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TV Recap: Madam Secretary, Season 1, Episode 10, “Collateral Damage”

In which everyone’s past comes back to haunt them.
This, unfortunately, might be the last you see of that face. Image via CBS.

Well, Madam Secretary finally used the “I” word—as in ISIS, which features prominently in this week’s government-driven story. We also get a State Department lockdown and some Bess-and-Stevie drama, and finally meet Daisy’s marijuana-lobbyist fiancé Win. Let’s recap.

As ISIS is doing some serious damage in Iraq, an Iraqi delegation is visiting Washington for what amounts to a very complicated photo op with Bess. The already shaky peace between the Iraqi leaders is further strained when the State Department is forced to go into lockdown due to a potential shooter who also might have grenades. Bess is communicating with the help of a very young-looking translator, who asks her whether she’s ever been to Iraq. She says no, which cue a flashback to her CIA days: Bess has been, specifically to track down terrorist Safeer al-Jamil, who’s been organizing a devastating string of suicide bombings. Turns out al-Jamil was the cousin of the translator who’s currently standing in her office, and he recognizes Bess after she tries to placate her visitors in fluent Arabic.

Also stuck in the office is Stevie, who gets chastised by the manager at the restaurant where she works for looking “too casual” and shows up to mooch a fancier shirt from her mom. She hangs out with Blake, and for some reason tells him she thought about selling her eggs to make money after dropping out of college. Um, is working as a hostess really that bad?

Nadine is in a bad mood because when she offers to help Bess investigate Secretary Marsh, Bess spills the beans about his plan to run for President against Dalton, which Nadine apparently wasn’t privy to. She takes her ire out on a Foreign Service agent who’s been reassigned from her promised post in Portugal to Sierra Leone. After harshly denying the agent a change in position, Nadine tries to leave her office—but can’t because of the lockdown. Awkward! At least it gives the agent a chance to make her case: that it’s not her skills that get her assigned away from plum positions, but the fact that she’s an unmarried woman in her fifties—a practice that Nadine realizes would have affected her own career had Marsh lived long enough to take his shot at the presidency.

This, shockingly, is not even the most uncomfortable pairing of the episode: That award goes to Matt, who gets stuck in his office with Daisy’s fiancé (played by Tim Daly’s son, Sam Daly) and proves yet again what a horrendous liar he is. When Win asks him to talk about how much he loves Daisy for a video he’s making for Daisy’s birthday, Matt gets so squirrelly that Win offers him weed-laced gum (without telling him about the weed part). This, naturally, leads to Matt telling Win that he used to sleep with Daisy up until a couple of months before Win put a giant rock on her finger. (That timeline seems a bit suspect to me, but maybe Matt was trying to save whatever tiny amount of face he could?)

The new Iraqi prime minister has arrested the previous one and wants to try him for corruption, which Bess tells him will cause the collapse of their government and the slaughter of their people. She orders the PM’s release, but the translator, who spots Stevie in the office, threatens to expose Bess’s past to the public and to Stevie. This seems like a spectacularly dumb idea, and Bess tells him as much: “I’m not your hostage,” she says, then marches straight over to Stevie to break the news herself. Stevie reacts in a way that I guess fits the entitled-teen persona the writers have created: She storms out of the office as soon as the lockdown is lifted, insulting her mom to Blake on the way, then packs a bag and moves in with some friends because she can’t stand that her mom had the nerve to let a mass murderer get waterboarded and then came home and coached her soccer team. Bess keeps her cool for a lot longer than I would have in that situation.

As for Big-Mouth Matt? It takes Win approximately three seconds after hearing the news about his lady’s cheatin’ heart to be like “Okay, time to move on,” and Matt is so incensed that Win won’t fight for Daisy that he punches him in the ear. On their way out of the office, they run into Daisy, and Matt tells her, “You deserve someone who will fight for you. It doesn’t have to be me, but it can’t be him.” Later, he comes back to retrieve his keys, which gives him the chance to tell Daisy he’s crazy about her. She doesn’t respond, but she does kiss him, so looks like Matt has some hope after all.

A few thoughts:

This week in What Are the McCord Kids Up To?: No Jason or Allie, or even Henry this time around. Is it wrong to hope Stevie stays at her friends’ house for a long time?

Worst line of the night: “You have winner eggs.” Blake, please go back to maintaining your professional remove at all times.

Bess goes to visit the would-be shooter—whose brother was killed in the Iraq War—in the hospital after he’s wounded by police. Wouldn’t that kind of be a PR nightmare?

Nadine gets Bess’s support to make unmarried agents and agents with families more qual when determining positions. It didn’t seem to totally eradicate her bad mood, though.

The Matt/Win stuff really bothered me, both because it’s too rushed to have any real emotional impact, and because it denies Daisy—who is obviously extremely smart and capable—any agency in her own relationship. Then again, I did enjoy Matt telling Win, “You even make weed look waspy.”

More Washington show crossover: Ramsey Faragallah, who played General Khan on last week’s State of Affairs premiere, pops up here as the Iraqi Prime Minister.

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