Who knew that tariffs and trade wars could be boiled down into such a precise explanation?
Elizabeth might not have got into the finer details on Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 3 (she completely skipped the part about how tariffs are taxes that we pay), but the storyline was clearly an allusion to the real world trade war started between the US and China this past summer.
It also worked in a variation on President Xi's appointment as president for life. Luckily for our fictional Minister Chen, his president only appointed himself for another five years...at least for now.
The parallel arcs of Chen and Elizabeth's careers seem to be diverging. Will her candidacy benefit from having the support of world leaders?
Time will tell.
Elizabeth's maneuverings were shrewd as always, but the work she did to get the improved trade agreement in place just wasn't the most interesting thing happening.
Chen's intrigue with (and eventual defiance of) the Chinese Communist Party held my attention simply because it was so different from what we usually see.
This is the second time we've seen Elizabeth's counterparts concerned about their own positions, and it's a trend that will likely continue.
Elizabeth: We know how this works -- once we respond, China escalates and so on until the both of us go over an economic cliff, probably taking the rest of the world with us.
Russell: A few months of being locked out the Chinese markets and many of our pork producers, soybean farmers, they could go under.
Also more interesting than negotiations for free and fair trade? Elizabeth's sudden interest in criminal justice reform and her recruitment of Mike B for Katelyn.
The jury duty scene was hilarious, especially Elizabeth explaining to her DSS agents why exactly they were they and the one trying so hard not to laugh. And the Real Housewives moment! So sad, so believable.
But there was also a multipart payoff for the stunt. It was obvious as soon as we heard Katelyn's story that Elizabeth would be doing more than provide a phone number, but Mike B in the courtroom was so good that it was hard to care.
Mike's hyperfocus on Elizabeth's campaign is going to come in handy for her if she actually wants to win a primary, let alone the presidency.
Let's all cross our finger's that there are some scenes with both Mike B and Russell Jackson coming our way.
It's hard to decide if they'd fight with each other or gang up on Bess, but either way, it would be amazing to watch. So much snark in one room!
Would it have been impossible for Henry to just quietly quit his job? In an installment where so much was going on, all of it way more important than Henry job hopping, this whole story could have been cut.
Anecdotes about passwords and parking spots and committee meetings are boring and too relatable. These are the issues we have to deal with all week, please don't bring them to our TVs unless you are The Office.
I also don't understand why his position as Presidential Ethics Advisor requires him to quit his job at the War College, but I also don't care. Just let Tim Daly give good advice when he's asked, tell weirdly relevant stories about saints, and handle the house.
Babe, politics is the art of the possible.Henry
The rest is a distraction. All the time spent on Henry's nonsense could have been to better use fleshing out Daisy's story.
Patina Miller absolutely crushed the monologue she gave to Sister Ann and then did it again with the school kids. Arranging for a presidential visit? She is a beautiful mentoring angel and a comms goddess.
But this story felt a little out of left field at first. The staff hasn't been the focus so far this season, and there was no precipitating event for her anxiety that was forefront to the minds of the audience.
I mean, a bunch of white guys were so enraged by the prospect of making space for someone like my daughter, like me, they would literally rather blow up the White House, rather destroy the country than share it. And also I can give you the names of at least five unarmed black people who have been killed by the police in the last six months. Just driving along and get pulled over and, boom, that's it.Daisy
It was also a missed opportunity for Matt to make a move. Yes, we got Jay being a good boss and friend, but despite being the two single parents on the team, those two don't have much of a bond.
Not like Daisy has with her ex. Who she kinda shares a dog with. Who is always very concerned about her safety and the safety of her daughter.
Would have been nice if he could have shown up.
It looks like the staff will be on the back burner once again on Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 4 ("Requiem"). Elizabeth is going to be busy trying to repatriate the bodies of WWII soldiers while the rest of the McCords get up to some shenanigans.
Stevie and Henry are going to have their own Red Hen moment when a restaurant owner doesn't agree with Elizabeth's policies. I'm torn between being impressed that they know her policies and annoyed that we have to have this take on "civility."
Allison is going to get her civic engagement on and volunteer with a local candidate for Congress. Probably not too local, because DC only has one (non-voting) rep and no one is unseating Eleanor Holmes Norton anytime soon, even on TV.
It's a fair expectation that things might wrap with a PSA about the midterm elections and the importance of voting. What's not as much a sure bet? Sara Ramirez finally showing up as Kat Sandoval this season.
What was your take on "The Magic Rake?" We want to know! Join the conversation in the comments section below!
Did Daisy's fears resonate with you? Does Mike B deserve a spinoff where he gets cases dismissed in under ten minutes? Are you excited to see Elizabeth's campaign get going?
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Elizabeth Harlow was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She left the organization in October 2018.