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Madam Secretary - Family Separation: Part 2 - Review

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Madam Secretary “Family Separation: Part 2” was written by the team of Barbara Hall and David Grae and was directed by Martha Mitchell. The second half of this two part episode maintained the momentum of the first and found a satisfying conclusion to the situation that has only worsened in real life with a government shutdown creating hardship for many Americans as the real life Barker (Lee Tergesen playing the character) throws a tantrum over his wall. And how great was the surprise cameo of Peter Frampton after watching Elizabeth (Tea Leoni) wear a Peter Frampton concert t-shirt as pajamas from most of the series???

The episode picks up right where we left off with Elizabeth being booked. She’s hilarious as she becomes flustered as she’s being booked with Father DiNardo (Brian Hutchison) – one of the other protestors. It turns out that he’s familiar with and a big fan of Henry’s (Tim Daly). He’s impressed that Elizabeth has taken such a stand, and once again, this allows the show to comment on current events. She tells him that what she saw in the Detention Center crossed a line that she thought their country would never cross. She tells him that the soul of the country is at stake. Given the religious leanings of the extreme right, I really like how the show is able to pick up these threads and show this strong argument against these Detention Centers.

Back in Washington, Russell (Zeljko Ivanek) is freaking out over Elizabeth’s mug shot – and the fact that the border deal is dead and the UN are threatening human rights violation action. Henry staunchly defends Elizabeth, pointing out that she’s drawing attention to the issue. Keith Carradine is actually really good in this scene as he stays quiet in the background, but it’s clear that Dalton is carefully weighing what is being said by both. Henry points out lessons from history where democracy has been eroded by creeping human rights violations – like Nazi Germany.

Henry and Russell both agree that they shouldn’t have a public showdown with Barker because that would help his cause. They will have to let things play out in court. Henry tells them Mike B (Kevin Rahm) will go to defend Elizabeth.

Mike B arranges a plea deal for Elizabeth – she pleads guilty to a lesser charge, pays a small fine and gets released. She, of course, refuses. She’s concerned with the erosion to Federal power – and who thought she wouldn’t stand by her own convictions? Even Henry tries to persuade her that she can do more good out of prison – and as President – because they all think that that is in jeopardy.

Elizabeth pleads not guilty to all counts. Judge Collins (Lisa Howard) is still disposed to make it easy on Elizabeth, releasing her on her own recognizance and with no bail. Elizabeth refuses and insists that she will stay in jail until all the detained children are released. Let’s pause a moment to consider that if this were reality, Elizabeth would still be in jail. The crowd in the courtroom burst into applause for Elizabeth.

The Judge allows Elizabeth to make a statement before being taken back to jail. Elizabeth says, “No one should rest until this inhuman practice is stopped. All Arizonians, all Americans should make their voices heard…. This is not who we are.” I think it’s telling that they picked Arizona – which admittedly has a contentious history with their border – but it alone sounds a lot like “America.” Elizabeth’s speech gets a standing ovation from the gallery.

Russell is still not happy, calling Elizabeth Gandhi and Joan of Arc. He insists that she’s “flying solo when we should all be rowing together” – I loved that he immediately says he recognizes he’s mixed his metaphor! He’s actually worried that her actions will take down the administration. Jay (Sebastian Arcelus), however insists that Arizona’s policy deserves a noisy response and Dalton should get behind Elizabeth. Jay would be the obvious successor to Russell’s position under a President McCord, but I do hope that they are going to find a way to keep Ivanek on the show if we get to Madam President!

Russell agrees that Barker should be on his way to the Hague for human rights violation, but that’s not what’s best for the country – and that’s what his job is all about. He tells Jay that the job isn’t about what’s right, but what’s best. And all that changes in a moment when they’re told that a guard (Robert Hneleski) at the Detention Center took a video and talked to the press – and of course, it’s the same guard that Elizabeth took to task in the last episode. The video is horrific – and could have been one of the ones leaked of the actual Detention Centers.

Dalton calls Barker and tells him that he’s willing to make some compromises if Barker ends the separation and releases Elizabeth. After all, Barker has now been shamed in front of the world. Barker, of course, is still a first class ass and an idiot, so he refuses to make a deal.

