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Madam Secretary recap: Higher Learning

An agreement between a U.S. mining company and Chile goes awry.

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Sarah Shatz/CBS

Madam Secretary

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
2
run date:
09/21/14
performer:
Tea Leoni, Geoffrey Arend, Tim Daly
broadcaster:
CBS
genre:
Drama

One of the best things about Madam Secretary is that while there is a larger story line happening at all times, every few episode takes a break from the major drama and focuses on another problem. It helps viewers not get too bored with the plot, and this week just happens to be one of those episodes. Plus, Blake was pretty much in the entire episode, which is always an added bonus. 

This week, Bess is dealing with a mining agreement between an American company and the Chilean government while taking Stevie and Alison on a college tour. Meanwhile Henry, Jane and Jose are still trying to track down Jibral Disah’s third wife, Hijriyyah. 

Let’s start with the situation in Chile, shall we? 

The show opens in the Andes mountains in Chile. There is a group protesting an American company, Hercutel, for mining gold in their mountains. The protest gets ugly, and someone throws a rock at the American driver. According to Bess’ team, the mining agreement between Hercutel and the Chilean government was completely legal, but now the president of Chile has changed her mind and accused the company of negotiating more than their fair share of profits, sparking the various protests. 

Bess tells Matt to draft a statement to the Chilean foreign minister to remind him of his responsibility to protect American workers and tell him that Chile’s economy will pretty much go to hell if they mess up their trade agreement with the U.S., which led to possibly the best line of the episode from Matt: “So threaten to break up with them if they cheat on us?” Yep. ‘Merica. 

So why is this the State Department’s problem? One of the guys involved with Hercutel happens to be a senator who’s on Dalton’s side for the re-election, so getting the matter cleaned up is a top priority. If you’ve noticed, the election is popping up in more conversations, which means that season 3 (fingers crossed for a renewal) could revolve around Dalton’s campaign. Regardless, it’s all Bess’ problem now, and she’s got the college tour to deal with, too. 

Blake’s job of making Alison’s college tour as normal as possible pretty much failed from the get-go as they were greeted by the college’s marching band and a photo op with the dean. Not exactly the under-the-radar trip they were hoping for. Not long after the arrival, a group of protesting students confront Bess on her plans for dealing with the mining situation, to which she replies that the agreement was legal between the government and the U.S. company, so there’s no way to interfere. Her comment was then re-edited to make it sound like the government was refusing to do anything and posted on the Internet. Between that and the protests, Chile temporarily shuts down the mining. 

Bess talks to the foreign minister, threatening to cripple their economy, and Chile quickly agrees to reopen the mining operation in the morning. Nothing’s that simple, though. A man named Hugo from the Inhawoji people of Chile reveals in an online video that the mountain belongs to the indigenous people and has belonged to them for 6,000 years. That means that the Chilean government had no right to make an agreement with Hercutel. In protest, Hugo says he’s going to climb the mountain to save it or he will die trying — while live-streaming his climb of course. Welcome to 2016. 

On top of all that, the obnoxious student protester decides to sue the State Department because he feels like Bess’ DS agent violated his personal space. At this point, I think every single person watching probably rolled their eyes. Luckily, Bess had a plan, as she normally does. 

In the morning Bess marched over to the kid’s dorm room with his parents on Skype. The kid attempts to argue that he had a right to free speech and they tried to silence him, which was not the case, but okay. His parents flip out and tell him to drop the lawsuit or they would stop paying his tuition. Bess interrupts with a classic one of her speeches. Basically, she tells the kid that he was right to stand up and say something and because of him other protesters, the Inhawoji people finally stood up to take back their land. He drops the lawsuit because it’s Bess and she can pretty much talk her way out of literally every situation. 

One problem down. On to the next. 

NEXT: Arabian Nights

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