US television has done this too. Jeffrey Donovan (Michael Westen) from Burn Notice and Frederick Weller (Marshall Mann) from In Plain Sight both had an appearance on Monk before starring in their own series.
In the fifth season of Angel, Wolfram and Hart's mailman is inexplicable wearing a Mexican wrestling mask at all times. A few episodes in, we learn that he was a member of a team of demon-hunting luchadores who fought an Aztec demon and a robot built by the Devil.
John Diggle, Oliver's bodyguard who he sneaks away from and humiliates every chance he gets when he gets back on the island is the first person Oliver breaks the secret to, in an attempt to get him to join Oliver on his crusade. He does.
The girl who was on the boat with Oliver turns out to be Laurel's sister, and her death is what causes tension with the Lance family. She's also very alive, and comes back as the Canary.
Odd example with Felicity Smoak. She was never intended to be more than a minor one-off extra to help Oliver recover data from a computer. She quickly became an Ensemble Dark Horse and as a result, became this as a recurring major help to Oliver. She eventually joins Team Arrow as a very essential key member.
In the middle of the first season flashbacks, Yao Fei sends Oliver to the remains of a crashed airplane to find help. Instead, he finds a belligerent Australian who ties him up and threatens him. At the end of the episode, we find out the man's name: Slade Wilson. Not only does he train Oliver in combat and teach him to survive the island, he also becomes the Big Bad of Season 2.
An early episode of Babylon 5 introduces a Love Interest for Londo Mollari who leaves him to work out her personal life. Two seasons later, she reappears and is summarily killed as part of a plot by Morden to manipulate Londo into resuming his alliance with the Shadows. It works — meaning that a character who appears in three episodes (and spends one episode as a corpse, and another as a ghost) turns out to be critical in shaping the entire second half of the story.
Another very literal example is Jack, Garibaldi's second in command, who is present in his minor role through much of the first season. At the end of season 1 he is revealed to be involved in a plot to assassinate the President when he shoots Garibaldi in the back to prevent him from warning anyone.
In later seasons of Battlestar Galactica a main plot point became that Starbuck had drawn a "mandala" religious symbol in her room which was visible in early season 2; they would then see this symbol on ruins they found, or in clouds as a "sign from God" and Starbuck would state she'd been doodling it since she was a child. However, in behind the scenes interviews, the writers admitted that the ring-shaped mandala symbol in her room in season 2 was just something the art department doodled, even they didn't think it was a "mandala", and the writers came up with the idea by rewatching old episodes and used it as a justification for major changes in the storyline...which in fact, were never planned out from the beginning. Fans eventually realized there was no over-arcing "Plan" to the series...
Another example from this show is the character Helo, who was meant to be a one-shot character in the pilot movie. He was well-received by fans, and there were enough inquiries about the fate of the character that they decided to keep him alive. He ultimately became an important character in the overall mythology of the series.
This might be evidence of a complete lack of planning, or just a willingness to change course based on feedback or spontaneous ideas that crop up later, while keeping other previously planned details intact. Word of God was generally quite open about explaining in the podcast when something was spontaneous rather than planned, even down to changing the script based on actor improvisation.
In the season 2 episode "Final Cut", D'anna Biers films a number of seemingly innocuous pilots in the ships barracks. One of these pilots turns out to be the person who had been threatening Saul Tigh, and attempts to kill him later in the episode.
In the miniseries, Aaron Doral is introduced as a tour guide on the soon-to-be-decommissioned Galactica. He gives some exposition during the opening credits and protests a little when Laura Roslin takes charge of a shuttle, but has little relevance to the plot. He's outed as a Cylon by the end of the miniseries.
Brother Cavil makes a brief appearance as a priest who gives counceling to Chief Tyrol before being revealed as a Cylon in the same two-part episode. Even then, he seems to be just another Cylon, but it turns out he was actually the architect behind the attacks on the Colonies.
Breaking Bad. Oh boy, Gustavo "Gus" Fring, Mike Ehrmantraut, Hector Salamanca, Todd Alquist, Todd's uncle Jack, Elliott & Gretchen Schwartz and those are just the really big examples.
A one-off villain who tries to get Angel to off himself in the third season, plus its minions who live under a Christmas tree lot, seems like a relatively innocuous villain of the week, until it all comes back four seasons later as the Big Bad. The astute viewer probably should have been suspicious, though, since the baddie in question is apparently the "first evil", and you don't get to be the source of all evil without having something going for you.
