Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 3 Review: The Essentials

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Nadine, don't leave us!

Bebe Neuwirth's abrupt exit was the biggest shocker on Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 3, which is saying something since it competing against a government shutdown. I have to say, I didn't see either coming. 

At least I was right on Henry's story line remaining completely pointless, and boring to boot. Yay?

Baby Shower - Madam Secretary

So, I actually didn't hate Bess' crisis du jour this time. Sure, it was all solved a little too tidily (and unilaterally), but I'm starting to give up hope on that ever changing. Maybe if I just give in and accept it, it won't bother me so much.

Okay, that's not likely. But even with the story planning deficiencies, Madam Secretary remains a balm to reality, so I'll keep watching. It's nice to imagine a PotUS and a SoS that actually care about refugees, both as a moral imperative and because they recognize that it's a national security concern.

The only thing that could have made this plot better is if it had somehow involved Better Shelter, or a line about how to donate to the UNHCR. Maybe it would have been a little PSA-ish, but I could have dealt with that. 

At least Elizabeth got in a good explanation of why humanitarian aid is important beyond, you know, being the right thing to do. 

Elizabeth [about Morejon]: This creep wants to gut my department. Even if POTUS doesn't let him, I'll still probably have to furlough thousands of employees. Critical work all over the globe will go undone, raising the likelihood of an otherwise preventable disaster by, like, a thousand percent. Plus, I hate his dumb, stupid face.
Henry: At least you're handling it like a grownup.

The nice thing about having Elizabeth's refugee crisis sort of take care of itself was that it allowed more time for the staff to shine. You guys know how much I love the staff!

And there were really two staff stories going on, so it basically felt like it was my birthday or something. Both were great, although I think the whole cost of motherhood thing was more relatable to most of you.

I loved how the writer's interwove Nadine's exit with Daisy's fears about motherhood. Two women at two different points in their lives, facing similar decisions.

Daisy: I'm just gonna take a couple weeks of leave, and I'll be right back at it.
Nadine: First of all, no, you won't. Those first few weeks with the baby...
Daisy [sarcastically]: Are, like, super precious and magical, so everyone keeps insisting.
Nadine: Well, my experience was a little more like the opening sequence to Saving Private Ryan.
Daisy: Way to sell it.

Daisy managed to articulate the fear that so many of my friends have about motherhood: how do I retain my sense of self once I have a child. I could go on and on about the struggle millenial and "xillenial" women face about the work life balance, gender roles, how the mommy wars are out of control, and how no one knows how to have it all (without nannies that is). 

But really, do I need to?

That's what I'm afraid of. Losing myself. My career, everything I've worked for, just subsumed.

Daisy [about the baby]

And at the other end of the spectrum is Nadine. Her decision felt a little abrupt to me, but that's Bebe Neuwirth's fault more than the writing team's. I'm going to miss her dry humor and biting insights. Who can go up against Russell like she can?

I understand that the story was derailed by setting up the departure, but I really wish we could have spent more time on the shutdown. Well, not the shutdown itself, but the impending doom of it.

Having lived in DC during the actual government shutdown of 2013, I have my own perspective on things. Matt's comment about living with his mom, while funny, made me worry about his personal finances. You should be able to survive a two week pay suspension...and it's unlikely to last even that long!

Elizabeth: Mr. President?
Dalton: Just getting some fresh air. Also contemplating going back to smoking.

Mostly I felt like the emphasized the wrong parts of a shutdown and ignored the more important ones. Sure, the fact that government services are suspended for basically everybody, including veterans, was included, and that's important. 

And thank god they cited the OMB guidelines, because the promo with Daisy worrying that she'd be furloughed because she was pregnant had me rolling my eyes. 

It just all felt kind of half-assed. If you want a better sense of what a shutdown is like for those that serve the government, you're better off checking out The West Wing Season 5 Episode 8. 

Our work isn't political. Our work is representing the interests and values of the United States to the best of our ability.


The one upside to the shutdown arc is that we got to see Russell at the negotiating table. I was once again frustrated by the nepotism that landed Stevie in the room, but I'm trying to let go of that gripe as well. She did bring the valuable (and timely) observation that Morejon's chief of staff is lech. 

I could reconcile myself to this (apparently paid) internship more easily if it meant that we got more time with Russell actually mentoring Stevie. Or Adele. Adele was pretty badass in her own right. 

Look, I get it. You're in the room everybody in the country is talking about. You want to do a good job. It's nerve-racking. But your biggest asset in there is that nobody thinks you matter.

Adele [to Stevie]

Since Adele was wrong and interns can work during shutdowns, maybe Stevie will get a little more face time with her mentor on Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 4 (aptly titled "Shutdown").

Or maybe nobody did their research and she'll spend an hour worrying about her relationship with Jareth. I'm really, really, really hoping for the former. 

Nadine: You think Daisy likes games?
Elizabeth: Deep down, it's my conviction that nobody normal likes baby shower games.

One upside of the shutdown will be that we won't have to suffer through Henry and his CIA woes. At least we shouldn't. Everybody cross your fingers. 

I do feel bad for Jay. And Elizabeth too I guess, but we all know the grunt work falls to Jay. An Ebola crisis while there's nobody at home minding the shop sounds like a nightmare. Is it too much to hope that they get the CDC involved? 

Sparkling cider, the carob chips of beverages.


If you need to catch up, you can watch Madam Secretary online. You'll want to be up to date before joining in the conversation below. 

Were you shocked by Nadine's exit? Did you think Morejon had the cojones to pull the trigger on the shutdown? Has anything ever wasted your time as much as Dmitri's drug addiction story? Let us know in the comments!

The Essentials Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (18 Votes)

Elizabeth Harlow was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She left the organization in October 2018.

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Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 3 Quotes

Daisy: I'm just gonna take a couple weeks of leave, and I'll be right back at it.
Nadine: First of all, no, you won't. Those first few weeks with the baby...
Daisy [sarcastically]: Are, like, super precious and magical, so everyone keeps insisting.
Nadine: Well, my experience was a little more like the opening sequence to Saving Private Ryan.
Daisy: Way to sell it.

Daisy: Just don't let them furlough me because I'm pregnant, okay? They won't say that's why, but that'll be why.
Nadine: You should be so lucky. You could sue and never have to work again.