Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 17 Review: Phase Two

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Elizabeth got herself into -- and out of -- one hell of a complicated situation on Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 17.

While I normally enjoy a focus on the staff, this convoluted mess demanded our full attention. Well, almost.

We did have to get Henry settled into his new job. You gotta love how it took the board two years to read his memo and approve it, but they needed that seat filled in less than a week. 

The U.S./Iran Deal - Madam Secretary

This is the second episode when Dalton has ignored Elizabeth's advice. Maybe ignored is too strong a word, he definitely heard her out, but he's ultimately gone in the opposite direction of her recommendation. 

That seems a little odd, considering their long-standing friendship. Just look at how Dalton relied on Elizabeth when he was having doubts about coming back to the White House. That wasn't even that long ago!

Could this be one more factor in the decision to have Bess run for president? That topic has been on the back burner for a minute, but it shouldn't ever be too far from our minds. 

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I could definitely see how frustration at not being the person to make the policy could eventually prompt Elizabeth to take the suggestions that she run seriously. And it's a decision that she'll have to make sooner rather than later. 

Obviously, as things stand, the show would have to end with Dalton's presidency. His fictional replacement would bring on their own Secretary. 

So if CBS and the showrunners would like the possibility of more than two more seasons, they have to plan now.

Mike B: Going to see that family was reckless and stupid.
Elizabeth: You know, you asked me how I did it. I wasn't trying to do anything, just what I thought was right.
Mike B: I already said, stupid.

Luckily, Elizabeth deciding that she wants to run during the season finale makes sense timeline wise. And what a killer ending: it's the last scene of the season and Elizabeth announces to her family that she's going to do it. 

I don't think it will be any less impactful for being highly predictable. After all, saying that she'll run is just to leave the door open. It's no guarantee she'll win.

After all, elections aren't determined by who delivers the best one-liners. That's too bad because with that attribute only she'd be a shoo-in. 

...Anyway, the moral of the story is you try to make peace in the Middle East, everybody gets mad at you.


Henry's back in the world of boring academia for sure now, and I'm thrilled. Not only does an Ethics Department at a War College sound like a, you know, excellent idea, but maybe this will keep Henry out of trouble for a while. 

Or he'll get so frustrated by arguments over parking spaces that he'll leave academia for good, retrieve Dmitri from Alaska, and start his own off-book intelligence unit. 

Speaking of Dmitri, Stevie has been conspicuously absent of late. Wallis Currie-Wood's IMDb page doesn't show her working on any other projects, so where is the oldest McCord child?

Winfield: That was some memo you wrote.
Henry: ...Two years ago.
Winfield: Academia. Worse, government-funded academia.

Even though her nepotistic appointment as Russell Jackson's intern irks me, I miss their interactions. Stevie, unlike her siblings, is old enough to be interesting. 

She also has more insight into the issues that her mother is facing, and an understanding of some of the politics at play. She's still naive enough that she can serve as a proxy for the audience, but things can be explained at a more sophisticated level. 

Of course, what bothers me more than her absence is that it's been completely ignored. At least drop a line about how she's on vacation with her friends, or she got her own apartment or recruited to the CIA or somethingAnything

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It's hard to tell if Stevie will be back for Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 18 ("The Friendship Game"). Since she's technically a cast member, she's listed in the credits for every episode, whether she appears or not. 

The details we got don't give me much hope that we'll see her, though. Events are centered around freeing an American who got captured in South America. 

Yeah, South America. Not the American journalist who was captured by Boko Haram, but the one for which the Iranians just handed over info. 

Dalton: And how are the talks going?
Elizabeth: Slowly, sir. [Russell huffs in dissatisfaction] We are negotiating with a long time adversary, Russell, not microwaving soup, it takes time.

That case wouldn't have opened the conversation about gang violence in South America and the need for asylum in the United States though, so another kidnaped American woman had to be contrived. 

The timing of this plotline coincides nicely with the annual Refugee Caravan human rights demonstration. Morejon won't be showing up, so I have to wonder who will be set up as the surrogates for each side of the immigration debate. 

You know who will be making a stop by the State Department? Capitan Ronnie. Will her flirtation with Matt progress or will Waffles keep him by Daisy's side? Personally, I'm #TeamWaffles #TeamDaisy. 

Related: CBS Cheat Sheet: What Will Be Renewed? 

So, did Henry make the right move pursuing the department chair position, or will he come to regret it? Is Dalton losing faith in Elizabeth or just letting politics get in the way? Where do you think Stevie has been hiding? Does Madam Secretary deserve a fifth season?

We want to know your thoughts on "Phase 2," so join the conversation in the comments section below. 

Need a refresher before committing to a position? You can always watch Madam Secretary online! And our past Madam Secretary reviews are available for fact checks!

Phase Two Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.8 / 5.0 (5 Votes)

Elizabeth Harlow was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She left the organization in October 2018.

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Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 17 Quotes

Dalton: And how are the talks going?
Elizabeth: Slowly, sir. [Russell huffs in dissatisfaction] We are negotiating with a long time adversary, Russell, not microwaving soup, it takes time.

That guy has one of the most punchable faces of all time.

Allison [about Morejon]