Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 4 Review: Requiem

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Apparently, we won't be shying away from hard topics this season. 

While on its surface Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 4 was a flag-waving, drum-beating homage to the armed forces and their families, it's no mistake that it was scheduled to air smack-dab between Veteran's Day and Election Day. 

The least politically aware McCord child got involved with a political campaign, we met the newest enemy of the Secretary, and Henry didn't get his brunch. 

Roadblocks - Madam Secretary

Allison's foray into political campaigning was hardly realistic, but it all led to Elizabeth giving that great lecture, so it almost didn't matter. 

Sure, it makes no sense that she's registered in Silver Spring, MD when she's living with her parents in Georgetown. And what kind of candidate (or campaign manager) is fluent in ASL and still hires an interpreter?

And Allison's idiotic statement about her generation...don't get me started. The writers have been reading too many of those inane think pieces about all the things millennials and the youths have supposedly killed. 

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But Elizabeth's speech was good. Great, even if I personally found the invoking of veterans and war dead a little hokey. 

The uber-patriotism and unchallenged praise for the armed forces just didn't quite ring as genuine. Maybe because it wasn't framed as a conversation onto itself.

It almost felt as if it was the cover price for introducing a new white nationalist villain and having a story about voting -- in particular, about voting for a young, black, left-leaning candidate. 

Elizabeth Is Unimpressed - Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 4

One highlight of the missing veteran's story was the casting of Phyllis Somerville. She's always a delight to watch, and this was no exception. 

She took a role that was basically just the impetus to get the story going and elevated it, bringing life to Gloria's outrage, hurt, and disappointment, simmering without closure for the past seventy-odd years.

Truly proof that there are no small parts. If you haven't already, check her out in The Big C

'No man left behind' isn't just a credo, it's a pledge we make to the enlisted and every second those soldiers aren't back is a breach of faith to those who serve.


Henry and Stevie getting tossed out of brunch spot was simultaneously more benign and more insidious than expected. And it led to some surprising humor too. 

Although our first introduction to Elizabeth's new adversary in the Senate was due to his blocking the military aid bill for the Philipines, his role in denying the McCord's delicious breakfast foods was the salient point.

This new character, Owen Callister, was obviously created with the political realities of 2018 in mind. He doesn't just want the same job that Elizabeth's after, he's a racist isolationist who is so dirty he comes off as clean. 

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Callister's appearance has me wondering what happened to Senator Morejon, the villain from Madam Secretary Season 4. Maybe Jose Zuniga had scheduling conflicts. Maybe he's slotted to play a role later on in the arc.

But it seems most plausible that Morejon simply wasn't morally reprehensible enough for the current political climate. 

Television can be a great way for artists to hold a mirror up to society. It can show us the ugly truth of the world around us, and it can show us that there is hope for a better future.

Sometimes you *do* have to choose the lesser of two evils.


As heavy as the implications of Callister are, it did give us one amazing light-hearted moment with the staff.

If you weren't at least chuckling at the end of the "intervention," you might want to check your pulse. I want to pick out a single best part, but the truth was that it was all amazing, from calling it an intervention to the staff's inability to read Elizabeth...and their suspicion of her homicidal tendencies. 

Intervention - Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 4

We'll get a break from White Nationalism (at least on TV) on Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 5 ("Ghosts"). Henry will be taking over the international diplomacy stuff. Or at least it will all start with him. 

Apparently, Henry's position as Presidential Ethics Advisor means that he still gets to present at international conferences on religion even if he had to quit his job at the War College. Even after seeing him in his new role, the parameters are confusing. 

Related: Madam Secretary Review: Take A Stand

While Henry's helping out an old girlfriend accused of treason in a country with a less than stellar history on human rights, Elizabeth tackles the hard stuff -- helping Jason get into college. 

Give me an international humanitarian disaster any day. 

VOTE - Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 4

So what's your vote on "Requiem?" Make use of the First Amendment and share your opinion in the comments section below!

Were you thrilled by Kat's return? Disappointed by Elizabeth's restraint about the restaurant bruhaha? Exhausted by the specter of white nationalist invading your every waking moment? 

You can watch Madam Secretary online with us anywhere, any time. 

Requiem Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (9 Votes)

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

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Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 4 Quotes

Elizabeth: Oh, sir, I would advise against that. He's gonna take it as an affront.
Dalton: Says the woman who shattered his nose.

'No man left behind' isn't just a credo, it's a pledge we make to the enlisted and every second those soldiers aren't back is a breach of faith to those who serve.