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Madam Secretary - Global Relief - Review

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“Relief” is the word of the week in Madam Secretary. Somali citizens want relief from their deadly famine, Henry and the FBI want relief from the case of the elusive Virginia Field Force members, Elizabeth and the White House want relief from who’s stealing U.S. military weapons, and Stevie and Alison want relief from the stress of the college application process. Basically, everyone (except Alison) could use a glass of wine.

This week’s international crisis du jour centers on Somalia and its starving citizens. Two rebel groups both want the area’s last useable land, and their fighting is threatening 50,000 people. Elizabeth employs the help of former State Department worker Anis Musse to get much-needed resources to the starving citizens, but life doesn’t go smoothly for Anis and he’s kidnapped. Miss You-Don’t-Even-Know-There’s-a-Box seeks help from someone the State Department would typically be investigating: Dito Pirosmani, a known Russian black market arms dealer. In the process, Anis gets shot (but will be fine) and the White House determines Pirosmani is involved in the weapons smuggling/mole operation they’ve been investigating. In short, we’ve learned about another cog in the wheel of the investigation, leading us to who’s ultimately behind the stolen arms, who ordered “Kevin” to be killed and how it all ties together.

Henry and the FBI are still feverishly trying to figure out where the missing VFF members and a rogue CDC microbiologist are. Saying they no longer need his help, the FBI takes Henry off the case. Rude. However, when leads that the cult members are in Oregon fall through, Henry again proves his worth. Using his religious knowledge, he theorizes that the VFF isn’t planning an attack in the U.S. Instead, he believes members are planning to bomb a mosque in Israel and make it appear Israel is to blame, drawing other countries like Russia and Iran into the fray. It’s basically a recipe for World War Three. According to Henry’s theory, the cult members will make their move during an annual celebration, which is 3 weeks away. Conveniently, there are 4 episodes left in the season. At the end of 3.19, we learn that the cult members are now in Syria. What could possibly go wrong? Let’s just not send Henry to Syria or Israel to investigate, OK? OK.

As world chaos plays out, Elizabeth’s home life is just as crazy… without the biological warfare and famine, obviously. It’s a tense time in the McCord townhouse. Stevie is patiently waiting to learn if she made it into Harvard Law School, while Alison is desperate for Rafferty’s admissions letter. Like the excellent mother that she is, Elizabeth researches the backup schools for both girls with as much diligence as if she’s researching a peace accord, ready to lessen the blow if her daughters aren’t accepted into their dream schools. Give her a “Mom of the Year” ribbon, already. One person isn’t as appreciative of Elizabeth’s efforts: Alison. “You guys don’t think I’m gonna get into Rafferty,” she incredulously exclaims. Of course, she’s overly stressed and is taking her mother’s actions as a negative instead of a positive. Now, I like Alison. I love every McCord child, but Alison rubbed me the wrong way in this episode. She tends to go from 0 to 60 in mere seconds and takes it out on her parents, when they’re typically not even doing anything to warrant such a reaction. I know. I know. She’s being a teen. Perhaps I unfairly expect more out of her because she’s usually the mature one, but Alison tends to flip out easily and then storm off. This wasn’t the first or fifth time it’s happened. It could be Middle Child Syndrome. Alison basically admits that is an issue when she’s having an early morning ice cream heart-to-heart with Elizabeth. She doesn’t want to talk about Stevie or hear any comparisons between Stevie’s situation and her own. She also mentions that Stevie is perfect. (She has met Stevie, right? Quick. Someone remind her about Stevie dropping out of college and dating the President’s son, who was addicted to heroin.) Anyway, Elizabeth has said in the past that Alison is their Steady Eddie child and that they maybe take that for granted… and, perhaps, Alison is again embodying that in this episode. I just didn’t think her actions, particularly her stunt with Elizabeth’s phone, were endearing. Changing Elizabeth’s ringtone to be a series of “MOM, MOMMY, MOTHER, MOM, MOM, MOM” was childish, even for someone her age. Elizabeth isn’t sitting at a desk, able to answer the phone whenever she can. Her job takes her to all corners of the world, where she is literally trying to prevent countries from blowing each other up. I know Elizabeth likes to be available for her children, but Alison changing the ringtone and interrupting a meeting where Elizabeth is attempting to save a former employee and get food to thousands of starving people is a bratty move… in my opinion. Side note: I’m surprised Elizabeth’s phone wasn’t on silent or in Blake’s hands. When Elizabeth assures Alison that she was not going to miss the College Acceptance Email Conference of the Ages, Alison replies, “I just wanted to be absolutely sure you were here,” in a voice typically reserved for toddlers whining for a piece of candy.

Annoying ringtone move aside, I did love the fact that Elizabeth Skyped with her family from a questionable closet in the middle of nowhere, just to be present when Alison learned about Rafferty. It’s another example of how she’s trying to make her family and work lives mesh. Elizabeth and Henry parenting together with thousands of miles between them is something I never tire of seeing. My favorite example is probably when they were discussing Jason’s prospects for football while Elizabeth was in Russia last season.

Everyone is so concerned about Alison, not much is mentioned about Stevie. Elizabeth and Henry say she’s a lock for Harvard, which in TV drama land means she’s anything but that. Turns out, she’s waitlisted… not that she told her parents. Elizabeth discovers this from Russell and then goes home to Henry, promptly whacking him in the head for not revealing this key information to her. Twice. Another side note: either they added sound effects in post, or Téa smacked Tim good. Those thumps echoed. While Russell is on the warpath, ready to wage world war for Stevie to get into Harvard Law (he loves those McCord women), Stevie is taking a different approach. She’s planning to write a letter, making a case for herself. I appreciate her taking responsibility instead of relying on the power of her mother or Russell to ruffle feathers. Our little Stevie is growing up. I kind of want Stevie to get in, just for the inevitable picture of Stevie in her “Harvard Law” sweatshirt standing next to Elizabeth in her “Harvard Law: Just Kidding” sweatshirt. Come on. You all want that picture, too.

Other things:

--”Senator Asshat.” You know Elizabeth wishes she could use that moniker to his face.

--”There’s a fine line between badass and crazy pants.”

--”I stared at the ceiling for an hour. That’s my limit.” I hear you, girl.

--”Clifton University’s colors are brown and yellow.”
“Brown and yellow?”
“It’s so horrifying, I can’t even tell you.”
“Thank God it’s her safety.”

It looks like Jay is going to have a rough week in the next episode. Last season’s bombings are this season’s kidnappings. I’m wondering if his ordeal will make Abby second guess her life choices.

What did you think of the episode? Any guesses as to who’s ultimately behind the weapons smuggling?

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