Archives

All posts by Jason Jones

Courtesy of ABC

Courtesy of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Nassar lies motionless, mouth foaming from inside his cell. Not really planting any flags here, but treachery is afoot. Atwood, pulls out all the stops trying to identify the mole inside the facility. The bigger issue at hand is that Atwood and Hannah are the only people aware of the name Nassar revealed before his untimely and intentional death.

The Kirkmans and McLeishs finally sit down to have that dinner. So far so good, just basic pleasantries and old stories at this point. Meanwhile Aaron and Emily converse in Aaron’s office. I could do without the unrealistic yelling at the tv that Aaron’s doing. Its a valiant effort by the writing staff, but sports fans don’t yell at the tv that way. Aaron gets a call that dramatically changed the mood in the room. Aaron bursts into the President’s dinner party, removes him to inform him that Nassar, who was in there custody is now dead. The President needs to excuse himself but not until McLeish offers his assistance in whatever has prioritized the President’s time.

Atwood is summoned to the White House, presumably to speak on the Nassar incident. Kirkman asks Atwood if he has any answers. He responds in the affirmative, not noticing Peter McLeish in the distance of the room. Atwood is cryptic and refuses to give any answers to Kirkman in McLeish’s presence. Kirkman can sense something’s off but he’s having a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. Matters are not made better by the news that the US Track and Field team have been arrested in Russia on a suspicion of Performance Enhancing Drug use.

Seth enters the room and makes a formal request with Aaron for five minutes with the President. Aaron reiterates that the President has no time for personal matters. Seth has to clarify that he is not asking for Seth personal, he’s asking for POTUS personal. This is in regards to the reporter sniffing around about Leo not being the President’s son. The story is true and among his senior staff, the President doesn’t mince words. Its not an issue of infidelity, its an issue of poor timing. The problem comes in when Aaron reveals that Alex knew the father was stirring stuff up a week ago. While the surface, it looks innocent. Poor timing and all, but Tom Kirkman is way more uptight about this than he should be considering the surface.

Kirkman is escorted to the Situation Room where he is met by representatives of the CIA. Kirkman thinks this is about Al Secar, but they are there to speak about Westin, the “National Hero” former Olympian and current track coach. You guessed it, Coach Westin is a spy. Side note, my affection for this show is directly connected to its plausibility. Believing that a Michael Phelps type athlete turned Olympic coach turned CIA operative is a difficult sell. I hope its an outlier.

Hannah walks into a poorly lit bar to find a contact, later revealed to be CIA. He shrugs off her request as Atwood did what he does to get Nassar removed from CIA custody and placed in FBI custody where he would eventually die. An issue the CIA apparently gets their panties in a twist over. Outside Hannah tries again, then drops the name ‘Catalin’. This grabs the man’s attention immediately. He gives up very little except for one major detail.

CIA Agent: Here’s what I know. Stay out of it. And if you ask anyone else they’ll tell you the same just less politely. The man’s a mercinary…and a traitor.

Hannah: What do you mean? He’s American?

In a remote conference room within the White House, Kirkman and his CIA representatives meet with a Russian diplomat who brought his Defense Minister to a meeting about a coach and drugs. Both sides know exactly what’s going on. The Russians are using this as an opportunity to leverage US nuclear weapons out of Turkey. An idea that Kirkman will not consider.

The moment Hannah begins to spill what she knows now about Catalin, McLeish shows up. Atwood and Hannah put a pin in their discussion. McLeish has come to deliver paperwork that the FBI would likely dig up during his vetting process. What follows is a very uncomfortable ‘Justified-like’ stand off. Neither man saying what they really mean and both men holding their relative ground. As if to say, Atwood doesn’t trust McLeish and McLeish knows there is a great deal that Atwood doesn’t know.

Hannah: What the hell was that?
Atwood: What the hell do you think it was? A bunch of BS. The guy is going to walk in here and voluntarily give over ten years of papers that no one asked for? Now, why would he be so eager to do that?
Hannah: Because he’s got something to hide.

