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'Madam Secretary' recap: An explosive first trip abroad

Season 1 | Episode 7 | “Passage” | Aired Nov 2, 2014

CBS’s political drama Madam Secretary took a small step back from intense political problem-solving and focused more on character relationships in this week’s episode. Secretary of State Bess spends as much time on her marriage and children as she does on work while Matt and Daisy’s relationship continues to be a focus.

“Passage” begins with Bess’s team betting on where she will travel for her first State Department trip. Bess chooses Turkey but is persuaded by President Clark and his friend, Ted Graham, to travel to India. Graham’s company has just opened a new chemical plant and they want Bess to promote it as part of the trip’s goal of strengthening America’s relationship with India.

Bess’s husband Henry breaks the news that he cannot make the trip, which is supposed to be a cultural experience for the whole family. He is writing a new book and must spend the week at the archives due to a pushed-up publishing date. Their oldest daughter Stevie stays home to work but Alison and Jason travel to India with their mother.

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Bess speaks at the chemical plant’s opening ceremony in Uttar Pradesh, India. Afterward, a small tremor is followed by a large earthquake. The earthquake leads a tank at the plant to explode; the tank held millions of gallons of flammable toxic fluid, now funneling into the Ganges River. People live off the river’s waters and live near the plant, so the death count from the toxic water and the huge fire is 4,000 and rising.

Back in D.C., Stevie is headed to work when she spots Henry. He’s not at the archives; he’s at a cafe with a younger woman. Stevie texts him and he explains that the woman is a graduate student helping with his book. Stevie doesn’t believe him.

Matt and Daisy continue to bring their love-hate relationship to work, making it obvious that something is going on between them. Matt’s passport isn’t approved and Daisy has a wedding to attend so they both stay back in D.C. while the rest of the team goes to India. The travelers include Scott, a new assistant speech writer who poses a threat to Matt.

Daisy and Matt are discussing their situation at a bar (Daisy says it’s over, she has a serious boyfriend) when Daisy spots Stevie, clearly inebriated and stumbling alone. Daisy insists on helping. Stevie confides in Daisy that she believes her father is cheating.

Now back in America, Bess attempts to help with the crisis in India but India’s Foreign Minister refuses American aid. She feels it was a mistake to allow the American plant to be built in the first place.

The plant was up to Indian standards but it still looks bad that the tank exploded and is causing such a catastrophe. Graham insists that his company has done everything right, including setting up clinics and establishing a victims’ relief fund. But Bess feels that the plant should have been built to American standards, not Indian ones. The company was cheap; American standards would have cost the company an extra $200,000.

Daisy is concerned about Bess’s image, as she is seen worldwide speaking at the plant. But Bess is more concerned with remedying the situation before thousands more die. Daisy also tells Bess that a close source said that Henry is cheating. Daisy’s worried that if the news gets out, it will impact Bess’s stand on certain policies. Bess tells Daisy to stop displacing her guilt over hooking up with Matt and to stay out of her personal business. But Bess is clearly upset. Bess calls Henry but his phone goes straight to voicemail.

Bess needs a great speech. She speaks with Matt about how he hasn’t been giving her his best. She needs him to get serious and admits that she blocked his passport so that she could try out Scott.

“I’ve seen your work for Marsh. It’s not your talent I’m questioning. It’s your commitment. Are you a serious person? Because I only have time for people who are.”

This is the push Matt needs. He writes a fantastic speech in which Bess issues a mea culpa. She takes responsibility for the explosion and for not researching the plant. If she had done so, she would have told the company to raise their standards. She also discusses how India is blocking American aid. The speech works perfectly and India begins accepting aid, especially after “#bringthecowboystotheIndians” begins trending like crazy. Bess is impressed with Matt’s work.

Feeling great, Matt shows up at Daisy’s door and begins to spill his guts about his feelings for her. But she stops him; her boyfriend proposed to her and she accepted. Matt looks heartbroken but congratulates her and leaves.

Bess asks Henry if he is having an affair. “Have you gone completely insane?” he asks her. She is relieved but wants to know what is going on with him. She’s seen him publish previous books and he normally can’t shut up about it. “This is weird, you’re being sneaky.” Henry confides that he is working on a top secret assignment with the NSA. He had to accept, as the position called for a religious scholar and he is the only person who can viably walk up to target during academic conferences. The duo worry about balancing everything but present as the strong, connected couple they seem to be.

Bess goes to talk to Stevie and shows off her CIA analyst side. She tells Stevie that she has to accept her parents’ privacy the way she wants them to respect hers but that her father is not cheating. Bess and Stevie embrace but Stevie is grounded for getting wasted at a bar. Mom/The Madam means business.

Madam Secretary airs Sundays at 8/7C on CBS.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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