Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 2 Review: Off the Record

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Bess' secret trip to Libya on Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 2 may have gone awry, but she wasn't the only McCord struggling. Henry found out that his prize recruit is a drug addict, and Stevie seems to have lost her rose colored Jareth glasses. 

The Car Accident - Madam Secretary

Poor Stevie. Sure, we all saw this coming, but it still sucks. What's weird is that even though I'm not Jareth's biggest fan, I still think she's reading way too much into that fight.

It actually seemed like a pretty healthy argument. Jareth might have screwed up at the beginning, but they were both able to communicate what they needed from one another.

Maybe it's just my advancing years, but relationships aren't always hearts and flowers. Being able to work through differences and each other's low points is the hallmark of a strong partnership, not being in immediate agreement 100% of the time. 

Jareth: Do you want me to be honest with you or not?
Stevie: Of course. Just not after withholding your true feelings when we're making a decision and then getting all pissed off at me about how miserable I've made you because of, I don't know, my family's oppressive dynastic thumb!

But #Steveth (anybody have a better hashtag?) is clearly doomed. It's been obvious since their meeting in Madam Secretary Season 3 that Dmitri and Stevie were going to hook up.

Will it be a more meaningful relationship? Who cares knows. The fact that he works for Henry is a plus and a minus — especially since Dmitri's opioid addiction is out in the open now.

While Dmitri's pill popping makes a certain amount of sense, I hate this little arc for him. It didn't remain secret long enough for it to be interesting and it feels too forced. It may be a national health crisis, but the Russian ex-pat has enough going on.

Relationship Goals - Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 2

He's already being dragged into Henry's banana's CIA story after all. 

What is even the point of his secret job anymore? Just to get him out of the house? A reason to bring back Dmitri so he and Stevie can have awkward chemistry and give her an excuse to end things with Jareth? Does anybody even know what Colin Powell's wife did?

To be fair, I wouldn't resent Henry's work outside the home if it didn't take so much time away from Bess and her international crisis of the week so often.

Elizabeth [about paint colors]: See, now I'm leaning towards Ionian Grotto. [pause, stares at the wall] They're all exactly the same, aren't they?
Henry: Pretty much.

Once again, the solution to Elizabeth's problem was obvious and rushed. It's just so frustrating! Maybe it's just because I'm the kind of nerd who signed up for Model EU in college, but I want our heroine to find solutions because of her skill at diplomacy, not because of some freak accident. 

Yes, negotiations like that don't make for good TV all the time, but isn't that the challenge? How do we cajole foreign powers into doing what we want? There isn't always an adorable child conveniently running into traffic in the middle of the night after all. 

With current events what they are, it would also be really interesting to highlight how we don't always work alone to convince foreign nations to comply with our wishes. Why not have Elizabeth team up with the British Secretary of State? Or the French Foreign Minister? Or the German Minister of Foreign Affairs? Literally anyone.

Elizabeth: I'm asking you to focus on one little girl who doesn't need to die today.
Libyan Politician: We did nothing to this girl.
Elizabeth: No. But she will die if you do nothing now. Isn't it our most fundamental responsibility to save innocent lives? I am begging you.

Maybe even arrange a whole coalition. After all, there's no reason that America needs to be policing the world all on our own. That's one of the upsides of globalism — everybody has skin in the game, so everybody helps enforce the rules. At least that's the theory.

Elizabeth really could use the help of some allies on Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 3 ("The Essentials"), since the US government is facing a shutdown. For once, Madam Secretary may be ahead of the game in interpreting real life events! Or not

We need those corner mirror things. Not that the Landmarks Commission will ever allow it.

Russell [after Stevie spills coffee on him]

It's unclear where the refugee camp that Elizabeth is trying to help is located, but the deadline is real. Senator Morejon, aka Asshole of the Year, is playing fast and loose with the economy in his nefarious attempt to unseat Dalton.

Which really makes no sense because Dalton is in his second term and also is an independent so he doesn't even really need to keep his approval rating up for party endorsements. Not to mention that everybody loves the person or party that pushes a government shutdown.

But whatever. Details, right?

You're not some random envoy, Elizabeth. If anything happens to you, we won't just be sad, it'd be an act of war!


While Elizabeth works to save the lives of the already disadvantaged, I hope that Daisy takes a minute to read though the OPM guidelines. I mean, she should probably be furloughed, but not because she's pregnant.

Henry's work is probably considered essential, but he could use the unpaid break to track down his asset. Yes, more drama on at the CIA front, where Dmitri (or should we call him Alex now?) has gone AWOL. Fingers crossed that he's just checked himself into rehab. 

Kissy Face - Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 2

What did you think of "Off The Record?" Let us know in the comments section if you're #TeamJareth or #TeamDmitri! Who else was surprised that the McCord's did the painting themselves? Anybody have theories on how the crew will take down Morejon?

If you need another viewing before you can answer, not to worry! You can watch Madam Secretary online and check out our past Madam Secretary reviews — you'll be caught up before the paint can dry!

Off the Record Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.8 / 5.0 (43 Votes)

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

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Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 2 Quotes

No heroics, Bess. And if DS decides to pull the plug at any point, I'm authorizing them to pick you up throw you back on the plane! You got that?


You're not some random envoy, Elizabeth. If anything happens to you, we won't just be sad, it'd be an act of war!