Madam Secretary Recap: Blame Canada

By Kitin Miranda | 2 years ago
Madam Secretary Recap: Blame Canada

“Madam Secretary” Season 1 Episode 5 “Blame Canada“ aired last Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, at 9:00 p.m. on CBS. In this episode, Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni) had to solve two political problems at the same time — the issue of the pipeline with Canada and trying to avoid war with Iran. At the McCord house, Jason (Evan Roe), who wrote about his dad, Henry McCord (Tim Daly), discovered a new side to him that he hadn’t seen before. Read on to learn more about this episode.

The episode began in Alberta, Northern Canada, where a man with binoculars looked at the “site of the land bridge North American Pipeline,” which was a joint project between the United States of America and Canada. He then moved away, and trespassed on a property before blowing up the pipeline.


At the Office of the Secretary of State, Nadine Tolliver (Bebe Neuwirth), tried her best to pacify the Canadian Ambassador, Lester Clark (Robert Klein), as Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni), whom he was supposed to meet with had been called to the White House for an urgent meeting.

At the White House, the heads of State discussed with Ambassador Allen Bollings (John Finn), who was at the Peace Palace in Vienna, Austria, as he was the chief negotiator for the United States for the Peace Talks with the Middle East, and in particular, with Iran. They had discovered that there had been activity at a heavy water production plant, which was the same heavy water reactor that Iran had agreed to hold construction a week ago. Bolling suggested that they should take military action immediately, but Elizabeth suggested that they could come up with a better solution to the problem. She suggested to offer to lift the ban on trading with American firms for airplane parts in exchange for them to shut down the reactor and to allow foreign inspectors in if they complied within 48 hours. The President then instructed Bolling to relay that to the Iranians.

Elizabeth, who forgot that Ambassador Clark was in her office, wondered why her staff, who was trying to figure out what to release to the press regarding the Middle East Peace Talks, were standing outside. Nadine, thankfully, reminded her, and she went in. Outside, her speechwriter, Matt Mahoney (Geoff Arend), and her press coordinator, Daisy Grant (Patina Miller), wondered out loud if they were discussing the explosion on the pipeline or the reception the Canadian embassy was preparing for her that Friday to welcome her to her new job. Her personal assistant, Blake Moran (Erich Bergen), told them that they could be talking about both and asked them if they were bringing a plus one, which they both agreed that they would. Afterwards, Daisy became worried that Blake might know that she and Matt had been sleeping together and told him that it should never happen again, as they both were in a relationship with someone else.

Inside her office, Ambassador Clark asked Elizabeth if she could release the report on the environmental impact assessment of the pipeline, which the late Secretary Marsh had promised to release before he died. He then got her to promise to read and release the report. She then thanked him for the reception he was throwing in her honor, and they both agreed that Canada and America had always found ways in order to maintain their friendship since the War of 1812. However, Elizabeth apologized for bringing up a touchy subject, as America had won, but Clark insisted that it had ended in a draw.  

Back at home, the McCord television was switched onto the Peace Talks in Vienna, but all Elizabeth wanted to hear about was how her family’s day had been. She also reassured Alisson (Kathrine Herzer) that they were doing their very best in order to avoid nuclear war. Stephanie “Stevie” McCord (Wallis Currie-Wood), the eldest daughter, encouraged her father, Henry (Tim Daly) to tell Elizabeth why he had made the news that day. Apparently, a list on the “Top 10 Arm Candy US Government Edition” had come out, and he had placed third in the list. Jason then informed them that since his teacher probably wanted him to write about Elizabeth for his essay on the life of a parent or a caregiver, he decided to go against the system by writing about “Mr. Arm Candy.”

That night, just before Elizabeth went to sleep, she was called by Nadine to come in, as they were currently at war with Canada, and she had to talk to Ambassador Clark right away. It turned out that Canadian officials boarded some American fishing boats and seized salmon caught on Canadian waters, which was a violation of a treaty that they had before. Elizabeth then realized that Clark was trying to “strong arm” her so that she would release the pipeline report. She then told them that if that were the case, then she would cancel the “level P1 temporary visas of every Canadian athlete for violations on immigration laws” so that she could also enforce laws, as Clark was doing. She then had Nadine call the President so that he could talk to Clark. She also told him that she had hoped that he wouldn’t have done this, especially as they were currently trying to avoid military action on Iran at that moment. Finally, he relented, as he did not want to wake up the President. However, in reality, Nadine had called up her sister.

The next morning, as Jason interviewed his father, he discovered that he had been part of the Marine Corps and flew fighter planes before he became a religious scholar and professor. Meanwhile, Alisson turned on the television in order to watch Elizabeth give a brief press conference on what was happening at the Peace Talks.

Back at her office, she was surprised to see the President’s Chief of Staff, Russell Jackson (Zeljko Ivanek), who congratulated her efforts during the press conference and encouraged her to release the report, especially as there were protesters against the pipeline outside her building. As she still had to read the 1,000-page document, he gave her a day to read and release it so that it would be off of the President’s plate. She then decided to have Nadine contact those who wrote the report.

At that moment, Elizabeth was summoned to the White House for a full briefing by Bollings as the Iranians had adjourned the Peace Talks. There, she was told that Bollings did not manage to tell the Iranians their offer with regards to the airplanes, as they did not like the notion of having foreign inspectors. Because of this, Elizabeth started to question the way Bollings handled the negotiations and informed the President, who wanted to give the order to send bombers to Iran already. If he does, they might take the reactors underground, to where they could not get at anymore. The President then told her that it was her Peace Talks now and that he expected her to fix the problem.


