Madam Secretary – The Fourth Estate
By: Taylor Gates
Elizabeth (Téa Leoni) and Henry (Tim Daly) are both having trouble sleeping. Elizabeth is stressing about Russia while Henry is racking his brain, agonizing over whether one of the eight congressmen committed treason. Henry pitches doing a drip test—telling them about a fake operation in Afghanistan and seeing if there’s any Taliban response. Elizabeth likes the idea.
Russell (Zeljko Ivanek) calls Elizabeth to the White House to talk about record-breaking heroin overdoses. Dalton’s (Keith Carradine) son Harrison is also back in rehab, but they’ve luckily managed to keep it out of the press so far. Dalton tells Elizabeth he’s going to go after a cartel leader Sergio Macias (Anthony Ruiz) in Mexico. He’s in Mexican prison but is running things from his cell. Dalton wants him extradited to the US so he can be put in maximum security, but Elizabeth doesn’t think it’s the right play because another drug lord would just take over. She thinks they should focus on government corruption instead, as it is a systematic problem. Dalton understands her concerns that Harrison is clouding his vision but say he still wants to take decisive action that day.
Blake (Erich Bergen) is frazzled, as his parents are flying in that day. He tells Elizabeth that they constantly question his career since they’re private sector people and think his choice to leave finance was foolish. Elizabeth tells him to bring them to the office so they can see what he does.
The Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs is angry at the extradition request, thinking the US doesn’t trust the Mexican justice system. Elizabeth tries to assure him they’re only asking because he is wanted in several states. He says that to even consider this the US will have to lift trade restrictions on cyber weapons and have their anti-corruption unit stand down. Kat (Sara Ramirez) finds a way to make the cyber weaponry happen safely, and Mexico’s president has agreed to sign the agreement within the hour. Elizabeth is impressed.
Miguel Briseño (Desmin Borges), a reporter from The Washington Chronicle, grills Elizabeth about what she plans to do about the Mexican cartels during an interview. Off-the-record, Elizabeth comments that they’re doing everything they can, but it’s impossible to completely stop their government’s corruption unless the Mexican politicians themselves want to. She tells him that luckily there are tough reporters like him holding them accountable.
Dalton talks to President Zaragoza (Castulo Guerra) about the catastrophe the previous night. The car transporting Macias got hit with a helicopter full of RPGs, allowing Macias to get free and 21 Mexican police officers to get killed. Dalton says their cyber weapons deal is suspended until Macias gets into US prison.
Dylan (Sam Breslin Wright) presents his findings about the group of eight congressman to Dmitri (Chris Petrovski) and Henry. The men with the most connections to Russia are Carpenter, Emerick, and Morejon (José Zúñiga). They’re planning to give each of the three a fake brief containing a different location and fly drones over each one. If there’s Taliban activity there, they’ll know the men handed the information over.
Blake’s parents Fred (Tim Matheson) and Edie (Caroline Aaron) tour his office and ask him if they would like to get out of his tiny apartment and move into a larger condo. They tell him he could just pay them whatever he pays in rent. Although the thought of a bigger space is enticing, he doesn’t want their charity.
Blake introduces his parents to Kat, Elizabeth, and Matt (Geoffrey Arend), and they make comments about his small paycheck and refer to his job as a stepping stone, which embarrasses him. Elizabeth comments that Blake is one of the most capable people she’s ever worked with, but his parents are still focused on how much money he can make.
Briseño from The Washington Chronicle scores an interview with Macias and writes a long story exposing and naming corrupt politicians and the way Mexico scores US guns. Kat reveals a personal connection to this case, as the cartels inflicted horrific pain and suffering in the village where her father grew up.
Dalton calls Elizabeth into his office, furious at Briseño. He wants to take him to criminal court so he has to reveal his sources, but Elizabeth wants to try talking to him first since they bonded the other day. She calls him that night, and he says he couldn’t tell them where Macias even if he wanted to—they blindfolded him and put headphones over his ears. Elizabeth requests he at least hand over the recording device he used, as his principles won’t save him when he’s arrested for contempt of court. She threatens him by saying an FBI plane could have him coming home that night, but he begs for more time. He won’t say why, just that it’s for the kind of reporting that could really change things.
