EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community

'Madam Secretary' fan recap: Iran aftermath

Season 1 | Episode 17 | “Face the Nation” | Aired Mar 22, 2015

In last night’s Madam Secretary episode, viewers met a new Bess. Gone was the cocksure, calm, cool, collected Secretary of State. In her place was a Bess who was completely shaken up, scarred, traumatized, and guilt-ridden after her trip to Iran. In “Face the Nation,” Bess copes with the aftermath of being present for the coup in Iran and the shooting that resulted in the deaths of Foreign Minister Jovani and Bess’ security detail officers.

Episode 17 begins with Bess lying wide awake in bed. Instantly, viewers know she is thinking about the shooting and Iran. The next morning, Henry asks his spaced-out wife if she’s okay and state that she’s been going nonstop since returning. Bess promises Henry that she’s fine. Every episode shows a scene of the McCord family gathering and chatting in the kitchen, and it is very clear that Mama McCord is off this morning.

Once at work, Bess is prepped for a meeting regarding Ecuador, and is told she needs to prep for her appearance on ace the Nation. The White House wants her front and center to assure the nation that every thing is fine. Bess uncharacteristically screams at Daisy after saying that Bess was a hero, because the guard who died saving her life was the hero. Seeing Bess pissed alarms Maisy and Nadine. Also, a nurse is waiting in Bess’ office because she missed her appointment to get her wounds checked.

While getting inspected, Bess talks with advice consultant Mike B. about Ecuador. Chip Harding, the CEO of America’s biggest oil company, wants Bess to help secure drilling rights in Ecuador over the Chinese. Harding wants to drill in Ecuador in one of most biodiverse areas of the Amazon. If the large area is developed, many ecological problems will occur, including speeding up the deforestation process, killing off animal species, and creating larger and more unpredictable weather incidents. Bess is informed of all of this from her new Deputy Assistant, Laura Vargas (Audrey Esparza).

Jay is totally frazzled before the Chip Harding meeting because his wife is going into labor any second. Bess nicely sends him off to be there next to his wife (later, he is seen holding his new daughter).

Maisy tells Nadine that the longer Bess stays away from the camera, the more suspicious she looks as far as the Iran coup. The only reason the coup failed is because Bess put herself in the middle of the danger, so this is huge story.

Bess and Henry meet with Jason’s new public-school principal, and Bess wants to give Jason security detail. Henry disagrees, and Bess is uncharacteristically curt. “Why can’t you just back me up on this?” she barks at Henry. So he offers to meet with detail candidates. During one interview, Henry asks the guy about PTSD symptoms, which include flashbacks, hypervigilance, sleep loss, and not talking until the person is ready. Henry knows Bess is experiencing these symptoms.

Laura tells Bess that international groups want to pay Ecuador not to spoil its rainforests by giving the land to oil companies. Bess wants the Ecuadorian Ambassador to move forward with the plan to turn the land into a protective reserve. He doesn’t believe that the U.S. government would allow it, but agrees if she could monetarily match the Chinese offer.

Bess practices for Face the Nation and is doing a great job until she’s asked to go back to the “horrifying scene” where Jovani was murdered. She loses herself in memories until Nadine wakes her out of it. This would have equaled five seconds of dead air, and is not the image of “calm stability” the White House wants her to be. Her team makes her appearance “subject to availability.” Bess is seen in the bathroom throwing water on her face to shake herself out of it.

At home, Jason is pissed about the security detail because they said he could be “a normal kid at a normal school.” Henry tells Bess that her issues can’t lead to Jason being treated unfairly, and asks if she is ready to talk yet. She walks way after agreeing about the security detail.

Russell storms in to a meeting Bess is having with her staff, asking about the “subject to availability” appearance. Bess hadn’t heard of that, and says she was simply jet-lagged and is doing the show. Bess convinces him they can save one of the most ecologically important areas on Earth. He agrees as long as she can keep the Chinese out.

Mike B. and Bess brainstorm to protest the Chinese involvement with Ecuador since they are not even part of the treaty that protects the Amazon. This would tie up China and get them stuck behind red tape for a year. Chinese Minister Chen shows up to say he’s pissed about this new development, and urges Bess to retract her protest. Bess goes off on him, bringing up all kinds of problems she has with the Chinese government (so unlike her to lose her cool!). She gets so worked up that she needs 911 because she thinks she’s having a heart attack. It turns out to be a panic attack. The doctor wants her to take it easy for a few days.

Madam Secretary Episode 17

Henry reminds her that Navy SEALS have panic attacks and PTSD. “Are you tougher than a Navy SEAL?” “Maybe a little runty one,” she jokes, then admits she was more affected by Iran than she thought she was. Henry wants her to get help by talking to someone, but Bess is not ready to talk yet.

Russell comes to the hospital to visit, but Henry wont let him in. “If she’s not fine, then you’re not doing her or the country any favors by keeping it from me,” Russell warns.

The team pushes back Face the Nation for a few days and works to put out the fire with Minister Chen. Nadine talks with Chen, who is forgiving but wants them to stop the protest.

On Bess’ way back into work, she has a flashback. Viewers finally see Bess lose it when she calls Henry, crying, and tells him that she shouldn’t have gone back to work. She realizes she has to go home.

Madam Secretary Episode 17

Mike B. and Nadine meet with the head of a charity foundation and offer him the chance to save over 4,000 square miles of pristine Amazon space. By dangling the term “Nobel Prize,” he gets on board. The area in Ecuador will be saved and the Chinese won’t have their way over the U.S., so the issue is fixed.

Russell goes to visit Bess at home. “I come in peace,” he tells Henry. He confides to Bess that his brother died in the seat next to him in a car crash, ironically after making it back from Vietnam safely. Russell admits he has triggers and symptoms of PTSD. “Welcome to the club,” Russell says as he gives Bess the card for his discreet therapist.

Bess finally opens up to Henry about how guilty she feels about the security men dying to save her. Henry assures her that she didn’t make them protect her—and that they would do it again if they could. She cries as she admits how she wanted to protect Abdul (Jovani’s son) and stop him from seeing his own father murdered in his living room. “How in the world is that boy supposed to go on? … We do all these horrible things to each other, and there are always kids in the middle. Henry, what have I done to our sweet children?” She hugs him tightly.

Bess goes on Face the Nation and nails it, after being asked the same question that led her to freeze during rehearsal (about being in the room when Jovani was killed): “As a mother, I would have given everything to protect that child. Which is why I am as determined as ever to see through the nuclear agreement his father gave his life for. Because I think that’s our greatest responsibility in this life—to leave a safer and more peaceful world for our children.”

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

You May Like