Back at her office, she suggested to Bollings that he should meet with Javani, an Iranian Ambassador who was on his way to become the next Foreign Minister of Iran. However, she sensed that he could be swayed by their offer. Afterwards, as Nadine led her to the conference room where the writers of the pipeline report were, they came across Matt, who had been sludged by a protester outside whom he had debated with and insulted. A little bit later on, he informed Daisy that he had broken up with his girlfriend, Carly, as they had issues and not because of her. However, Daisy did not believe him at all.

At the conference room, Elizabeth grilled the writers of the pipeline report as the data was insufficient and out of date. It seemed as if an oil lobbyist had written it. She then learned that the late Secretary Marsh had hired an independent firm to research it, and the two writers were just tasked with wording. She then realized that the report had been written by an oil lobby — the biggest oil company in the country. Nadine tried to reassure her by telling her that even if the oil lobbyists were the biggest contributors in Marsh’s campaign, he was not in bed with them, and that the President wanted this to be pushed through, as he was for “energy independence.” However, Elizabeth could not bring herself to sign and release it, as she now knew that the report had been falsified. Nadine then reminded her that Russell had given her a day to sign and release the report, and it would be impossible to come up with another report in a day, as it had taken six months to do.

Meanwhile, Henry tried to get Jason interested in him by telling him that as a religious scholar, he gets to teach and study about the greatest protesters in history, such as Martin Luther, Joan of Arc, Blaise Pascal and Ignatius of Loyola. As Henry waited by the bar to get refills for their iced teas, he was approached by a drunk lieutenant who recognized him as the Secretary of State’s husband. He then insulted Elizabeth and the President as they had wanted peace with Iran, and he had friends who had died in combat there. He then forced him outside and told him not to disgrace the uniform he was wearing and, for the first time, used the fact that he was a retired Captain to good use. He then told Jason that he was sorry that he had to see that happen.

Meanwhile, at another White House meeting, they were informed that the Iranians had left the building and that Javani had not responded to the proposal they had given him. After the meeting, the President told Elizabeth that he had wanted to be the one to hand over “peace in the Middle East.” He then also told her to release the report, even if the report had been falsified. He wanted to push for it so that they would not have to rely anymore on the Middle East for oil. She then asked him for another six months to come up with a better report and asked him to wait for a day before he ordered the bombers to go to Iran, so that she could “do her job.” As soon as she got to the State Department, she told Nadine to immediately get hold of Ambassador Clark.

Meanwhile, Matt told Daisy that the reason why he had broken up with his girlfriend was not because of her, but because he knew that Carly wasn’t the one. However, Daisy informed him that she thought that her boyfriend was the one.

At the reception at the Canadian Embassy, both Blake and Daisy showed up without a date, and Matt went off with a French Canadian he met at the party. However, later on, Daisy and Matt ended up dancing with each other.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth, accompanied by Henry, met up with Ambassador Clark and Nadine. As Elizabeth left the party with Ambassador Clark, Henry and Nadine provided a good distraction for the crowd by dancing together.

Ambassador Clark led Elizabeth to the kitchen, where Ambassador Javani was waiting for her. He could only meet her there, as the Canadian Embassy was Canadian, not American soil. He then informed her that Bolling was “a bully” and that he told them that if the reactors were not shut down and if inspectors were not allowed in the reactor in the next 24 hours, then America would start bombing them. He made no mention about the airplanes. As he proved that he was not lying, as he had taken great risks to meet her, she handed him a letter that would effectively lift the ban on trading with American firms for airplane parts. However, she would not sign it until the reactor was shut down, and after an inspector had told her that it was shut down. Smiling, he told her that he would call President Shiraz right away about it. She then added that he could even tell the world that they “had gotten the United States to blink,” if it would help them out with the more militant factions in their government. He then asked her why he had been called her “boyfriend” while she was at the CIA. She then told him that it was a codename that was given to him by the CIA as she had his “eye on him” and regarded him as a “metaphorical dance partner” as she could see that he was “someone who could lead us to peace.” He then smiled and told her that maybe one day, he would be able to join her in that dance.

When Henry got home, he was surprised to see Jason still awake. Jason then asked him if he had killed a lot of people when he was in the Marine Corps, during the Desert Storm, and if he thought about it a lot. Henry told him that he had killed many people and that he still did think a lot about it.

The next day, Daisy and Matt both came to work flustered, as they had arrived at the office at the same time, after spending a night with each other, they do not want anyone to know that they had been together. However, Nadine, who told them off for being late and for not getting her emails, told them that no one really cared whether they were together or not. She also informed them that the reactor had been shut down four hours ago, that inspectors were on their way there. Treasury was going to announce that they would be trading airplane parts with Iran.

Inside the office, Elizabeth told Bollings that the President was asking for his resignation, as he had lied about what he had told Giovanni, as he was really aiming for a military solution. He then revealed that he had done it so that countries like Iran would not think that they were weak. He also told her that he believed that coming up with compromises and agreements were weak and warned that Javani and President Shiraz were only leading them along so that they could get what they want. He told her that Vincent Marsh had thought the same way and that was why he had appointed Bollings to be the Chief Negotiator and Ambassador. He also revealed that if Marsh hadn’t died, he would have been President, and Bollings would have been Secretary of State. However, all of that was over, as Elizabeth fired him. Afterwards, she asked Nadine to call Blake in.

When he got there, she asked him if she could trust him. After reassuring her that she could trust him with her “life and career,” she asked him to run a confidential investigation on someone within the State Department — Nadine.

What do you think about Elizabeth's decision to investigate Nadine? What does she want to learn about her? Let us know by posting your comments below!

And that’s all for the recap on “Madam Secretary” Season 1 Episode 5 “Blame Canada.” For more news and updates, including spoilers and recaps, on “Madam Secretary” and other television shows, keep following Movie News Guide (MNG).

Catch “Madam Secretary” every Sunday at 9:00 p.m. on CBS.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Gustavo Fernandez