Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 2 Review: The Linchpin

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Gary Johnson really needs to start watching this show.

Okay, so Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 2 didn't do a one-for-one exchange of Algeria for Syria. But it did manage to take an extremely complicated situation and present it in a way that would make sense to most people. Even if they did go for the typical Elizabeth-McCord-saves-the-day happy(ier) ending.

Family Security - Madam Secretary

Being able to talk a seemingly noble general into ousting a narcissistic dictator isn't the only advantage that Elizabeth has in her version of this conflict. It's a three sided war, but so far the US is the only major world power with skin in the game. Things are so much easier when you don't have to worry about pissing off Russia. 

I'm personally hoping that this isn't the last we see of this conflict. While Season 2's Russia arc was a little nutty at times, I liked that things weren't tied up in a neat little package in just one or two episodes. World politics are long, drawn out, messy affairs -- which makes them all the more interesting. 

Matt: Seeds of democracy sown.
Elizabeth: Well, let's hope they get plenty of...
Matt: Sun.
Elizabeth: Yes. And...
Matt: Moisture. And love.
Elizabeth: O-kay.

One reason I'd like for this situation to come back up (again and again) is to really examine the role that the United States plays in nation building. Historically, installing new leaders in foreign nations hasn't turned out well in the long run for us. I want to see how Elizabeth, with her apolitical approach to diplomacy, would try and change the predictable outcome.

Then there's the next step to what happened in the real Syrian war: Russia's involvement and support of Assad. With Haddad out of the game, will this still play out the way it did in reality? Will another world power come in to back the rebels? 

Having to worry about who is back the other side is a reality of diplomacy, and the complexity of those situations helps to make Madame Secretary fascinating. It even allows me to forgive that Elizabeth always seems to get it right in the end -- professionally anyway.

Elizabeth: Oh. I don't understand. We gave him the drinking talk.
Henry: Apparently it didn't take.
Elizabeth: Nadine's making a face. Maybe...we needed more than one talk. [pause] Now Blake is pointedly avoiding eye contact.
Henry: Well...he's already grounded for a month. We can wait till you get home to give him the big talking to.
Elizabeth: Okay. [pause] I'm afraid to say anything else, lest the mime troupe weighs in again.

So, I like the idea of this arc about the kids being threatened.  Theres a lot of potential in it. I'm just not loving the actual execution of it -- at least not yet. Mainly that's because it keeps reminding me that Jason is an entitled little ish who isn't as smart as he thinks he is. 

It is fairly exciting to be as much in the dark as the characters are though, and that's why I'm holding out hope for this story line. It could also lead to opportunities for the two youngest McCord's to develop into something more than witty one liners and mopey stereotypes. 

Because it's honestly frustrating that these kids really don't seem to get that their mother's position is a BFD and, unfair though it may be, that they need to modify their behavior accordingly. 

Alison: Very convincing, Mom.
Stevie: Hashtag "CIA training fail."
Jason: Hashtag "over hashtag jokes."

One arc I am super excited about: Henry becoming a Monuments Man! Okay, so he was a Marine fighter pilot at one point, so complete spy-esque badassery isn't really beyond him, but this seems like a more natural fit. And it shouldn't interfere with the true north of his moral compass as much either.

And honestly, no one wants to watch him talk about Thomas Aquinas anymore. This will build on that background, but in a much more engaging way.

We know that Jose is back, but Jane has only been mentioned in passing. Since Jill Hennessey is working on a new project over at Fox, we can assume we won't be seeing her any time soon. Will she be replaced, or will Henry and Jose work alone as the dynamic duo of antiquities reclamation?

There's no "we" in antiquities. I hunt terrorists, not tchotchkes.


President Dalton will be getting a little more screen time on Madame Secretary Season 3 Episode 3 ("South China Sea," airing October 23rd). It looks like there'll be flashbacks to his time in Vietnam while he's in country for a trade deal. Elizabeth will also be focused on Southeast Asia as she tries to de-escalate a situation caused by over eager environmental activists.

Meanwhile, Henry will be back in DC, hounding the FBI because he's positive he's solved the mystery of the family's stalker where the professionals have failed. The way I see it, there are two ways this could go: Henry's totally off base and this is a red herring or he's right, but there's no way to prove it until November sweeps. 

If you missed any of the negotiations, not to worry, you can always watch Madam Secretary online. Once you're all caught up, we'd love to hear what you thought about "The Linchpin" in the comments section!

The Linchpin Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (29 Votes)

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

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Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 2 Quotes

Elizabeth: Where is Nadine?
Blake: She is on the phone in her office, ma'am. She waved me off like a thirsty fan boy when I tried to wrangle her.
Daisy: Does feel 20% less austere in here.

Alison: Very convincing, Mom.
Stevie: Hashtag "CIA training fail."
Jason: Hashtag "over hashtag jokes."