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Madam Secretary - Extraordinary Hazard - Review

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“Extraordinary Hazard” provided several long-awaited answers. I think. A lot happened and, after watching it twice, I’m still trying to piece together exactly what went down, how it all fits together and who’s responsible for what.

We start 3.20 where we left off in 3.19: the search for Dito Pirosmani. I like that the first scenes deal with something from the previous episode because it actually feels like the storyline is continuing from week to week. Actually, the only international storyline this week involved Pirosmani and the search for the State Department mole/arms smuggler. It was kind of refreshing to move old plots forward instead of starting new ones.

Pirosmani is on the run and the White House is desperate to find him. The State Department has frozen his assets and he’s not too thrilled about it. In an attempt to get his money flowing again, he kidnaps Jay. Poor Jay. All the dude wanted was a nice trip to France.

Tied up in a questionable room that makes the Silence of the Lambs basement look like the Westin, Jay is doing all he can to save his own life. He’s negotiating with Pirosmani, desperate to find the golden nugget that could mean his life will be spared. He’s also asking questions, trying to learn all he can and figure out who’s behind the weapons smuggling. I mean, the guy is literally tied to a chair with a gun the size of my thigh pointed at him and he’s playing Sherlock Holmes. You know who that reminds me of? Elizabeth. She literally cheated death in Iran when a bomb exploded, yet still managed to negotiate a nuclear peace deal. Just another example of how those two are cut from the same cloth. In the end, Jay is safe and lives to broker another deal. I have to admit, the entire kidnapping lost a lot of drama for me, considering promotional photos for 3.21 were released more than a week before 3.20 aired, showing Jay happily frolicking in the State Department. Sebastian played the role beautifully, but I wasn’t on the edge of my seat wondering if Jay was going to live or die.

Elizabeth is taking Jay’s kidnapping personally. How could she not? It was her suggestion that Jay attend the meeting in France, going around the CIA’s investigation. Obviously she did so not realizing the danger he was facing, even suggesting he stay a few extra days for a much-needed mini vacation, but that is no consolation to Elizabeth. She always feels personally responsible when someone’s life is at risk due to a decision she has made, but this is different and she’s taking it to heart. While asking Daryl Brennan if she can trust Pirosmani, Elizabeth’s face contorts like she’s almost in pain, wincing because she’s afraid to hear the answer. It’s a subtle acting move by Téa that’s typically reserved for scenes when Elizabeth is fearful for her family members or herself… but Jay is basically like family to her. Despite her anxiety and dread, Elizabeth doesn’t allow herself to break down until she talks with Henry. She is the rock of her State Department staff, staying strong and positive, but the rock needs her own rock… and that is Henry. As much as Henry tries to convince Elizabeth that she’s not responsible for Jay’s kidnapping, she can’t see it. When he tells her she shouldn’t beat herself up, Elizabeth’s immediately response is “But I did do this. And I did it to Abby and his daughter.” Once Jay is rescued, the relief is visible on Elizabeth’s face. She’s giddy in the Situation Room, looking like a little girl who just received a pony for her birthday. Her excitement continues when she sees Jay in the State Department, grabbing him for a hug. There’s a bit of Mama Bear in her when it comes to her close staff.

Elizabeth has a sixth sense that she uses a lot. It comes from her CIA days, listening to her gut and just being in tune with events of the world. While all arrows point to Pirosmani as the weapons smuggler, Elizabeth knows something is off. She keeps saying it doesn’t make sense and has a nagging feeling that he’s not their guy. Turns out, she’s right. It’s revealed that Daryl Brennan, of Vesuvian fame, is behind it all. I’m just waiting for Russell’s response because you know he’s going to blame her for doing business with that group. Anyway, Brennan arranged for the weapons to be stolen because he’s massively in debt due to the capabilities of the State Department under Elizabeth. He also ordered the murders of Barry Milken and Joseph Garcia to cover up his crimes. So now we know Brennan was the brains behind this operation, but I still have questions. Someone else had to be involved. It’s not like Brennan personally picked up the weapons from the Texas depot and handed them out to splinter groups like a man driving an ice cream truck. Who else is responsible? How did the weapons get into the hands of the VFF? Who’s the infamous mole? Was Barry Milken the only mole? How did he get involved? I don’t know if these questions are still supposed to be unanswered or if I’m stupidly missing major plot points. Someone give me a flow chart.

Jay’s kidnapping does not change his situation at home. Before he left, his apartment was something even college boys would be ashamed of: minimal furniture, nothing on the walls, probably using paper plates. He basically didn’t want to commit to outfitting an apartment because he didn’t want to commit to bachelorhood, a major step away from his life with Abby and Chloe. Facing death changes that for him. When he returns, he visits Abby at the home they once shared as a family. She has softened to him. The reality of your husband being kidnapped and possibly killed does that to a person, I guess. Abby invites Jay into their home, but Jay declines, instead saying he needs to get back to the office. Aaaaaand we’re right back to why Abby called their marriage quits to begin with. It had to be like a hammer to her heart, but Abby doesn’t seem mad. She understands, or maybe just isn’t surprised. Jay tells Abby that he’s moving on from their marriage. He’s accepting his new life as a once-again bachelor. I wonder if Abby is still feeling the same way, but it’s no longer just her decision. Before Jay was kidnapped, I think he would have immediately put his coffee mug and folding chairs into a U-Haul and been at Abby’s house in 2 minutes had she wanted him back. Now, I’m not so sure. Either way, they appear to be at a place where they can co-parent for Chloe’s sake… and I guess that’s most important.

Speaking of parenting, Elizabeth and Henry have their challenges this week, courtesy of Jason. He asks for $127 for a graphing calculator, but Henry quickly learns Jason padded that number by a cool $100. “You have one chance to explain to me what is worth more to you than our trust,” Henry exclaims to Jason. (Man, I love that line.) Jason is desperate to impress Piper, whose attention is focused on a Kuwaiti prince. How many teenage boys have that problem, right? Henry takes it upon himself to discipline Jason, but Elizabeth steps in. I love that they check in with each other and co-parent, even when they haven’t seen each other in days. She tells Henry to encourage Jason to go after Piper and explain how he feels, which he does. I scratched my head at this a bit, but perhaps Elizabeth is feeling guilty about Jay and is letting Jason slide because of that. Jason is grounded, but he and Piper still manage to have a “virtual hang.” I think the McCord version of being grounded and my mother’s version of being grounded are worlds apart. My version meant I was banned from the computer, phone, video games, etc., and basically just had the paint on the walls to entertain me. Maybe the McCords let that slide this time, too.

Not much is new with the VFF. The members and the rogue CDC microbiologist are still on the run, and Henry theorizes they’re targeting Jerusalem.

Other things:

--For the second time in two episodes, Elizabeth mentions kung pao chicken. Is this a thing?

Am I the only person still left with questions and black holes about the weapons smuggling storyline?

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