Madam Secretary Season 2 Premiere Recap

Madam Secretary Season 2 Premiere Recap: Madam... President?

Secretary of state is pretty far down the presidential line of succession — that is, the order people who assume the nation’s highest office when the United States’ Commander-in-Chief is incapacitated or dead. But Madam Secretary‘s season premiere finds a somewhat plausible way to put Elizabeth in the Oval Office — for a few hours, at least.

You’d think that such an auspicious event might get us out of having to witness a performance of Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time,” only with the lyrics rewritten to reflect an impending trade agreement. You’d be wrong.

Read on as we recap what takes place in “The Show Must Go On.”

FOURTH TIME’S THE CHARM | When Air Force One goes missing on the same day the vice president must undergo emergency gallbladder surgery, Russell summons Elizabeth to the White House to assist with the swearing-in of the next in line. Usually, that responsibility/honor falls to the speaker of the House… but he’s on the president’s plane. So they haul in the president pro tempore of the Senate who, with a few confused comments, reveals that he’s not 100 percent mentally there. (A series of small strokes, his staffer hesitantly confesses, have seriously affected his mental faculties.)

So then it’s up to the next in line, and that’s Elizabeth. So she places her hand on the Bible held by the Supreme Court chief justice — played by the series’ executive producer Morgan Freeman — and boom: She’s the president.

STEVIE’S IN HOT WATER (AGAIN) | While Elizabeth is being briefed on nuclear codes and the like, the Secret Service rounds up her family and hustles them to the White House. Only Henry truly knows what’s going on; he also knows, thanks to official channels, that Stevie was found shacking up at a hotel with the president’s son. Worse, she confesses to her dad that she’s got the heroin that fell out of former junkie Harrison’s jacket — which he swears is old — in her pocket. Luckily, Henry’s blow-up about her poor choices in men is the only fallout from that revelation.

To be fair, Mr. Madam Secretary is a little on edge because his new Defense Intelligence Agency handler Jane Fellows wants him to recruit and handle a Russian student with counter-nationalistic tendencies at the war college. This is way more than he signed on for, he informs her, but she doesn’t really care.

A SOUR NOTE | Meanwhile, up in the literal ultimate seat of power, Elizabeth is ticked to learn that she’s been kept out of the loop in the appointment of the new National Security Advisor. And so, in the few hours in which she is president, Elizabeth has the chutzpah to pardon a journalist who’s been jailed for protecting a source. What you gonna do about that, Russell?

Ultimately, we learn that Air Force One’s communications systems went down, but everyone on board is fine. The president lands, relieving Elizabeth of her new duties just in time for her to make a talent show she’s dreading: She’s supposed to sing the doctored Billy Joel ditty in order to somehow make a trade agreement happen — yeah, the details really don’t matter — but has a panic attack because she’s tone deaf. Thank goodness you have a staff full of triple threats, Bess! Nadine, Blake and Daisy — all of whom are played by actors with Broadway pedigrees — step in to croon the parody and bring the house down. All’s well that ends well, right?

Wrong. Later that night, Elizabeth is called to the White House once more, along with the new NSA director: Air Force One’s comm system went down thanks to malware planted on the plane, probably by a foreign country. Or, as Elizabeth puts it: “This was an act of war.”

Now it’s your turn. Grade the premiere via the poll below, then hit the comments to elaborate on your choice.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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48 Comments
  1. Eli Edwards says:

    WOW! I think that was their best episode yet.

  2. John says:

    It was a very good episode. My only complaint was they really stretched things to make her POTUS for a very short period of time and to no real Importance.

  3. Teresa says:

    I absolutely love this show! The actors and writers are amazing. I would watch it 24 hours straight if they would air it that way!

  4. Nora Soto says:

    CBS delayed the viewing by 26 mins. And never bothered to re-show the season premiere at a later time. So it failed

    • JPMD says:

      CBS manages to create a scheduling problem and the show is at fault – shake your head ! …. watch it on-line …. probably the best episode since the series 1st aired.

