If you've been jonesing for some good old fashioned West Wing style TV, Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 21 sure hit the spot. Hell, the opening montage of Blake's morning was basically an homage to the pilot.
While I love Tea Leoni and Tim Daly and the McCord family drama....this is what I really want. Nobody at the top gets anything done by themselves, and the legwork the staff handles, the fires that they put out are the stories I want to see.
Obviously, the premise of the show is about how the woman at the top balances such an extremely demanding job and her home life, but why can't that concept be extended to the rest of the team a little more often?
One of the things that regularly frustrates me is that the producers went to the trouble to assemble such a fabulously talented cast, but then that cast doesn't really get to do much. Bebe Neuwirth is a g.d. living legend (on stage and screen), and even her role as Elizabeth's second is often limited.
Poor Matt usually only gets a handful of one-liners, even though he's proven time and time again that he can carry the heavy loads. Jay has gone completely missing without anybody seeming to notice, and too much of Daisy's character development is wrapped up in who she is or is not sleeping with.
Side note: why the hell did Matt have to ask who the father was? That kind of slut shaming, even unintentional, seems out of character, and duh, it's obviously the dead CIA agent's.
Daisy's pregnancy is a result of Patina Miller's real life baby-to-be, and thematically wouldn't be as annoying if there'd been more emphasis on Daisy as more than a woman looking to be coupled up in the past. Hindsight is 20/20 I suppose.
Despite their previously single note treatment of her, the writers managed to elevate the pregnancy announcement(s) into something more.
I loved how the team all reacted to the baby news in such varied ways. Granted, those reactions reflect more on each of them than on Daisy herself.
Jay [after Daisy vomits]: Is what I think is going on with you going on with you?
Daisy: I don't want to talk about it. Really.
Jay: Well, if it is...Congratulations! [covers Chloe's ears] They devour your life! I mean, they're the best.
Jay, a parent himself, congratulates her without a second thought just moments after she tells him that she doesn't want to talk about. He doesn't stop to consider her situation, or how she might be conflicted, even though her behavior telegraphed that loud and clear.
Even as he is in the middle of a situation where being a single co-parent is impacting his work, he's unaware of how a pregnancy and the prospect of a raising a child alone while pursuing a high-stress and demanding career could be completely terrifying.
After all, why would a woman feel anything but joy at being pregnant?
Daisy: I'm gonna need a month off.
Nadine: Oh. Well, that's a long time. Um...when?
Daisy: In about six months.
Nadine: Oh, I see. Congratulations. Or not. Do you wanna talk about it?
Nadine has a much clearer understanding of what it means to be a woman torn between career and family, and perhaps more importantly what it means to be a single mother, offers the kind of tepid congratulations that allows Daisy to feel conflicted about the news without judgment.
Which is just one reason Nadine is completely awesome and we should see more of her than just a silent observer of SVTCs calls.
I'd have preferred to see how her and Matt's friendship continued after his stint as her house guest, but I'll take a blooming romance with Mike B. Even if he does have reprehensible manners.
Mike B: The thing is, I feel like you don't call me back.
Nadine: That's because I don't call you back.
Nadine deserves to happy after all, and their banter is pretty top notch. I credit a huge part of that to Neuwirth, who could probably successfully banter with a brick wall.
I've loved her dry deliveries since I was a kid watching Cheers; I wasn't old enough to always understand what she was saying, but her delivery always got the point across.
Blake's spotlight on "The Seventh Floor" may be my favorite because, as I said earlier, it was such a call back to the pilot of The West Wing. It lacked the long continuous shot that John Wells was so fond of, but it mirrored the dedication of the Bartlett staff, and the fight to carve out time for yourself.
I also loved his very "Blake" way of knocking down obstacles; in DC, it's all about who you know, and Blake plays that perfectly. Pete, just like his own mother, underestimates Blake's role. But nothing gets done in government without the ever capable, ever reliable assistants.
And I almost forgot the scene with Nadine going over Elizabeth's schedule! Another example of the power administrative/executive assistants wield! Even though Blake doesn't make the big bucks or get the recognition, Elizabeth wouldn't be able to perform her role half so well without him.
This is why I'm in therapy, Mom. I'm literally the assistant to the Secretary of State, and you keep asking when I'm going to get a promotion.Blake [on the phone]
The main plot of "The Seventh Floor" was great, but honestly, it didn't matter to me if we were focused on rescuing a journalist from the Sudan or negotiating water rights with Canada or Mexico, which even James Bond couldn't make interesting. It was the format that I loved, the embracing of an ensemble cast.
I want to know what's going on with Stevie, and yes, even Allison and Jason, but why can't we know what's happening in the staff's home lives on a more regular basis too? And not just told what's happening, but shown? Give them equal screen time?
If nothing else, it could cut out the stagnation of the "Henry does intelligence work" arcs.
Henry: I did underscore the seriousness of the situation, right?
Elizabeth: He's concerned we're not all sufficiently terrified.
Jay: Nope. Message received. I'm deeply, deeply scared.
The VFF story will be wrapping up (thank whatever deity you bow down before) on Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 22, which is oh so subtly entitled "Revelation."
Both the McCords will be jet setting – Elizabeth is off to Rome for a G20 conference and Henry will be sent to Jerusalem, because apparently even with his bum leg, he's the only person capable of stopping the doomsday cult from setting off their bio-weapon. Makes total sense.
Of more interest to me is what exactly Blake's "personal secret" is. Is he going back to school? Taking a new job? Getting married? Coming on the heels of Jay's hook-up and Daisy's baby bump, this better be juicy!
You can watch Madam Secretary online, and be sure to join the conversation in the comments section below. We love hearing our Fanatics sound off!
How did you feel about the ensemble presentation? Should the McCords take a back seat more often? Will Daisy succumb to Matt's endearing show of support, or is he permanently friend-zoned? Was Jay's fling the end of his marriage, or just a way to even the playing field with Abby?
Elizabeth Harlow was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She left the organization in October 2018.
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