Early in the series, there's Jonathan, a Recurring Extra who appears repeatedly around their high school. He's usually in some sort of distress and needs to get rescued. He later makes some prominent appearances in "Earshot" where Buffy prevents his suicide, and "Superstar" where he gets A Day in the Limelight. In season 6, he falls in with Warren and becomes part of the trio of villains for that season.
Jonathan's season 6 cohorts, Warren and Andrew, count too. Warren was seemingly a one-shot character who apparently left town during his brief second appearance. Although Warren's first appearance was in Season 5, which was supposed to be the last season and he didn't come back as a major villain until the show was revived on UPN. Andrew is the till-then unseen brother of Tucker Wells, who was the antagonist in season 3's "The Prom". Tucker would've actually been there instead of Andrew and fulfilled Warren's role, but actor Brad Kane was unavailable.
Doc, the old man who gave Dawn the spell to bring Joyce back to life in Season 5. Turns out he's a Glory worshipper and he is the one who opens the portal.
In Season 7, Amanda, the first student Buffy talked to in her job as councilor was a potential slayer.
Severin is seen in one panel in the last issue of Season 8.
Veruca had bit parts in "Living Condition" and "Beer Bad" before making a full appearance.
The Buffybot appeared mirroring the real Buffy much more closely than her last appearance to decoy and weaken Glory.
Castle used to be in love with this trope. The killer was always the one person they didn't interrogate (especially if it was the grief-stricken relative). It's gotten better in the third season, though.
Parodied in one episode where Castle jokingly suggests that Alexis is the killer on the grounds that she is peripheral to the case and doesn't have an alibi.
In the episode "Disciple", there is a hooded man at the beginning that is run off by the marina guard. When the team goes to the hotel where they had put him up, it starts with a far shot in which the same hooded man coughs as he walks off screen. Though never outright confirmed, this is likely Jerry Tyson/3XK.
The third season had the background character of Abbey who worked in Piper's club who was there for about five episodes. In the episode "Sight Unseen", she is revealed to be Prue's stalker.
In "Morality Bites", the man they use their powers on for revenge at the beginning of the episode turns out to be important later on in the episode, as he turns out to be the man who burns Phoebe at the stake.
Frasier Crane's first appearance on Cheers (Season 3, Episode 1: "Rebound, Part 1") was as a nameless bar patron, until Diane sprung it on Sam that her shrink happened to be at the bar, observing them the whole time! Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) eventually stayed on long after Diane (Shelley Long) left the show, and eventually got his own spin-off.
The season two finale of Chuck had Chekhov's Assault Squad, which was important both for a Big Damn Heroes moment and to introduce some new villains.
While most Cold Case doers were in the suspect list, occasionally it is a non-suspect who wasn't previously interrogated, such as Jimmy Bartram in "Justice" and Ed Marteson in "Stalker"
In Community episode "Cooperative Calligraphy", it turns out Troy's pet monkey, who was seen in one episode the previous season, was the thief stealing Annie's pens.
Criminal Minds loves this trope so much they pulled it twice. In the same episode. The villain in "Mayhem" is actually two villains: the young teenage citizen who calls 911 to help Hotch, and the paramedic who comes to save them, violating the FBI's direct orders not to interfere.
Not to mention the second episode of the first season. the very innocent looking chemistry girl who explains the chemicals that could be used in arson is the one who actually stole the chemicals to commit the crimes.
George Foyet appears to be an innocent victim of the Reaper. Later it is revealed that he is the Reaper and becomes one of the series' most memorable villains due to him killing Hotch's ex-wife, Haley.
This is the easy way to spot the murderer in CSI. In the first 10 minutes or so there will be a completely unimportant background character, often who has one unimportant line. They add nothing to the plot, and would not be missed. They're usually the one who did it.
The Miniature Killer, anyone? She appeared for about three seconds at the end of an episode, cleaning the floor in the lab, and later went on to be revealed as the killer.
Eagle-eyed viewers of the classic Degrassi Junior High will spot numerous "extras" milling around the school that would later go on to play a major role in the series. One of whom was Spike, who wasn't even named for some time despite evolving into the crux of the drama at the end of the first season and turning into one of the franchise's longest running characters. You can see her at the school dance in the second episode as a throwaway character... making out with the guy who would later be the father of her child.
