Madam Secretary Season 1 Episode 16 Review: Tamerlane

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Madam Secretary Season 1 Episode 16 delivered a high octane, tension filled episode to close-out their 3-part event.

It didn't wrap everything up but brought some more pieces of the puzzle together as Elizabeth traveled to Iran on a dangerous secret mission. This was one of their best shows to date with lots of moving parts for us to discuss, so let's dig in.

Munsey, the soon-to-be former CIA Director and one-time protege of President Dalton was not singing a sad song at some heavily guarded prison cell. Or getting water boarded, which would have been ironic. Instead he sat in his elegant home and smugly watched as they searched his home and attached a monitoring device to his ankle. 

Honestly, the CIA needs to wine and dine some TV writers, because if I believed everything I saw on TV about the CIA, then  they are all a bunch of douches. They always wind-up being the bad guys. 

Elizabeth finally brought her team into the loop. All in all, the team took the news that their former boss was murdered and a traitor rather well. Well, maybe not Nadine so much. 

Nadine: Daisy, whatever good was in that man, he was most definitely not a good husband.
Matt: But he always had such good things to say about Mrs. Marsh.
Nadine: Not when he was in bed with me.


His staff has always seemed very loyal to him and learning all these secrets about him had to be difficult. You do start to question whether you really know anyone since he fooled all of them.

One thing we did not find out tonight is why he was murdered. He was a co-conspirator, so why kill him? Did he have a change of heart? Or something else?

Jafer Allinejad, presumably the chosen replacement leader for Iran, was an interesting choice by Munsey. 

He is literally riding in on a white horse.


He certainly saw himself as a savior to his country and sounded like someone who would be our ally. Jackson even planned to tell Dalton to back him. Sadly, Elizabeth put a crimp in his plan when she noticed a few suspicious symptoms.

Iran's savior was dying. Munsey refused to believe Elizabeth because, ya know, she used to work for the CIA. Tradecraft 101 is to fake brain scans, I guess. I can buy that Munsey would suspect Elizabeth of lying to him. It's harder to believe that Munsey would not have more carefully vetted the health of the man he wanted to lead Iran. 

Allinjad wasn't hiding his illness and was receiving treatment, which Munsey as the CIA Director, should have been able to easily uncover. It's possible he wasn't ill when they chose him, but what did they realistically expect to happen after he died? This seemed like an ill-conceived plan, but Munsey was a true believer, and apparently so was Juliet.

Elizabeth: Was she coerced?
Munsey: No. She was a patriot.
Elizabeth: How is she?
Munsey: Righteous.

You have to wonder if the other co-conspirators knew their "savior" was dying. And if not, would they still have been righteous?

Henry and Elizabeth have such a great and interesting relationship. He was understandably upset that she was going to Iran, and she didn't downplay the risks or even her own fears. She also wanted to make some things clear too, such as it was okay for him to remarry. 

Elizabeth: More like parameters. I think we're talking north of 40 with 35 as the floor for someone really spectacular.
Henry: I'm not Hugh Hefner. 40 is just fine.
Elizabeth: Good.

Tea Leoni and Tim Daly played it so well and have great chemistry together, so you couldn't help but laugh. At the same time, it was also slightly disturbing because, all jokes aside, there was a real chance she might not come home. 

Elizabeth met with Foreign Minister Javani and was able to convince him the threat was real and not backed by President Dalton. He, of course, called her his friend, which meant he wasn't long for this world. Sure enough, the coup started seconds later, and he was shot and killed.

Ultimately, the coup failed with both Elizabeth and the Iranian President surviving. Elizabeth still wanted to proceed with the peace talks, but he seemed hesitant. Not so much because he didn't want peace between the two countries, but his country was in turmoil. One would assume the hard liners would become even more anti-American.

This begs the brilliance of the overall plan. The President was already working towards peace with Iran, which Munsey and company didn't believe would hold. Their fears were entirely possible, so their answer was to overthrow the Iran regime with someone of their choosing. Okay, fine. But they a chose a man whose death was imminent? 

Munsey killed himself after the coup failed, and Juliet sent Elizabeth an email, wanting to come in. This story isn't over yet. After all, we still don't know why Marsh was killed. 

What did you think of tonight's episode? Were you surprised by how quickly the coup was over? Why do you think Juliet wants to come in now? Don't forget you can watch Madam Secretary online via TV Fanatic and get caught up at your convenience. 

NOTE: Madam Secretary Season 1 Episode 17 airs on Sunday, March 22.

Tamerlane Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (17 Votes)
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Madam Secretary Season 1 Episode 16 Quotes

Maybe when I get back, you can model that apron au naturel ... I'm not I'm speaker phone, am I?


Russell: It's a little thing called power.
Elizabeth: Is it really that alluring? The history of mankind not withstanding?
Russell: I understand you left a horse farm to become Secretary of State.
Elizabeth: The President asked and I answered the call ... yeah, the power is pretty awesome too.