television viewers must be abused and lied to by a bunch of psychopaths who probably never travelled beyond the boundaries of Burbank, California!
But enough of that. Without further ado, here is Lyttenburgh to speak to you in his own words:
Today I’d like to introduce you to the US TV series that premiered last year, which main character is a STRONG INDEPENDENT WOMAN (and a blonde), who’s previously worked as the field operative for the CIA’s Warriors of Light, but now works for the US President directly. Her team is a collection of token characters ubiquitous for shows of such genre. In every single episode she has to deal with this or that international crisis threatening the US global interests, while throughout the show runs a central plot dealing with some all powerful top-level governmental conspiracy and a Middle Eastern threat… And, no – I’m not repeating myself. This is not “Madam Secretary” – this is NBC’s State of Affairs.
In fact, despite their similarities in appearance and “career paths” that they’ve chosen before, “State of Affairs” protagonist is really nothing like Madam Secretary Elisabeth McCord.
Charleston “Chare” Whitney Tucker is a top CIA analyst responsible for the President’s Daily Briefing, where she lists TOP-10 threats to the US security and national interests. She has rather awkward and sometimes strained working and personal relations with Madam President Constance Payton, because our Charlie has been previously engaged to her son Aaron. But during the presidential re-election campaign she and her boss decided that nothing can assure the 2nd term like a family trip to Afghanistan. Results were tragic – the US presidential cortege was ambushed by terrorists and Aaron died in the ensuing gunfight. But this pony and circus show gone wrong reached its original purpose – Constance Payton got her re-election.
Since then Charlie suffers from a selective amnesia (she just DON’T remember the death of her fiancé, which happened right before her eyes), PTSD and acute paranoia, which she combats by drinking binges and lots of sex with complete strangers. Yeah…totally nothing like “family friendly” “Madam Secretary” with her “Modern American Family” of spineless husband and children consisting of miserable and unsympathetic screw-ups and oddballs.
But the superficial similarity of these two show’s protagonists and similarity of themes (the US take on international crises and threats) made quite a lot of reviewers to compare the two and even officially proclaim them the “Dueling TV shows”. And that comparison was not in “State of Affairs” favor. Ratings clearly demonstrated that – first season of “Madam Secretary” enjoyed a rather healthy 61% compared to rather abysmal 26% of the “State of Affairs”. These facts ultimately lead to the “State of Affairs” closure after just one 13 episode season, while the “Madam Secretary” got itself a new full season.
Why did it happen? Why seemingly so similar shows performed so differently? All criticism of “State of Affairs” gross inaccuracies and heavily applied “handwavium” [yalensis Editorial note: “Handwavium” is a recently discovered element which makes Russian liberals stronger than steel and faster than a speeding bullet; it is right next to “Handshakium” on the periodic table], multiplied by a rather mediocre performance of Katherine Heigl while portraying her show’s absolutely unsympathetic protagonist aside, but, as for me – both shows are less than perfect and truly deserving of each other. The StronK, Successful Female Secretary of State in “Madam Secretary” actually backfires in its attempt to convince the people that Hillary Clinton would make a fine president one day, while reminding everyone that she was an abysmal flop in the real job. And the wise, information-seeking FEMALE black president in “State Of Affairs” always paying close attention to the Presidential Daily Briefing and the people involved unintentionally reminds the audience in the US that their current REAL (half-)black president routinely doesn’t bother to read the real PDBs or meet with the people who make them.
So, how does this two both similar and dissimilar shows deal with Russia, Russians and, most importantly, with dreaded Russian submarines? Let’s find out!
OLD FEARS RESURFACE
“State of Affairs” doesn’t mince words, it gives us our much desired “One Russian Episode” right in the beginning – it’s the second episode of the first and only season titled “Secrets & Lies”. Get ready your nerve medicine, go to your nearest galiyun (that’s the naval term for a latrine, yer, landlubbers!) and strap your seatbelts. We about to deep dive into something terrifyingly bad and silly, reeking of the ages old fears and idiocy.
The episode begins “100 meters below the Bering Sea – US territorial waters”. Right in your face we are basically rammed by the Russian sub “БФИ914” – written in big white letters where it shouldn’t be written according to military regulations, but, thankfully, the sub itself is with a Tricolor and double-headed eagle. The fact that such gross violation of the proper military regulation took place on a supposedly Russian submarine, could be explained, probably, by the fact that it’s crew speaks only “pidgin’ Rushian”, with such linguistic gems like:
“Всем сосредоточиться по местам.”
