Madam Secretary – Persona Non Grata
By: Taylor Gates
Henry (Tim Daly) briefs the CIA about the growing Russian control with the Taliban. He explains that their relationship undermines American influence and establishes connections in case the Afghani government falls which, if this continues, is likely. Henry is requesting money in order to fund targets against these Russian influencers. The majority leader is inclined to grant the request, but Senator Morejon (José Zúñiga) is more hesitant, stating that this is either just a made-up distraction from the Dalton administration or the fault of the Secretary of State. Henry says he’s more interested in finding solutions than assigning blame, defending Elizabeth (Téa Leoni) for doing the best she can with a limited budget. He reminds Morejon he ran his campaign on the promise of security, saying he should put his money where his mouth is.
Henry calls Elizabeth to update her on the meeting, and Elizabeth finds Henry’s dramatic words towards Morejon hilarious. She also requests that he pick up some pistachio gelato on his way home, as Alison (Kathrine Herzer) is coming home again that weekend. Henry finds it odd that she’s spending so much time away from school as a freshman, but Elizabeth likes it when she visits and doesn’t want him to question it.
Elizabeth welcomes Matt (Geoffrey Arend) back from his furlough and asks Jay (Sebastian Arcelus) how his first task as Chief of Staff is going. Jay is doing well so far, having successfully assembled the summit on human trafficking. They update Elizabeth on Daisy (Patina Miller), who is about ready to pop and watching trashy reality TV.
Elizabeth thanks the people for gathering, saying their efforts to improve conditions in Central Asia will include prevention of human trafficking in addition to repartitions to the victims and their families. Hopefully they will be able to get justice for people like Diane Kramer (Cindy Katz), who is personally serving on the negotiation team despite losing a daughter herself.
Dmitri (Chris Petrovski) greets Dylan (Sam Breslin Wright), giving him a blanket he knitted for Molly, who is on bed rest. Henry introduces them both to Nafisa Samadi (Ursula Taherian), who is their chief associate in Kabul. She is in DC to coordinate intelligence in Afghanistan. They agree to set up a surveillance safe house in Kabul in order to find out more members of the network behind the attacks. After the meeting, Dmitri tells Henry about his therapist suggesting he take up knitting, and Henry tells Dmitri he’s glad to have him back.
Jay briefs Elizabeth and Diane on the seating arrangements for the summit meeting. Diane will be seated directly across from President Nogoyev (Rob Yang), in order to make it harder for him not to agree to their terms. Diane will be surrounded by Elizabeth and Julia MacDonald (Jessica Hecht), the ambassador who personally hammered out the details for the deal. Julia video chats Elizabeth to deliver some bad news—Nogoyev has cancelled travel visas and ceased communication with them. It looks like he’s getting cold feel on the deal. Elizabeth wonders if they should offer some incentives, but Jay doesn’t want to compromise anything in the agreement they worked so hard to put together.
Jay and Elizabeth try to persuade Dalton (Keith Carradine) to go see Nogoyev with them so he can flatter his way into making a deal. Russell (Zeljko Ivanek) is very against the idea, as they need to be focusing on the home front for the voters’ sakes. Dalton, however, is convinced and tells Russell to clear his schedule.
The McCord family is eating ice cream while watching Senator Morejon go on another tirade against Elizabeth on the news when Alison walks in. Jason (Evan Roe) teases her about her fashion design classes and they all prepare to watch a mindless teen vampire show together when Elizabeth gets a call from Julia, saying she’s being expelled from the country as a persona non grata.
Henry tells Elizabeth that he went into Alison’s room under the guise of checking her radiator but was really spying to see how her dressmaking midterm was coming along. From the looks of it, she hasn’t even started yet, which concerns both of them. Henry promises to talk to her.
Julia comes over to the McCord house. Elizabeth is furious at the way the Kyrgyzstan government treated Julia before she explains that it wasn’t arbitrary. She was involved with Felix, Nogoyev’s brother-in-law. She defends herself, saying that Felix is kind and good and they had plans to build a health clinic, but Elizabeth is shocked and horrified, coldly accepting Julia’s resignation. Julia makes the request that she check up on Felix, as she’s worried about his safety since Nogoyev hasn’t been in contact with them.
Russell and Dalton are even more upset by the news. Elizabeth and Jay try to reassure them that they can keep the information from getting out, as Nogoyev is protective over his family and doesn’t want their dirty laundry in the news either. Elizabeth wants to say Julia resigned for personal reasons and make a side-deal to have the summit go on as scheduled. Dalton gives them permission to do this, but says he can’t be part of it.
Henry gently confronts Alison about her midterm project, and she reveals that she feels inferior to her classmates and like she’s in over her head by taking the design class. Henry gives her some advice, telling her that how to make a bed was the most important thing he learned in the marines. Accomplishing even a small thing can give you a boost of confidence you need to finish a bigger job. This resonates with Alison, and she heads off to start working.
