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Madam Secretary - Convergence - Review

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Hats off to the writers. As the episode title suggests, things are converging and the writers are finally bringing this bad boy in for a landing. For the first time in a while, I’m ready to see where a storyline is going.

Elizabeth and the State Department believe they’ve cracked the code on who the mole is: Barry Milken. However, a little bit of investigating and questioning reveals the random State Department employee appears to be just a simple pawn in a larger scheme. Moments after he takes a plea deal and is about to spill his guts (or whatever little reveals are in his guts), he takes a bullet to the head. So that didn’t work out well for him. Jim Fox, Barry’s lawyer and a man with a helluva dry cleaning bill, is apparently in “the know” about who’s possibly behind the arms smuggling and has agreed to work with Elizabeth. I’m wondering if the mole will be someone we know or a third party.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Henry put the pieces of the puzzle together and realize they’re looking for the same supplier. Once again, the McCords save society. Their work worlds have been circling each other for a few episodes now, but it’s during 3.17 that they actually collide again. Or, more appropriately, converge. We’ve seen their jobs overlap before (Dmitri, anyone?), but this is different. While concerned about Ian and uncovering who’s behind the weapons smuggling, Henry is not nearly as enmeshed in this situation as he was with Dmitri’s. The toll from the Dmitri job was more mental and emotional, where Ian’s is more physical.

As for Ian, he’s still chest-deep in crazy. Henry is genuinely concerned about Ian’s well being and eventually determines he’s being drugged by the cult. When Henry goes to the compound to yank Ian out, Ian is nowhere to be found, but several armed militia members are. Henry is shot… conveniently in the knee and ankle… and takes off. So this explains how Tim’s skiing injury is being written in. This probably means either Ian has been made as a spy or is dead. He’s in the credits for the next episode, so we should learn what happened to him then.

The McCords find themselves in a familiar spot: an injured Henry who cheated death is in the hospital and a relieved Elizabeth rushes to his side. The scene itself is very reminiscent of last season, when Henry was the victim of a dirty bomb. Elizabeth even has the same desperate look and disposition when she first walks into his room. After a kiss and reassurances that he’s fine, she gets to the point. “Henry, when are you gonna get a desk job that involves a real desk,” she pointedly asks. I seem to remember a similar conversation happening years ago when Henry was the one upset over Elizabeth’s non-desk job in Iraq. Elizabeth pushes the topic further, asking “What am I gonna tell the kids if you get killed?” The woman is done. She wants to be a supportive wife to her husband, but also not the wife of Superman. The problem is, even if he walks away from this job, the desire to rush into a burning building is ingrained in Henry. It’s in every fiber of his being. Henry is a Marine and his desire to be a hero when someone is in need will always lead him into harm’s way. A perfect example of this is last year’s dirty bomb. Henry wasn’t on the job at the time. He even managed to get out of the building when it was evacuated, but ran back in. The man will never walk away from a situation, no matter how dangerous, if he thinks he could possibly help. As the two have said many times, Elizabeth married a Marine and Henry married a CIA agent. They knew what they signed up for decades ago, but it’s still difficult to see the person you love most in this world purposefully put him or herself in danger. Even now, Elizabeth’s job is anything but stable and safe. Danger lurks everywhere. I can’t imagine these two when they finally retire. No knitting in their future. They’ll probably take it easy by bungee jumping.

As much as I sometimes struggle with the show, I have nothing but love and admiration for Elizabeth and Henry as a couple. They’re committed to each other and their marriage, and this episode had several sweet scenes that displayed that. The two not only love each other, they LIKE each other. Sometimes that’s the real test. They also take time to connect with each other. Neither has a typical 9 to 5, Monday through Friday job. They may even go days without seeing each other, but the time they do spend together, they manage to connect emotionally. Quality of time versus quantity of time. The opening shot shows them snuggled up together (even though Elizabeth doesn’t look the most comfortable) before her phone rings. While sitting at the table and Henry is on the phone, she kisses his hand so sweetly. It was a simple act, but it oozed love, concern and affection. Every time Elizabeth puts her hands on Henry’s shoulder, he reaches up to grab them. It’s those simple touches, little kisses, stolen glances and smiles that keep them in tune with the other. Nothing graphic; just affection. They’re showing the other that they’re present and the truly appreciate their life partner.

