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Madam Secretary recap: Russian Roulette

Elizabeth McCord doubts Russia’s involvement in the Air Force One attack.

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Sarah Shatz/CBS

Madam Secretary

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Tea Leoni, Geoffrey Arend, Tim Daly

Before we get to this week’s recap, we need to talk about how Henry McCord deserves all the credit of stopping a major world war (at least for the moment). He is literally the reason they did not launch a full-scale attack on Russia. Is the conflict with Russia over? No, it’s not, and I expect that it will be a continued plotline throughout the rest of the season, but Henry is hands down the smartest person on the show and deserves recognition for that. I’ve definitely said it before, and I stand by it: No one uses Henry to his full potential. I hope this episode changes that.

A quick update from last week that’s important to remember: It was “confirmed” that Russia was behind the hacking of Air Force One (assumed to also be behind the hacking of Ukrainian President Bozek’s plane in a prior episode) and Dalton decided to hit them with a city-wide blackout in Moscow, to basically say, “Hey, don’t f— with America.”

Boy, did that turn out to be the wrong decision.

After the power turned back on in Moscow, Dalton had a little Skype session with Maria Ostrov and pretended America had nothing to do with the blackout. He said, just like Russia had nothing to do with the hacking, the U.S. had nothing to do with the blackout. He may as well have winked after he said it. Maria Ostrov was not going to look weak and promised that Russia will hit back.

Why Bess was the only one concerned about her threats, I’m not sure, but I too would be worried about what’s coming next. Maria Ostrov has never followed the rules, so Russell and all the other guys brushing off the threat seemed stupid.

Henry meets up with his DIA contact, Jane, and says that they have Russia’s entire playbook from Dmitri and nowhere in it does it mention a hack on Air Force One. He tells her that she needs to go to the president with this information, but she denies him and tells him to stay out of it.

So… Maria Ostrov retaliates, because why wouldn’t she? She turns off three pipelines that provide 40 percent of Western Europe’s gas supply, which causes Europe to reconsider their alliance with the U.S. Dalton’s response? “We need to retaliate and we need to hit them hard.” They are presented with options for retaliation, but Bess suggests going to the U.N. and laying all the cards out on the table and asking for their allies’ support. She wants to tell them about the Air Force One hacking, about George Lasco, and about the polonium and how Russia was behind it all.

POTUS agrees to let Bess give the speech and she has 24 hours to prepare. Basically, she has to convince the entire world that they are justified and willing to go to war to contain Russian aggression. If the speech doesn’t work, there is no hope of negotiations after revealing all of their intel.

We cut back to Henry who drops in on Russell to tell him about Dmitri’s intel. Russell says it’s too late and he needs to drop his theories that Russia isn’t behind it, threatening Henry with prison if he goes to Bess with his concerns. Henry heads home and decides that millions of people’s lives are more important than going to jail and tells Bess that he believes Russia is not behind the attack. He made probably the most solid point in the episode: If Russia had the most advanced cyber capabilities on the planet, why would their response to a counter cyber attack be to turn off the gas? Boom. Henry is everything.

NEXT: Whodunit?