Madam Secretary s5 ep 4

The remains of some World War 2 fighter pilots have been found in the Philippines, but the Filipino government is being uncooperative about their return, and is holding out for a nice big dollop of military aid. Meantime, a campaign group led by the daughter of one of the deceased is putting pressure on Dalton and his administration to get a result, a problem he doesn’t need in the run-up to the midterms. POTUS takes the problem away from the Department of Defense and gives it to State instead, which is a vote of confidence in Elizabeth, but potentially problematic given that the last time she met the idiot Filipino president, Andrada, he sexually assaulted her and she punched him on the nose. And Henry and Stevie are refused service in a DC restaurant by the ex-serviceman who owns the premises.

It presumably takes most of M-Sec’s diplomatic savvy to prevent her from ordering the carpet-bombing of the Phillipines, and having someone smash the pissy little restaurant up as well. Instead she tries to break the logjam. She starts in America, where authorisation of the military aid package is being held up by one “Senator Callister”, who turns out in fact to be Luke Wheeler out of Nashville. I was hoping that at some point she would offer to start wheelin’ and dealin’ with him, but I was sorely disappointed. Anyway, Senator Wheeler declines to change his position, which he dresses up as a principled stance on the human rights record of Andrada; but which instead, on investigation, turns out instead to have been motivated by a nasty little collision between his xenophobia and his ambition: he is considering a run for the White House himself and sees Elizabeth as a potential rival. President Luke Wheeler! Wheels up on Air Force One! I could go for that, particularly if, say, Juliette Barnes were made his Chief of Staff.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Returning to Mad Sec as presently written: Elizabeth, having struck out with Wheeler, decides to fly to Manila to tackle Andrada on his home patch. She is ultimately successful in bringing the boys home, but another problem then presents itself: one of the deceased might not be eligible for a military funeral because he had deserted before returning and dying in battle. So which is more important: the desertion or his death? Send for Mr Ethics himself, Henry, whose advice the Commander-in-Chief listens to and ignores. Meantime, M-Sec’s younger daughter Alison is working for the campaign of a charismatic young candidate for Congress, but when he compromises on a key policy she’s so appalled she decides not to vote. Quite rightly, Elizabeth tells her to get the hell over herself already and go and vote. (Personally, I’d not only make it easier to vote, I’d make it compulsory. That’s how you ensure that politicians take more account of the needs of the presently disenfranchised.) The show draws a line linking deaths in battle and the right to vote: it’s about as subtle as, well, having your plane blown out of the sky by artillery fire, but that’s very much par for the course with this show at the moment. Like last week, this episode was no more or less than Mad Sec doing its thing, which it does very well.

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