Madam Secretary – Break in Diplomacy
By: Taylor Gates
Elizabeth (Tea Leoni) is off to Singapore for an interchange. Jason (Evan Roe) and Alison (Kathrine Herzer) are particularly interested because the Philippines’ new president is “rough around the edges,” displaying some wacky behavior. Henry (Tim Daly) concedes but hopes he can act diplomatic enough to cooperate with other leaders and get things done.
Russell (Zeljko Ivanek) calls Elizabeth to the White House to watch a video of Philippine president Andrada (Joel de la Fuente). Andrada says they will not participate in the Singapore interchange nor be buddies with the “colonial” United States anymore. Dalton’s (Keith Carradine) adviser says Andrada is displaying textbook narcissism and a serious lack of empathy—he doesn’t care about the U.S’ past friendly relationship with the country. Despite this, he has a 90% approval rating with his people, the fact he is a successful businessmen giving him a folk hero appeal. However, it’s too risky for the U.S. to let the Philippines cut themselves off; the U.S. needs their support to keep China in check. The Singapore interchange is pointless without them. Elizabeth gets the idea to play to Andrada’s ego, seeing if she can bribe him with drones.
Henry meets Mo (Arian Moayed), who is confident they’ve located their suspects at a Doomsday cult. Unfortunately, there has still been no word from Ian (Darren Pettie) yet. There are now drones above the location, but they can’t see much from the air. Mo and the director want to raid, but Henry thinks that would be premature. There’s no evidence of the bomb yet, and a surprise attack could jeopardize Ian’s safety. Plus, it’s only been four days; the Covenant of John needs more time to trust Ian. Mo tells him to take his concerns up with the director.
Elizabeth inquires about Kevin’s (Justin Baldoni) death, but FBI agent Hugh (Michael Gaston) says there’s no update. All they know is it was cyanide poisoning in an herbal supplement. She asks if Kevin’s placement was just a cover until his next assignment or if he was investigating something in the State Department, but Hugh says she’ll have to wait for answers until his next report. She offers to assist considering her closeness to the case and CIA background, but Hugh rejects her help, saying they’ll call her if they need her.
Blake (Erich Bergen) and Nadine (Bebe Neuwirth) try and usher Elizabeth onto the plane—her window for visiting the Philippines before making it to the Singapore interchange on time is small. She rushes to Jay’s (Sebastian Arcelus) office, asking him to investigate what Kevin was doing. She doesn’t want to be shut out of the case, so she’s going to have to be sneaky.
Elizabeth congratulates Andrada on his win, saying she’s sure he will be a strong and successful leader. She tries telling him that working together is where he will derive true strength, pleading with him to join her in Singapore. Andrada, however, feels it is time for the U.S. and Philippines to go their separate ways. Elizabeth offers him some incentives, including drones, and he tells her it’s sexy to hear her talk about weapons. He grabs her butt once she turns around, and punches him in the face, giving him a bloody nose. Shaken, she throws him a tissue and video chats with Dalton and Russell to tell them what happened.
Russell calls Elizabeth a badass, but this obviously isn’t good news for the Singapore conference. Andrada orders all U.S. military from the country, and Elizabeth offers to grovel and suggest he just caught her off guard in order to salvage the U.S.’ relationships with them. Andrada sends the Philippine military to personally kick Blake and Elizabeth out of the country.
Elizabeth arrives home to the loving arms of Henry. Apparently Andrada has been playing up his injuries for the press: his nose splint and black eye are everywhere. He’s using the cover story that he got hurt at the gym by his sparring partner, too embarrassed to admit he got beat by a woman. Elizabeth is fine with the world not knowing the truth.
Daisy (Patina Miller) shows the rest of Elizabeth’s staff the press photos Andrada is putting out. He has even hired an actor who looks more beat up to pose with him. Matt (Geoffrey Arend) wants Elizabeth to release a statement saying what really happened, but Elizabeth says that part doesn’t matter. What matters is that the Singapore talks are dead because she didn’t do enough to keep them alive. Daisy encourages Elizabeth to come forward with the real story, not wanting to cover up for Andrada’s sexual assault, but Elizabeth says there were no witnesses and it might just help his nationalistic message even more. Nadine tentatively sides with Elizabeth, saying her coming forward could put millions of Filipino lives at risk if they are left susceptible to Chinese expansionism.
Jay talks to Elizabeth in her office, saying Kevin was trying to figure out the amount of arms and fuel the U.S. was shipping to and from Somalia. The Egyptian government was stalling him, but Jay has a friend from grad school who serves as a travel advisor for them who can look into it.