Eng. subtitle: “Threatening the communication tether.”
“Разломает на куски подлодка не”
Eng. subtitle: “There is a storm on the surface.”
“Двигайтесь ребята, двигайтесь ребята!”
Eng. subtitle: “There is no time to disconnect the tether now.”
All these phrases were actually spoken in, ah, Russian… Hell they can’t even write in Russian on this sub, adorned with such “warning signs” like:
«Осторожно! ВРIСОКОЕ НАПЬЯЖЕНИЕ».
Wow! Russian military is indeed in a bad shape – they have to employ people with such bad quality of speaking Russian! But these guys – hell, they sound worse than some “wild divisions” from the North Caucasus or the invincible Buryatian armour cavalry!
By the way – what are they doing here in the US territorial waters? Oh, the usual evil Ruskies stuff! You see, this sub is here to deliver to the sea bottom 2 scuba-divers, who will then cut into an American cable innocently lying in the seabed. All the while the entire black op is (mis)handled by a ship posing as Russian fishing trawler, which has all sorts of communication and spy gizmos and which is connected to the sub by a tether.
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
This episode of “State of Affairs” premiered on November 24, 2014. Probably, to commemorate 11 months since its airing the Western Free and Independent Media ™ decided to run through its papers one similar story, namely Russian Ships Near Data Cables Are Too Close for U.S. Comfort.
Article whips up its audience into Cold War frenzy with this horror story:
”Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.”
The issue goes beyond old worries during the Cold War that the Russians would tap into the cables – a task American intelligence agencies also mastered decades agoThe alarm today is deeper: The ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West’s governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent.
While there is no evidence yet of any cable cutting, the concern is part of a growing wariness among senior American and allied military and intelligence officials over the accelerated activity by Russian armed forces around the globe. At the same time, the internal debate in Washington illustrates how the United States is increasingly viewing every Russian move through a lens of deep distrust, reminiscent of relations during the Cold War.”
“Just last month, the Russian spy ship Yantar, equipped with two self-propelled deep-sea submersible craft, cruised slowly off the East Coast of the United States on its way to Cuba — where one major cable lands near the American naval station at Guantánamo Bay. It was monitored constantly by American spy satellites, ships and planes. Navy officials said the Yantar and the submersible vehicles it can drop off its decks have the capability to cut cables miles down in the sea”
But rest easy – Russians in this one episode don’t want to cut your Internet and deprive the Free World from the vital Pron. Nah – they are just for the old-school Cold War style cable tapping. In a place, where officially there are no cables at all (check it out yourself). And evil Ruskies surely would have executed their dastardly plan, but… Enter a fierce sea storm!
Well, you know these Russians – can’t do anything properly! The above the surface ship gets some serious pounding and the sub, because it’s still connected with it by a simple tether, gets grounded on a sea bed – by falling 300 meters down. Hard. And this means a death sentence to the crew because, according to its Lzherusskiy captain – “this ship isn’t built for this depth”. Let’s just remember this little factoid – that a Russian sub “БФИ914” is currently falling apart due to pressure at the depth of 400 meters.
Thankfully, this particular ship has an Intelligence Officer on board – a fine chap named Anatoliy – who’s tasked by the sub’s captain to execute a contingency plan. Well, sounds legit – naturally, if Ruskies are engaged in such despicable skullduggery and backstabbing maneuvers against the Bastion of Democracy, they will put some KGB-like goon on a ship to oversee the whole operation.
But here comes (naturally!) a plot twist. Our dear Tolik is a CIA asset. He murders in cold blood 2 comms-officers who were with him there, in the communication room, and then deploys a communication buoy without his captain’s approval knowing perfectly well that this will reveal their position to the Americans. Oh, you know – this small thing we call treason.
Holy Land of Langley (Virginia, USA) receives his distress signal. Here, operatives identify him as “Russian Intelligence officer Anatoly Simonov, Designation Nightfall” who was CIA’s “asset” since 1986. 28 years. Yep. That long. Still an asset. In fact, the whole plot after this revelation becomes rather unbelievable and too “coincidences” dependant.
When “Fairy Godmother” in Langley asks him to report on his situation, Anatoly dutifully answers to his true masters:
“I’m in a Soviet Piranha-class sub experiencing complete system loss near the bottom of the Bering Sea. We’re dead in the water at crush depth.”
