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Madam Secretary “The Operative” Review

‘I know why you got me here. It’s to intimidate me, to soften me up.”

Most of the comments I’ve read about this episode refer to the fact that it had the Snowden factor. Some of them hailed it as a good idea, others were less enthusiastic.

From a personal point of view, the episode worked, most of it, at least. It’s not yet at the same level with “The Good Wife” (which has excellent quality writing), but it’s better. The episode gained not only at a structural level, but also because it gave the sensation of (finally) something “ballsy”. It added the much needed conflict to the general story and it is most definitely an improvement in the specifics of the show. The White House stuff. The family stuff.

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On the course of this episode, there is an underlying theme for both stories ( the family and the professional life of Elizabeth McCord): spying on your own house.

“We spy because we love.”

While one is deemed dangerous – especially when dealing with Foreign Policy and Foreign Governments – and the other one is deemed (as parents) necessary: “Do you know what your kid is doing?” Viper – the fictional Snowden – releases the personal considerations ( a.k.a loose tongues) of American official creating upsetting situations in the diplomatic environment. On the home front, Elizabeth and Henry must decide if they give up “surveilling” their youngest daughter (who’s 15)  and delete the application that allows them to see who she’s texting. Both questions are explored with satisfactory results although the choices are difficult and not certain in the end.

Elizabeth: ” I know, it’s crazy…arms for A’s.”

Henry: ” And you actually put me in the middle of this? How dare you?”

One other good thing this episodes brings is that is shows the grayer side of Elizabeth McCord. She gets her hands dirty in the muddy waters of politics. She compromises herself or better, she asks Henry for a compromise. Henry is approached by an important man in in Russia in order to raise his daughter’s grades ( a daughter who happens to be in Henry’s ethic class), but Henry refuses. Later, when trying to save the life of a secret agent in Pakistan, Elizabeth asks Henry to accept the Russian guy’s request. I wonder if this will not affect on the long run Henry causing problems between himself and Elizabeth. I’m almost ready to bet it will.

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The part that goes soft on the episode it’s the situation of Viper, who could have had a bigger impact on the whole specter of politics and on Madam Secretary’s world. Viper gets ill with some infections in Guinea, and he returns to the US ( after the Russians intervened on his behalf with the Guinean Government). That’s it? It’s never that easy. Not today at least.

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