Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 15 Review: Between the Seats

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Social media is a powerful tool, and the rise of "citizen journalists" who film what they think is going on has been a concern for years.

But never quite like this!

Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 15 can be viewed as a cautionary tale. One American teenager's misunderstanding of a situation she filmed and posted caused an international crisis that might have resulted in a young woman's death. Talk about irresponsible social media use!

(TALL) Bess Finalizes a Deal - Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 15

As soon as that teenage girl showed up complaining about the way the light affected her selfies, I knew she was going to be trouble.

She seemed self-absorbed, and her request for Matt to lower his shade was too random.

And she probably has no idea about all the chaos she caused with her stupid video, either. 

Matt: Who are those guys?
Woman: They want to kill me... because of you.

I wasn't thrilled about the idea of a Matt-centric episode. Matt has, on many occasions, been just as self-absorbed as that girl, and he might have started trouble all over again when he tried to interfere with Farhana's arranged marriage!

If we had to have Matt front and center, though, his guilt over contributing to the situation and passion for protecting women's rights because of his mother's experiences in Pakistan were the way to go.

Matt Ponders Things - Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 15

Matt was aware that his interactions with Farhana could be misconstrued because of his knowledge of Arabic culture, though I imagine there would be some differences between Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

I didn't know his backstory, so I found his perspective interesting.

In typical Matt fashion, though, he let his emotions get the better of him and had to be reined in for everyone's good.

Related: Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 14 Review

Matt took it personally that the teenage videographer had misconstrued his interactions. It was probably a good thing no one tracked her down, considering how angry he was!

His guilt was more interesting. 

Matt: I'm sorry, ma'am.
Elizabeth: No, don't beat yourself up. You couldn't have known.
Matt: I know the culture. And I know there are cameras everywhere now.

Was Matt right that given his knowledge of the culture and the fact that everyone has a video-capable phone nowadays that he should have been more careful? Maybe. 

Matt's actions were perfectly innocent, but the culture clash was inevitable. 

What was just him making conversation was too easily construed as flirting, and that might have been partially due to differences in American and Afghani culture around how men and women are supposed to interact with each other.

An Unfortunate Encounter - Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 15

What was inexcusable, however, was the way Matt ran after Farhana when he learned she'd been given in marriage to some older guy to resolve the situation.

Trying to interfere in this plan could have reinforced suspicions that Matt had romantic feelings towards Farhana and angered her family all over again.

And Farhana didn't want Matt saving her! She wanted to live with her family in peace and was happy with this solution.

Related: Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 10 Review

It was interesting that Farhana didn't want asylum.

Working Together - Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 15

Her family was determined to kill her, even after Matt explained the situation and they supposedly accepted his explanation and apology. Yet she insisted she wanted to remain in Afghanistan.

Her loyalty to her family contributed to the crisis. Elizabeth and the others at the US Embassy really couldn't protect her when she didn't want to be protected, and every minute she spent there instead of with her family gave more credence to the jihadists who claimed the US was holding her against her will.

We are steps away from getting this deal, and you're going to throw it all away based on principle!


Becker seemed heartless when he claimed that Elizabeth was sabotaging the deal and Farhana's fate was irrelevant to their mission here.

He was right that they had come to Afghanistan to facilitate the withdrawal of US troops, but it seemed beyond harsh to say that US soldiers didn't deserve to die to protect her.

No soldier DESERVES to die, of course, but the whole point of joining a military operation is that you're willing to die to protect people and principles.

Becker toed the line here, coming close to suggesting that Farhana wasn't worth protecting while American lives were. Something about that didn't sit well with me.

Are the Troops Coming Home? - Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 15

At the same time, this wasn't a humanitarian mission, and Farhana didn't want asylum anyway. So Becker was right that Elizabeth's priorities were misplaced, even if he was cold in how he put it.

I wonder how things would have been different had Farhana wanted asylum. What would have become of the deal then, and how would it have shaped Elizabeth and Becker's perspectives on this issue?

Related: Get CBS All Access via Prime Video Channels for Hit Shows, Exclusive Originals & Live TV! 

Meanwhile, the situation with Will provided a nice contrast with the Afghanistan situation.

It struck me that Will was having a cultural conflict of sorts with his daughter just like Farhana's family was with theirs. 

Will: We fight a lot. We always have. But the making up used to be more fun.
Henry: Have you tried counseling?
Will: Isn't that the beginning of the end? I mean, does that ever work?

An innocuous request by his eight-year-old to say Grace before dinner led to an argument that resulted in Will and Sophie getting divorced. But that drama was on an entirely different level than what was going on on the other side of the world.

Daisy is Ready - Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 15

WIll stood to lose his marriage, but no one's life was in danger. How's that for perspective?

What the hell did I know about being married? I was 13 when my role models died. I thought you find someone who doesn't drive you crazy and you have dinner.


Will and Elizabeth's relationship has always been unhealthy because of Elizabeth's need to take over and parent teenage Will after their parents' death.

Having them live in the same house while Will goes through his divorce will be interesting.

I want to see more of Will's interactions with Elizabeth's kids.

Speak-her-mind Allison and rebel Jason will surely have a lot to say to and about their Uncle Will, and Elizabeth is going to have to balance all of her worries about her family with running for President and whatever crises she's responsible for averting as Secretary of State.

What do you think, Madam Secretary fanatics?

Did Matt make things worse with his behavior?

Was the arranged marriage a good solution to the crisis?

And are you looking forward to more of Will?

Weigh in below, and don't forget you can always watch Madam Secretary online if you missed anything!

Between the Seats Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
  • 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (12 Votes)

Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.

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Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 15 Quotes

Elizabeth: So you're deliberately not getting involved?
Henry: Correct.
Elizabeth: Because you think I come off as too parental with Will.
Henry: Yes.
Elizabeth: Well, I was there when he needed a parent.

Annie: Can we say Grace?
Will: Oh, we don't do that, honey.