Elizabeth is called into the White House. There are disputes about sovereignty in relation to some of the islands. The islands are nearest to the Philippines, but it looks like Andrada is not going to make a bid to keep them, instead pivoting away from the U.S. and supporting China. This would be a disaster, completely throwing off the balance of power in Southeast Asia. Elizabeth rationalizes that there is no way the majority of the Philippine government actually likes or supports Andrada. They have a good enough relationship with the Philippine military to talk to them in confidence about Andrada, so they contact a general. The general confirms that the military does not share Andrada’s sentiments to break from the U.S. Unfortunately all avenues, including talking to advisors and cabinet officials, have been explored, but there is no way to shake Andrada’s new obsession and friendship with China. The general is afraid for the safety of the Philippines if Chinese power were to rise. He implies there is a plan to assassinate Andrada in place that can only happen with U.S. support.
Russell is all for it, but Elizabeth is afraid the Philippine government might take control, which would also be bad for civilians. She wants to use their intelligence resources to find skeletons in Andrada’s closet and force him out. Dalton agrees it’s a long shot, but it might be worth a try.
Mo tells Henry that they authenticated Ian’s handwriting, confirming he’s still alive. He feels bad he didn’t trust Henry, knowing he easily could have gotten Ian killed had they gone through with the raid. Henry tells him not to beat himself up.
Jay meets with his grad school friend, Dendera (Nicole Shalhoub). They talk about Jay’s daughter and rocky marriage, but their chemistry is so intense that Dendera has to clarify that they’re not on a date. Jay promises it’s not, asking for information about Kevin.
The only dirt they could find on Andrada is hush money he paid to several women, likely having to do with sexual assault. Since the Philippines is still predominately Catholic, they could highly frown on this behavior. Elizabeth wants to track the women down—there is strength in numbers, and knowing they’re not alone could be encouraging. And sexual assault isn’t an indiscretion: it’s a crime.
Henry meets Ian when he goes for a quick supply run. Ian informs Henry he blacked out for awhile and is being deprived of sleep and food, but he promises he’s fine. He hasn’t physically seen the bomb yet, but he suspects it might be in a shed behind the house.
Nadine tells Elizabeth they managed to track all five of the women down, and they agreed to be interviewed. Unfortunately, none of them want to come forward publicly with accusations. Nadine has no doubt their and their families’ lives have been threatened. Elizabeth knows Nadine thinks she should come forward first: her credibility is beyond reproach, and the whole world would be watching. Someone like her calling out Andrada’s behavior could empower and encourage many women to come forward.
In bed that night, Elizabeth tells Henry about her conversation with Nadine. She’s struggling with what to do, as she’s not just any woman in this situation—she’s also the Secretary of State, and there’s a lot riding of the relationship between their counties. On the other hand, she’s torn. When do women’s rights get to take precedence and get to be the bigger picture?
Jay brings Elizabeth the refueling information Kevin was waiting for. She deduces that the planes were carrying more cargo that the manifests say they were. Elizabeth brings this information to the FBI, suspicious the unscheduled stop in Egypt was due to arms smuggling. Whoever was smuggling the weapons probably knew Kevin was onto them and had him killed. Over 300 people in the State Department could have falsified those records. If the FBI wants to solve this case, they’re going to need Elizabeth’s help.
Elizabeth tells Nadine she has decided the timing is not right to come forward. One of the women who received money, Leah (Martha Millan), is in Elizabeth’s office, wanting to talk about what happened. She used to work in one of the supermarkets Andrada owned, and the female employees were constantly harassed. However, Leah was not one of them. She received money to keep quiet about a bigger, more damaging issue, but she won’t tell Elizabeth what it is unless she is granted asylum in the U.S. Elizabeth agrees.
Later, Elizabeth video chats with Andrada, saying both she and Dalton know all about the secret payment he received from Chinese companies. She promises to keep it on the down low as long as Andrada gives the money back and attends a press conference with Dalton, committing to remain a U.S. ally. Backed into a corner, Andrada reluctantly agrees.
After the speech, Andrada finds Elizabeth outside. He gloats that this was his plan all along, and now he and Elizabeth are even. Elizabeth disagrees. She promises someday she will tell the world what he did to her, and she’ll tell them what she did to him back. If she hears about him sexually assaulting anyone else, that time will come sooner rather than later. She firmly requests that he call her Madam Secretary from now on.
Ian sneaks into the shed and spies a military drone. He gets caught by another cult member, giving the excuse that he is looking for fire extinguishers. However, the man doesn’t believe him. He says he recognizes him as a fake and pulls out a knife. Ian manages to kill the guy and stuff his body into the back of his truck. He meets Henry, relaying all the new, disastrous information.