Elizabeth video chats with Nogoyev, apologizing on behalf of their ambassador’s conduct and asking him to salvage the summit. He, however, is back to refuting any claims of trafficking in his country whatsoever. He only agreed to the reparations out of the charity of his heart. Elizabeth reminds him of the good press this deal would get him, but since Dalton is no longer personally coming to his country to apologize, he refuses to work with them. Elizabeth inquires about Felix’s welfare, which enrages him even more. He abruptly leaves the video chat, causing Jay to panic. Elizabeth tells him not all is lost, as they can still implement a lesser regional deal that will do plenty of good. They just need to find an alternate host country.
Elizabeth tells Jay to run a check on Felix to make sure he’s not being tortured. Jay is visibly frustrated, ranting about the difficulty of juggling the summit and this new task. Elizabeth is irritated and Matt tells Jay he can’t get visibly frustrated anymore as Chief of Staff. He can’t complain and needs to work on finding solutions like Nadine used to do.
Jay comes to Elizabeth with good news—Kazakhstan has agreed to host the summit in exchange for a streamline on bilateral trade talks. They have also found Felix at a resort in Bora Bora, which makes Elizabeth wonder why he hasn’t yet called Julia. Jay found that the resort is actually a front for money launderers.
Elizabeth sulks while Henry packs to go to Afghanistan. She gives him a pair of her reading glasses so he has to get home safe, and he gives her a pair of his in exchange.
The next day, Blake (Erich Bergen) gives Elizabeth some bad news—Julia’s status just broke and the press knows everything. Kazakhstan has revoked their hosting agreement and many countries are dropping out of the summit. The only thing keeping them in was the US’s moral superiority, and now they can argue they’re corrupt and unethical. Diane is absolutely devastated, but Elizabeth promises she’s not giving up.
Alison has Stevie (Wallis Currie-Wood) try on her finished dress. Stevie reassures Alison that it’s incredible and she would totally wear it in public for the right occasion. Alison tells Stevie she forgot to book a model for her presentation and begs her to wear it in her school’s fashion show that night. Stevie is reluctant, as she hates being onstage, but is finally pressured into it.
The Dalton administration meets with members of the CIA who say that Felix had been acting as a secret agent for the GRU. In addition to Julia compromising their intelligence, they have also hacked US servers using a crypto-worm. They could now have access to all their military information. During her interrogation, Julia says that Felix’s curiosity seemed normal because of his health clinic ambitions. However, she admits she left him alone with her computer many times. Luckily, it looks like the GRU only gained access to confidential information at a local level and national security won’t be compromised.
In Afghanistan, Henry meets with Ambassador Findley (Gregg Edelman) about the safe house. Henry spies a picture of Findley with Julia on his desk, leading him to inquire about their relationship. Findley says they had communicated about health services together via email. This worries Henry, even more so when he admits the location of the safe house was sent in a recent briefing email. It’s likely to have been hacked by the Russians, and they could be targeting the space as they speak. Henry frantically calls his teammates, telling them to lock down and evacuate the house.
The Dalton administration meets in the control room, seeing from their drone that there has been a bomb that went off near where Henry and his team were. Henry makes contact with them, assuring them their team is okay other than some cuts and busted eardrums. They are all ordered to leave Afghanistan immediately.
Elizabeth video chats with Nogoyev again, who is outraged his brother was working with the GRU. However, he still places the blame totally on Julia. Elizabeth threatens to implement targeted financial sanctions if their country doesn’t agree to the summit, saying they now have the grounds because of Felix’s money laundering. She says her offer will expire once she hangs up, and he scrambles to agree to the original terms.
Backstage at the fashion show, Stevie is unusually nervous. She tells Alison that she and Jareth broke off the engagement. She thought they were just going to take some time apart, but he called and pulled the plug entirely. Stevie starts crying, saying she’s not sure she can do this—she gets stage fright even when she’s happy. Alison says she wants to talk about it and make her feel better but begs her to walk across the stage first so she doesn’t fail. Stevie agrees to shrug it off for the time being in order to help.
Jay tells Elizabeth he got all the original submit countries back on board, which is a big win. He apologizes for grumbling earlier, but Elizabeth reminds him his passion got him the job—she just wants it to be attached to a solution from now on. They go deliver the good news to Diane.
Elizabeth sits down with the kids, laughing about Stevie’s modeling video and complimenting Alison on her dress. The happy moment is interrupted by an emergency call, and at the White House she learns that Samadi has been kidnapped, likely by the Taliban, and her status is unknown. Since the Taliban knew exactly where to find them, there is only one explanation: they were tipped off by someone on the US side.