      • Socrates 18 says:

        Where on line can one watch it? Btw this gets bumpt by sports, awards shows, you name it, more than any I’ve ever seen- it seems like 50% of the time at least

        • bj says:

          Go to the CBS website or to the website of the affiliate that airs it in your area. That’s what I do when shows are cut like that. The episode is always up the next day.

    • TaMara says:

      CBS, unlike other networks, offers its shows for free online the next day. So you can catch up before next week’s episode.

  5. TaMara says:

    Kim, it sounds a bit like you don’t really like this show. Maybe there is someone to do the recaps who does? It doesn’t seem fair to those of us that really enjoy it to have a less than enthusiastic recap. (And if I’m wrong on this, my apologies in advance)

    • arial2 says:

      I was surprised at the amount of negativity in the review, but, in all honesty, I thought the whole “Elizabeth becomes President” was a bit of a stretch. However, it was worth it to have God swear her in! lol Loved the resolution of the musical performance crisis. Found Henry’s reaction to Stevie’s attempt to share a dilemma, get his advice, a bit over the top. Perhaps they’re planning to bring mom and daughter closer together this season. Really hated the back-pedaling on Elizabeth’s and Russell’s relationship: now he’s her enemy again? When did that happen? I still trust him more than President Dalton, though.

  6. DENYSE GREEN says:

    your show tonight offended me by omitting the last part of the swearing in IN GOD WE TRUST. Im just saying i thought that is why we all live in the USA

    • JPMD says:

      Be offended : living in the USA has nothing to do with it !

    • TaMara says:

      Here is the oath of office; I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

      No in god we trust. Some presidents add so help me god, but not required by law. But don’t let facts stand in your way, go be offended. You’re allowed that here, other places you could be prosecuted for it.

      • Patrick says:

        Although not in the “official” oath, George Washington added “so help me God” and it has been as such for every President thereafter. To omit this line is a travesty to the history of this country (a country built upon the Christian faith).

    • Ugh says:

      Absolutely NO ONE says “in God we trust” at the end of the oath of office. Not even Christians. Figure out your mistake, genius.

    • Bzzzzt says:

      Actually, you could NOT be more wrong. The word “god” appears nowhere in the Constitution. Bet you didn’t know that, did you? And then there’s the 3rd amendment, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…” Which not only establishes freedom OF religion, but also freedom FROM religion. No elected official is under ANY obligation to mention God while taking the oath of office. In fact, requiring such a thing would be . . . wait for it . . . UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

      • Ford Cornell says:

        I find this series to be interesting, informative and it makes me think. Tea Leoni is perfect and all the actors do well…except for the man and woman on the Secretary’s staff who are supposed to be in an on/off relationship. I can’t see them together at all. They just don’t seem real as a couple to me.

        But, I have a question for any of you who may know an answer. Why do we swear on a Bible at all? It makes much more sense to me if all public officials as well as courtrooms etc would be much better served if we swore on the Constitution. Why do we use a Bible? Does anybody know?

        • everart says:

          I believe that it’s the choice of the person being sworn in whether it’s a bible, koran, etc, or no book at all. I’ve heard that judges often bring a bible in the case when the oath may be unexpected, but it’s not necessary for the person taking the oath to use it. It’s more habit and traditional for many people rather protocol. The word “swear” is also optional, because Quakers do not “swear” but use the term affirm instead.

          • Kalli says:

            Not exactly – one swears on the Bible, the Koran, or another religious text; however, if not using a text to swear on, one is affirming. Because Elizabeth was using a Bible, she was swearing the oath; however, if she was affirming, she would not have placed her hand on the Bible. I am not sure if the Presidential Oath has ever been affirmed, or if wording for that exists – in most cases switching ‘I swear…’ to ‘I affirm’, is fine, and also, in most cases, that’s all that needs to be said and the rest is ceremony.

