“Ghost Detainee” | Madam Secretary
It’s often when a character’s pushed over the edge where actors are given the finest opportunities to shine. Henry McCord has had his fair share of heartaches and strenuous events in season two, and while we’ve seen his anger surface just a few episodes prior, it was nothing compared to the full range of emotions in “Ghost Detainee.”
Arguments are bound to happen in any relationship, but when Henry distances himself from Elizabeth, when there’s no honesty between them, it’s daunting. Henry and Elizabeth are partners. They’re best friends. But this week, Henry’s patience was wearing thin. Henry’s guilt was eating him alive. And the more he tried to hold it together, the more he snapped. In order for Henry’s guilt and rage to resonate with the audience, Daly needed to exhibit the buildup. He needed to crack then call and sincerely apologize to Elizabeth. He needed to be on edge. He needed to lose himself standing still. Ultimately, the lack of control with his emotions was bound to end with a display of great fury and that’s how it went down.
Daly made the audience believe that this wasn’t just exasperated rage, it was a man’s authentic guilt crushing him in ways he’s incapable of coping with. And Daly’s physicality cobbled with the cracks in his voice as he finally told Elizabeth why he can’t talk to her are still breaking my heart. He doesn’t blame his wife for what’s happening, but her ties to the cases don’t give him the room to escape. While my personal belief is that it’s (almost) always great to be partners, sometimes, unwinding means finding comfort completely outside of that circle. Though, Daly’s performance pristinely exhibited a wide range of frenzied emotions, his strongest suit has always been the innate adoration he’s worn in his eyes. Henry loves Elizabeth more than anything in the world, and despite the ties she has to the memories that are haunting him, his love for his wife is unalterable. And you could see that in his expressiveness, as he states why he can’t talk to her. You could feel his heartache that’s stemmed from the inability to share with his wife. He doesn’t want to be upset, but he truly can’t help it, and that alone destroys him. If this were any other series, a moment like this would’ve been incredibly jarring, but because Daly’s subtly been building up the grief and heartaches, as an audience we were waiting for this. And the wait was met with a profoundly phenomenal performance.
And kudos to Leoni for responding to each of Daly’s emotions with the right amount of emotions making for a heart wrenching emotional scene, and continuing to remind me why watching this series is a gift. When it came down to their final scene at the end, everything felt right again due to the gorgeous sincerity and vulnerability both actors showcased.