Madam Secretary – Shutdown
By: Taylor Gates
Elizabeth (Téa Leoni) frantically searches for a report on economic growth in central Asia. Henry (Tim Daly) comments that he thought shutdowns were supposed to slow the government down, but Elizabeth says that since Congress has furloughed a third of her staff it’s not much of a vacation for her. She’s livid that one Senator can negatively impact so many people just for a dumb idealogical notion. Henry reminds her they’re going to Paris in two days and she should relax, but Elizabeth tells him he would be frustrated too if his budget was affected. Intelligence, however, is always deemed essential—foreign relation programs aren’t.
Elizabeth tells Jason (Evan Roe) that she’ll miss him that weekend but reminds him Stevie (Wallis Currie-Wood) and Alison (Kathrine Herzer) will be home to keep him company. Jason says he has a report on the CIA due soon and Henry tells Jason to meet him at the Spy Museum so they can bond and gather research together.
Blake (Erich Bergen) gives Elizabeth her itinerary for Paris as well as the top five resumes for her new Chief of Staff and a latte. Elizabeth jokes about offering him the Chief of Staff position, but Blake is adamant about not wanting it—just filling in for Nadine is giving him a stress rash. Jay (Sebastian Arcelus) cynically greets Elizabeth. He’s irritated that his ex-mother-in-law keeps giving him grief about his work hours. Elizabeth tells him to bring Chloe into work tomorrow and asks him to look over the Chief of Staff resumes. She wants someone who’s a team player but also a leader.
Blake informs them there’s been a pushback from students wanting to enter the US to begin their classes because of the suspension of the visa program. There’s also been a case of ebola in West Africa, which terrifies Elizabeth.
Jareth (Christopher O’Shea) comes home to Stevie making one of his favorite home cooked meals. Jareth thinks this is adorable, but Stevie thinks she has too much time on her hands with the shutdown. Jareth invites Stevie to accompany him to his grandmother’s 80th birthday celebration in England. Stevie is hesitant, as his family didn’t exactly give her a warm welcome, but Jareth says that’s just because they don’t know her well enough yet.
Russell (Zeljko Ivanek) meets with Elizabeth, complaining about Morejon’s unwillingness to budge. Elizabeth asks for emergency funds to prevent another ebola outbreak in West Africa, and Russell tells her it might be possible if she’s willing to help them out. He and some others want to take Morejon out so the rest of the party collapses around him. Because of her approval rating, if she speaks out about politics and how detrimental the shutdown is, it could make a big impact. Though she’s reluctant, Russell eventually pressures her into a press conference.
Henry talks to Dylan (Sam Breslin Wright), who successfully turned their Russian. He got a list of the last three weapon transactions between the Russians and Afghani guards. However, there’s nothing on the guy who delivered the weapons despite being high-ranking, leading them to suspect it could be an alias. Henry offers to stop by Dmitri’s (Chris Petrovski) house off-the-books to inquire about it.
Elizabeth makes a speech about the negative effect of the shutdown before being blindsided by a reporter who accuses her of funding programs for murderers. Last night, a Honduran girl in a visa program was arrested for homicide. Elizabeth says she wasn’t aware of this situation but emphasizes that every student in the program goes through extensive vetting. Jay is furious at the reporter hijacking the speech, but Elizabeth calmly tells him to dig up details of the case.
That night, the whole McCord family has dinner together. Elizabeth is still stressing about the speech, but Stevie assures her the only people retweeting the clip are other reporters. Alison tries to make her feel better as well, saying everyone will see how racist the question obviously was. Stevie tells everyone that she’s dreading seeing Jareth’s family again, but Henry says that if Elizabeth can win over his family, she can definitely impress Jareth’s. Stevie’s absence will leave Jason alone with Alison, which doesn’t thrill him.
Morejon’s team has made a propaganda video accusing Elizabeth being a Washington elite and disguising murder as refuge. Jay suggests they counteract it by releasing the crime statistics for all refugees which is virtually nonexistent. Elizabeth wants to put positive stories of refugees front-and-center in the media—they need something inspiring right now.
Henry visits Dmitri at rehab. Dmitri is surprisingly happy and not bitter about being there, saying he’s already learned a lot from his counseling sessions. He thanks Henry for visiting him, saying that one of the steps of his recovery is apologizing to the people he’s hurt. After his sister, he feels like Henry is the one he did the most damage to. Henry accepts his apology, feeling responsible for hurting Dmitri too. He asks about the name that kept coming up during intel: Wolland. Dmitri says it’s an alias for a man named Yarmolinsky. The name is in reference to his favorite novel and a character in it who is basically Satan. Dmitri tells Henry to come back any time he needs help but is a little hurt Henry visited him just because he needed something.
