Season 1: Episode 13 - Chains of Command
Posted on Jan 12, 2015 12:00am

It’s tough trying to "make nice” with the entire world. Even when they’re old friends, foreign countries don’t always play by your rules.

Madam Secretary is horrified to hear that a Bahrain diplomat and his wife kept their housekeeper as a slave, locked up in a tiny room in their DC house for the past three years. Unfortunately, diplomats are often granted immunity by the nature of their post and Bahrain definitely wants to sweep this under the rug. Adding to the complication, the U.S. has a military base in Bahrain, next to Iraq and Iran. The U.S. government certainly doesn’t want to risk that crucial post – but Madam Secretary is determined to do the right thing – even if it puts her in a tight spot.

Meanwhile, Henry’s father is coming to visit and Henry is as nervous with his dad as Stevie is with her Mom. Secretary McCord urges Henry to be nice and get along – especially because his father’s visit brings Stevie back for dinner. Henry’s father, a former steel workers’ union organizer, definitely has an agenda. Instantly combative, he fights with everyone around the dinner table. Yet, Stevie looks up to her grandfather and she’s thrilled when he offers to get her a job at the local Union office.

Back at work, a Bahrain representative arrives to discuss their diplomatic issue. Turns out it’s her old college friend, the Prince of Bahrain. They reconnect over college memories until Madam Secretary realizes that the Prince is not going to bring the diplomat and his wife to justice. The Prince’s father, the King of Bahrain, is getting older and doesn’t want to cause waves by sending a prominent diplomat to jail. Secretary McCord chastises her old college friend. There’s a time to sit back and then there’s a time to stand up for what’s right.

While Madam Secretary stews in her struggle with her friend, Stevie takes her grandfather up on the job offer. She goes to the local Steel Works Union office only to find her grandfather lied to her. He isn’t on the Steel Workers Union Board. In fact, he hasn’t been on the board in five years. It seems Stevie’s Mom isn’t the only family member who’s a disappointment.

At work, Madam Secretary thinks she’s lost the Bahrain battle until she watches the Prince of Bahrain on TV. With Secretary McCord’s influence, the Prince announces that he will bring the diplomat and his wife to trial for their alleged human trafficking. It’s a great victory – but only for a moment. A local militant immediately shoots the Prince dead at the press conference. The Prince stood for up for what’s right, but he also paid the ultimate price – his life.

Secretary McCord is distraught. Not only is her good friend dead due to her advice, she has to decide if she should attend his funeral in Bahrain. If she attends, she’d have to sit in the back with the women to abide by Bahraini custom. But sitting sequestered in the back room is not a good look for the United States Secretary of State.

In the end, Madam Secretary boards a plane to Bahrain and gives her respects to her friends’ father, the King of Bahrain. But she does not attend the funeral, refusing to put herself or her office in a subservient position. When she returns home, she’s happy to discover that her eldest daughter, Stevie, has decided to move back home. Family can be difficult, but sometimes, it’s all you have.