Dalton is done and tells Russell that he’s fine with going to war with Barker now. Russell suggests going after Barker personally. Jay – hilariously – suggests looking at his taxes! In case there was anyone who wasn’t getting who Barker is a stand in for – even the name! BARK-er – and the implications of a “barker” being a snake oil salesman who gets up on a box and will spout any lies to get the crowd to buy his product… but I digress…

Russell wants to draw blood quickly. Attorney General Nolan (John Bolton) argues that Barker has gone beyond his mandate as Governor. His actions have gone so far as to be a human rights violation. He wants to charge him with kidnapping! Dalton tells him to do it – he’s done with this “bastard!”

Meanwhile, Jay has gone home with the basket Win (Sam Daly) left for him. He’s in pain, so he decides to try some of the pain medications because his leg is killing him – and ends up hilariously stoned. And of course, that’s when Elizabeth phones him from prison. With public opinion shifting, she wants him to approach Morejon (Jose Zuniga) again. Jay has an idea and runs it past Kat (Sara Ramirez) first.

Sam Daly does an excellent job portraying Win as a shallow and somewhat stupid lobbyist. I find the character incredibly annoying – but I loved him in this scene as Jay enlists his help to get Morejon on board. First he makes use of Win’s ambush skills. After apologizing for the other night at the bar, Jay commiserates that Morejon is in a tight spot, but he’s got a way to help the kids and stay tough on border security. Legalized pot would take away the biggest drug market of the drug cartels. And here’s where Daly was really great as we finally see that Win is not a complete idiot. He completely understands what he’s lobbying for and has the numbers to persuade Morejon.

Jay gets Morejon to sponsor two bills that will hold his base of support in his home state and also broaden the demographic of his support. He urges Morejon to be the first to reach across the aisle to end the family separation. Something we could urge for the actual Senate…

Meanwhile, the date of the wedding renewal vows has been getting steadily closer. Stevie (Wallis Currie-Wood) in desperation for a band, even approaches Daisy (Patina Miller) to sing with Jay and Blake (Erich Bergen). She tells Stevie that she doesn’t have time, but she also tells her to throw around Elizabeth’s name. It works! Stevie ends up with two bands double booked – but it all is ultimately for nothing.

Henry comes to see Elizabeth in prison on the day of their renewal vows. He gives her the good news that Morejon is supporting the Bill. However, Barker will still fight it in court, and Elizabeth is worried it will start a Constitutional crisis. However, there’s not much she can do…

Henry points out that they can’t get back in time for their vow renewal – so he’s brought it to her – and of course, Father DiNardo will officiate! Alison (Kathrine Herzer) has picked out a dress for her too! Elizabeth apologizes that it’s not the church wedding Henry always wanted, but he points out that they’re there because she’s fighting to keep families together – and there’s nothing more holy than that.

Naturally, Mike B is there – with a “wedding” photographer! Henry and Elizabeth have written their own vows – Henry actually reads the letter that he wrote to Elizabeth the night before their first wedding – skipping the X-rated stuff because of the kids being there. Stevie interrupts to let them know that the Bill got through with enough votes and that Barker has admitted defeat.

        The kids are all going to be release and so is Elizabeth with all charges dropped. And of course, all this happens at the exact special time when Henry and Elizabeth knew they wanted to marry each other. In the following montage we see that Daniel and his mother from the previous episode are reunited – with Kat watching.

We also get some personal background about Kat as she goes to visit her father (Danny Mora). Her parents are split – with her Irish mother doing theatre in Florida and her father living in New Mexico. He clearly has an issue with her lifestyle and they have a thorny relationship. However, Kat has come because she’s worried about what could happen to her father. I thought that this was a great way to shine light on how the hyperbole in the news is affecting legal immigrants. Miguel has a Green Card and has never worked illegally in the US. Kat is still worried about him and insists that he apply for citizenship. He finally agrees, mainly because of how worried she is.

In the final scene, everyone is finally celebrating Elizabeth and Henry’s renewal vows – with a spectacular cake – among other things. Elizabeth takes this moment to tell her team officially that she plans to run for President. She thanks them for everything they’ve already done, insisting she’d never have gotten this far without them, and doesn’t see any way to go on without them. And then her favorite song comes on – “Baby, I Love Your Way” – and she rushes out to turn it up – only to find the actual Peter Frampton singing on her staircase! What a great reveal and cameo!

I really liked this two part episode and it wrapped up in a very satisfying way. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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