Madam Secretary – Off the Record
By: Taylor Gates
Elizabeth (Tea Leoni) video chats Alison (Kathrine Herzer) so she can help them pick out paint colors for the kitchen. Jason (Evan Roe) refuses to help with the renovation, but Elizabeth is excited to spend some quality time with Henry (Tim Daly) anyway. Since Jason can drive himself to school now, Elizabeth and Henry use their time before work to have morning sex.
Nadine (Bebe Neuwirth) and Blake (Erich Bergen) are in the car waiting for Elizabeth. Nadine informs her the Libyan civil war is back on—talks between the National Congress and the Unified Republican Ministry broke down over control of the oil company, so the URM launched an offense on an oil terminal. Blake doesn’t understand why they would jeopardize all the aid they would get if they just buried their hatchets. Nadine explains reconciliation is difficult, and Elizabeth is thankful they still have the aid package for leverage.
Dalton (Keith Carradine), however, tells Elizabeth congress is going to pull the plug on the package. They can’t give aid without the promise of the deal, and Senator Morejon is arguing that their money could fall into the hands to terrorists and that the money would be better allocated for American farming subsidies. Russell (Zeljko Ivanek) gives her four days to promise a deal, and Elizabeth decides to go to Libya herself and try to persuade them peace is the answer. Russell is completely against her going, saying it is too risky, but Dalton ultimately grants her permission.
Elizabeth and her staff are briefed on where and how they will be landing in Libya as well as who will be accompanying them on their trip. At home, Henry tests out a few paint samples on the walls while Elizabeth inquires about the exact definition of a corkscrew landing. This clearly worries Henry, but he attempts to brush it off as no big deal and ease Elizabeth’s nerves. Stevie (Wallis Currie-Wood) comes down and sees the paint samples, and Elizabeth gives her her favorite one in order to spruce up Jareth’s apartment.
Elizabeth, Nadine, Jay (Sebastian Arcelus), and Matt (Geoffrey Arend) are driving to the hotel where they are to meet with Libya’s leaders for negotiation. However, on the way there, their car hits a little girl in the road. Despite being told to stay in the car, Elizabeth jumps out and tries to rescue her. The medic says she’ll survive if she gets to a hospital quickly. Elizabeth wants to drive her there, but that could cause conflict with the government. A group of angry, armed civilians surround the car but Elizabeth refuses to leave until the medic volunteers to stay and promises to do everything he can to save her.
On their way to the meeting, Jay tells Elizabeth the doctors are worried about the girl’s brain swelling. It turns out her name is Aya and she was walking home from her grandparents’ house when she was hit. Her parents are at the hospital, and Elizabeth asks Nadine to join them. At the hospital, Nadine conveys her condolences to Aya’s parents. The doctor says Aya’s brain has continued to swell and there’s nothing more they can do—she only has one more day to live. Aya’s father is furious, telling Nadine this is all their fault.
Elizabeth calls Dalton and Russell, telling them that progress is taking longer than usual. Russell informs her they have to tighten up her timeline even more—she only has one day left because DS is worried what will happen when news breaks of her accident. Elizabeth says this is a terrible idea, but Dalton tells her it’s not up for negotiation.
Elizabeth’s meeting is not going well, as both sides are yelling at each other and getting off track. Elizabeth gets a phone call from Nadine, who updates her about the situation. Her only hope is if they get her a piece of medical equipment they don’t have at the hospital. The closest place with it is the USNS Mercy Hospital ship a few hundred miles away. With a no-fly zone, logistics are problematic and nearly impossible, but Elizabeth is determined to make it happen.
Elizabeth tells the two leaders she’s done trying to negotiate against a civil war. However, she begs them to work together to save Aya’s life by suspending the no-fly zone and calling a ceasefire for one hour. They are adamant on not making exceptions, but when Elizabeth pleads with them in their own language, they reluctantly agree.