Wait, did you just say Soviet Piranha-class sub?! First of all – there is no such NATO-designated sub. Second – there were indeed “865 «Пиранья»” Soviet/Russian designated subs, whose NATO designation name was Losos (Salmon), but as can be evident to anyone who can use the basic searching capabilities of the Internet (but not the show’s creators, consulted, allegedly, by 2 ex-CIA staffers themselves) – only two submarines of this class were built in 1986 and 1990 respectively. In 1999 both of them were scrapped for metal in Kronstadt. But one thing show’s creator got right – the max depth of these “midget-subs” was just 200 meters, so – yeah, depth twice bigger would kill them all.
But the matter is – “Piranhas” were indeed “midget submarines”, 28.3 meters long with a crew consisting only of 3 (three) plus 6 divers. The sub shown in this episode is much bigger with naturally even bigger crew (show claims “anywhere between 10 to 20 Russian Navy and at least one intelligence officer, our asset”).
So – nice try, show’s creator! Good enough attempt to appear knowledgeable about the subject and try to bullshit your way out of it – for the 90s or the Cold War, from which this scenario probably came to us via some unholy time-space warping portal. But enough with show’s miserable creator’s bashing – give us more DRAMA!
Usually good, kind and trusting, CIA agents are suspicious of Anatoliy being a possible “FSB dangle”, so they want to test him for his loyalty to the Star Spangled Banner before trying to save him and his entire submarine. The following dialog takes place:
Anatoliy Simonov: “I’m an intelligence officer with the Soviet Navy.”
[See, people?! And you thought that John McCain was a senile old Cold War fossil, who keeps calling Russian Federation a “Soviet Union”! Now, this show proves that you were wrong about him – Soviet Naval officer played by an American proves that. Or, quite possible, the whole scenario for this episode is just some Tom Clancy’s reject written in 1980s and then copypasted without edit in the here and now]
Simonov: “I volunteered for this duty suspecting a covert detail against the U.S.”
Charlie: “Did you contact your handler?”
Simonov: “I’ve reached out, but I haven’t heard back. I undertook this operation alone.”
Charlie: “And what did you find out? What were they doing down there?”
Simonov: “Tapping the cables, cutting into them and recording every piece of data.”
Charlie: “Were they successful in the tapping?”
Simonov: “They were changing recording devices. We have approximately six months of siphoned intel on board”.
Charlie: “What kind of intelligence?”
Simonov: “Significant. So they know it was retrieved. But they don’t know about the storm. This is the only communication possible. Our cover story was a lost oil vessel. We were searching for signs of it when we were blown off course.”
Once again – wow! Can you feel it?! The sheer stupidity and incompetence combined with unexplainable success of such a malicious act against the Paragon of Worldly Virtue (Who Never Spies on Other Countries At All)?! And why this whole operation is not carried out by SVR rather than by GRU about which (and FSB) show’s creators have equally low level of knowledge…But your average American viewer is already confused by this word soup, after being fed for decades the tasty and unsophisticated porridge of “KGB is new SS” propaganda.
And, of course, how one can’t sympathize with a traitor who volunteers to ruin an intelligence gathering mission against Glorious USA? No, I’m serious here – who feels sympathy for such a man, a traitor and a turncoat, even among the US viewership of the show?!
How does the team of professional CIA analytics react to this kind of situation? Well, by cracking stupid jokes and basically breaking (unintentionally) the fourth wall!
Charlie: “Well, we have a Russian submarine that’s compromised our fiber optics array, dead at the bottom of the Bering Sea, with one of our assets on board begging us to save him.”
Lucas: ”Well, we could get Jack Ryan on a helo, drop him into the Bering Sea….”
Yeah. Apparently they think this sounds reeeeeally funny, and not just miserable.
And because this show just can’t decide with its general way of presenting things – whether it’s a spoof or a serious stuff, for example – we have a following mood whiplash.
Greer: “Guys, it’s bad. One of the lines in that cable bundle was highly classified D.O.D. It carries all of our sensitive military communications to our bases in Europe and Asia.”
Maureen: ”That’s war plans, weapons systems specs.”
Greer: ”Worse…The Agency has its own highly secure line in that bundle. They could access the identities of all of our station chiefs, undercover nocs, and foreign assets worldwide. I’m talking names, addresses, everything.”
Gee! What a horror! And, as the protagonist’s BFF in the Company Maureen and her other underling Kurt reminds us, the lobotomized audience “If Russia finds out who are assets are… They’d kill every one of them. And their families and extended families… And then they’ll shop the rest of that intel to Iran, to North Korea.”
