Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 13 Review: The Beautiful Game

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Beauty can be a double edged sword. 

Elizabeth had a hell of a week on Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 13. Not only was she tasked with keeping the peace between Iran and Israel -- a job that seemed akin to herding cats -- but she faced a more existential crisis as well.

While Jay's marital woes were concerning, if not utterly predictable, it was Elizabeth's attempts to define herself rather than letting herself be defined by others that resonated with me.

The Peace Treaty - Madam Secretary

Obviously, the Iran-Israel peace talk is a Big Deal within the world of Madame Secretary, but it just isn't all that compelling right now. With the Iran story being drawn out for so long, the payoff should be rather extraordinary.

The effect that it's having on Jay's marriage should be more interesting. Jay's a likeable enough guy, the type of guy you want in your office. He carries more than his fair share of the load. He's also just kind of...boring. 

And his wife's complaints didn't really register with me. I mean, yes, it completely sucks that her husband has been AWOL, but she knew about his job and its demands going into things. And why the hell do you need space to think when he's been living at the office for a month?

I'm taking that as a sign that they'll be getting back together after Jay wrecks his back sleeping on Matt's couch. Speaking of, his "Everything okay?" in response to Jay's request was the most completely asinine question ever.

Daisy [watching Abby walk away]: Wow. Look at that. A personal life. I used to have one of those.
Jay: Yeah. Me too.

Elizabeth's simmering melt down over public perception was subtly and *ahem* beautifully done. Her sensitivity about her perception was expressed in myriad way, each of them relatable to any woman in a professional setting.

Her initial reaction of being offended and worried that she even had to be photoshopped was a reflection of how internalized the importance of outward beauty can be. Her concern about her crows eyes may seem silly to some, but I saw a correlation between that and Jay's worry about the table shape. 

In diplomacy, the little things matter. 

Not that it was her waxy face, sexy legs, or the color of the flowers that ended up sinking the peace deal or her possible Nobel nomination. You can (try) control your image, but you can't control outside actors. 

Elizabeth: Okay, that was a bad "um." What does that "um" mean?
Daisy [about media coverage]: It hasn't been as focused on the peace deal as we'd like.
Matt: Some pundit on Twitter is calling you Madame Sexy-tary.

While I can't say that I'd agree with Nelly Conlon's advice, I'm glad it was included. What woman hasn't wrestled with the dilemma of using her physical dress or appearance as a shortcut to get what she wants. If you're going to be objectified anyway, you might as well make it work for you, right?

That clearly wasn't a proposition that Elizabeth could accede to. Being complicit in her own objectification would have weakened her position in the long run, and she's wise enough to know that. How can you be taken seriously at the negotiating table when everyone is worried about your skirt?

While I appreciated her talk with Allison about some of what shed been going through, I wish it could have been a little more in depth. Especially since the girl is so image obsessed.

This isn't that kind of show though. I think the point got across anyway.

I want people to talk about what I'm trying to do, not about how I look like trying to do it. You know?


One touch to the whole beauty/accomplishments battle that I liked was Daisy's interaction with Kevin. Here was a man who was clearly "showing a little leg" to get what he wanted.

While it highlighted that men are just as capable of using all of their *ahem* assets to get what they want, it also showed that that behavior doesn't have the same negative impact as it does for women.

I just hope Daisy doesn't date that douche. I understand the attraction, but I was just screaming "NOOOOO!!!!!" at her through that whole scene.

I'm gonna assume this is somehow different than when Dad was called "arm candy" by a magazine, and everybody was just...okay with that.


Madam Secretary will be going on a short hiatus what with the upcoming Puppy Bowl and award season. I can't wait to see you all back here when it returns!

If you find yourself longing for international crises that are easily wrapped up within forty-five minutes by competent, level headed diplomats with experience, you can watch Madam Secretary online. It's a nice escape from reality.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on "The Beautiful Game" in the comments section, so feel free to join in the conversation!

The Beautiful Game Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (12 Votes)

Elizabeth Harlow was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She left the organization in October 2018.

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Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 13 Quotes

I mean... it's fun to feel pretty. But when that's the only thing the world is looking for, they miss so much.


I want people to talk about what I'm trying to do, not about how I look like trying to do it. You know?