At a private family dinner Elaine (Sigourney Weaver) announces to her mother (Ellen Burstyn) and sons that she intends to run against President Garcetti (Adrian Pasdar) in the next election. To help lay the foundation of his hush-hush campaign by getting the help of an old friend and pollster (Chris Ellis), Bud (Ciarán Hinds) sets out with Douglas (James Wolk) and T.J. (Sebastian Stan) under the guise of a fishing trip.
As a preemptive strike to squash any future political maneuverings Garcetti attempts to push out a sitting Supreme Court Justice (Vanessa Redgrave) by floating the idea of nominating her star pupil, Elaine, for the bench. Knowing this kills her story of Elaine running for President, Susan (Carla Gugino) she has no choice but the break the news to Elaine (betting she’ll choose to turn it down) and whose decision isn’t made any easier by Justice Nash’s fervent support of the idea that Elaine take her spot on the bench.
Douglas finds some new respect and understanding for his father when he discovers the truth behind his behavior during the final days of his mother’s first campaign. And even the news that Bud will need to stay in the background on the campaign trail doesn’t stop him from going all-in to help Elaine run again. Douglas is also surprised that Elaine has a real chance to win which makes his current arrangement with Susan all that more intolerable.
“The Woman Problem” isn’t a great episode, but it’s certainly a step-up from last week. The writers certainly don’t seem to care about making Gugino’s character likable as she falls back into the arms of the man who cheated on her (Dan Futterman) and blackmails the son of her new friend (who she plans to publicly eviscerate when Elaine announces her candidacy), which is a little too bad because if the show wasn’t so focused on making Susan a shark the relationship between the reporter and Secretary of State could really help balance the more soap opera elements and plot points that continue to drag down the show.