Another week, another Madam Secretary. This action-packed episode starts right off with a kidnapping of an American citizen in Afghanistan while simultaneously informing us that the Russian president, Ostrov, is MIA.
In order to keep all the action straight, I’ll break it down by character. Obviously Bess has to deal directly with both the kidnapping and figuring out where Ostrov has gone. She assigns one of her staffers, Jay, to work with a man from the Department of Defense to work out a solution to reaching out to Ostrov. This endeavor does not go well, but I’ll get to that later. Almost as soon as Bess arrives to her office, her staff informs her that the supposed terrorists/kidnappers sent her a video message directly. They demand to speak with Bess or they will kill their American hostage. When Bess brings this news to President Conrad, he specifically prohibits her from reaching out to the “terrorists.” But of course Bess doesn’t follow those orders. She and her assistant Blake Skype the “terrorists” only to discover that they’re really contractors with the United State’s military, and they’ve only taken the American hostage in order to gain the visas promised to their families for their service. Bess brings this news to her staff, and they are equally outraged at this injustice.
Eventually the news that Bess disobeyed his orders reaches the President, but his Chief of Staff, Russell Jackson, convinces him that they should take the kidnappers’ deal. With the go-ahead from the President, Bess recruits a former Lieutenant, Mike, to help her speak with the kidnappers. Bess brings Mike to the Situation Room, and he’s able to make contact with the kidnappers. Unfortunately at the same time, they receive intelligence that the Taliban has discovered their location and that they only have a few minutes to escape. The White House eventually sends a team of Navy Seals to rescue the kidnappers’ and their hostage, but when it comes down to the wire they’re only able to save the American leaving the others to their deaths.
Meanwhile, Henry’s still up to his not interesting spying. However, he runs into a problem with his mission to keep tabs on Dimitri when Dimitri informs him that he has to leave school in order to care for his sick sister. By the end of the episode Henry’s able to essentially blackmail Dimitri into becoming a spy for the U.S. in order to ensure his sister can be sent to Stockholm for treatment (she has cancer, and she wouldn’t be able to receive the proper care in Russia). And the tension between Henry and Stevie continues to build when he confronts her about having her hair tested (hair he got from her brush) for any substances-specifically heroin. He and Bess give Stevie an ultimatum, either she tells the President and his wife that Harrison is possibly using again or they will that very afternoon. Rightly so, Stevie is outraged and storms out of the house. Henry spends the remainder of the day trying to reach Stevie with no success.
And just quickly back to Jay and his pal from the DoD. They’re never able to come up with a cohesive plan to find Ostrov, but in the end it doesn’t really matter because Nadine informs them that Ostrov’s been “spotted” at a parade in St. Petersburg.
Finally, we find the McCords at their family dinner where Stevie eventually appears. It’s obvious that there’s a ton of tension in the room, so Alison busts out her “talking stick” and the family addresses all their issues. Bess touchingly admits to Stevie that she’s been so hard on her because she isn’t sure how to parent her now that she’s an adult, and that really scares her. Henry, however, ruins the moment by angrily demanding to know where Stevie was all day, to which Stevie yanks the talking stick away and reveals she was taking the LSAT. She isn’t happy with the person she’s become, and so she’s trying to apply herself to a career that will give her life meaning. It’s a lovely moment, and it’s refreshing to see Stevie doing something sensible and not totally immature for once.
The warm-fuzzies don’t last for long however. After dinner, the Russian Foreign Minister, Gorev, pays the McCords a visit. He cryptically asks them if they would keep an eye on his daughter, Olga, while she studies at Harvard Law if something were to happen to him. When Bess presses him for an answer as to why he would make such a request, Gorev reveals that the Kremlin is going to announce that President Ostrov is dead. This leaves Bess and Henry to believe Gorev may have been behind it since he has previously expressed interest in power.
Overall, I enjoyed this episode even more than the premiere. It was great getting to watch an episode not involving too much conspiracy talk (the mishap with Air Force One only came up once). And it’s great seeing this show use its platform to discuss an important and upsetting issue. This issue involving that’s been discussed on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, so it was nice seeing it reinforced on Madam Secretary this week. And once again there was an excellent cameo. This time by none other than Madeleine Albright! All right! I hope next week’s episode is just as satisfying, and that we’ll see yet another spectacular celebrity cameo.