Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 12 Review: Sound and Fury

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Well, I wonder how the writers and producers really feel about Donald J Trump.

The parallels to real life were far from subtle on Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 12. It felt like a crash course on the 25th amendment.

I got the feeling it was targeted at the coterie of staffers and cabinet members who claim they took their jobs to mitigate the damage 45 would inflict on the country. 

Mental Status - Madam Secretary

The show has been very careful about never affiliating itself with one political party or the other, to the point of having Dalton recently run for reelection as an independent. 

I've always gotten the feeling (completely unsubstantiated by any hard evidence, mind you) that the political neutrality was at the direction of the network -- CBS has an older demographic, which usually reads as more conservative, and it's not like they're known for their diversity and progressiveness

Hell, they didn't have many shows that weren't crime procedurals during the 2000s -- the only way they could have embraced a law and order position more fully would have been to acquire Law & Order

I am trying to show Salnikov and Russia that I will not be trifled with. That when I make a threat, I carry through on it. And I don't give a *crap* if you or anyone agrees, because I am the most powerful man on Earth, and no one is going to stop me!


So this storyline was a risk. There are people out there who already won't watch Madam Secretary because they know that it was inspired in small part by Hillary Clinton.

A thinly veiled attack on her 2016 opponent would be expected to go over like a lead balloon with a certain segment of the audience. 

Of course, for the 54.5% of Americans who give him a thumbs down...we lapped it up.

You're Fired - Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 12

It's really hard to keep my own political bias out of this. I mean, half the reason I thought "Sound and Fury" was great was because of all the ways Keith Carradine was clearly channeling Trump.

The writers are responsible for some of that. The line about "my generals, my admirals" was straight out of Trump's mouth and gave me the shivers. 

But what really struck me about Carradine's performance wasn't a line.

I'm the damn president! And my authority will not be questioned! Do you understand?


Yes, his explosion in the Oval Office was pitch perfect. He hit the tone and the pacing and the pitch perfectly when he yelled at Elizabeth and Russell.

No, it was his posture during the state dinner photo op that gave me chills. I will be scouring the internet for the photo of the president giving his impromptu "fire and fury" remark for a comparison because that pose was spot on. 

Reception Line - Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 12

I will say that the supposed harassment of Elizabeth was waaaaay off the mark. I mean, being called "fetching" is weird, sure, but more because it's a phrase from Jane Austen than because it's going to make a woman feel like her boss is putting her in an unwanted situation. 

If that was the attempted parallel to allegations of Trump's sexual misconduct or the Access Hollywood tape, it fell extremely short. 

Bottom line: It wasn't offensive, just weird. Barely even a blip on the radar. 

Elizabeth: I can't feel my ears!
Henry: Maybe you should've worn a hat.
Elizabeth: I can't. I'm wearing fancy hair. Men never get that.

Stepping away from the real-life correlations, I appreciated the seriousness with which the topic was approached. 

Okay, so it seems a little unrealistic that the meningioma just completely manifested all symptoms in a single evening, but this is TV, people, and it's not even a medical show.

But outside of that small issue, all of the characters were reluctant to hurt the man but adamant about protecting the office.

Secretary: If you and Russell are right, don't we owe it to Conrad to protect him and his reputation? Other administrations have shielded their president's in the past. Maybe it's our turn to step up. Do our jobs while limiting his public appearances.
Elizabeth: I want to protect him too. But a shadow government of un-elected cabinet members running the show while keeping the president under wraps is no way to govern a democracy.

And adamant about protecting the country. There were some excellent arguments put forward by Elizabeth about why it was the cabinet's duty to enact the 25th.

As a history nerd, I wish there'd been more time to go into the examples of government coverups the one secretary was alluding too, but getting into the nitty gritty of Edith Wilson's shadow presidency is probably asking a bit much.

Although, they could have mentioned Reagan's possible Alzheimer's since that's in living memory. 

Intervention - Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 12

I suppose we should also talk about the less controversial subplot revolving around Henry and Elizabeth's burst pipes. 

Other than the delightful Earl, it was a total waste. And Earl didn't even get to live up to his potential by having his words be the thing that inspired Elizabeth on a course of action to save the day.

All we got of it was that the McCord's have a basement (which I would have assumed, but hey, nice to know) and that Jason can be pretentious but gets easily butt-hurt (which, yeah, we already knew).

Blank Pages - Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 12

So what was your take on "Sound and Fury?" 

Would you have liked a little more distance from reality? Did the show take too strong of a stance on a real issue? Did you see that tumor coming, or did you think Dalton had just gone off his rocker? Should Earl the Plumber become a series regular?

We want to know what you think, so join the conversation in the comments section below! And remember, you can always watch Madam Secretary online or catch up on Madam Secretary reviews like a true Fanatic!

Sound and Fury Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (18 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 12 Quotes

Earl the Plumber: The point here isn't to be right. The point here is to learn from your mistakes.
Henry [with restrained sarcasm]: Well, thank you, Earl. This is a terrific opportunity for growth.

Elizabeth: I can't feel my ears!
Henry: Maybe you should've worn a hat.
Elizabeth: I can't. I'm wearing fancy hair. Men never get that.