Stevie (Wallis Currie-Wood) and Dmitri meet up at a bar. Dmitri admits he’s nervous about being with her, thinking it’s a bad idea since he works with her dad. However, he finds her funny and beautiful and does want to hang out with her. Stevie’s not nearly as nervous, saying she knows how to sneak around until they figure out what their relationship is going to be. She’s okay with keeping things casual and secret. They start laughing and talking and having a good time, but at the end of the night, Dmitri is still hesitant to make plans with her again. He convinces himself to stop thinking about everything that could go wrong and meets her for dinner again.
On the way to his car, Briseño gets killed by a mysterious figure. Elizabeth goes to The Washington Chronicle’s office where Briseño’s boss Marc (Seth Barrish) gives a moving speech about what an amazing man and reporter he was. After, she asks to see Briseño’s notes in order to find and prosecute his murderer. Marc is reluctant, thinking Briseño wouldn’t have wanted to help Elizabeth even to get justice for himself but hands over his information anyway.
Blake’s parents show him the condo and encourage him to reach for more in his career. They think he should be aiming higher than just being an assistant. They know someone with a political consulting firm who thinks Blake would be a great asset. Blake thinks his parents don’t respect him, wishing them good luck with their investments and leaving.
Kat and Jay tell Elizabeth that Briseño’s notes were a treasure trove. They found out Macias has a friend high up in the Mexican government—they’re thinking Deputy of the Judiciary. They don’t have a name yet but know he goes by the alias The Eagle. They think they can track him. To make matters even better, the DEA just located Macias.
Morejon storms into Henry’s remote intelligence unit, saying he’s heard about shady reporters asking his donors how they make their money. He accuses Henry of planting them in order to help Elizabeth’s career, vowing to get attorney generals involved. Henry’s team hears all of this but promises him their cover isn’t blown yet. They only used legitimate, freelance reporters and just need to watch the drones the next day. After discovering that Beau Carpenter is the guilty party, Henry fills Morejon in on what has been going on. He asks Morejon to help him by blocking information from getting to Carpenter’s desk.
Dalton and Elizabeth see that Macias is being kept in a bunker in a rural area. They think if their troops raid the compound they can get him out alive. Dalton doesn’t want to tell President Zaragoza their plan even though it would violate Mexico’s sovereignty. He’s adamant that they raid the compound alone even though Elizabeth and Russell thinks it’s a terrible, risky idea. Elizabeth tells Henry about it over breakfast, and he understands where Dalton is coming from because of what happened with Dmitri.
Blake and Elizabeth take a break from going over Elizabeth’s schedule, and she asks him how the open house went. He tells her all about his parents’ scheme to make him quit the State Department and stop being an assistant. To his surprise, Elizabeth understands where they’re coming from. She says he’s way too smart to remain at that level, and he admits wanting to get into organization or planning in the State Department. Elizabeth tells Blake she’s going to fire him in one year—after time is up she’ll either do everything in her power to get him a promotion at State or write him a glowing letter of recommendation. He thanks her for believing in him.
Kat and Jay find out that The Eagle is the Secretary of Foreign Affairs Pedro Gomez (Jason Manuel Olazabal). Elizabeth goes to the control room, telling Dalton he has to stop the raid because of the newfound information. They have an opportunity to use their intel to get an anti-corruption measures with Macias’ help. Briseño’s sources were high-level diplomats fighting for a fair government. With Gomez out of the picture, they’ll have their chance.
The US works with the Mexican police force to arrest both Gomez and Macias and President Zaragoza thanks Dalton for sharing their intel. Dalton admits to Elizabeth that, while he’s proud of the work they’re doing, it feels very small. He’s also afraid Harrison is going to die from an overdose.