Madam Secretary – Minefield
By: Taylor Gates
Elizabeth (Téa Leoni) and her staff watch a video where a girl is rescued from an explosive minefield in Western Cambodia. Elizabeth sees an opportunity—though almost every other country has signed an agreement not to use land mines anymore, the US technically has not. Because not many Americans die from land mines, the US public doesn’t often think about them. Now that this video has gone viral, however, they’re on everyone’s minds. If US can show leadership and take initiative to ratify the mine ban Calgary, they could save thousands of lives.
Attorney General Nolan (John Bolton) briefs Russell (Zeljko Ivanek) on Beau Carpenter’s (John Cullum) corruption. Their plan is to build an FBI task force in order to admissibly prove his guilt. There’s a possibility his Russian housekeeper Magda (M. Grace Sutton) had something to do with the Russians leveraging him.
Elizabeth attempts to persuade Dalton (Keith Carradine) that they should ratify Calgary. Dalton reminds her that the US already does more than any other country to help clean up land mines and they have more pressing legislation at the moment. With some persuasion, however, Dalton tells her if she can whip the votes to get a two-thirds majority, he’ll sign off on it.
Russell asks Elizabeth what she’s doing that weekend. Bunny, the awful woman who used to throw the holiday party, passed away the previous night and they’re looking for a new venue. Russell tells Elizabeth that Dalton wants to pass the presidential torch onto her when his time is up, and in order for her to get support she needs to be networking, hosting events, and building a legacy. Elizabeth wants no part of any of that, having no interest in being POTUS.
Kat (Sara Ramirez) tells Elizabeth and Jay (Sebastian Arcelus) they need 67 senators for their treaty to pass. There are two kinds of “no” votes—defense hawks who take their cues from the military and black helicopters who will never vote for any treaty because they’re afraid of losing US sovereignty. Mike B. (Kevin Rahm) barges in, saying that Gordon Becker (Mike Pniewski) is the answer. Even if a senator wants to vote yes, they can’t look weak on defense and will need some cover, and Gordon is the solution.
Encouraged by Kat, Elizabeth agrees to throw the Christmas party to lure in more treaty votes. Russell hires over-the-top event coordinator Meghan (Rebecca Faulkenberry) to help her plan it. However, the party Meghan envisions is way too elaborate and expensive for Elizabeth’s taste. Russell sends Stevie (Wallis Currie-Wood) to help Elizabeth plan the party instead, knowing he can’t fire her. Neither Stevie or Elizabeth is thrilled, but they do their best to make it work.
Elizabeth talks to Gordon, who is reluctant to get on board with the land mine ratification. They would have to figure out another solution for South Korea plus China and Russia—their biggest adversaries—have not signed off either. Although she doesn’t think she can convince Russia, she’s confident she can deliver China. Gordon promises to support the ratification if she can. Her team decides to try and appeal to China’s vanity and new position as a superpower.
Henry’s (Tim Daly) team finds out Magda has been working for Carpenter for five years since his wife died. They’ve talked to sources and nobody suspects anything romantic or fishy going on between them and her finances don’t set off any red flags. According to the running route she posts on social media, however, most mornings she goes through Bethesda.
Elizabeth video chats with Foreign Minister Chen (Francis Jue), who tells her there have been internal discussions about the land mine issue. If the US were to go first, China would take it as a heartening sign and likely follow suit. Elizabeth feels good about this, but she is still stuck back where she started—needing the support of POTUS.
The next morning, Stevie calls Henry, Alison (Kathrine Herzer), and Jason (Evan Roe) together to help her plan Elizabeth’s holiday party. Alison will be in charge of fashion, hair, and makeup. Henry needs to help Elizabeth mingle with potential donors and take any controversial novels off their bookshelves. Elizabeth overhears this and vetoes it, saying the first amendment still applies in the McCord house. Stevie doesn’t want Jason to bring Piper (Salena Qureshi), but Elizabeth overrules her, saying he’s more than welcome to invite his girlfriend.
Henry, Dmitri (Chris Petrovski), and Dylan (Sam Breslin Wright) stakeout near the park Magda runs. They’re about to document her meeting with a Russian bogart, but the FBI agent they’re with plants two extra agents, which blows their cover. They decide to pick her up and take her to interrogation anyway. During her interview, Magda is insistent she doesn’t know the man she runs by every morning. She just delivers the messages he gives her, but she doesn’t know what they mean. She admits to helping Carpenter because he’s a good man who got her daughter into a good school. Although they have enough to charge her, they still don’t have concrete proof on Carpenter. Henry suggests they raid his house while he’s at Elizabeth’s holiday party.
Elizabeth spies Carpenter outside her office and stops to chat with him. She doesn’t think he’s suspecting an investigation yet. Russell also reminds Elizabeth of a complication. Beau Carpenter is their 67th vote—if he gets arrested, their treaty is toast.
Stevie has managed to plan a wonderful holiday party despite a small budget and time limit. Her friend with a food truck is going to cater tacos and the entertainment will be provided by Blake (Erich Bergen), Jay, and Daisy (Patina Miller). Elizabeth has qualms about Morejon (José Zúñiga) being invited, but Mike B. promises it’s going to make her look gracious. Frustrated by Elizabeth’s foul mood, Stevie tells her the diva-like attitude is making everything harder and she needs to get on board. Elizabeth is humbled and promises to do just that.
Before the Christmas party, Elizabeth tells Stevie they have to lie and say Henry is helping out with a family emergency in Pittsburgh. In reality, he is parked outside Carpenter’s house while a team is inside investigating it. Elizabeth greets the Harberts, whose daughter was in the land mine video. However, before she can get to into the conversation, she sees Carpenter about to leave and recruits Morejon to help get him to stay. They pretend to have a bet to see how long they can have a conversation without starting a political argument. During their conversation about baseball, Carpenter keeps tiredly looking at his watch, but when they bring up their children, he ominously says they all have such high hopes for their kids. Once Carpenter does leave, Elizabeth calls Henry, warning him he is on his way home. She also thinks what they’re looking for might have something to do with his son. Henry orders the FBI to look for clue pertaining to Carpenter’s child with their remaining few minutes.
Elizabeth thanks Morejon for putting the greater good above his own with Carpenter. She tries to convince him to vote yes on the treaty and make up for Carpenter’s lost vote. Everyone already knows he’s tough and wants to protect sovereignty—what the voters don’t know is if he has a soul. He promises to think about it.
Stevie tells Elizabeth she saw presidential potential in her at the party. People seemed to respect and look up to her just like they do Dalton. Elizabeth compliments her in return, telling her she did amazing work organizing the party, apologizing for being a pain in the ass. Stevie meets Dmitri outside the house. Though they share a quick, quiet moment, Dmitri has to run and continue his work shortly after. They’re both clearly a little sad they have to sneak around.
Henry’s team finds out that Carpenter has been taking money from the Russians to keep his son out of trouble. Henry is disgusted, barging into his interrogation and asking if it was worth it. Carpenter confesses but gets extremely upset, sadly asking himself what he’s done.
Morejon votes yes to the treaty and Congress passes the motion to ratify the land mine law. Dalton thanks China for agreeing to take the same crucial step. Instead of being excited, Elizabeth is determined to hold Russia accountable for their infiltration of the US government.