In the first season of Dexter, Rudy is introduced in a justified manner but then given strange amounts of attention, developing his character until it is revealed that he is the Big Bad known as the Ice Truck Killer and, ultimately, also Dexter's brother, Brian.
"Smith and Jones": Florence Finnegan, the first patient Martha and her fellow students are shown visiting. After the hospital is taken to the Moon, she's seen asking various people for help while aliens are causing chaos, making the audience think she's just a confused and clumsy old lady. Then it's revealed that she's actually the blood-sucking villain the aliens are looking for.
"Turn Left": As Donna and Sylvia are arguing in the car about which direction she should go and thus which job she should take, a blue truck drives by. At the climax, Donna, having travelled back in time to Set Right What Once Went Wrong by making herself turn left, realizes she won't make it to the intersection in time and throws herself in front of the truck to cause a traffic jam that will make her impatient past self turn left.
"The Woman Who Fell to Earth": When Graham and Grace are on the train, there's one other passenger in their car. After the train is attacked by an alien entity which is then driven off by the Doctor, the man, named Karl, quickly leaves, shaken and insisting he has to get to work. It turns out he is the reason the alien device, called a data coil, attacked the train, as he has randomly been chosen as the target of a ritual hunt being carried out by the episode's villain, who is using the coil to cheat and gather information on the human he has to capture.
"Doctor Saunders" in Dollhouse. Not only do we find out that she's a doll, but when she reappears in "Getting Closer", she closes the episode by shooting Bennett Halverson (Summer Glau). So she's literally a gunman.
Eureka has a minor example in the episode "Minor Nobel". Two elderly scientists shown trying to explain nuclear fission to Zoe later turn out to be members of the protagonist's team, without whom he cannot save the world from an accidentally activated particle cannon.
In the first episode of Firefly we see advertisements for the Blue Sun Corporation. A little bit later on, we see the characters using various products from them. It turns out that Blue Sun is one of the Big Bads that are peppered throughout the show, and their agents are a serious threat to our favorite crew.
Blue Sun was one of the results of Executive Meddling. Fox wanted a Big Bad, Fox got a big bad. They put the Blue Sun logo on the cargo containers in the pilot post-production.
In Fleabag, the bank manager who appears to be a One-Scene Wonder in the first episode returns in episode four and becomes important in the series' conclusion.
In Friends, "The Girl From the Xerox Place" is mentioned in multiple episodes starting in the second season. Later, Ross sleeps with the girl, ending his and Rachel's relationship.
THEY WERE ON A BREAK!
The Observer in Fringe appears as a bald Man In Black in the background of every episode that nobody seems to notice. In Episode 4 we learn more about him, and that he's somehow connected to the odd incidents that the main characters are investigating, later proving key to the Myth Arc.
Another example is William Bell, who is mentioned several times as a minor bit of Walter's backstory before he actually appears and we learn more about his ties to the cast.
In season one, an Anomaly of the Week is a mute, telepathic boy with a Mysterious Past. He's seen being watched by an Observer and than never gets brought up again. Until the final season, where it's revealed that he's September's son Michael, and thus pivotal to the protagonists battle against the Observer invasion.
Done masterfully in the episode "The Door". We learn how Hodor became who he is now, and why his existence is so important: his purpose in life was to save Bran by holding the door and trapping the wights inside long enough to enable his escape.
The Night's Watch recruiter Yoren begins as a seemingly minor character who brings word of Tyrion's abduction to Ned, but several episodes later he is present for Ned's confession (presumably to escort Ned to the Wall afterward), allowing him to rescue Arya.
Stannis is Ned's candidate for king despite never appearing in Season 1, but he becomes a major contender in Season 2.
Beric Dondarrion is sent out to arrest Gregor Clegane in "A Golden Crown" and reappears as the leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners in "And Now His Watch is Ended".
The Tullys, Arryns, Greyjoys, Tyrells, Martells are all mentioned before they gain much plot importance.
The traveler who crosses Brienne and Jaime's path in "Dark Wings, Dark Words" really did recognize him and sells them out to Locke.
Lyanna Mormont is first mentioned by Stannis in Season 5 after she wrote him a letter that rejects her house taking up arms for him before becoming an integral part of the Stark restoration in Season 6.
