When this episode was being made, it looked quite possible that it would have to function as a series, as well as season, finale. (Mad Sec has, of course, since been renewed for a sixth and final ten-episode season.) With that in mind, the writers clearly decided to leave everything on the field.
We’re at the final stage of nailing down the treaty on climate change migration: Russia and China are holdouts, but brought back into line quickly enough. Elizabeth then officially tenders her resignation, but stays in post long enough to go before the Foreign Relations Committee and bitch-slap Senator Luke Wheeler out of Nashville, then twist the arm of another Senator into supporting the treaty. With that, POTUS has the numbers in the Senate as well; the deal is done.
And that. it appears, is pretty much Mad Sec’s job done as well, and all that’s left is for her formally to announce her candidature for the White House. In anticipation Mike B has Daisy and Blake vetting Elizabeth’s kids: Blake is a bit rough on Stevie, and takes her out for a drink to apologise. They’re getting on well, and then they’re standing outside the bar, perhaps a little closer together than necessary, and all of a sudden you know where this is going… and they TOTALLY KISS. This possibility hadn’t even been on my radar until this episode, and now I am HERE for it. (They wind back to “platonic” later. Hmph.)
But there’s one final foreign policy crisis to be handled, and it’s a big one: so big, in fact, that it… kind of gets underplayed a little? Anyway, the UN Security Council, including Ambassador Peter Harriman, is meeting in Geneva. But a white nationalist terrorist group murders the entire Security Council with sarin. The entire Security Council. I mean, that’s not the sort of thing you can just… move on from? Anyway, this starts to scare off some treaty signatories, with a view to their own domestic politics; particularly when Luke Wheeler basically says that the terrorists have a point and that he’ll cancel the treaty if elected.
Cometh the hour, though: Russian Foreign Secretary Avdonin clearly wants to do business with Elizabeth rather than Luke, and tips her off that the Wheeler campaign has been bought. One very quick investigation later there’s a money trail from Russian oligarchs to a Wheeler Super PAC; and, unlike in real life, evidence of Russian support for a campaign is enough to knock the candidate out. Elizabeth then tries to walk back her resignation – the country needs her, etc. – but POTUS tells her to get out there and secure their legacy. Which she does: or, at least, she declares, and presumably we’ll get to see the outcome in the final season.
It’s an excellent end to another good season; perhaps it sagged a little in the second half of the run, but Madam Secretary continues to be a reliable source of grown-up pleasure: a thoughtful, intelligent, well-acted drama. The writers maybe wore their hearts on their sleeves more explicitly this time round, but these are not normal times, so I’ll forgive them that one.