Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 10 Review: Gift Horse

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A horse is a horse, of course, of course, except when that horse is actually a symbolic endorsement of a controversial geopolitical movement that could escalated tensions with the Chinese.

Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 10 was nice lighthearted break from the recent heavier issues the show tackled.

Blake found himself in a manufactured international comedy of errors, Russell was right back up to his old tricks, and Henry just can't stay away from spy craft. 

Giving It Back - Madam Secretary

I really expected hippophile Elizabeth to be the one most invested in the titular horse's future, so Blake's sudden devotion was surprising. And hilarious.

I just kept picturing him begging for a pony as a kid and only getting those Breyer figurines instead. 

I can only assume (and hope) that the Mongolian Independence issue and Russian hacking will come up again later in Madam Secretary Season 3 so that this plot line was good for more than all the horse jokes the writers managed to land.

Thankfully, slow builds are a strength of the show, and the team usually delivers good payoffs to seemingly random stories.

All in all, it at least gave us a glimpse at one of the more bizarre (and fun) responsibilities of the Secretary of State. I just hope Mandy enjoys her new home in Cuba...and who knows, maybe Blake will get the chance to visit her.

Elizabeth: Make it clear that we are respectfully declining the gift horse.
Blake: May I ask why?
Elizabeth: So many reasons, not the least of which -- we don't have anywhere in the State Department to put her!

Russell Jackson's return from the living dead was great in so many ways.

While a chief of staff having a stress induced heart attack isn't anything new or ground breaking, it was a good way to give us more insight into the character...and his recovery is continuing that.

Watching Russell cope with the after effects of his illness is like watching him walk a tight rope. It's hard to break decades long habits, harder still to go across your natural inclinations.

I really enjoyed the scene in his office after the lawyer left. Zeljko Ivanek did a great job wrestling with himself at that walking desk.

I never really thought that he wouldn't use the information. We've seen Russell's softer side come out over the years, but he really sees himself as the one who does the dirty work so his boss can keep his hands clean. 

Russell: Okay, y-you guys are really gonna make me be the one to say it? The oppo research.
Dalton: [sighs] What happened to being a knight?
Russell: The painkillers have worn off!

I was, however, disappointed that Stevie was sent off on her own adventure while Russell listened to his angels and demons fight. There really wasn't much point to her story beyond having a nice poem for the inauguration.

Having to call Jareth set that up even more, but also made her seem less than competent.

I'd much rather have seen her sitting in on Russell's meetings and basically playing the role of his conscience. Or getting in education in the messy world of politics and compromise. 

What's the real point of the internship if it doesn't foster a mentoring relationship between the two? Having the most cynical and the most idealistic characters together is a waste if they don't teach each other something in the process.

Poet Laureate Roland...somebody is coming in from Connecticut this afternoon, he'll be reading a poem at the inauguration tomorrow. You can thank JFK for this enduring legacy which forces us to stand in the cold for an extra twenty minutes.


Henry's little trip to Langley and then the Taoist temple also seemed apropos of aboslutely nothing other than belatedly tying together several seemingly disparate stories.

Of course, since Henry just can't stay away from intelligence work, I assume this will also be revisited at some point. 

I wouldn't be shocked to see Warren Lee continue to pop up either. With Oliver out of the picture and foreign hackers still a problem for the administration, could he be recruited to help protect national security?

It's a little far fetched, but I do see how that could open up a nice arc and develop some (temporary) tension. Besides, they need somebody on call. It could be that lieutenant, but now there's no jealousy for her to dredge up with Daisy.

Henry: Oh, hey, here's something weird. I got a call from the CIA. They want me to come in for an Ex Post Facto Re-Debrief regarding Black Dog Station.
Elizabeth: Well, I was in the CIA for 20 years, and I've never heard of an Ex Post Facto Re-Debrief.
Henry: When they shut the operation down, they called it a "hotwash," now they want to get me debriefed. Why does all their terminology sound like that happens in a nursing home?

Elizabeth and her staff will finally be hitting the road again on Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 11 ("The Detour").

Their trip to Africa hits some bumps though – literally and figuratively. Daisy will be rattled by the turbulence on the way over, but she'll fell better after Assistant Secretary Susan Thompson takes her on a tour to see the beauty of the continent.

China will surprise everyone when they end up beating the US team to Africa and offer a competing aid package to countries in the African Union. If Elizabeth and Minister Chen don't have a secret meeting weighed down with hidden meanings, I'll be very surprised.

Back home, Henry gets a visit from the FBI. This time, they need his help. Apparently the Illinois bomber situation has become even more complex, and now there's a Christian cult involved.

Do you think the government just has him on some kind of retainer, or does he get consultant pay every time?

You can try and suss out the truth of Henry's employment situation when you watch Madam Secretary online.

Let me know what your theory is in our comments section – or just your thoughts on "Gift Horse" and any equine jokes the writers may have missed!

Gift Horse Review

Editor Rating: 3.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (9 Votes)

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

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Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 10 Quotes

Poet Laureate Roland...somebody is coming in from Connecticut this afternoon, he'll be reading a poem at the inauguration tomorrow. You can thank JFK for this enduring legacy which forces us to stand in the cold for an extra twenty minutes.


When I did that NFL thing in Ohio, I also took some legislators out to dinner. Applebee's. That's where they wanted to go. I unduly influenced them with potato skins and hot wings.