        • Sarah O says:

          I think that the Daisy and Matt characters seem more like comic relief than professionals who work in high level government positions, but think it’s common for people who work together in high stress jobs to get together even if they wouldn’t in other situations. I was more disturbed by Daisy’s black and white sleeveless dress–it looked like she was going to play tennis at the club instead of being a professional in the State Department. I think the MS costume department gets it wrong a lot, it’s more Beverly Hills than DC for a lot of the female characters’ outfits.

        • Patrick says:

          Because, contrary to today’s popular belief, this country was very much founded on christian beliefs. The concept of “Freedom of Religion” and “Separation of Church and State” dates to the Mayflower Compact (yes, THAT Mayflower) whereas the settlers determined that no one religion would be above another. This was done because the passengers on the Mayflower were a mixed bag of Pilgrims (who were leaving England because they did not want to worship Christ in the manner required by The Church of England (the OFFICIAL church/religion of England)) and people who belonged to The Church of England.

    • Paloma says:

      Just because Eisenhower added God to the pledge of allegiance and to the money in the 1950s, doesn’t make it part of the oath of office for the president, nor does it make it constitutional. And the founders deliberately did not make this a Christian country or a theocracy. Go read history.

      • Fredo says:

        That was added by an Act of Congress. Remember those? That’s how laws use to be made.

        • Marc says:

          Including unconstitutional ones. One day, we’ll have a Supreme Court with the courage to enforce the Establishment Clause.

      • Patrick says:

        Because, contrary to today’s popular belief, this country was very much founded on christian beliefs. The concept of “Freedom of Religion” and “Separation of Church and State” dates to the Mayflower Compact (yes, THAT Mayflower) whereas the settlers determined that no one religion would be above another. This was done because the passengers on the Mayflower were a mixed bag of Pilgrims (who were leaving England because they did not want to worship Christ in the manner required by The Church of England (the OFFICIAL church/religion of England)) and people who belonged to The Church of England. YOU need to go read history!

    • Linda says:

      This appeared to be a deliberate omission which is very disappointing but unfortunately not surprising.

    • Carol says:

      I agree It offended us too by omitting So Help me God from the Oath of Office

  7. lkh says:

    My favorite–telling Russell he could/should leave the Oval Office. :)

  8. christopher bee says:

    ´got the chills during Tea´s and Morgan´s Scene. Deep Impact again and Kudos to the Composer Team, some fine James Horner moods there.

  9. Anna says:

    I just really love Blake. I need more Blake. Can we get more Blake, please?

  10. Sue says:

    This is a great program. The actors are so well cast. (Tea Leoni is superior. ) The musical skit in the season premier was a hoot.

  11. Mag says:

    Great start for season2. Thoroughly enjoyed season 1. Terrific storyline and outstanding acting. Disappointed that the show overlooked at Emmy time.

  12. Keith says:

    I thought last nights episode was by far the best, my only complaint and concern would be the whole spy story line. I sincerely hope they don’t over do it and make the show jump-the-shark in the 2nd season. Real back the spy subplot before it gets ridiculous.

  13. LDS says:

    A snow with Chief Justice Morgan Freeman.? Yeah, I’m good.

  14. Signe says:

    LOVE this show! Tia & Tim are great together. Well written and great family interaction. Awesome to see M. Freeman.

  15. Aeol says:

    “Actors with Broadway pedigrees”… Way to understate the fact that Patina Miller and Bebe Neuwirth are Tony award winners!

  16. John says:

    Episode 2: Pope has incident, College of Cardinals meets in emergency session and elects madame secretary interim pope until pontiff able to return! The first episode was totally ridiculous, writers must be moonlighting from regular jobs at National Inquirer. Trash TV at its worst!

  17. John says:

    Episode 2: Pope has incident, College of Cardinals meets in emergency session and elects madam secretary interim pope until pontiff able to return! The first episode was totally ridiculous, writers must be moonlighting from regular jobs at National Inquirer. Trash TV at its worst!

  18. Lia says:

    Awesome as usual!!!

  19. Thomas W. Whitney says:

    The “Madame Secretary” season 2 premiere was, without a doubt, the best show on TV, I was thoroughly entertained.