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The staff is enjoying their weekend in various ways, Elizabeth and Henry are exploring DC with the kids, and Dalton is on the links with the rest of the NSC when Ellen gets a call from STRATCOM that it looks like Russia has launched all of their nukes at the US. The secret service and Marine One arrive, and the president has to make a snap judgment on which of the pre-prepared strategies to enact in retaliation. Unable to reach Bess, he takes Ellen and Gordon's advice to launch the most aggressive of the strategies. The general at the Pentagon who is tasked with carrying out his orders is unable to do so because his wife served him with divorce papers the evening before, which has suspended his security clearance. Elizabeth finds out what's going on just as the President gets in touch with STRATCOM to order the strike for a second time. She refuses to evacuate with her family per protocol and she and Henry watch the kids enjoying themselves, expecting imminent doom. Another general rushes into the command center and sends an abort signal to all of the warhead bunkers. Gordon debriefs the rest of the NSC later at the White House -- the second general had loaded a simulation into the system, something he wasn't supposed to do, and it went off early when the backup system kicked in. The only thing that averted disaster was that the first general was unable to issue the command from POTUS because of his clearance issue. Gordon wants to launch a review of what happened, but Elizabeth advocates for a more drastic move -- she wants to reassess the entire nuclear posture and step down ICBM readiness. Ellen and Gordon voice strong objections, but Russell sides with her, citing previous close calls due to false alarms. Dalton decides to sleep on it, but then comes by the McCord house because he can't sleep. Elizabeth flies down to the Cayman islands where the Russian Foreign Minister is attending a conference, and starts the work on bilateral agreement to step down nuclear readiness. Gordon shows up to her office the next day, accusing her of overstepping her role. He is willing to start a feasibility study, but that's merely a delaying tactic. He's entrenched in his ideas and admits it. Elizabeth is frustrated, and starts to take it out on the kids. She talks out the problem with Henry, and comes to the conclusion that the only way to get the Senate to go along with her plan is to get the public behind it, and the only way to do that is to declassify what happened. She has a little trouble convincing Conrad and Russell, but eventually gets them to agree to declassifying all the near misses since the posture began in the 50s. Her plan works, and the new treaty with the Russians is signed within a month. Everybody gets back to their regular lives, though Ellen and Gordon avoid the monthly NSC golf outing. Henry is unsurprised when Elizabeth tells him that she wants to run for President. 

Madam Secretary
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Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 22 Quotes

So the world was saved by a philandering general. Maybe his mistress should get a medal.


Stevie: Why won't Russell answer my text?
Jason: Um, other than helping run the most powerful country in the world?