Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 16 Review: The New Normal

at .  Updated at .

Madam Secretary never shies away from controversy.

Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 16 took on climate change while also indirectly questioning the role of special interest lobbyists in political campaigns.

And just when I couldn't hate Mike B more, his dog got sick and broke my heart.

The Staff Walks In - Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 16

Throughout most of this campaign, I've felt that Mike B is the wrong campaign manager for Elizabeth.

Elizabeth is an idealist, and Mike B is utterly pragmatic, focused solely on what he thinks will win votes and/or campaign contributions.

Those things are essential, but not at the expense of who Elizabeth is as a candidate.

Elizabeth: I'm not your puppet. If I see a chance to change the paradigm, I'm going to take it.
Mike: Why can't you trust me?
Elizabeth: Because I'm not a politician.
Mike: And that's why you're going to lose.

His stance on Elizabeth's putting climate change over Bragg's approval was ridiculous.

Yes, $10M is a lot of money. But what good would that money have done her?

Moving an Island - Tall - Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 16

Bragg's politics are the antithesis of Elizabeth's. Climate change was only one issue where they had serious disagreements.

Taking his money might give Elizabeth the appearance of being beholden to him and his values.

Her opponent in a debate could easily convince the audience that she is a hypocrite who claims to be for progressive policies while taking money from a well-known super-conservative Christian.

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

That's the last thing Elizabeth needs!

Mike doesn't seem to understand what her values are. A good campaign manager helps the candidate share her message in a way that will resonate with voters.

He doesn't try to mold her to fit some preconceived notion of what makes someone electable. That's doomed to failure because it makes her inauthentic.

Elizabeth and Nina - Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 16

Does Elizabeth need to rein in her idealism? Probably. But trying to solicit donations from people who are opposed to her platform isn't the way to do it.

Mike didn't even want her to make criminal justice reform -- something she's passionate about -- her signature issue because his polls suggested it wasn't a popular enough issue.

They can't even debate climate change in Congress because of a kabal of special interests that won't let them.


Of course, there is something to what Russell said about Congress being beholden to special interests and a small base instead of their constituents.

If the will of the people doesn't have much of an effect on political decision-making, then Elizabeth's passion and ability to reach people might not help her get into office either.

This whole debate mirrors what's going on in real-life politics as primary season begins.

There are large-scale debates within the Democratic party about whether or not candidates should take corporate money and whether the ideal candidate is one who is moderate enough not to engender the derision of the opposition or one who is passionate about his or her policies.

Related: Madam Secretary Review Season 5 Episode 15

These are important conversations to have whether you're a Democrat or not.

Questions about things like how districts get drawn, how campaigns get funded, and how far from center candidates should stray ultimately affect politicians of all parties and in turn affect legislation that impacts people's lives.

I'm glad Madam Secretary is taking this on.

Henry Talks Climate Change - Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 16

But why did Mike B's dog have to get sick?

It changed the way I saw him. Mike was no longer purely an antagonist. He was a guy who believed in what he was doing and loved his dog.

Mike B without Gordon is just... not Mike B.

Related: Madam Secretary Review Season 5 Episode 10

Elizabeth comforting him as he struggled to say goodbye to his dog was emotional.

And for the first time, it seemed like there was an actual bond between them as if he did know and understand more about who she was than expected.

You know how President Truman said if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog? I did. Now what?


Mike even grudgingly accepted Elizabeth's resolution about climate change and offered some advice other than changing her entire platform to make her more electable.

Trying to Beat the Storm - Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 16

As for the main story, I had no idea that getting people to evacuate islands during storms was part of the Secretary of State's job!

I also didn't think Elizabeth would ever get David off that island.

David: Nahru has been my people's home for 3000 years. We speak a language no one else speaks. We will never leave!
Elizabeth: Even at the cost of your lives?
David: Yes!

When there are superstorms, there are always tragic stories of people who refused to leave despite multiple warnings and lost their lives.

And the Nehru people had a special connection with their home and seemed destined to be statistics because of it.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief when Jay confirmed that David and his mother had survived. Was I the only one?

Talking One on One - Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 16

I knew Henry was going to cause controversy as soon as Ruby asked him not to, but I didn't expect her to become empowered to stand up for climate change because of it.

She said that her father's refusal to accept the science on this and a lot of other issues was generational.

But I'm sure there are plenty of second-generation evangelicals who hold super conservative beliefs.

Trying to Beat the Storm - Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 16

Anyway, I'm glad that Henry's words got through to her and that later she was willing to let him talk her into going against her father in a public way.

That couldn't have been easy for her. I wonder what she had waiting for her at home when she returned.

Was her father proud of her for speaking her mind or did he disown her for not following the family's religious beliefs?

We will probably never see Ruby again, and I wanted to know how her story ended.

What did you think, Madam Secretary fanatics?

Is Mike right that Elizabeth can't win if she insists on sticking to her ideals?

Would you want her to win if it meant compromising her integrity?

Watch Madam Secretary online to see their argument again.

Then come back and share your thoughts!

The New Normal Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
  • 5.0 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (20 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.

Show Comments
Tags: ,

Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 16 Quotes

Elizabeth: Has Russell signed off on this?
Mike: What's not to like?
Elizabeth: For starters, 90% of his policy positions. Climate change, healthcare, detentions at the border...
Mike: What's your brand again?
Elizabeth: Nice lady with the glasses.
Mike: Diplomacy.

Jason: For the record, the nachos were me.
Elizabeth: Whatever. You'd better be looking for your own place, Cookie Monster.
Will: Looking, yes. Finding no.