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'Madam Secretary' fan recap: Digging deep and tough decisions

Season 1 | Episode 21 | “The Kill List” | Aired Apr 26, 2015

“The Kill List” is the second-to-last episode of Madam Secretary‘s first season, and holy moly, was it jam-packed. It was one of the most interesting and well-acted episodes of the season—which, as you viewers know, is really saying something. So let’s get right to it.

A father is seen giving his two young children dinner. They are being watched through a webcam on a computer by none other than Juliet, missing traitor spy and ex-CIA bestie of Bess. She is in hiding, watching her family, and crying.

We join Bess during a mandated therapy session. It feels special to watch Bess during such an intimate moment. She reports feeling “overwhelming loss” over Juliet. Bess blames herself and feels she let herself and her country down. She wants to ask Juliet why she hurt George. Bess begins to tear up, then makes herself laugh when she asks if Russell is a crier during sessions. Bess’ laughs then turn to sobs. Téa Leoni is so wonderful in this role. Someone give this woman an Emmy or Golden Globe nomination pronto!

Madam Secretary Episode 21

Aidan, Juliet’s husband, gets questioned by the FBI. He knows nothing and can’t get any info on whether Juliet is in danger. It is maddening and tragic how clueless he is.

POTUS calls Bess to the situation room. They found Juliet! NSA found her location because she stayed online long enough, which was discovered while hacking her family’s webcam. Juliet is in Algeria, with nothing else around for miles, so an armed drone is the way to go. POTUS agrees, since Juliet is officially on the “kill list.” Bess reminds them that if Juliet is killed, she can’t give intel. Russell reminds Bess all the reason Juliet needs to go.

Bess says she will work to get the Algerians to let in the drone. POTUS says she can sit this one out. Bess doesn’t want to.

Aidan goes to visit Henry, asking him to ask Bess if she knows anything. Aidan doesn’t know what to tell the kids. Henry says he’ll try, and the family will attend the daughter’s birthday party. Later, Bess’ own children ask her about Juliet, and she says she knows nothing.

Iranian President Shiraz will visit in a few days to sign the treaty preventing nuclear warfare. On the same day, an Iranian man is going to be stoned to death for being gay. Shiraz is turning a blind eye. The Human Rights Campaign is planning a protest in front of the White House during the ceremony. This is terrible optics (press) for the treaty. Bess tells Jay to meet with the HRC.

Bess meets with the Algerian ambassador, who worries about civilians getting hurt from the drone. He follows his president’s orders not to allow it, but says that an anti-terrorist unit will join Navy SEALS in a ground operation. Bess knows this compromises the whole mission, but agrees. Russell is pissed at her and accuses her of insubordination. Bess ends up questioning whether she pushed hard enough and if she’s a traitor.

Jay meets with Brent Rosen from HRC, played by SVU star BD Wong. Jay tries to remind him of the bigger picture—that the treaty could prevent nuclear bombs, and the U.S. from going to war, thus saving millions. But Rosen is disgusted by Jay’s concern with optics and how they are trying to postpone, not stop, the execution: “There are plenty of levers you could pull. You are just choosing not to because you don’t want to rock the boat before the signing.”

Madam Secretary episode 21

The meeting with Rosen hits Jay hard, and he stays up all night to solve the issue. He figures out that Izad Amati, the man being executed, has a cousin in Michigan willing to take him. In Jordan, there is an Iranian man on death row whom Iran is desperate to get back. Jay offered Jordan a few fighter aircraft to give back the prisoner, and the deal was passed. They just need Iran to sign off. Bess tells Jay she is impressed by his “inspired” work.

The McCords attend Lily’s birthday. Bess tells Aidan she doesn’t know anything. Bess hugs Lily, who says she saw her mother at church wearing a “golden halo.” Also, Aidan tells a story about Juliet leaving home after an anniversary dinner. He was sure she was cheating, so he followed her—only to find her using a pay phone.