House Manderly is often mentioned as one of the big Houses in the North (Bolton, Karstark, Umber and Manderly), but they're suspiciously absent from the Battle of the Bastards. Wyman proceeds to show up and commit his men to Jon Snow's cause after it, also kickstarting his crowning.
Cley Cerwyn was mentioned in season 5 as the current Lord of the Cerwyns (who are Stark-loyal but forced to serve the Boltons under threat of flaying). In season 6 he shows up to support the Starks.
Salladhor reappears in the Season 3 premiere to rescue Davos and bring him back to Stannis.
iCarly: Jeremy aka "Germy", a student who always coughs and sneezes is the prime example in Season 1. In "iNevel", after Nevel gave iCarly a dishonest review, the trio employs Jeremy to force Nevel to tell the truth, knowing his hatred of germs. In "iWill Date Freddie", he also appears early in the episode, and later gets recommended by Freddie "who knows tech stuff" as his replacement when he left iCarly.
In Kamen Rider Kabuto, for a good half-dozen episodes, a "tricked-out" rider, bearing a strong resemblance to Kabuto appears and even assists in fights (by out-doing the other riders' own Clock Up). We find out a bit later that this mystery rider is, in fact, Kabuto after his Mid-Season Upgrade.
In the Leverage episode "Girls' Night Out", the guy in background being a terrible waiter turns out to be the guy that planted the bomb.
Lost loves casually mentioning random names who become important characters years later. Probably the most notable is Jacob, first mentioned in an offhand line of dialogue and who becomes mentioned dozens of times over the years as the Others' godlike figure. After numerous possible sightings, he finally appears in full for the first time in the season 5 finale. Radzinsky, Kelvin's former hatch partner who shot himself, became an important character three seasons later.
Ethan Rom, who had a brief appearance in a season one episode before the next episode revealed him as one of the Others. He then makes several other appearances throughout the series.
Ilana. She's introduced as merely a bounty hunter apprehending Sayid who crashes onto the Island. Turns out she knew where they were really headed, she works for Jacob.
Richard Alpert first appeared as little more than a background character. Then, we see him at several different times with decades between each appearance, yet he doesn't have so much as a single gray hair or wrinkle to show for it. And you begin to realize that something's up with this guy...
Merlin includes a straightforward Chekhov's Gun with Excalibur, which is burnished by dragon's fire during the episode and thrown into a forest lake at its conclusion. The next season introduces a Mysterious Waif called Freya, who dies during the course of the episode and is taken by Merlin to the same lake where he sets her body adrift in a small boat upon the water. The episode in question is called "The Lady of the Lake." You connect the dots.
Million Yen Women: Yuki's dying husband is casually introduced as part of one of the women's backstory, but turns out to be a very powerful person later on, leading to a whole new perspective on the woman's part in the plot.
Very common in Monk. The office episode has to be a particularly egregious example: the guy didn't even talk before Monk suddenly singled him out as the killer. The baseball episode is a pretty extreme example as well, considering that the killer turns out to be someone Monk had seen appearing in an advertisement for a few seconds, not speaking, earlier in the case.
"Mr. Monk Goes to the Bank" pulled this with the "gunman" being beneficial to the heroes. Monk and the detectives are investigating a bank robbery when Randy questions a living statue who was working outside the bank. Randy then is inspired to become a living statue himself and practices the trade throughout the episode, thus implying that the statue's role in the story is over. Later, the heroes are locked in the vault by the perpetrators. They later open a box which turns out to contain the controls for the electronic message board on the front of the bank. They use it to request help. Guess who relays the message to the police.
Lampshaded in an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, when blancmanges from the Andromeda Galaxy attempt to win Wimbledon. Two characters are introduced as "not the kind of people to be the centre of one of the most astounding incidents in the history of mankind... So let's forget about them and follow instead the destiny of this man." The couple then prove to be key to the resolution of the plot, and complain to the camera at the end of the sketch: "We tried to tell you at the beginning of the film but you just panned off us."
NUMB3RS: Dwayne Carter. After his first episode, it seems like he's going to be a one-off character. He comes back in the season finale as part of a major reveal.
NCIS is a bit of a repeat offender on this one. If someone gets a line but doesn't seem to be contributing to the main plot otherwise, they did it.
Subverted in one episode, where the villain of the romantic subplot had not done it, even though he was suspected by a majority of the cast.