[doublefacepalm because just one facepalm is not enough for this situation]
Looks like show’s creator are BADLY trying to portray the Intelligence services struggle against each other as a brand new shiny Yearly Idiot’s Bowl Meets Darwin’s Award. It’s really hard to decide who’s the greater imbecile and a dead-end of the Evolution – Jedis of the CIA or the morbid Siths of the “We-Know-Its-Still-KGB” from Russia. The brightest and most intelligent CIA analysts couldn’t imagine that Russia can use this intel about their “assets” and their families and, say, try to make them double agents or by simply feeding them false information from now on. Or, why not be creative about it? Why tell about CIA “assets” to Iran or the Best Korea – tell about them to Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, India, Pakistan etc. Imagine what kind of shitstorm this would cause?! As we all know by now – being the US “ally” and/or “friend” doesn’t prevent the Bastion of Freedom from spying on you. Well, it’s for the Greater Good. And Democracy. Why do you need your state sovereignty anyway, when you have the US troops on the ground?!
But – nah! Show’s creators decided to flush this much more realistic possibility down the toilet, presenting Russians as murderous thugs and simultaneously tried to justify the whole enormous spying (a priori illegal) US activities by… uhm… appealing to the fact that “innocent” families of these
traitors heroes would be killed?
But the plot of the episode carries on! POTUS authorizes the deployment of the icebreaker to rescue the distressed sub. Its ETA is about 10-11 hours, while the sub has about 11-12 hours of oxygen left… CIA’s “Russia’s House” is as helpful as can be expected from this show – Anatoliy’s handler died a month ago in a car crash, and a young, wet-behind his ears agent sent to deliver that message doesn’t even speak Russian… So he and his bosses are more than happy to make the whole mess Charlie and her team’s personal headache. Niiiiiiice…
So, to distract Anatoliy the Traitor from his impending doom, Charlie tries to make a “small talk” with him. Which results in some supposedly “heartwarming” dialog, where Simonov says that he knew her father, also a CIA senior agent, and even met her when she was 13 or 14 in the park near Potomac. And that she, Charlie, “were playing with my daughter, Sabina”
Now, are you telling me that Russian intelligence services after 1991 were so incredibly bad, that they’ve allowed an active GRU officer to travel with his family to the USA “just for fun” and communicate with a known CIA operative? Even for the 90s its kinda super-duper dumb! Okay, screw the “Rough 90s” and their chaos (somehow…) – this guy managed to keep his all important high position through 2000s and early 2010s – surely, someone could’ve checked his background and find out what kind of “travels” did he take in his spare time. And for the love of all that is still logical – just what kind of Russian names his daughter – even now with “liberalization” of naming process – Sabina?! And as for her – well, of course, she studies in the US, in some university, “a freshman, premed”.
Let us recap. Russian intelligence community is apparently so grossly incompetent so they:
- Can’t root out a CIA informer in the span of 28 years.
- Keep promoting and giving sensitive jobs to said informer.
- Allow him to freely travel without supervision around the world.
- Allow his daughter to study abroad in the country of the “Potential Adversary”.
- Appoint him on a spy submarine tasked with retrieving vital intel from a country where he previously studied in college, visited with his young daughter and where she is studying now.
But noooooo – we want to turn this whole scene into a tearjerker and screw the logic, right?!
Charlie: “Anatoly. That means “sunrise,” doesn’t it?”
Simonov (crying): “Yes, it does.”
This is Anatoliy Alexandrovitch Vasserman. He knows that his name means “Eastern” i.e. “From Where the Sun Rises” and that’s the reason why the ancient Hellenes named the Asia Minor “Anatolia”. The fact that a GRU officer turned traitor is crying like a little bitch about this easily googled trivia makes me laugh… and a little sad.
Naturally, even such hare-brained rescue plan didn’t survive first 5 minutes of reality – Evil Russian Fleet dispatches 2 destroyers to retrieve the sub… and they have good chances of arriving on the crime scene well before the slow-poke like the US icebreaker.
What to do? How to resolve this situation? Let us heed the wise words of the President of the United States of America – Constance Payton:
President Payton: “The situation with the Russian sub… You know we’re not gonna get there in time…. The Russians have threatened to fire on the “Healy” if we interfere with the reclamation of that sub in any way. They’re testing me. Well, I certainly am not going to sit by while they hijack six months of our most sensitive intel. You know, it occurred to me, none of this would be happening if that sub had sank altogether.”