Westin appears on Russian television to make a formal apology. For the second time tonight, Emily tries to assert that men don’t know sports and provides a sports analogy to help with their Coach Westin problem. When two teams want to trade players but can’t agree on compensation, they illicit the aid of a third team. Kirkman purposes, Emily find out what the Russians want and seek out a third trade partner.

Alex visits the ex in prison. Another Justified like standoff. At first, it felt like a money play. Which isn’t really that far off. This person does have a motive but its not money. President Kirkman throws his weight around to get Leo’s ‘supposed’ biological father released, or he tells the world ‘his story’. Alex returns to report to Tom. He is naturally not inclined to grant his request. However, it does level with Alex that his decision to not get tested and find out for sure who Leo’s father is was a decision of emotional self preservation for Tom not Leo. And Leo has every right to know who his biological father is.

Hannah and Atwood try to make heads or tails of what McLeish’s latest actions mean when Atwood gets a frantic phone call from his wife. Their son never made it home from school. When Atwood arrives at the school, they have no new information and try to downplay the severity of the situation. Atwood directs his wife to go home in case he turns up there. Atwood, plans on finding his son the old fashioned way. And yes, you’re conspiracy theory concern meter should be going up.

The President’s new play to acquire a third trade partner includes Saudi Arabia. The United States return four Saudi agents being detained in the US for industrial espionage to Saudi Arabia as long as Saudi Arabia returns a Russian agents to Russia and Coach Westin is returned to the United States. An international three way spy trade. The situation room convenes to ensure the delivery of the respective spy trade. Westin doesn’t step off the plane. The Russians double crossed us. Brad Westin never made it on the plane. Hollywood never misses an opportunity to make Russia the cold war bad guys again. In short order, the CIA gets its hands on new intel. A photo of Brad Westin meeting with who the CIA believes is Westin’s contact and handler. Brad Westin is a double agent.

Hannah meets with her CIA contact again with a much more desperate plea for assistance. This time the contact is at least willing to eventually give up something on Catalin.

Seth meets with the reporter Lisa Jordan. Seth has something to deal, but before he reveals that, he tells her that she can run her Leo story but doesn’t think she should. He makes an appeal to her that Tom Kirkman is a good man with a good family who never asked for this job, but now he has it and everyone’s gunning for him. Seth offers an exclusive. First person accounts of Tom Kirkman brokering a deal to have a US citizen returned only to find out that the US citizen is not who he seemed. In a uniquely timed parallel, Aaron and Emily want to push through McLeish as VP with the Congressional elections coming up. Shortly after I yelled at my TV, Kirkman suggests that there’s not harm in waiting to see what the FBI has on him. Especially in light of the Westin situation. Now if they could only find Jason Atwood.

Hannah walks down a decline in a parking garage when she hears something. She pursues with her gun drawn. Her car appears may have been broken into. The driver’s door is open. When she gets there she finds a manila envelope with CIA documents inside. She views the Catalin file and remembers staring at one of the guards at the black site. The guard looks strikingly like the picture in the file. Hannah tries to call Atwood but he’s in find my son mode.

Atwood goes to his son’s baseball practice where the coach has no information. Before Atwood gets back into his car, a woman approaches assuring him that his son is fine. After I yelled the b-word at my television, the woman reveals herself as involved in the abduction in some way. Simple power play. They have Luke Atwood and can get Yvette Atwood whenever they want. No harm will come to them as long as Atwood does exactly as instructed. She hands Atwood a phone and tells him he will make an appointment with the President and do as instructed.

Speculation time: The obvious angle is to assume that Atwood will be instructed to convey to President Kirkman that the FBI found nothing of concern while vetting McLeish. However, I’m not opposed to considering that its something else entirely.

Courtesy of ABC

Courtesy of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Nassan is in custody but not speaking. Aaron believes Kirkman has bigger fish to fry at this moment. A dinner for a ballroom full of governors. This is the first glimpse of the first family and senior staff for that matter, in full dress up mode. President and First Lady Kirkman as well Kirkman’s senior staff make their way around the room. Most intriguing of which might be a very short conversation between Aaron and Senator McLeish. As part of a hypothetical scenario, Aaron follows up on how McLeish can serve. He turned down Speaker of the House as it was too much politics and not enough actual service.