This can also be used in reverse... if there ARE no outstanding single line characters, the villain MUST be one of the major characters for the week. This is easily seen in a first season episode where the villain turned out to be David Keith, the sympathetic father and husband of the kidnapping victims and the very target of the plot!
The O.C. did the same thing with Taylor Townsend, who didn't become important until the third season but was clearly present in a number of earlier school scenes.
In Once Upon a Time, there was an unnamed man introduced in the first episode of the second season. It isn't until episode 6 that we find out his connection with Emma and Henry. And we don't find out that he is Baelfire, Rumpelstiltskin's son until episode 14.
Season 4's first Story Arc (based on Frozen and incorporating elements of The Snow Queen) introduced a minor character named Lily during a flashback to Emma's teenage years. Lily and Emma were childhood friends, but the friendship fell apart when Emma found out that Lily had lied to her about being an orphan. The second Story Arc reveals that Lily is the long-lost daughter of Maleficent and a central figure in this storyline.
The Black Fairy is mentioned a few times and as early as the second episode. She finally appears in the sixth season and turns out to be Rumplestiltskin's mother.
In the first half of Power Rangers Turbo, there was "A Drive to Win", which featured a soccer match. It unusually focused on a player named Carlos and a cheerleader named Ashley. A few episodes later, in "Passing the Torch", we are introduced to Cassie and T.J. who were riding a bus to Angel Grove, and later on we meet Carlos and Ashley again, and at the end of the two-parter, all four replaced the veteran rangers. It was revealed in an unproduced script called "Rangers in Concert" that Tommy, Kat, Tanya, and Adam did see the Millennium Message, thus knowing who their replacements are.
Similarly back in Season 2, Rocky, Adam, and Aisha were introduced long before they ended up becoming the new Red, Black, and Yellow Rangers.
Pulsaciones: At first, Carlos Meyer is just introduced as the son of the owner of the clinic that almost hired Álex in the first episode. He turns out to be the mastermind behind the disappearances Rodrigo was investigating, and The Man Behind the Man, since he's the one who pays the killer to kidnap those people.
Schitt's Creek: In Season 5, episode 6 a man is seen browsing in the Rose Apothecary. It's not unusual, as the show has extras shopping in the store all the time. This extra lingers just a little bit longer than normal, though there is nothing to indicate he's anything more than an extra. Then, in Season 5, episode 10, David discovers his old boss has gone into business with a man named Antonio, who dresses and looks like a knockoff David and their store is a knockoff of Rose Apothecary. David insists that he's seen Antonio in his store, which he denies, but Antonio is the lingering extra from Episode 6.
Sherlock: Molly Hooper introduces her new boyfriend, Jim, early in "The Great Game". In the last scene, he is revealed to be Moriarty.
"Did I really make such a fleeting impression? But then, I suppose...that was rather the point."
In The Reichenbach Fall, John finds Mrs. Hudson with a repairman after getting a report that she has been hurt. Later on, we find that the repairman is the hitman sent by Moriarty to kill Mrs. Hudson if Sherlock does not commit suicide.
Sisters. After the daughter of second-oldest sister Teddy is raped, another young woman is noticed lurking in the courtroom during her assailant's trial. Not only does she turn out to be a previous victim, she turns out to be a literal version of this when the guy is acquitted:
"Hey, Kyle? Remember me?" (she shoots him)
Smallville: While she doesn't physically come back into the story, a former nanny of Lex's who appeared (and died) in a single episode of the first season is revealed to be the mother of TessMercer in the tenth.
In the season 6 opener of Sons of Anarchy, the episode starts with an unknown young boy getting ready for school, and making sporadic appearances throughout the episode. He's a very literal example. At the end of the episode he's shown to have committed self-harm, despises his classmates, and commits a shooting spree at his school with a gun he stole from his mom's boyfriend, a member of Nero's crew.
Deliberately subverted with Valery the Russian. After his one big appearance, he seemingly escapes from Paulie and Christopher despite being wounded. The viewer is left expecting him to return in some way eventually and bring hell down on the protagonists. He never does. He becomes just one of those unsolved mysteries of life, his fate forever unknown.
Subverted by the "Man in Members Only Jacket" in the last episode.
Maybe not, considering how many people think he actually shot Tony.