Nadine informs Elizabeth that Aya’s father has changed his mind about the helicopter. Because he’s never flown before, he’s frightened that they could get shot down. Elizabeth explains the situation and tries to assuage their fears, telling them about the ceasefire. When they’re still unwilling, Elizabeth says she’s go with them. Her security guard reminds her he’s authorized to physically stop her, but Elizabeth begs him to let her go. He hesitantly grants her permission.
They successfully make it on the boat and get Aya into surgery. During the operation, Aya’s mom asks Elizabeth about her own children before revealing that she and her husband also have two girls and a boy. She begins to cry, and Elizabeth comforts her. Luckily, the surgeon tells everyone the good news—Aya responded beautifully to the treatment and is going to be okay. To make it even better, Jay says that the ceasefire held and both sides want her to come back. They agreed on military integration and resource sharing and want to sign the peace deal. Apparently they were moved by Elizabeth’s determination to save Aya.
Meanwhile, Dmitri is still anxious about his undercover identity, taking pills to cope with the stress. Though Talia (Masha King) is worried about him, he lies and says he’s fine. Henry takes Dmitri to their CIA team headquarters, which is fronted as an IT office. He introduces him to the team of Dylan (Sam Breslin Wright) and Molly (Christine Garver) before briefing them on their mission—to stop Russia from bolstering the Taliban and undermining the democratic government in Afghanistan. Their plan is to research all the Russians trying to bribe Afghani officials and see which one of them is most likely to turn.
Dylan and Molly and Dmitri disagree on the best candidate. Dylan and Molly’s guy had a GRU unsanctioned meeting with an Afghani drug lord but is a bit of a renegade and at risk of imploding. Dmitri’s pick has a lot of debt and offering to pay that off could be intriguing to him. They also have evidence of him corresponding with a cousin about his left-leaning politics and he’s definitely stable. Henry decides to go with Dmitri’s person.
Dylan and Molly take Dmitri out for drinks, and he gets sad when they start talking about their children and families. They try to cheer him up by saying he’s off to a strong start and understand why Henry likes him. They make a joke about turning one of the Russians and the brutality of the GRU, and Dmitri gets upset, sharing firsthand accounts of what Russian prison is like in graphic detail. He says it’s nothing to joke about and angrily storms out of the bar, popping some more pills in an alleyway.
While they paint together, it becomes apparent that Jareth and Stevie’s relationship is a little rocky. Jareth is disconcerted about being under the thumb of the “McCord Dynasty” when he’s been disinherited by his own family. Jareth tells Stevie he wishes she would stop jumping through every single hoop her parents want her to, and Stevie gets angry that he’s implying she has no mind of her own. He shoots back that they always do what she wants, and Stevie tells Jareth he never tells her how he feels. Their fight is interrupted by Stevie getting a work call.
That night, Stevie and Dmitri run into each other at a convenience store. Stevie awkwardly tells Dmitri about some of her relationship troubles while Dmitri tells her about how he just alienated his new coworkers.
The next day at work, Henry calls Dmitri into his office and yells at him for his behavior at the bar. He questions Dmitri’s capability to keep an even temperament, as any perceived weakness could be used against them by the enemy. He reminds Dmitri again just how much of his own credibility he put on the line to get Dmitri this job. Henry demands he start seeing a doctor again, forcing Dmitri to open up about his opioid addiction.
Stevie goes to Jareth’s apartment to see that he has finished painting. Jareth apologizes for being an idiot, saying he truly does love Stevie’s family and brags about them to people. He admits he’s even a little intimidated by her and her job. Stevie forgives him and the two hug, but she’s clearly still feeling a little upset.
Stevie comes home to see Henry and Elizabeth painting. She congratulates Elizabeth on the Libyan peace deal and tells them about painting with Jareth. She also mentions to Henry that she ran into Dmitri and he seemed like a nice guy. Stevie sees Henry and Elizabeth begin to have a playful paint fight and longs for that kind of fun in her own relationship.