Madam Secretary – Sound and Fury
By: Taylor Gates
During a fancy event at the White House, Kat (Sara Ramirez) informs Elizabeth (Téa Leoni) of a sonic attack on the US Embassy in Bulgaria. Around twenty people are being treated for hearing loss, headache, and nausea. Although they’re still not sure where the attack came from, Dalton (Keith Carradine) jumps to conclusions, thinking the Russians were the attackers and that it was practically an act of war. Elizabeth doesn’t want to make any rash proclamations, but Ephraim Ware (Clifton Davis) also believes it was Russia. Dalton wants the Pentagon working on countermeasures immediately while the Special Activities Division looks for perpetrators. During press, Dalton threatens Russia with “ferocity and might.” His strong, unhinged words make both Elizabeth and Russell (Zjelko Ivanek) concerned.
Elizabeth calls Russian Foreign Minister Avdonin (Yasen Peyankov) to try and calm things down. Avdonin is livid and assures Elizabeth that the president is even more furious. Avdonin demands that Dalton publicly apologize for his comment, but Elizabeth tries to flip it around. She asks to speak to the Russian they caught fleeing the scene of the attack.
Henry is still awake when Elizabeth gets home, researching everything he can about the attack. Elizabeth hopes Dalton’s comment was just due to stress over Harrison. All she wants to do is take a hot bath, but one of their pipes bursts due to the cold, ruining boxes in their basement. Their plumber lectures them about running the water through so it doesn’t sit and freeze.
Russia announces an $8 billion weapon sale to Iran in retaliation, which Elizabeth doesn’t think is too bad, all things considered. It’s not in their best interest and is a measured response. Daisy (Patina Miller) tells her to relay that to POTUS, as he wants her in the situation room. When Elizabeth gets to the White House, Russell informs her Dalton wants to shoot down Russian military satellites. Harrison calls Russell to talk about his juicing blog, so he is not the problem. Dalton’s wife Lydia (Christine Ebersole), however, is oddly not returning their calls.
In the situation room, Ellen Hill (Johanna Day) suggests economic sanctions, as she considers it a proper and proportional response to the arms deal. Dalton wants something more intense—he has no doubt about the sonic attack even though the investigation is still ongoing. Gordon Becker (Mike Pniewski) agrees with Elizabeth and Ellen, but Dalton disregards all of them, ordering them to take out Russian satellites. Gordon refuses, saying he can’t in good conscience do it. Dalton fires him on the spot, commanding that his replacement Robert Holland (Michael Nathanson) carry it out. Elizabeth tries to talk some sense into him, but Dalton is having none of it, demanding she call him Mr. President.
Dylan (Sam Breslin Wright) and Molly (Christine Garver) agree that the case against Russia is still entirely circumstantial. They get Agent Montgomery (Lisa Tharps) on video chat, and she tells him a nanny cam in the building’s day care recorded what happened right before the sonic attack. She’s going to send it over to the FBI and have it tested to determine if it’s Russian technology or something else.
Everyone who was in the situation room meets that night, secretly discussing what they’re going to do about Dalton’s order since they can’t in good conscience carry out. Everyone is on board to threaten to quit if Dalton doesn’t change his mind except Holland, who is worried about not carrying out the order and wondering if there is any merit to it. With pressure from the others, he reluctantly agrees not to do anything impulsive.
Elizabeth crashes a political fundraiser to talk to Lydia and ask what’s going on with Dalton. She asks if she’s noticed any changes in his health. Although Lydia is defensive and closed off at first, she beings changing her tune when Elizabeth breaches protocol and tells her about Dalton’s order to strike down the satellites.
Ephraim, Henry, and Elizabeth share their findings with Dalton. Surprisingly, the event was not an attack at all, but rather a thwarted spying effort caused by a Russian listening device pointed at the embassy. Two frequencies crossed, which created a beating effect. Though all the top FBI sound specialists concurred, Dalton isn’t convinced that this was pure coincidence and doesn’t want to back down, not okay with the spying. Elizabeth, however, reminds him he was in charge of the largest spying operation in the world and nobody ever declared war on them. Elizabeth works up the courage to tell him he isn’t well. She says she’s concerned about him and he needs to see a doctor, and Russell uncharacteristically backs her up. This enrages Dalton even more, saying he’s the most powerful man on earth and nobody is going to stop him.
Russell gathers Dalton’s cabinet together, making a moving speech about how he is the finest public servant Russell has ever known. However, he has not been the same lately, and the old Dalton would want them to stop this new one from making huge mistakes. They all need to vote on whether they should enact section four and have Hurst (Jayne Atkinson) become acting president. If ever there was a time to set aside party politics to do what’s best for the country, it’s now. If they don’t, they will shoot down the Russian satellites and be at war.
Elizabeth tells them that, even if they support this attack on Russia, Dalton is still a wildcard. The cabinet, however, disagrees on whether or not Dalton is actually ill considering there has been no official diagnosis. They also want to shield Dalton and protect his reputation. Elizabeth wants to protect him, too—but they made a promise to the constitution and country, not the president. Though the vote is close, they come to the consensus to remove him from office.
Russell leads Dalton into the situation room where only Lydia and Elizabeth are present. He’s confused and furious, ready to attack Russia. Lydia tells him everyone loves him and he’s not well, but Dalton yells that it’s a coup. Instead of fighting it and forcing Congress to vote him out, they encourage him to take a different route by agreeing to section three: a full examination and treatment if need be. Then, when he gets better, he can go back to being president.
A doctor tells Lydia and Russell that a large meningioma is pressing against the frontal cortex of Dalton’s brain, which definitely accounts for the personality change. However, since 95% are not malignant and it’s easily treatable, he should make a full recovery. Removing it should reverse all of his erratic behavior, and the drugs she’s going to put him on will rapidly improve his condition even pre-operation.
A week later, Elizabeth and Henry deliver flowers to Dalton’s house and wish him luck on his operation. Dalton apologizes for putting Elizabeth through such a terrible, scary event when he was ill, but Elizabeth tells him there’s no need—he couldn’t help it. Dalton asks Elizabeth which way she voted on section four, and she tells him the way he would have wanted her to.
Dalton makes a speech about his condition next to Acting President Hurst. He tells the country he is going to undergo surgery and only when he is 100% healed and cleared by medical professionals will he be reinstated. He is so proud the constitution and his cabinet for persevering during this challenging time.
Stevie (Wallis Currie-Wood), Alison (Kathrine Herzer), and Jason (Evan Roe) dig through the soggy boxes that were in the basement and find all their baby books. Stevie’s is ruined but all the way filled out, Alison’s is ruined but had slightly less material, and Jason’s is in pristine condition because it has never been opened. He is hurt at his lack of history.
Henry talks to Jason while he’s playing video games. He explains that he was a special child, but the more kids you have, the less time you have to record their every move. Plus, he was a 9/11 baby, and the world was crazy for Elizabeth during that period. Henry assures Jason he was the best thing about that time, what with all his champion crawling and babbling. Jason is still upset, wishing he knew his first words or when he took his first steps.
That night, Henry and Elizabeth talk about Jason’s childhood and fill in the baby book. They remember he learned to walk when he was 14 months, he started talking at six months, and his first word was “no.” Jason asks why they’re doing it, and Elizabeth says it feels like a good time to rebuild. Jason softens and joins in, reminiscing about his favorite toy.