Emily: We might have another way for you to serve.
Aaron: Hypothetically, how does Vice President sound to you?
McLeish: Hypothetically, I would be honored.

Let me get this straight. A politician turned down Speaker of the House, arguably the most powerful position short of President. In favor of Vice President, a position considered by most to be the highest ranking political figure-head? So why is my brain going straight for “Assassination Watch” if this happens? This quote from Daniel Webster when he turned down the Vice Presidency in 1839 really drives the point home.

“I do not presume to be buried until I am dead.”

Kirkman makes his way to the podium but not before a Governor from Arizona jumps to the foreground to ask for time to discuss Governor Royce. She was disheartened to see one of her colleagues arrested. Well the measure of a well executed character we are supposed to dislike is directly related to how frequently and loudly I cuss at my tv in their presence. Congratulations Governor Nichols, you have made my “I hate you” list.

Kirkman delivers the speech we’ve been waiting for him to give. A speech that is direct, positive and helps to shape the perception of who Kirkman is. A registered Independent that no one voted for but shares the goals of all Americans, not just the politically motivated ones. Kirkman believes pretty strongly that he, as an independent, can bridge the partisan gap and that American post-Capital bombing can be stronger than it ever was before. A resounding speech that delivers exactly its ended response.

All is well until rapid gunfire is heard but not seen. Secret Service does not hesitate to get Kirkman out of there regardless. With the First Family safe in the residence, Secret Service begin to search for the shooter. Mike eyes the suspect and takes him down with two shots, but not before Mike takes one in the upper torso. Kevlar prevented one, but the other will require surgery. Moments before shooting on the White House, the assailant posted on social media his allegiance to Mashid Nassar.

In the situation room there is an argument over using conventional questioning tactics with Nassar or moving him to a black site for more ‘extreme’ questioning. It doesn’t take an avid viewer of this show to know that Kirkman is not going for a black site option no matter who presents it. Director Atwood convinces the President to let him begin more conventional questioning. On his way out, Atwood is approached by Emily. She’d like to start the vetting process on a VP. Knowing what Hannah is pursuing, Atwood has a very specific facial expression when he hears Emily say McLeish’s name.

Kirkman speaks to another Governor, this one from Florida. We still have a situation where Governors are circumventing previous United States laws under the cover of protecting their citizens. Fear taking the place of due process. It gets worse. Kirkman puts most of the Governors in a room. Nichols is the ring leader. They all but demand Kirkman answer all of their questions so they will ‘know him better’. As if any of that mattered. Then and only then will they approve his appointees.

Kirkman: With all due respect Governor Nichols, I’m not on trial here.
Nichols: You are now.

Hannah and Atwood make their way to interrogate Mashid Nassan. Simultaneously, President Kirkman makes his way back to a room filled with Governors to be subjected to his own interrogation. Hannah takes over essentially playing bad cop to Atwood’s good cop. She lays out the options. On one side, he speaks and tells US officials what they want to know. On the other side, he doesn’t and they turn him over to Pakistan in connection to a bombing there. And in Pakistan, human rights are optional. Nassan tells a quick story about an American missile hitting an apartment building full of civilians including Nassan’s wife and two daughters.

Ironically, the interrogation of Nassan is actually going better. Kirkman is getting attacked for everything deserved or not. Governors painting a picture that Kirkman is impulsive and removes anyone who doesn’t agree with him. They are trying to find any reason to have him removed as President. Except they are all forgetting one very critical detail. Like it or not, this is how the system works. You have a Designated Survivor for a reason. This was designed long before Kirkman came along. And Governor Nichols still has me cussing at my screen. In a stunning move, Kirkman stands up, looks over the room of Governors and gives them exactly what they are looking for.

Kirkman: Maybe you’re right. Maybe I shouldn’t be the President.