Elizabeth finishes interviewing another qualified, enthusiastic candidate but is feeling ambivalent about them. She realizes this is also how she felt about Nadine at first and figures maybe she just needs to give them a chance. Jay finds that a toy factory in Peoria, Illinois hires lots of refugees to make Giggle Doodles. Elizabeth is excited at this news, telling Blake to set up a tour of the place for this Monday and invite some members of the press—this could be just the kind of happy story they need. Blake advises Elizabeth to do the tour that weekend instead of attending the economic conference in Paris, as it would make for a more heartwarming story. Elizabeth realizes he’s right, telling him to move the tour up. Matt (Geoffrey Arend) drops by to pick up Chloe, and Jay is thankful he’s willing to babysit for the rest of the week.
Elizabeth runs her toy factory idea by Russell. Russell wants to play dirtier, as they already tried to be civil with the press conference, but Elizabeth convinces him to let her try joy and kindness just one more time before they get nasty.
Elizabeth tells Henry he doesn’t have to change his itinerary and can still go to Paris, but Henry says he would rather go to Illinois and spend time with her. Elizabeth asks Jason how the Spy Museum went, but Henry reveals he had to postpone to talk to Dmitri.
Jay arrives at Matt’s house late to pick up Chloe. Matt gently tells Jay that Elizabeth would have understood if Jay had to leave earlier to pick up his daughter and that he has to draw the line sometimes. There’s always going to be a crisis at the office, but there are no furloughs in parenthood.
That night, a story runs on the news about Elizabeth’s visit to Angelo’s (Anthony Bianchi) Wiffle Waffle toy factory. It’s uplifting and heartwarming, but Russell texts Elizabeth and warns her not to check Twitter. Apparently Morejon and his supports are angry that Elizabeth is bragging about giving the few manufacturing jobs left in the country to Honduran refugees. Henry turns off her phone and the TV so they can have a nice, relaxing night together.
Elizabeth wants to get something off her chest. She tells Henry she is bothered her that he cancelled on Jason to talk to Dmitri. Henry defends himself, saying he just postponed their outing but is going to make it up to him. Elizabeth is still annoyed, telling Henry that Jason was crushed. She feels like he’s always choosing Dmitri over his own children. She doesn’t know when Henry is going to stop feeling guilty for what happened to Dmitri. Henry feels attacked, saying that he’s still trying to figure out how to live with himself after what happened with Dmitri.
Jay informs Elizabeth that there’s been a reported case of ebola in Dallas. She promises to take the heat for calling the West African ambassador during the furlough and that it’s urgent they get her on this case. She tells Russell the situation—this could end the shutdown and unite everyone again. Russell refuses to go along with it, instead prepared to play dirty. He wants to release controversial, damming information about Morejon and his family to the press in order to destroy his reputation. In his mind, he is the enemy and must be stopped.
In the car, Elizabeth tells Blake and Jay how frustrated she is with the constant mudslinging between Russell and Morejon, especially since the ebola situation is getting worse and worse. Jay instructs their driver to take them to Morejon’s office instead. Elizabeth lets Morejon in on Russell’s plan, saying she’s willing to work with him to stop the story from going public if he gives her some funding to prevent the ebola outbreak. She encourages him to take the deal Dalton proposed two weeks ago so he can say he stopped balancing spreadsheets in order to save some lives. He gives her a cryptic response, but it seems he’s still too concerned about the financials to back down despite Russell’s threat.
Jay and Blake share some good news—no new ebola cases have been reported yet. The ambassador has been doing everything she can off the record, but their only hope is the end to the shutdown. The conversation about Chief of Staff arises again, and Jay offers his opinion on each of the candidates. While he’s weighing the pros and cons, Elizabeth becomes impressed with his knowledge and confidence. She realizes he has all the qualities she’s been looking for. Not only is he loyal, but he’s humble as well. Jay is honored but tells Elizabeth that he needs to be there for Abby and Chloe, which means leaving by six some days and not always working weekends. Elizabeth promises to delegate and make it work, congratulating him on his new job.
Henry and Elizabeth apologize to each other for freaking out during their trip. Elizabeth tells Henry she thinks he’s a great father and Henry says he’s taking Jason to the Spy Museum the next day. He is, however, having trouble dodging Jason’s suspicions about his job, but Elizabeth assures him he’ll figure something out. Henry also gives her a present—a recreation of her father’s watch that was lost in the car accident. Elizabeth emotionally thanks him for the thoughtful gift.
Russell shows up at Elizabeth’s house bearing good news—Morejon has agreed to the terms of Dalton’s original deal and is expected to sign off on it the next day. He’s suspicious of Elizabeth’s part in this, telling her to stay in her lane. He also thinks her choice of Jay for Chief of Staff is unwise, but Elizabeth shuts the door in his face when he start criticizing her.
Jareth and Stevie are getting ready to head to the airport when Russell calls her, telling her to bring donuts. Confused, she calls Russell, who tells her the shutdown is over. Stevie says she’s supposed to be in England for a week, and Russell tells her it’s up to her whether she wants to go or not. Stevie tells Jareth she feels like she should go into work, as she’s not sure she wants to go to England. Jareth is irritated, having already bought the plane ticket, but Stevie tells Jareth she needs some time to think about their relationship and that they’ll talk in a week. Jareth is disappointed, wordlessly pulling Stevie’s suitcase out of the trunk and driving away.