Romance, espionage, jail breaks, murder.
Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 8 had it all. But maybe "all" was too much? The first major arcs are hitting their climax, and there's a lot going on for us to keep track of.
I think the writers may have finally tried to tie together too many issues into one story. The opioid crisis, the influence of drug cartels, the role of journalists, respect for the sovereignty of other nations, cleaning up government corruption... That's a lot to bite off.
Don't get me wrong, all of these issues are timely and important. But bringing them all together did not make for the clearest story.
I did enjoy Dalton taking more of lead than we usually see. Keith Carradine was wonderful. The president is usually the level-headed one in the room, the one most likely to make the safe play. Seeing him so upset brought new depth to the character.
Dalton: Do you know how many American servicemen died in Vietnam, Bess?
Elizabeth: Uh, 58,000?
Dalton: 58,220. In a war that lasted more than ten years. Do you know how many Americans died of drug overdoses last year?
Dalton: 64,000. Mostly from opioids. It's the worst public health crisis in a century.
But following all the strings that were being used to knit the plot together left me exhausted...and a little bored. I just didn't care that much about how the cartel leader broke out, or about the corruption in Mexico.
Admittedly, I'm not sure the story holds together if we start pulling those threads. Perhaps if there hadn't been so many interesting subplots, I could have devoted more of my attention to it.
But the B story with Blake's family grabbed me, and then there Stevie was sneaking around with Dmitri. God help me, even Henry's story wasn't completely awful!
My parents are private sector people. They... To their mind, leaving finance to go work for the government was like blasting a fire hose full of money off a cliff into the abyss.Blake
I usually enjoy Madam Secretary getting wonky and highlighting real world issues, the Moran's visit stole the show for me.
Maybe it's that I can relate to parents who are always pushing (who can't?) or maybe because I am far too familiar with the woes of DC housing prices. Maybe it's because Tim Matheson, even if he was underutilized.
It helps, of course, that Blake is my favorite of the staffers. I envy him Elizabeth -- a boss that is supportive in every way, even to the point of pushing you out the door. That's not too common in my experience.
Blake, I'm gonna do you a favor. In one year, I'm gonna fire you. [Blake laughs] No, I'm serious.Elizabeth
I really hope that the Moran's come back again. For one thing, Matheson is too big of a get to waste on one appearance.
And while I sympathize with Blake wanting to rip the skin off his face, his mother is hilarious and I need more of her. Who walks into one the most beautiful office outside of the White House or the Capitol building and starts mentally redecorating?
Realtor: And this is the second bedroom.
Edie: Kind of perfect for to start a family.
Blake: That's a little cart before the horse.
Edie: You'll find someone. Blake is bisexual, so twice the playing field.
Dmitri Alex and Stevie's first date went amazingly well, and I couldn't be happier. The eldest McCord daughter has far more chemistry with her father's Russian asset than she ever did with Jareth.
Of course, I'm not expecting for this romance to be a bed of roses. Not only is there Henry's reaction to consider, but how is Stevie going to react when she finds out that Alex isn't, well, Alex?
It's really not too far of a stretch to say that these two are doomed, at least in the short term. Just go back and listen to the music during that second date. The only thing more ominous would be a funeral dirge.
Stevie: Do you want a drink?
Dmitri: Um, no, I don't. Just a club soda.
Stevie: A Russian who doesn't drink?
Dmitri: Yeah. That's, uh, that's why they kicked me out.
Henry's team managed to find the Gang of Eight traitor with surprising alacrity. I really would have thought that someone who was savvy enough to be elected to the United States Senate for several terms would do a better job covering their tracks.
It's disappointing that the mystery was solved so quickly, but since Henry is required to have two ridiculous arcs per season, it was bound to wrap up sooner rather than later.
Henry: Well that's a hell of an accusation.
Morejon:I don't hear you denying it.
Henry: Of secret thing, I am silence.
Morejon: You always quote the bible when you're backed into a corner?
Henry: That's the Bhagavad Gita, actually.
Morejon: Go with smug. Fine.
Both McCord's will be working the holiday party on Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 9. While Elizabeth tries to rid the world of landmines, Henry will be laying a trap for Carpenter.
The likelihood of Carpenter going down while canapes are being served is slim to nil -- although this may well be the last episode before the hiatus, so you never know.
One bonus of having Elizabeth host a holiday party is that Blake will take a turn tickling the ivories again. Too bad Bebe Neuwirth isn't around anymore to complete the act. At least Daisy will be back from maternity leave!
Elizabeth: Usually, those private sector guys, they hate working with the government.
Kat: Tell me about it. So, I facebooked Fisk. Found he's deep into Neal Stephenson.
Elizabeth: That doesn't ring a bell.
Kat: Yeah, no, sci-fi author. He wrote Cryptonomicon. Anathem? Um, Seveneves? Wow, still no bells. Okay. Now I know your Christmas gift.
What did you think of "The Fourth Estate?" Did it renew your faith in journalism? Shock you with it's accurate numbers about the opiood crisis? Was Blake's visit from his parents triggering so soon after a holiday? Let us know what you thought in the comments section below!
Remember that you can always watch Madam Secretary online! There's no shame in watch two or three or fourteen times -- not if you're a true Madame Secretary Fanatic!
Elizabeth Harlow is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.