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TV Recap: Madam Secretary, Season 1, Episode 9, “So It Goes”

A lot can change in just six months.

This week, Bess meets the guy who sabotaged her predecessor's plane. Image via CBS.

I was hoping Madam Secretary would follow up on last week’s dive into the conspiracy plot, and I wasn’t disappointed. Okay, I was a little disappointed in the lack of flashback hair, though I suppose it’s not necessary when we’re only going back six months. Let’s recap.

Finally, we get to put a face to Secretary Marsh’s name: He’s played by Brian Stokes Mitchell, who IMDB tells me appeared in seven episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. We go back to the day Marsh died, six months earlier: He’s been having Matt secretly write speeches that contradict POTUS’s stances, and he cancels a planned romantic weekend with Nadine by telling her he has to check on his family’s old cattle ranch in Caracas. Next, we see the ill-fated airplane trip—as the plane begins to shake violently, Marsh wrenches open the cockpit door to ask the pilot what’s happening. The pilot tells him they’ve suffered mechanical failure and he can’t keep the plane in the air. “And so it goes,” Marsh says—though not before he manages one final dramatic removal of his glasses.

Bess, Henry, and Isabelle have obtained the black-box recording and the NTSB report about the crash, which says a screw in the tail was responsible, and decide to investigate the five technicians who worked on the plane. They also figure out another plane crashed from the same reason—a plane that happened to be carrying Iran’s leading nuclear scientist. In another flashback, we see a bow-tied President Dalton, then the CIA director, ask Bess whether she thought Mossad could have had something to do with the crash. In the present, Bess brings in the Israeli delegation for a fluffy speech, mainly so she can ask one of the delegates about the other plane crash and whether the CIA was involved, which he doesn’t deny. Meanwhile, all five technicians turn up clean, so Henry theorizes that it was actually a different part of the plane that was sabotaged, leading to the screw failure and causing the pilot to think turbulence caused it. Isabelle finds out that the fuel technician was paid $500,000 to a secret bank account the day before the crash. Bess decides they have to question him, so she concocts a risky plan: She gets Isabelle to bring him in for a fake job interview and lures him to a hotel room to meet “the boss.” She also provides herself a solid alibi by making a splashy, Secret Service-surrounded appearance at Allie’s soccer quarterfinals, then leaves at halftime to ambush the fuel technician. He admits he sabotaged the plane because “they” (a distorted voice over the phone) threatened his four-year-old daughter. Bess tells him as long as he stays quiet about the meeting, she can protect him, ensuring her investigation stays a secret.

While all this is going on, Matt is getting secret calls from Russell Jackson, who meets him under a bridge and asks him for dirt on Bess. “I never agreed to spy on Secretary McCord,” says Matt, and Jackson dangles the promise of an office in the West Wing over his head. But it’s not enough for Matt, who goes to Bess and confesses that he used to spy on Marsh for Jackson. He repeats what we already knew—that Marsh was planning to run against Dalton for President—and then tells her about a time he overheard a conversation between Marsh and Jackson, in which Jackson used the phrase in the episode title, the last thing Marsh said before he died. Not letting on the significance, Bess instead guilts Matt into being a double agent, pretending to spy on her for Jackson but reporting to her instead. This seems like an extremely tall order for a guy who used to “pop antacids like Tic Tacs” and is about as good at lying as he is at covering up his affair with Daisy—which is to say, really, really bad. Bess tells Henry what she finds out, and they conclude POTUS might have been behind the crash and tapped Bess as Secretary of State so he could keep tabs on her. Something tells me Madam Secretary will not be as forgiving of its President being a murderer as some other shows (coughcoughScandal).

A few thoughts:

This week in What Are the McCord Kids Up To?: Allie’s playing soccer, Stevie has a date with “the cutest boy in the world,” Jason is really wishing he had brothers instead. Also how embarrassing is Bess as parental sports spectator? She calls Allie “noodle” in front of everyone!

Nadine gets romanced by a cheesily charming NASA scientist (sample pickup line: “I don’t need a telescope to see your radiance”). Though she insists she’s still hung up on Marsh, she seemed to at least consider a date. Also, Blake is apparently a romantic at heart.

How hilarious was the bridge scene between Matt and Russell? The camera angle emphasized the fact that Geoffrey Arend has a good eight inches on Zeljko Ivanek—though Jackson is still surprisingly intimidating.

Speaking of which: Russell knows Bess asked the head of the NTSB whether the ground crew of Marsh’s flight was polygraphed. She refuses to be bullied by him, but seems like she might want to tread more carefully from now on.

The promo for next week’s episode doesn’t include anything about Bess’s investigation—here’s hoping the show keeps its forward momentum.