The episode begins with everyone stumbling into the office after a DoSAC party the previous night. Terri mentions that someone is coming from the BBC to do a quick interview with Nicola regarding her Fourth Sector launch that evening. It’s also mentioned that the PM is off on a world tour and that Steve Fleming has returned. Who is Steve Fleming, you might ask? It’s not explained very explicitly in the series, so I’ll just tell you that he is another press guy like Malcolm who helped the party get into power. Ollie remarks that if they’ve brought back Fleming, then it “really is the end.” Glen also mentions that he will be standing as a candidate for Parliament in the next election.
A rather young and unimportant journalist arrives from the BBC for Nicola’s quick interview. During this segment, Nicola makes a remark that the PM is the right man for the job rather than the right person. As soon as she says this, Nicola waffles, wanting to change what she said. The way it stands, she thinks that it will sound like she wants a female leader, perhaps herself.
Ben Swain comes into the office and it is revealed that he was fired from DoSAC when Nicola became the Minister there. He is now working at the Department of Education and is accusing Nicola and her department of stealing one of his Education policies for their launch.
Malcolm comes into the office and right away Terri remarks that he looks tired. He is there to prep Nicola for her BBC interview, the one that already took place. It turns out the message that he sent to Terri to postpone that interview never sent. Nicola and Terri tease him about Steve Fleming going on tour with the PM rather than him. Clearly, this is a sore subject. Malcolm says that the atmosphere at Number 10 is fairly tense at the moment.
Meanwhile, the BBC did, in fact, pick up on Nicola’s comment about the PM being the best man for the job and they have run with that, saying that Nicola is planning a leadership bid. Malcolm says that they need to go after the BBC for this story, but Nicola suggests that perhaps going after the story will make it worse and will make the BBC think they have an actual juicy piece of news. With his usual dramatic flair, Malcolm says she’s wrong and they need to put the office on lockdown.
In fact, there are already journalists outside the department building, which worries Nicola. Ben, however, is quite gleeful about the media troubles that Nicola is having. He even posts a few comments on the BBC website’s story about her to stir up more interest and generally cause trouble. Malcolm gets an update on what’s going on and, finding that the media response is only ramping up, takes his anger out on Ben in yet another legendary rant. It turns out they should not have responded so enthusiastically. In this instance, Nicola was right and Malcolm was wrong.
To combat this media attention, Malcolm engineers a very ridiculous idea. He tells Nicola that she will go down to her car, make her way through the hordes of journalists down there, just to make a statement that she is standing behind the PM and that she considers him to be the “man of the moment.” This backfires, however, when Nicola flubs the line and says “man for the moment” instead, making it sound like the PM is just a temporary fixture. Malcolm is quite pissed off, but it was his call and his ridiculous scheme that failed.
Malcolm says that they can’t cancel the launch at this stage, but Nicola cannot be seen launching policies just now. Instead, Ben will launch the policy. At this point, Malcolm gets some serious pushback from Terri. She says that using Ben is not a good idea at all and she goes on to tell Malcolm that he’s been wrong and very off the mark all day long. With everyone looking on fearfully and Malcolm looking like there’s a volcano of rage simmering just below the surface, Terri tells him that he’s basically doing everything wrong.
Once she’s finished, Malcolm takes her aside to have a word and as Terri follows him into the conference, everyone looks on as though she’s headed to her execution. Instead of shouting at Terri, though, Malcolm just unloads on her, telling her the kind of pressure that’s been under recently. He describes the idiots he has to deal with on a daily basis, how Number 10 is a toxic environment right now, how journalists are bombarding him everywhere, and how the party is falling apart. I think the most striking comment he makes is that he “used to be the fucking pharaoh,” because it’s true. Malcolm used to be on top. And now they’ve brought back Steve Fleming and Malcolm is watching his party fail. It’s all a bit heartbreaking, really.
So, the policy launch goes ahead with Ben at the helm and his performance is just as good as it was on Newsnight, if you’ll remember that from the specials. Glen tells Nicola how horribly Ben is doing and Nicola, caring about her policy, defies Malcolm and dashes past him to get into the launch event. Unfortunately, she doesn’t do much better as she tries to explain the car incident earlier and lays out the policy in a very shoddy manner.
The episode ends with Nicola feeling dejected about her policy launch and with Glen feeling disappointed as well. It turns out that because of all the bad press surrounding Nicola, and because of Glen’s association with her, he has been deemed unsuitable to stand for a Parliament position. The good news is that the story about Nicola’s leadership was completely killed by her bad performance at the policy launch.
Stay tuned next time for one of the most tense and climactic episodes in the entire series.