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'Madam Secretary' recap: 'Higher Learning'

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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

[pagebreak]

Bess has to figure out a way to make everyone happy now that Hercutel has to get out of the mountain. In the end, the company just moved to a different mountain in the Argentine Andes. Although it’s not ideal, it’s a win-win. The company continues mining gold, Dalton’s congressman is kept happy, and the Chilean president can say she got America out of their country. 

Hugo was also rescued after a terrifying avalanche that almost left him dead. Another piece of good news for everyone, though I imagine Hugo’s going to have some major injuries after that, but at least the rescue team got to him in time. 

Meanwhile, in a totally different world crisis, Henry’s group is still trying to track down Hijriyyah. In case you forgot, she’s the newest wife of Jibral Disah, the leader of extremist group Hizb al-Shahid that was behind the explosion at the education conference. They have two ideas for how to find her. 

Option one is to work with Disah’s enemies to help track him and take him down. Jose says most of them are militia leaders in Libya vying for power. Of course, those men are super untrustworthy and could turn on them at any moment. The other option is a teacher they found living in Delaware that taught at an academy in Tripoli where Hijriyyah went to school. They opt for the second one, obviously.

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Since Henry can pretty much get anyone to talk, he is chosen to speak with her and try to get any information about Hijriyyah that he can. At first she’s closed off and says she doesn’t remember her, but then Henry does his thing where he gives an incredibly passionate speech and almost immediately gets her talking. Man’s got skills. Seriously though, Henry’s charm could win over a war lord. He promises to help get her family out of Libya if she helps them. 

The plan? She will email her former students to check up on their lives and how they’ve been, and if she gets a response from Hijriyyah, they will track the IP address and hopefully find her. As it turns out Hijriyyah is responding to emails, so that’s cool. She quotes a line from One Thousand and One Nights. The quote leads Henry and Jane to believe that there is a chance Hijriyyah wants to fight back against Disah. They could turn her into the asset that would bring him down for good. 

Ohh boy, things are getting crazy! There are only a few episodes left before the season finale, and I have a feeling that finale will be centered around Disah’s take down, but first, Jane Pauley is guest-starring on next week’s episode of Madam Secretary

According to the description for next week, there’s a plane crash. Of course, because there’s always a plane crash on Madam Secretary.

Minor Debriefings: 

  • We need to talk about Alison’s Elizabeth-like speech on fascism to that drunk college bro. Who knew she was going to grow up and be able to verbally take down guys like her mom does? Go Alison! 
  • So the girls are on a college tour, and Henry’s in Delaware with the teacher. Who is watching Jason? 
  • Bess should have fun more often. Téa Leoni laughing is something that doesn’t happen often in this show. 

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