While there are definitely times that we find “Madam Secretary” to be a show about hope and promise, we also have to be honest: There were many times over the course of tonight’s episode where we felt there was a rather dramatic change in tone. “South China Sea” was an episode that at times was a reminder that there are reasons to be afraid, while at the same time there is a way to combat some of that with strength.
For Henry and Elizabeth McCord in particular, they still felt some of that fear and a good bit of tension over the threats facing their family in the wake of the hack. Yet, what else is there for the two parties to do other than to move forward? They both realize that there is largely no sense on dwelling on the past, though there are issues within there that need to be cared for and attended to.
One of the other reasons for such a harsh presence of fear in this episode came as a result of a crisis in China that started with the presence of some environmental activists in the country, and ended up looping in giant pandas in some form. This storyline had its bizarre moments, but once again it remained firmly about how Elizabeth and President Dalton need to show a united front and prove themselves to continually be steadfast in the face of adversity. Otherwise, you run the risk of being overtaken.
The episode’s emotional core came from Dalton reliving some of his past in Vietnam, a place where he certainly endured some great hardship, but managed still to emerge from the other side in one piece.
As a whole, we’d say that this episode was an entertaining, compelling chapter that did introduce some interesting ideas, but above all gave us a humanizing portrayal of people who, despite their stature sometimes and their place in government, really are still little fish in a big pond. That can be a daunting concept, but it absolutely felt impactful and powerful here. Grade: B.