Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 3 Review: South China Sea

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Don't worry, guys. The pandas are safe. Promise.

I just hope that Russell can handle it when little Bao Bao heads back to China next winter. The Chief of Staff's "pandaphilia" was the most shocking (and hilarious) revelation on Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 3

Not that there were any real contenders. The FBI still doesn't have any good leads on the McCord stalker, despite Henry's attempts to "help," and the alleged twist to the international crisis felt fairly obvious to this viewer.

The Cyberstalker - Madam Secretary

No joke, as soon as the cute activist girl mentioned that the Chinese military had built a base on the atoll, I called that the real problem was going to be the US finding out about the People's Republic's attempts to build an outpost that would facilitate a greater reach with their missiles.

I did also very briefly consider that the Vietnamese government had leaked information about this base to the environmental group in order to create a situation where the US would comply with the military aid agreement. Apparently I was giving the writer's too much credit with that one.

I maintain that it would have been a good way to tighten the overall story. As it stands, the trip to Vietnam and all the talk about catfish felt a little out of left field. A definite "one of these things is not like the other" feeling.

C'mon, Ming. We've worked closely together on a range of incredibly complex issues. I think we can handle some hippies on a raft.

Elizabeth [to the Chinese Foreign Minister]

The Vietnam trip was disappointing in another way too. I really thought that Dalton's trip was going to play a more prominent role, and that we may get some visual flashbacks to his days in service. 

Instead we got one story recounted to Elizabeth. The whole thing about using his military service in the campaign seemed like an afterthought. The rooftop conversation in act I and the press conference comments in act III were too far removed from each other for much impact.

His monologue was pretty moving though. He should save that nugget for debate prep.

I honestly can't tell you why I didn't pull the trigger. It sure wasn't wisdom, or heroism, or leadership. It was luck. Flash of a feeling at best. And that's the difference between me living in the White House instead of on the street, like so many guys.

Dalton [to Elizabeth]

What exactly does Henry do all day anymore? He keeps carrying that messenger bag cum briefcase around, but honestly it seems like he's just running around meeting Jose at different DC cafes and obsessing over his perceived emasculation. 

The sooner Black Dog station gets up and running, the better. Henry needs something to distract him from the situation at home. As Elizabeth pointed out, his preoccupation isn't helping anything. His meltdown in front of Jason is only going to validate the boy's paranoid fringe anti government conspiracy view points.

I get that the situation is serious. But this is (supposedly) reality, not Taken 4. Although the fact that every appliance and light fixture in the McCord residence is "smart" and wired into the internet did feel pretty fantastical.

Allison: What's going on? Why are all the lights on?
Jason: It's like a Stephen King novel up there.

As I mentioned before, the best part of "South China Sea" was the unexpected revelation of Russell's panda loving ways. 

Not just because the idea of hard ass Russell turning to jelly over "charismatic megafauna" is as Blake put it so eloquently, "A-mazing," or because he couched his concern for the "crown jewels of the National Zoo" in political terms.

That scene was epic, and I'm curious how many takes it took to get one where none of the actors broke character and busted a gut. But for me the highlight was the talk about the panda cam. A DC tradition, I'm actually not sure how it hasn't come up before. As Blake quickly discovered, it's highly addicting and a pure joy.

Matt: Wait. You're a Panda-Cammer too?
Russell: Shut up. It's relaxing. [pause] It's good for my blood pressure.

It may have looked like Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 4 ("The Dissent Memo," airing October 30th) is going to be all fun and games based on the promo, but you know Elizabeth isn't going to get off that easily.

While rallying support for Dalton in Ohio so that he can make it on the ballot (running as independent is soooo much harder), there's also -- what else -- an international crisis to deal with. Oh, and some inter department drama to handle before the press catches wind of anything.

On the upside, Henry and Jose are finally going to get to work recovering those historical artifacts instead of working on their epic guide to DC coffee shops and cafes. 

If you missed "South China Sea," or just want to see it again, you can always watch Madam Secretary online. Let us know what you thought down in the comments section.

I'd especially like to hear any theories about who's stalking the McCords -- and why!

South China Sea Review

Editor Rating: 3.7 / 5.0
  • 3.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 2.6 / 5.0 (55 Votes)

Elizabeth Harlow is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 3 Quotes

C'mon, Ming. We've worked closely together on a range of incredibly complex issues. I think we can handle some hippies on a raft.

Elizabeth [to the Chinese Foreign Minister]

Elizabeth: Fine. You want to talk to the FBI, you can talk to the FBI. On one condition.
Henry: Name it.
Elizabeth: You have to put the shams on the big pillows.