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Madam Secretary - Loophole - Review

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Aaaaand I’m back. Just as the new season of Madam Secretary got underway, so did my vacation. My timing remains impeccable. So let’s jump in.

“Loophole” begins with Henry getting ready for work, fresh off the plane from a covert mission to Afghanistan. He came home in the middle of the night, slept for a few minutes and is heading back into the office. Who does that sound like? Oh, yeah. His wife. Like he has done to her countless times before, Elizabeth tries to force breakfast down his throat, doing anything she can to help take care of him. She’s also worried about him working too much. Switch. It’s like they tag team this.

While I was gone, Henry apparently lost a CIA agent, and she has yet to be found. There are various options to get her back, none of which are particularly pleasing. Some are even a bit unorthodox. More on that in a minute. I know it’s been two seasons now, but it’s still weird for me to see Elizabeth and Henry working together in the Oval Office or Situation Room. It has its perks, I guess. They’ve gone from never seeing each other to now working closely together. When one of Henry’s ideas is shot down, Elizabeth questions, “Are you OK? Because I can easily switch over to wife mode if you want to rant.” Such comments show what a precarious situation they’re in, though. Are you husband and wife or whatever-Henry-does and Secretary of State? That question comes into play when Henry’s other idea is also shot down.

Henry wants to pay $50 million to a member of the Taliban who claims he’s willing to release Nafisa. Sounds legit. When Conrad reiterates that the United States doesn’t negotiate with terrorists… and Elizabeth agrees… Henry becomes furious. “I could have used a little help in there,” he incredulously tells Elizabeth. OK. Hold up. Just because you’re married, doesn’t mean you have to blindly agree with the other. This is where married couples working together can get tricky. It’s also unfair of Henry to ask Elizabeth to support him when she disagrees with his suggestion. Remember your closely-held ethics, sir. There’s a reason the U.S. doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, and I actually found it a bit odd that Mr. Integrity was willing to go against that principle. Perhaps because he had a dog in the fight, he was willing to overlook some questionable things… like giving $50 million to Public Enemy No. 1. This job is kind of a grey area for a man who’s lived his entire life in very “black or white” terms.

I admit I’m not loving Henry’s storyline, but I can’t quite pinpoint why. On paper, Henry in that position and being in Elizabeth’s professional orbit makes sense and should work, but it doesn’t for me. I’m not saying he needs to be a stay-at-home dad, but I’m not sure I like their jobs so enmeshed. Yes, it leads to squabbles and tiny bumps in their marital road, which we all know I like, but something just feels off. Maybe if he still worked in the CIA but wasn’t the point person so their jobs didn’t overlap so much? I’m not sure what exactly my problem with his job is, so it’s difficult to offer suggestions on what I’d like to see. I just know it’s not doing it for me.

We also seem to be delving into another mole storyline. I swear, the Dalton Administration has more moles than a golf course. Someone tipped off the Taliban about Nafisa, thus beginning another diplomatic game of “Whodunnit?” I’m wondering how long it will be until Dmitri is in the crosshairs.

Speaking of Dmitri, everyone’s favorite Russian is now clean. That may be the fastest road to recovery I’ve ever seen on TV. He admitted his addiction, went to rehab, completed rehab and went back to work… all in the time I was gone. Either his therapists possess some sort of healing powers that should be bottled or Dmitri will still have issues ahead. Time will tell.

One of those issues may be Stevie. Well, not an “issue” exactly. More like a “thing.” After hinting at the topic last season, we now appear to be heading towards Dmitri and Stevie becoming… something. Dmivie? Stevitri? Yeah, I’m not a fan of smush names. Anyway, Stevie is now single again, although many would argue she’s not yet ready to mingle. It’s a bit early for her to jump from her we’re-getting-married relationship to a let’s-date-my-dad’s-coworker-who-used-to-basically-want-to-kill-my-parents relationship with Dmitri, but here we are. Girl, that is not the guy you want to rebound with. Is her wild, rebellious streak coming out again? Clearly she doesn’t realize how hot the fire she’s playing with is. Just wait until her parents find out. I’m here for those scenes.

As for Stevie and Jareth, I’m not too upset about their breakup. Their relationship was basically a non-entity of the show, relegated to comments like “I’m going to Jareth’s” and “Jareth said….” When the show started, little Stephanie dropped out of college, wouldn’t talk to her mother and dated her share of questionable men. Did she stick with Jareth so long because she finally had a proverbial nice guy in her life? I do think she truly loved him and the life they could have had, but it’s telling that she was afraid to reveal her breakup to her parents for fear of them being so disappointed. Elizabeth’s and Henry’s reactions were classic. Parenting wins everywhere.

Nadine is gone! OK, I know this is a few episodes ago, but I wasn’t home and never got the chance to lament the loss of Bebe. I knew it was coming because of the interview with Kathrine Herzer, but I was still hoping it wasn’t real. Family is possibly the only thing that would pull Nadine away from the State Department, so I was happy with her exit. I’m also thrilled she didn’t leave on bad circumstances like having to fall on her sword for a failed mission. Queen Nadine’s reputation is intact. Even though we had more than three seasons with Bebe/Nadine, it wasn’t enough. I’ll miss Bebe’s wit and comedic timing, and Nadine’s calming leadership. Here’s hoping for a guest spot… or a dozen… in the future. Without Nadine or Daisy in the office for the foreseeable future, someone else with ovaries is desperately needed. Paging Sara Ramirez!

With Nadine gone and Jay now Chief of Staff, the State Department is experiencing some growing pains. Jay and Matt clash when Matt suggests his friend to Elizabeth as a possibility to fill Jay’s old position. Technically he didn’t go to Elizabeth. She mentioned that the job needed to be filled and Matt said he had a friend. It’s not like Matt purposefully went behind Jay’s back… although Jay doesn’t see it that way. I get both sides. It’s weird when your work bestie suddenly becomes your superior or junior. It’s awkward for everyone and you have to learn a new strange dance to find your new normal routine. Elizabeth does what Elizabeth does best and helps guide Jay through this uncertain time. She leads by helping him learn how to lead. Jay is understandably a little wobbly and uneasy. Everyone is when they get a new job. I’m wondering if he has staying power, though. He seemed to be talked into the position by Elizabeth. He brought up valid concerns, specifically about Chloe, but she “it’ll be fine”-d him. It's enjoyable watching a man deal with the work/childcare debate for once instead of a woman.

Other things:

--Russell’s anecdote to Stevie about her dodging a bullet was pure Russell. That man always picks the most random moments to show his support and concern. He starts a story, rough and gruff. You wonder where exactly the story is going and how it’s going to end, but then out of nowhere, the moral smacks you in the face. Before you realize it, he’s already out the door.

--Daisy had her baby! I did think it was weird that Elizabeth left Stevie at Jareth’s to go see Daisy in the hospital, but I guess the writers needed a way to get Stevie and Dmitri alone.

--The morning elevator ambush without Nadine made me kind of sad. It’s just not the same.

What did you think about this week’s episode? How do you feel about the potential pairing of Stevie and Dmitri?

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