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'Madam Secretary' recap: 'The Rusalka'

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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

Remember last week when I said Craig Sterling is going to be a problem? Aside from being 100 percent correct on that front, there is a new enemy by the name of Maria Ostrov, and she manages to turn Elizabeth McCord into Russia’s biggest enemy all in a day’s work. 

I’m not one to use Wikipedia, but after our Madam Secretary was labeled a “Rusalka,” I was interested. The term is translated as “mermaid,” but according to the site, in the 19th century, the term was used for someone who is a “dangerous being” with an “unclean spirit.” Clearly an important phrase for the episode, so a little history lesson seemed necessary. 

What does President Ostrov’s death mean for America? This is the question the entire episodes revolves around, and there are two sides to this argument. It’s Elizabeth McCord vs. Craig Sterling, and the gloves are off. 

The episode opens with POTUS telling Ostrov’s wife that he is unable to attend the funeral and Elizabeth will attend in his stead, which turns out to be a big mistake. Craig suggests there’s no way America can benefit from this death and they need to push their own agenda, urging the President to send military aid to Ukraine. However, Elizabeth points out that this could lead to World War III and instead has a diplomatic plan of her own (as she always does). 

In the simplest terms possible, here’s the Secretary’s plan to make everyone happy: She plans to stop in Kiev and convince the Ukrainian president to sign off on a vote for greater autonomy in Eastern Ukraine, potentially ending the war between Ukraine and Russia. She also plans on having Foreign Minister Anton Gorev broker the deal with the Russian generals so that he looks good to Russia for helping get the sanctions lifted, pushing him into a position that might make him the next Russian president. Seems like a solid McCord plan, right? It’s pretty much Elizabeth’s best bet if she wants to stay in Dalton’s inner circle. Otherwise, Craig Sterling wins, and Craig Sterling is the worst. 

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Before Bess heads off on her mission, Sterling warns her that making nice with Russia is a mistake and he is going to make sure POTUS knows that.

All the details seem to be on track, until Blake mistakenly takes a photograph with an “anti-Russian protester” in Ukraine. The protester turns out to be a Russian operative planted there to make America look bad. The big question: Who’s behind it all? It doesn’t take long to learn that Mrs. Ostrov is actually a very powerful woman, and she is not a fan of America. 

In the middle of the funeral Maria Ostrov stands up and powerfully declares that Elizabeth McCord is a “dark figure,” a “rusalka” and informs the country that the secretary and Gorev met in secret to conspire against Russia. The new Ostrov leader sends this message to America: “Russia is not afraid of you.” Uh oh. 

NEXT: Poor Dmitri 

[pagebreak]

Ugh, I can’t help but feel completely awful for Dmitri. Every episode he has to continue to betray Russia makes me feel worse for him. It’s also hard to tell just how bad Henry McCord feels about the whole situation. When he’s not giving Dmitri orders, he’s conflicted and upset about what he’s forced to do, but when he’s in action, it really does feel like he enjoys the power of working for the DIA. This struggle between good and evil seems to be something that’s going to continue throughout the season. I just hope Henry’s good side can outweigh the bad one. 

So what happened to poor Dmitri today? After he was forced into being a spy for the Americans, he receives his first assignment for the DIA. He must go to President Ostrov’s memorial at the Russian embassy and gather intel on who might be next in command in Russia. He doesn’t even get a chance to mourn his president before he has to betray them. So rude. 

Does he get any usable information? No, but he did learn one important lesson: “Ladies like a bulky man.” Um, okay then. Before he can relay his unimportant information for Professor McCord he’s taken by two Russians who have figured out that he’s a spy for America. Except, the DIA is simply testing him. Dmitri passes the test but is feeling more and more powerless throughout the episode. 

Episode 3 ends with Dmitri tearing apart his room at the war college, no doubt freaking out about his unfortunate position as an American spy, while Henry heads to confess his sins for the first time in 11 years. I have a strong suspicion this partnership will not end well. Anyone agree with that? 

Minor Debriefings: 

  • We still have no idea who was behind the cyber attack on Air Force One. What we did learn this episode is that the attack not only blocked all communication, it also had complete control over the plane. Essentially, whoever was behind the attack could have crashed the plane and killed everyone on board. It was a warning for a much larger attack, it seems, and it’s bad news that no one knows who’s behind it all. Did I mention that no good news came out of this entire episode? Also, I am right there with Daisy: I would not be getting on a plane. Planes are a death sentence on Madam Secretary.
  • Although the McCord children had pretty much no role in the newest episode, we did learn that Jason wants to join the football team to make friends. Much to Elizabeth and Henry’s dismay, he ends up as linebacker for his school’s team. How could this possibly happen considering he’s a tiny human being? I have no idea, but I imagine some kind of injury in the future. 
  • Blake finally stands up for himself, and it’s a wonderful moment.

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