Elizabeth and Henry also confide in each other because they truly appreciate the other’s insight. No one else in their worlds could be as honest or real with them. This episode, when Elizabeth is questioning if she should go above the Defense Secretary’s head, she asks Henry what he thinks. His answer harkenes back to the show’s pilot and a recurring theme throughout the series: affecting real change.

I have to admit, I’m finally interested in the cult/arms smuggling/mole storyline. It took me until this episode to even care slightly about it. I’m actually excited for the next episode so I can see how the storyline advances. This is a feeling I haven’t had for most of the season. I’m hoping Season 3 ends strong and this momentum continues over the last six episodes. It’s nice to wish for a Sunday again.

This episode’s international problem du jour centers on the poaching of south-western black rhinos. Typical measures taken thus far have not been successful, so Ms. You-Don’t-Even-Know-There’s-a-Box pushes her staff to look for new options to cut down on poaching. Enter Gwen White. She suggests an unconventional plan that involves Viagra and Henry Winkler. How often can you put those two together in a sentence? In the end, after some persuasion and promises, the plan goes through and rhinos hopefully have a chance at beating extinction. Even though Gwen comes up with the “winning” idea, she's very nervous, making excuses and apologizing for her concept. She's then shocked when people think it's a plausible solution. There’s a part of Gwen in most of us. She could definitely use some mentoring from Elizabeth, an example of a strong woman who’s not afraid to do what she thinks is right. “Next time, Gwen, don’t wait for an invitation. A good idea is meaningless without the courage to act. You must speak up.” Elizabeth’s comment is a lesson for everyone: if you want something, go get it. That’s basically the sentiment that Elizabeth lives by in her life and most definitely in her position as Secretary of State.

Team McCord moments have been lacking a bit this season, but Henry and Jason share several bonding moments this episode, thanks to a gadget from decades ago. It was nice to see the two working together on something that, as Henry admitted, doesn’t involve a teachable moment. I think what makes this so heartwarming is that Henry doesn’t push Jason to work with him. He asks, Jason turns him down, and Henry goes on with life… but it's Jason who keeps returning to the engine, offering suggestions to get the engine working. Sure, he gets lift tickets out of the deal, but even after that, he continues offering insight. These brief scenes prove that even though the kids are growing up, family is still most important in that house. I also gotta give it to Alison for the zing: “Don’t bother asking me, Dad, because why would a girl be interested?” Just another day raising teens in the McCord household.

Other things:

--It was weird seeing Henry sit in every single scene. I kept expecting him to stand up and walk away at some point because Henry rarely sits, unless he’s at his desk.. and even then he pops up whenever someone walks in. Clearly, I understand why: Daredevil Superman flung himself down a Utah mountain. I think the writers actually did a great job of incorporating Tim’s injury into the storyline in a very plausible way, and I appreciate the fact that we didn’t have to go even one episode without a Henry sighting. That’s a testament to Tim’s work ethic and the writers’ creativity.

--In the Situation Room, when referring to Captain Baker, CIA Director Haymond scoffed, “What, and trust a program created by a 12 year old?” To me, that came off as a bit sexist and dismissive. Would he have said the same thing if Captain Baker was a man? Possibly.

--Elizabeth talking to Nadine about Mike B: “Frankly, he’d rather hear from you. He asks about you, you know. Constantly.” Bring back Mike B! I need Nadine to have another personal storyline. Plus I love watching those two spar… and then make up… and then spar.

--Matt was basically doing standup for the entire episode. “Let’s all hope Ambassador Dang rises to the occasion.”

--Elizabeth vs Food: Round 983475347. “For the love of God, will somebody feed me?”

--There’s been a discussion on twitter about Elizabeth’s codename. Despite knowing it’s “Bluebird,” I was part of the group who heard “Blueberry.” My friend and I even turned to each other and said “Blueberry?!” at the same time. Weird.

--Elizabeth continues to rock the rock t-shirts. I feel like this is now a “thing” with the wardrobe department.

What were your favorite scenes this episode? Who do you think the mole is? Do you think Ian is alive?

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