Apparently, Steve Perry only let the show use "Don't Stop Believing" if no one died so in a way, Word of God says Tony survived.
Played straight by Tony's cousin, Tony Blundetto, whose actions in the fifth season are arguably the main catalyst for the New York-New Jersey War in the last season.
In Space Sheriff Gavan, during one episode Gavan manages to get to the victim of the day before the monster of the week kills him and gets him to safety. He'll live, but only if he gets medical treatment at Gavan's home planet. So he's shipped off to Planet Bird and never spoken of again, until he shows up during the final battle in a Big Damn Heroes moment as Sharivan the newest Sheriff. Turns out Da Chief of the Space Sheriffs approved of his toughness and had him inducted into the Sheriff (actually it was because they found out while treating him that was really the Chosen One for a supposed lost race of people). He would go on to be the hero in the next series Space Sheriff Sharivan.
The same thing happened to some random Mook of Apophis' in the Stargate SG-1 pilot. He didn't even get any lines until he saves all of the main characters near the end. Teal'c went on to join SG-1, and become one of only two characters to remain a main character for all ten seasons.
This was intended with the introduction of Cameron Mitchell at the end of season seven, during the battle over Antarctica, rather than at the beginning of season nine, when he joined the team. This didn't pan out, though, and he instead was simply retconnedinto existence without ever having been mentioned before, which was somewhat jarring for some fans.
Meanwhile on Stargate Atlantis, the Ancient that becomes known to SG-1 as Merlin slips in a cameo appearance nearly three years before he's even alluded to on SG-1.
In the Atlantis pilot "Rising", O'Neill's pilot initially seems like a throwaway character... until he waltzes into the Antarctic outpost and it turns out that he possesses the Ancient gene, and is immediately recruited into the Atlantis Expedition. Turns out the pilot, Major Sheppard, is The Hero of the new series.
Viewers may remember Adam Milligan, a boy that Sam and Dean meet who is teased at in Season 4 promos to possibly be their half-brother. Turns out, even though he '''was''' their brother he was Dead All Along and the boy the Winchesters meet is a Ghoul trying to kill them. Very few people expected to hear from him again... until a Season 5 episode reveals that even though Dean is the Archangel Michael's preferred vessel, he is not his only vessel. Being a vessel is In the Blood... and Dean just happened to inherit the trait from his father. Since Dean won't consent to possession (and he apparently has to, to be used by Angels), guess who is suddenly brought Back from the Dead? HINT: It's not John.
It's also implied that the only reason that this worked at all was because the time period was so short.
Crowley is referenced in passing by another crossroads demon in Season 3's "Bedtime Story" when she mentions her (male) boss to Sam. Season 5 revealed that Crowley had been the one Bela gave the Colt to in the third season. He gets mixed up in an Enemy Mine in Seasons 5-7 before becoming the Big Bad of Season 8.
The Trickster. He appeared in the second and third seasons as an antagonist with god-like powers and a veiled interest in the Winchester brothers, before the fifth season revealed that he is actually the Archangel Gabriel, who fell from Heaven when he couldn't stand his family's fighting anymore.
Early episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles often showed someone watching the Connors, although usually all we could see was an arm with a barcode tattoo. Derek Reese (and, yes, he is related to Kyle) eventually became one of the series leads.
Steve Fleming mostly wars against Malcolm at the end of Series 3, but Nicola's negative attitude towards him ends badly for her in Series 4. Fleming makes the front page of the Guardian in episode 4 with claims that Nicola is unelectable, which causes Malcolm to realise that the time is right for her political demise. By the end of the episode, he's succeeded in forcing her to resign.
Tara Strachan, the economist Adam and Fergus talk to in episode 3 of Series 4. There's a couple of blink-and-you'll-miss-it shots of her with a concerned look on her face as she takes a phone call and looks into the office in which the group are reacting to the news of disgruntled and mentally ill nurse Mr. Tickel's suicide. She quickly ends the call when they come out, which doesn't come up again until the huge enquiry into leaking that covers the events surrounding Tickel's death and engulfs the entire cast. It turns out she was reporting the inappropriate response (including elation from Phil), which bites the group hard when they're called on it.
Mary Drake, the cabinet minister who appears briefly at Stewart's "thought camp" in that same episode without much hint of personality. She returns in the series finale as a ball-buster who takes over DOSAC, fires Stewart Pearson and promises bigger changes to come.