This review contains spoilers!
If on last Madam Secretary episode our characters had to face a man-made disaster, then on this one they faced a natural catastrophe and all the events that went with it. On top of that, Elizabeth also had to juggle tense relationship with her brother. And from last two seasons we know, that Elizabeth’s reunions with Will rarely are pleasurable events. So let’s see all the events that unfolded on the latest episode of our favorite political drama.
Case of the week
First up, let’s talk about the case of the week. On this week’s Madam Secretary episode, appropriately called “Tectonic Shift” Elizabeth’s team faced a natural disaster and its consequences. There was a huge earthquake in Venezuela, that not only caused unimaginable damage to the Venezuelan infrastructure, but that also killed the Venezuelan president and his successor, sending the already damaged country in a battle for power.
Luckily, Elizabeth, along with Russell and Conrad, were able to figure out a way how to prevent the late Venezuelan president’s son Francisco Suarez Jr. of illegally claiming the presidency. But it did some doing. It took actor chops from President Dalton and his two main rivals and staged news broadcast, in which Dalton announced Suarez as the new president of Venezuela, to convince Junior, that Dalton is endorsing his presidency. But in reality they staged the new broadcast, so it would be only seen by Suarez and so Salvador Vela, the real successor to the Venezuelan presidency, could claim his position.
Like Conrad said, there is no rule book for dealing with the loss of leadership in an already unstable, natural disaster stricken country like Venezuela. So they made up their own rules and managed to not only help Venezuela to have a legitimate president again, but also to solve the humanitarian crisis there in the process.
Additionally, Elizabeth also had to deal with American aid workers, who were taken hostage by a Venezuelan gang. This plot line also played into the illegitimate president story, since Suarez is the leader of this gang. But thanks to the wonder-trio (Elizabeth, Conrad and Russell) and their fancy footwork, the hostages were freed, and they even helped U.S. to secure Vela as the new president. All good that ends good, right?
The second big story line of this episode was Elizabeth’s brother coming to DC with his family to attend a job interview. From previous Madam Secretary seasons we already know, that Elizabeth’s brother Will is a doctor, who works as aid worker abroad. But, because he is away most of the time, his family life is on the rocks, which prompted him to try to settle down and take a job in DC as the head of the training program, that grooms new trauma doctors.
However, as the earthquake in Venezuela struck, he was ready to leave again, meaning that this time he would really lose his family. From outside perspective, which was also Elizabeth’s perspective before this episode, it looked like Will is just someone who needs to help those in need. But, in this episode an underlying reason for his need revealed itself. When Will and Elizabeth were kids, their parents died in a car accident. Will was in the car, too, but wasn’t able to save his parents, so ever since then he had been trying to save everyone else.
I loved seeing Elizabeth’s back story and getting to know her and her brother better, because this story line let us know what made them the people they are now. And I also loved the last scene with Elizabeth and Will in the airport, because it was heartfelt and showed what brother-sister relationship should be.
Secondary story line
Nadine also got a smaller, secondary story line this episode. She got a blast from the past, when the previous Secretary of State’s wife came for a visit to inquire about the staff of her vacation house in Venezuela. This created a huge conflict in Nadine, since she had an affair with the late Secretary of State. Nadine struggled with weather to tell the wife about the affair, but in the end she decided against it, because apparently the wife had no idea about the affair and was still distraught about the things her husband did before his death.
These scenes really showed Nadine in a different light. We are used to seeing strong, professional Nadine on Madam Secretary, not the slightly insecure version of her, that we saw on this episode. So it gave some dimension as well as more background to Elizabeth’s Chief of Staff.
Finally, I also wanted to mention Conrad and how he said, that saving their aid workers is more important than winning the election. Russell Jackson, always advises him against these types of moves, however, it looks like Dalton’s moral compass is very strong, which serves as another reason, why he makes such a good president. And, hopefully, we will see him get his well-deserved second term by the end on this season of Madam Secretary.
• flashback with Elizabeth, her brother and their parents
• family reunion scene
• Elizabeth’s brother telling her the truth about the crash
• Henry and Will’s bro-time
• Will deciding not to go to Venezuela at the last minute
• Nadine in this episode
• Elizabeth staging the news broadcast
• the wonder-trio figuring out how to save the aid workers and prevent Suarez Jr. of becoming the new Venezuelan president
• the big blow-out between Elizabeth and Will
• Nadine not telling the wife about the affair, although it’s something that has been weighting on her
Quote of the episode:
Elizabeth: “As Russell said, ‘when there’s no rule book, you don’t have to worry about breaking the rule.’”
Russell: “Sometimes I just say stuff.”
Elizabeth: “Yeah, but there’s always a little wisdom in it.”