Charlie: “You want me to ask our asset to sink the sub.”
President Payton: ” I don’t want you to. I need you to.”
Charlie: ”He has performed almost 30 years of covert service on behalf of this nation, madam.”
President Payton: ”This sounds like a lecture”.
Charlie: “No, ma’am. But the truth is…”
President Payton: ”The truth, Charleston, is what we determine it to be, and it lies not in the facts but in the telling.”
Oh, yes! The Last King of Scotland approves of your methods, Madam President! Also, have you noticed? It’s becoming rather all too common event in the US produced TV shows when the pure blooded Americans In Higher Places dismiss as utterly easily replaceable and rather expandable all sorts of their foreign “assets” – be they spies, traitors or even politicians? Once again – a very good reminder for all those fine people from the aforementioned categories – keep that in mind next time you decide to make something good for your new Masters.
But because the show still is not done with milking their viewership of its precious tears – it once again decides to employ some of the lamest tricks to solicit some of our sympathy for a traitor. This time – via a story about how he became an asset all those years back:
Kurt: “It was a sense of self-worth… he wanted to be essential, someone important. He believed the world was on the verge of a nuclear war, and he realized while he was here in college that the US might be the reasonable ones.
Oh-ho-ho-ho – those suicidal Russians! Sending their young future intelligence officers to study in the American college during the height of the Cold War! Nothing will ever teach them – nothing! Mark my words – they will continue to make this same mistake in the future… in American TV series, of course (and I already have seen several examples of that) but not in reality.
MASS MURDER IS GOOD FOR PRIMETIME
What follows is one of the most morally disgusting scenes that I’ve ever seen in my life. Charlie appeals to this traitor’s twisted sense of “duty” and “patriotism” by saying that the US president has a “mission only you can do”. In the name of “avoiding a war between our nations” he must commit a mass murder – and a suicide as well. She easily lies through her teeth inventing from a whole cloth a story, how she actually remembers him from that fateful meeting years ago and how her father called him “a hero”.
And this sick and lame bullshit works. Anatoliy agrees to do this, asking only to record last message for his daughter (in English, naturally). Charlie, this alfa-bitch who’d seen Arab terrorists tortured to the inch of their lives at some of the most blackest of black sites “officially not operated” by the CIA, sheds a singe tear – she is incredibly sad, because she just can’t allow this recording to reach its intended recipient due to CIA protocols on security. Anatoliy activates John Fucking Rambo Mode, kills about a dozen of sailors while fighting his way to torpedo launcher and then, on his last breath, manages to launch one of torpedoes, which sends already badly damaged submarine even deeply below, down to its all-crushing watery grave.
Trying to commemorate Anatoliy’s largely meaningless sacrifice, Charlie and Maureen went out to some open-air restaurant:
Maureen: “Well, he died a hero.
Charlie: “ No, he didn’t. He died a spy”
And then they drink vodka.
Intended audience is out of their minds due to confused and mixed signals this show have just gave them.
That was “State of Affairs” take on the “One Russian Episode” phenomenon and one particular “Russian theme” still, as we can see it, rather popular with various shows creators – and also with hysterical pundits. Was it Russophobic? Well, d’uh! Russians are the Bad Guys after all, plus the amount of other stereotypes and glaring inaccuracies give this episode 10 points on our “Klyukvometr”.
This episode largely confirms a lot of old and new stereotypes that now have taken a deep root in the conscience of both various Media creators and their intended audience. What I don’t understand even to this day, is why some shows prosper and go on and on, while others wither and get cancelled, if both of them are so damn similar in their general treatment of the main subject – the US and the world around them. Both of these shows are full of egregorious mistakes, inaccuracies and facepalm inducing stupid screw ups – but, apparently, viewership is perfectly fine at tolerating some of them, while becoming overly critical of the others. This, or being Hillary Clinton’s unofficial propaganda outlet saves you from a large variety of criticism and ensures a stable viewer base, that won’t allow your show to sink below “discontinued” level.
In some regards, “State of Affairs” appears more honest, less idealized and surely much more cynical than all-too often over the top “politically correct” “Madam Secretary” full of cheap pathos and two-dimensional characters. Besides, it was in the “State of Affairs” 3rd episode where it’s creators allowed honesty to creep for a short time out, so we had this little and adorable dialog:
Kurt: “How do you say “sanctions aren’t working” in Russian?”
Ahwwww! Isn’t it cute?