Bess again gets called into the situation room: “Juliet Humphrey played us.” Juliet knew they’d find the location from the webcam; that’s what she was counting on. She wanted them to make the drone strike! She even left bloody clothes so that they would assume she was dead. She was last seen at the airport wearing a gold scarf on her head. Bess realizes that the gold scarf is the “golden halo.” Juliet is in D.C.

Juliet is seen visiting a man’s home, telling him she has one last assignment.

Bess meets with FBI Director Hendricks, who promises to find Juliet. Hendricks checked on the pay-phone call, which connected to a burner phone seized in a drug bust. The owner of that phone is serving time. The Department of Justice is going to make him a deal to give up info.

Despite Jay’s hard work, the Iranians reject the prisoner swap. They want to kill Amati even more than they want to get the prisoner back. Jay wants Bess to play their ace—no nuclear deal unless they stop the execution. Bess denies this instantly, so Jay describes what it means to be stoned to death. He is pushing back. Why and how are they even dealing with these types of people? he wants to know. She uses the argument about preventing war.

Madam Secretary episode 21

Jay replies, “Funny, I used the same argument with Rosen from HRC just yesterday. But at what point do we compromise our souls? And how do we even know when that happens? Maybe the HRC is right. Maybe we can’t trust people whose values are so horrifically divergent from ours. Maybe war is the better option. Maybe we shouldn’t have stopped the coup after all.”

It is a very tense moment when Jay makes that pointed statement about the coup. Bess says he would be fired if she didn’t like him so much. Jay won’t attend the signing ceremony.

Madam Secretary episode 21

FBI Director Hendricks calls. The guy on the other end of Juliet’s phone call (and the man she went to see about an assignment) is Brian Curtwell, a former Army Ranger whom Juliet crossed paths with in Iraq, years ago. Curtwell is now a D.C. Metro cop, working in the counter-sniper unit. “He might be about to assassinate President Shiraz. You have to pick him up now,” commands Bess.

The next scene shows Brian setting up a sniper gun on top of a building. The cars he aims at turn around suddenly, and the FBI catch him on the roof. Then we’re in Juliet’s hotel room; the TV says that President Shiraz’s motorcade arrived at the White House. Juliet looks shocked, then understands.

While walking to the treaty-signing ceremony, Bess reports to POTUS that the FBI was quiet so news of the almost-assassination shouldn’t leak. But Juliet is still out there. POTUS thanks her for trying to do everything to stop the stoning in Iraq, and says it is their joint legacy she’s working on, not just his.

Bess meets with President Shiraz and the new foreign minister, Rahimi, Jovani’s replacement. She speaks more curtly than usual. She is trying to be diplomatic but is disgusted by what is happening the same day, which the duo did nothing to prevent.

As the treaty is being signed, the camera moves to Jay, seen outside holding his new daughter. He arrives at the HRC protest. Rosen stops in his tracks when he sees Jay, recognizing the impact he had on Jay.

Madam Secretary episode 21

Madam Secretary episode 21

Juliet walks down a wintry suburban street. She then looks in the window of her home and sees her kids. Suddenly, the FBI arrives in front of the house. Juliet says “I love you” to her family while being handcuffed and led away. Her family is devastated.

Madam Secretary episode 21

Madam Secretary episode 21

During the signing ceremony, Bess learns that Amati’s execution has occurred.

Bess arrives home and is overjoyed at seeing her family. Later, off-camera, she gets the call that the FBI has Juliet. They want Bess to interrogate her.

Bess is again in therapy. She discusses how the nuclear treaty-signing was her goal for almost all of her time as the Secretary. She admits that her trusted advisor (Jay) made her question the Iranian deal: “Now I can’t stop thinking: What if this treaty I fought so hard for, that people close to me died for, is really all a big mistake?”

Finally, we see Bess going in to interrogate Juliet alongside Hendricks.

Madam Secretary episode 21

The finale should be epic!

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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