Madam Secretary Season 1 Episode 14 Review: Whisper of the Ax

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A mole was revealed in Madam Secretary Season 1 Episode 14, which kicked off its three-part event tonight. Some of the choices Elizabeth made will have repercussions for a long time.

This was a strong return for Madam Secretary. It seemed like the show had been hiatus forever (because it had been) while big games, award shows and more filled our TV screens for the past six weeks. Thankfully, it came back with a winning episode to remind us why we watch in the first place.

For a drama, the stakes don't always feel very high for Elizabeth. She has problems, but solutions come easily, and she is a bit like Teflon, since nothing bad ever seems to stick to her. As much as I adore Elizabeth, especially when she is outwitting jerks, it could use a bit more tension. 

I expect Elizabeth to overcome, but I want to see her sweat a bit while she does it and vice versa. Easy wins become hollow wins. Or worse, they become boring and predictable.

Thus, I was pleased that Elizabeth had to deal with a scheming politician who targeted her because she had higher approval ratings. It became especially troublesome when he had compromising pictures of the man in charge of her micro-loan program.

She was quick on her feet to point out that what he was doing wasn't illegal and Chairman Burke was equally as quick to note it was when he was using taxpayer money. 

It's a safe bet that her approval went down a bit after that hit the news. 

Before we move on, we must talk about one little tidbit so casually dropped. Elizabeth's approval rating was higher than President Dalton's. In fact, it was high enough that it was scaring twerps like Burke and others because it could give her an advantage for a future presidential run. 

Say what?

Elizabeth McCord for President? You can count on my vote!

What do you think – a throw-away comment or future hint? 

Regardless, we're a few years away from seeing any movement on that front. In the meantime, Elizabeth did get a taste of some good old-fashioned Washington backstabbing, including TV pundits trashing her on TNH. 

Frankly, I'd like to see more of that happening. Washington backstabbing and screaming TV pundits are more interesting than some of the storylines we've seen before. Plus, Madam Secretary is always best when the action is front and center.

I am intrigued by The Hatchet Man or Mike B and it sounds like he will be sticking around. He actually seemed pretty likeable, but you know he is a bulldog too.

Mike B; The way to win a knife fight is to bring a gun and waste the son of a bitch.

She could use someone like him in her corner. Elizabeth is incredibly shrewd and intelligent, but she is also good. She has a lot of power, but she didn't stomp over people to get it. 

This is why I was surprised when she took a hard stance with Isabelle. She knew there was a mole in the Marsh investigation and risked her friendship with Isabelle over it.

I can't say I blame you. But I can't say I'll forgive you either.


Like Isabelle, I didn't blame her because she didn't have a lot of options. In light of the presence of a mole, she had to admit Isabelle's role in the investigation to Jackson. What did surprise me was her "Occams Razor" remark to Isabelle. The simplest and easiest explanation was Isabelle was the mole. 

Hearing that from Isabelle's perspective had to hurt. It's one thing when you needed to clear Isabelle as a formality but believed in her innocence. It's a different thing when you didn't or were uncertain. The stakes were high and sometimes friendship takes a back seat. 

The one thing that didn't really work for me tonight was the C-story with Stevie. It felt extraneous tonight. The scene where Henry called her out for her privilege and told her to stop talking and start doing was well-done. Everything else took too much time away from the other, more intriguing, storylines. 

It's interesting we went from the President being a potential suspect to learning that he was suspicious of Marsh's plane crash too. He even had a couple of CIA agents investigate the crash. One is now dead (RIP George) and the other ... drum roll, please ... Juliet, is on the run. 

Now that's going to be an awkward update for Elizabeth to give to Isabelle.

What did you think of tonight's episode? Were you surprised by the mole reveal? Why do you think Vincent Marsh was murdered? Don't forget you can watch Madam Secretary online via TV Fanatic and get caught up on all the Washington shenanigans. 

Whisper of the Ax Review

Editor Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (15 Votes)
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Madam Secretary Season 1 Episode 14 Quotes

Elizabeth: A little cold terror over job security never hurt anyone.
Russell: You should have that embroidered on a pillow.

I can't say I blame you. But I can't say I'll forgive you either.