Musings on Madam Secretary 1.01
Oh, Season 1. We meet again. I love Season 2, but there’s something so sweet and innocent about the first season of a show, specifically the pilot. Years of dreaming, planning, hoping and emotionally exhaustive work go into the first 42 minutes of episodic TV, and it shows. A good pilot is nearly flawless because it has to be. I can be a very stingy viewer. I usually give new shows one episode, maybe two if I’m feeling generous, before deciding if it earns a timer on my DVR. What drew me to even give Madam Secretary a chance? Two words: Téa Leoni. The billboards, the magazine ads, the TV spots, all featuring her front and center. I was a fan of Téa’s and can admit the casting is 98% of what put the show on my radar. What kept me around? The pilot… because that’s what pilots are supposed to do. What a wild, nearly 2-year ride it’s been.
Re-watching the pilot, there are several firsts that stick
1. The very first shot of the very first show was Syria. Times haven’t changed much, both in MS-ville and real life.
2. The first time we saw Elizabeth, her student called her “Doctor McCord.” I literally stopped. “Dr. McCord.” That name sounded so weird being directed at her because no one has referred to her as that since this moment in the pilot. If you say “Dr. McCord” now, I’m assuming you’re referring to Henry.
3. One of the first words out of Henry’s mouth in his very first scene was “Aquinas.” How prophetic.
“I’m so sorry. I thought we were telling each other our problems. No extension.” Those 14 little words were how Elizabeth McCord captured my cold, cynical heart. Snark from the start. My kind of woman. To watch the female Dr. McCord of old, the first thing I noticed was how carefree she was. (OK, it’s the second thing. The first thing was obviously her hair. Téa’s real hair. I miss that look.) Anywho, Elizabeth was all smiles, cracking jokes and relaxed without the weight of world peace on her perfectly tailored blazered shoulders.
As if I didn’t have a budding love affair with her from that scene, Dr. McCord walked into the library and found the other Dr. McCord holding court for students with faces that looked like the heart eye emoji. Elizabeth’s little smirk when she saw him sharing his passion for religion with his “cult following” was one of pure adoration. Then came the knee touch, the kiss, calling him “cute.” My favorite part: Elizabeth looking over her shoulder and smiling back at the students while they walked out of the library, arms wrapped around each other. “Peace out, girls. He’s mine,” is the vibe she gave off. It almost felt like she was claiming him, reminding the students that he’s hers, but the beauty of the McCord relationship is she doesn’t have to do that. The two are so solid in their relationship that Elizabeth doesn’t truly feel threatened by cute girls young enough to be their daughter. In fact, it’s almost an amusing game. All the players know what’s going on… except, possibly, for Henry. Bless that man. Cue the music swell, butterfly stomach and bubbling heart. I was smitten with the McCords right there. I wish we had more flashbacks of them working together at UVA, walking through campus arm-in-arm, eating lunch together, grading papers. Guess that’s what fanfic is for.
George, Isabelle, Juliet and “Bess” having dinner allowed us to see another side of Elizabeth McCord: former CIA operative. The group swapped war stories with the few who truly understood what CIA life entailed. When everyone else’s phones lit up like Christmas trees, Elizabeth didn’t seem to miss out on the excitement. “Well this can’t be good,” she deadpanned. Little did she know the turn her life would take because of those messages. Looking back at this dinner, knowing what would eventually happen to these four friends, I felt a bit melancholic. I wish we could have seen more of their friendship or how their comradery developed. I’d love for one of Elizabeth’s college friends to visit, someone who knew her before Henry. We could use a few more light moments like this spy dinner, offering insight into Elizabeth the person. As for Elizabeth herself, she could definitely use a friend. She has a fulfilling family life and overwhelming professional life, but the woman could stand a night out. I’m talking drinks, karaoke, heels and belly laughs.