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Madam Secretary - Another Benghazi/The Operative - Review: "Picking up steam"



The last two episodes of Madam Secretary were picking up steam. Its cases became more intense, its characters more fleshed out and the family issues of the show are better executed. Let's have a look at these episodes.

In the series' second episode, Elizabeth dealt with a crisis in Yemen. There were a few protests there and the American embassy was one of the protestors' targets. The ambassador sends his wife and child to the US, but refuses to leave himself. The President is reluctant to send troops to protect him as it would look like an act of war, but also says he doesn't want another Benghazi incident. This prompts Elizabeth to hire a shady private security company to protect the ambassador. However, the protests escalate and the ambassador is seemingly killed in a fire. Fortunately, it turns out he actually survived thanks to the guys protecting him. Since one of them died on the job, Elizabeth thanks the company owner, whom she had publicly criticized earlier, and goes to see the family of the man who died.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth's oldest daughter Stevie makes headlines when she criticizes the new policy of her university. Elizabeth's staff warns her to personally take care of the matter without making any headlines herself. So she talks to her daughter, but is surprised when Stevie later returns home. She says she quit because she couldn't handle being constantly seen as a celibrity's daughter. It's obvious that Henry gets along better with Stevie than Elizabeth does.

I enjoyed this episode and think it was better than the pilot. The introduction of Stevie at the McCord house is bound to make interesting storylines. I like her character so far and I'm curious to see what she brings to the table. Elizabeth's family life was also much more interesting than in the previous episode.

One thing I'm still worried about is the supporting characters. I think Chief of Staff Jackson improved from the pilot, because it seemed he was going full evil. While he and Elizabeth continue to have an antagonistic relationship, his character was more fleshed out in episode 2. However, Elizabeth's staff is still bland. I don't know half their names and they look like forgettable characters. They need to get more interesting storylines, because right now, they are just a waste of screen time and talent (like Bebe Neuwirth).

In episode 3, Elizabeth has to deal with their own version of Snowden, called Viper. It seems a man called Viper is leaking government secrets, and a reporter publicly attacks Elizabeth on this. At first, Viper only leaks emails from State Department employees, causing tension with various countries and forcing Elizabeth to make lots of apologies. However, later he also blows the identities of covert operatives. While most of them are pulled out safely, the Pakistani operative Roy Schaeffer is too late and is arrested. After his trial, he is scheduled to be hanged in two days. Elizabeth offers the Pakistani ambassador her apologies but he says that's not enough. They have to come up with another solution.

Cue Henry McCord, Elizabeth's religion professor husband. He met the Russian minister Gorev earlier, who pressured him to give his daughter high grades. Henry declined that offer. Elizabeth decided to make a three-way deal: Henry gives Gorev's daughter A's, Russia sells Pakistan a weapon and Pakistan gives Schaeffer back. This makes Henry mad as he doesn't want to be dragged into all this. He eventually agrees to give Gorev's daughter a resit and in turn, the deal is on and Schaeffer gets back home safely.

This was a really intense episode and the best one I've seen so far. It was fast-paced, there was a great balance between Elizabeth's personal and professional life, and even Elizabeth's staff seems to be more developed. I must say I really enjoyed the moment when Elizabeth and her staff toasted to Schaeffer coming home. Bebe Neuwirth's character Nadine also had a few funny one-liners throughout the episode, which I liked.

There's one last thing I want to note. The show seems to be using some headlines, as the Benghazi incident really happened and episode 3 was clearly based on Snowden.

Then I have one minor and completely unrelated side note: this is my 50th review for SpoilerTV! Here's to another 50 of them, and hopefully that will include some from Madam Secretary as well. I am really enjoying the show so far so I hope it will get a full season.

What did you think of "Another Benghazi" and "The Operative"? Are you enjoying the show so far? Do you think it's improving overall? And what do you think of the using of headlines? Tell us your opinions in the commments below.

Here is a promo for the next new episode of Madam Secretary:



About the Author - Daniel
Daniel is a Dutch university student studying Psychology. On SpoilerTV he is a reviewer of NCIS, The 100 and the upcoming shows Madam Secretary, Battle Creek and Odyssey. He also enjoys Arrow, NCIS: LA, Nikita and The Blacklist. Recently gotten into LOST which he really loves. He is excited for the new shows Stalker, Scorpion, NCIS: New Orleans and a bunch of others.
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