Madam Secretary recap: The Rusalka | EW.com

TV Recaps | Madam Secretary

'The Rusalka'

Russia has found its new dictator.

(Sarah Shatz/CBS )

Madam Secretary

Season 2, Ep. 3 | Aired Oct 18

Remember last week when I said Craig Sterling is going to be a problem? Aside from being 100 percent correct on that front, there is a new enemy by the name of Maria Ostrov, and she manages to turn Elizabeth McCord into Russia’s biggest enemy all in a day’s work. 

I’m not one to use Wikipedia, but after our Madam Secretary was labeled a “Rusalka,” I was interested. The term is translated as “mermaid,” but according to the site, in the 19th century, the term was used for someone who is a “dangerous being” with an “unclean spirit.” Clearly an important phrase for the episode, so a little history lesson seemed necessary. 

What does President Ostrov’s death mean for America? This is the question the entire episodes revolves around, and there are two sides to this argument. It’s Elizabeth McCord vs. Craig Sterling, and the gloves are off. 

The episode opens with POTUS telling Ostrov’s wife that he is unable to attend the funeral and Elizabeth will attend in his stead, which turns out to be a big mistake. Craig suggests there’s no way America can benefit from this death and they need to push their own agenda, urging the President to send military aid to Ukraine. However, Elizabeth points out that this could lead to World War III and instead has a diplomatic plan of her own (as she always does). 

In the simplest terms possible, here’s the Secretary’s plan to make everyone happy: She plans to stop in Kiev and convince the Ukrainian president to sign off on a vote for greater autonomy in Eastern Ukraine, potentially ending the war between Ukraine and Russia. She also plans on having Foreign Minister Anton Gorev broker the deal with the Russian generals so that he looks good to Russia for helping get the sanctions lifted, pushing him into a position that might make him the next Russian president. Seems like a solid McCord plan, right? It’s pretty much Elizabeth’s best bet if she wants to stay in Dalton’s inner circle. Otherwise, Craig Sterling wins, and Craig Sterling is the worst. 

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Before Bess heads off on her mission, Sterling warns her that making nice with Russia is a mistake and he is going to make sure POTUS knows that.

All the details seem to be on track, until Blake mistakenly takes a photograph with an “anti-Russian protester” in Ukraine. The protester turns out to be a Russian operative planted there to make America look bad. The big question: Who’s behind it all? It doesn’t take long to learn that Mrs. Ostrov is actually a very powerful woman, and she is not a fan of America. 

In the middle of the funeral Maria Ostrov stands up and powerfully declares that Elizabeth McCord is a “dark figure,” a “rusalka” and informs the country that the secretary and Gorev met in secret to conspire against Russia. The new Ostrov leader sends this message to America: “Russia is not afraid of you.” Uh oh. 

NEXT: Poor Dmitri 

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