Madam Secretary Season 1 Episode 15 Review: The Ninth Circle

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The hits (literally) continued to fall on Madam Secretary Season 1 Episode 15 as Elizabeth dealt with Juliet's betrayal and brokering peace with Turkey after the botched CIA raid.

We got a few answers tonight as to who was behind Marsh's death. Well, that's not completely accurate. We got a better picture of some of the key players and what their end goal was. How killing Marsh aided them wasn't 100% clear, but I expect we will learn more next week.

Isabelle was understandably still a little sensitive after spending hours in the bowels of Langley, hooked up to a polygraph machine while her apartment was searched and destroyed. 

She responded more warmly to Elizabeth than I probably would have, but Isabelle took the high road. Plus, what was a ruined mattress between friends when people had been killed and national security was at stake. 

Isabelle wanted to read the note Juliet left behind for Elizabeth, which led to more confusion than clarity. 

Juliet: What happens, know this: I did this for my country. This is a righteous cause.

Well, that sounded foreboding. Nothing is scarier than a righteous cause because it's all in the eye of the beholder, you know. I do wish we knew Juliet a bit better, so she seemed more of a believable co-conspirator (or zealot) and threat than a contrivance. 

We don't know if Juliet was brought in after Marsh's death when President Dalton assigned her and George to investigate the crash or during the investigation. I would assume prior because she kept her mouth zipped after George's death. For all we know, she killed him.

Poor Elizabeth's team remained in the dark about Brett Boris, the U.S. solider killed in the operation to nab Iranian agent Samila Madhavi. They thought he was an American tourist, nothing more or less. It was interesting that Daisy became so uncomfortable when it was clear there was more to his story.

A part of me applauded her distaste for feeding misinformation to the press and public. She had a conscience, which was good. On the other hand, I was a bit taken taken aback. While I am certainly not advocating for the Government to blatantly lie to us, I also suspect that there is a fair amount of spin happening 24/7, too. 

Of course, Daisy doesn't know the whole story, so maybe it felt less like spin and something much worse to her. At the same time, given her role as Press Secretary, I would have assumed this wasn't her first rodeo, either. Sometimes, to protect the greater mission, you can't be 100% forthcoming.

But, now we're back to the greater good debate or what could also be considered a righteous cause. Juliet felt her actions were justifiable because the payoff was worth it. Elizabeth kept her team in the dark, partly under orders from the President, but also because she believed it was for the greater good.

I just could never get a handle of the 'trust no one' part of my job.


I found it humorous when Matt told Daisy about giving Chief of Staff Russell bad information on Elizabeth's orders. He conveniently forgot to mention the reason Elizabeth chose him was because he spied on Marsh for Jackson and was supposed to do the same with her.

Nadine told Daisy this was the job and to trust Elizabeth, which Matt eventually did as well, but Daisy couldn't do it. Whether it was because she didn't trust Elizabeth or feared becoming the scapegoat, she didn't do her job and skipped a press conference. Maybe the Hatchet Man was right – Elizabeth should clean house. 

Everyone always has an agenda these days. People follow whichever way the winds favor. Loyalty, while highly valued, is also easy to profess while not necessarily abiding by it, as Juliet proved. In fairness, Juliet was loyal to her righteous cause, which apparently meant more than her friendship with Elizabeth, George and Isabelle. It will be interesting to see how Elizabeth and Daisy make peace or don't.

The B-story involved Jason and bullying. There is a potentially fascinating storyline looking at how Elizabeth's kids do handle being under a microscope and listening to lies about their Mom or truths that are simply hard to hear. However, this fell a bit flat to me, although the scene where Elizabeth went toe-to-toe with Dean Ward was great.

Jason's annoyance with Preston for his constant snide remarks about Elizabeth was absolutely understandable. Even punching him was a believable response from a teenage boy. I just felt there were so many worse things than having your Mom called a liar in DC. Real bullying is much uglier. 

What was far more interesting were the two pieces of information Elizabeth uncovered during her trip to Turkey. First, Agent Mahdavi was an American asset, but no one knew who her handler was. Second, she had a laptop with her when she died.

Munsey: Give them what they want.
Elizabeth: I'm not leaving here with it. I'll give them Hawaii if that's what it takes.

Fortunately for Hawaii, they can remain a part of the United States for now, but Turkey wasn't so easily appeased and gave the laptop to the Iranians. In the end, after a tense scene at the airport, Iranian Foreign Minister Javani slipped Elizabeth the hard drive, and she discovered who Mahdavi's CIA handler was.

CIA Director Munsey had a lot of explaining to do. And that righteous cause Juliet was working for? Munsey politely referred to it as a regime change in Iran, but we would call it a coup, and it's already in motion.

What did you think of tonight's episode? Were you surprised to learn what the "righteous cause" was? Do you think Elizabeth can appease Daisy? Or shouldn't she have to? Don't forget you can watch Madam Secretary online via TV Fanatic and get caught up at your convenience. 

The Ninth Circle Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (15 Votes)
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Madam Secretary Season 1 Episode 15 Quotes

Juliet: What happens, know this: I did this for my country. This is a righteous cause.

Mike B; The way to win a knife fight is to bring a gun and waste the son of a bitch.