Madam Secretary Season 1 Episode 13 Review: Chains of Command

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The relationships between parents and children were front and center on Madam Secretary Season 1 Episode 13 after a foreign diplomat was arrested for holding his maid hostage.

There were lots of messages/themes tonight and some landed better than others.

It was very heartbreaking that the maid did not seem to understand what the Hassanis had done to her was wrong. She was worried about them and just wanted to get back to work. She even gave up a chance to live here, instead choosing to go back to Bahrain to work for Hassani's brother.

I suspect those like myself, who enjoy freedom, can't understand why she wouldn't take asylum and the chance to live a better life. But for someone who has lived in that situation for so long, they may simply not know another way. Or, perhaps, even though what the Hassanis did was clearly wrong, they may have actually treated her better than her previous employers.

There was more story there to mine, in my opinion, but the immunity storyline was more to bring Crown Prince Yousf of Bahrain and Elizabeth together. Her team was worried about handling him, but she wasn't.

Jay: He's used to getting his way.
Elizabeth: Well, that may be, but I happen to know he is extremely ticklish.
Matt: Wait. Did the Secretary just admit to intimate anatomical knowledge of the Prince of Bahrain?
Blake: The CIA briefs must be very detailed.

It turns out they were classmates and friends from boarding school. They were idealists together, which Elizabeth used to try to convince Yousf to take a stance against his father.

Yousf: We're not 17 anymore!
Elizabeth: Exactly! Now we're in a position to exact change.

Of course, this sentiment immediately made me think of situation between Elizabeth and Stevie which was still going on. Even Henry's father noticed, although he was pleased when he found out it was because Stevie had stood her ground against her Mom.

Henry's father was a rabble-rouser and clearly had a bone to pick with the wealthy; which, you know, the McCords could be categorized as being so ... awkward. 

He was also a liar, as Stevie found out. Ouch. Yet it helped Stevie come to an understanding about her Mom.

Mom doesn't lie. She doesn't pretend to better than she is. And she faces up to the things that she's done.

Stevie

I know for some of you their fight has been drawn out and you felt Stevie was acting immature – which she was – but she is 20, so I found her response to be honest. Annoying, sure; but also true to her character. And, dare I say, true to how she was raised.

She's maturing and finding life is more complicated than right and wrong. Her coming to that conclusion feels organic and real. 

Mom doesn't lie. She doesn't pretend to better than she is. And she faces up to the things that she's done.

I loved how Henry gave Elizabeth a little shove forward when it was clear Stevie wanted to make amends, and how Elizabeth turned to him and mouthed "yes" when Stevie asked to move back home. Those little moments always feel so genuine. 

Elizabeth was able to convince Yousf to stand up and do what's right, but it cost him his life. It was a high price to pay and heavy burden for Elizabeth to carry, especially when she suddenly faced a no-win situation on whether to attend his funeral.

That is probably my main complaint about tonight's episode. There were so many great plot lines, but they barely scratched the surface. We could have spent an hour just on the Hassanis and the merits of diplomatic immunity. Or human trafficking. Or father and son relationships. Or Elizabeth feeling guilty about her friend's death. Or how women in politics and leadership positions are treated compared to their male counterparts. 

They packed too much into the hour, which was a rare misstep. There were still those quiet moments they do so well, but sometimes less is more when it comes to the story, too. It's a fine line to walk, and they normally get it right, so I am not too concerned. 

What did you think of tonight "Chains of Command"? Did you feel they packed in too much or was it the right amount for you? What did you think of Henry's father? Frankly, I'm impressed Henry turned out as well as he did.

Let me know what you think in the comment section. Don't forget, you can watch Madam Secretary online via TV Fanatic at your convenience.

Chains of Command Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (25 Votes)
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Madam Secretary Season 1 Episode 13 Quotes

Jay: He's used to getting his way.
Elizabeth: Well, that may be, but I happen to know he is extremely ticklish.
Matt: Wait. Did the Secretary just admit to intimate anatomical knowledge of the Prince of Bahrain?
Blake: The CIA briefs must be very detailed.

Yousf: We're not 17 anymore!
Elizabeth: Exactly! Now we're in a position to exact change.