Newly-appointed Secretary Of State Elizabeth McCord is immediately faced with a maelstrom of complex political challenges, and an international hostage situation is her top priority. Meanwhile at home, Elizabeth questions whether she did the right thing by taking this job, as her children are finding it difficult to adjust to their new schools.
Elizabeth has to deal with a crisis in Yemen and there's trouble on the home front for her as well after her oldest daughter Stevie manages to make the headlines for protesting a new policy at her university.
Elizabeth is confronted by a hostile reporter who threatens to publish confidential documents that were leaked from inside the State Department. Henry is dragged into an international negotiation when his wife uses his job as leverage to broker a deal with Pakistan.
While Elizabeth works to successfully broker a peace treaty between China and Japan, a Chinese student seeking political asylum threatens the deal. Tensions rise at home between Alison and Stevie during Alison's sleepover party.
When Elizabeth faces the daunting task of negotiating with Iran over their escalating nuclear program, she is determined to deal with the situation in a peaceful manner, despite the President's position of using military action. Jason has new admiration for his father when he interviews him for a school report.
Elizabeth faces unexpected consequences when she makes a plea to the President to help with a dire situation in Western Africa.
When Elizabeth brings Alison with her to India on her first state department trip abroad, she's thrown into crisis mode when a massive earthquake hits that causes an explosion at an American-owned factory, and she's separated from Alison during the chaos.
When the President approves Henry's reactivation into the NSA, he lies to Elizabeth about his continued involvement in the spy game. Matt and Daisy's antagonism toward one another begins to affect the entire office.
Elizabeth, Henry and Isabelle launch their own investigation into the plane crash that huged former Secretary of State Vincent Marsh. Also, Nadine takes a step back into the dating pool when she agrees to go on a date with a NASA scientist.
When the State Department goes on lockdown due to a deranged gunman outside the building, Elizabeth is confined with a delegation from Iraq whose translator threatens to reveal damaging information about her actions while in the CIA. Meanwhile, when Matt is stuck in an office with Daisy's fiancé, Win, he spills information that he shouldn't have.
Elizabeth, Henry and Isabelle work together to find former Secretary of State Vincent Marsh's secret bank account, but soon uncover that one of Elizabeth's staff members already has access to it.
When a Texas state trooper is huged by a Mexican cartel smuggler, Elizabeth arranges an extradition deal before going on vacation to celebrate her 25th wedding anniversary in New York City. However, when political issues arise around the case, she is forced to cut their trip short. Also, Elizabeth's son injures himself while Blake is watching him.
Elizabeth pushes for the prosecution of a Bahraini diplomat after he is caught holding a maid hostage in his home. Also, Henry's father comes to visit.
Elizabeth is humiliated at a public budget hearing when her staff fails to find the corruption that exists in her microloan program. Also, the investigation into Marsh's death continues.
Elizabeth heads to Turkey to mend political relations after the Turkish government releases a video that could be damaging to the CIA. Also, Jason is threatened with expulsion after punching a bully at school.
Elizabeth secretly travels to Iran in an attempt to prevent a coup that could impact President Dalton's administration. Also, she brings her staff up to speed on the investigation into Marsh's death.
As Elizabeth struggles to hold herself together emotionally following the attack in Iran, she works to prevent an ecological disaster in the Amazon, and prepares for a national television appearance on "Face the Nation". Also, she and Henry disagree about the level of protection Jason should have at his new school.
While Elizabeth seeks a diplomatic solution to a doomsday cult in Bolivia, a congressman attempting to negotiate with its leader is taken hostage. Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Henry meet Stevie's much older boyfriend.
Elizabeth and President Dalton work together to solve the Greek debt crisis, but not everyone at home is happy with the agreement. Meanwhile, Henry mulls over a new job offer, and Stevie reconnects with her childhood friend, the President's son.
While Henry is in Russia giving a lecture on fundamentalism, Elizabeth must navigate tricky political waters when a Russian nuclear submarine vanishes in American waters. Also, Stevie breaks up with her older boyfriend.
As Elizabeth prepares for the arrival of Iranian President Shiraz to sign a nuclear treaty, she uncovers a top secret plot to assassinate him on United States soil. At the same time, she must deal with a massive protest by the Human Rights Campaign in response to Iran's plans to stone a gay citizen to death. Also, Elizabeth sees a therapist (Marsha Mason) to deal with her PTSD.
When Elizabeth confronts her former friend Juliet, she flashes back to when then-CIA Director Dalton offered her a job that would have changed the course of her life. Also, Stevie and President Dalton's son, Harrison, begin a relationship that will have consequences.