Kirkman has a politically bad tendency to consider that the mob at the gates might actually be right. It takes an Aaron get in his face moment to bring back Commander-in-Chief Kirkman back. Aaron reminds Kirkman that even he didn’t remember Kirkman’s name in the beginning, but in time, has learned to believe that President Kirkman is the only change this country has. At being a country again. Kirkman looks to Seth to see if Seth feels the same.

Seth (looks towards Aaron): What he said.

Hesitant, Hannah is at least will to accept that Nassar did this despite believing he’s too small time to pull this off. There is even a moment when she directs his attention to Peter McLeish as his focus. Can’t leave any survivors. Nassan’s aim is not Peter McLeish but to total amount. He wants “them all dead”. Hannah maintains that Nassan is taking credit for something he didn’t do. They lay out what actually happened concerning Nassan taking the fall and then both parties decide to end the interrogation. Atwood stands and asks Hannah about another name. She quickly responds that she “will do it”. Whoever that is concerns Nassan. He stands up abruptly, his body language suggesting he has a major problem with this.

Atwood (to Nassan): So. Now you know that we know about your other family. The one that wasn’t killed.

Hannah gives just enough information about his son and mother living comfortably in Dubai. Hannah and Atwood don’t make it out of the room before Nassan starts spilling it. He resists at the behest of a name, but quickly gives up that name. Before the agents can leave the room, Nassan mentions that if it comes back to him that Nassan gave up the name, the suspect will kill everyone that even knows.

Kirkman is back in the room of Governors to give his answer. My answer would have been “Because this is exactly what the Constitution had in mind when the Designated Survivor provision was created. Sorry you don’t like it but this is how it works”. But that’s a very un-Kirkman answer. He believes that he can do this job. He can rebuild the nation, but he will need help. He also lays out that he nor the country can spend any more time fighting with the Governors. So this place, this time, its their time to choose. Either they move forward together, or this will be the time where President Kirkman will need to step down and Just be citizen Kirkman.

His words this time are received well, but we aren’t there yet. Enough Governors will stand in his way preventing his appointments if he doesn’t suspend immigration. All immigration. Until such a time as the Governors and their people can feel comfortable again. Kirkman isn’t crazy about denying those who apply through the proper channels like students and scientists, but this might be the sacrifice needed to get the support that will lead to rebuilding the government. Side note: I love how real or fiction, Americans what to defer to the Constitution as if it is divine mandate, holding to the word as written regardless of circumstance, until they don’t like the result. This story line should never happen. Kirkman is President because that what the Constitution decreed.

Atwood and Hannah return to their offices. Hannah not gloating in the least is curious to find out who Kettalin is. Atwood is confident the terrorist data base will turn up information on that…until it doesn’t. Then Hannah floats the idea that perhaps this Kettalin has higher clearance that the director of the FBI.

The First Lady approaches the Oval with great news. The plane full of refugees that has been held up by the Governor of Florida has permission to land in a US city and that Governor will accept all refugees. But it’s too late. Kirkman has already made the deal with the Governors and now has to tell his wife. We have our first Oval Office fight. Alex Kirkman playing us against the world, humanitarian who thinks we can’t resist what America used to be even for a moment, is very disappointed in the decision. Not disappointed in the President, she’s disappointed in her husband.

Aaron and Emily arrive at the Oval to give their optimistic view on the vetting of VP candidate Peter McLeish. The FBI will take a while (understandably and with good reason) to properly vet McLeish. In the meantime, Aaron believes its solid enough to move forward. Famous last words. Then, Kirkman asks if would be possible to get Mr. and Mrs. McLeish over to the White House for dinner. Aaron asks about Mrs. Kirkman and Tom hesitates.

All night, Seth has been resisting his own urges to begin a social relationship with a reporter. Those instincts to resist probably should have been listened to more directly. Before escaping to have a drink said reporter asks him directly to comment on the story that Leo Kirkman is actually not Tom Kirkman’s son.

Tom Kirkman returns to the residence to get ready for the McLeish’s. He finds Alex reading. He treads lightly and even offers up an out for Alex so that she won’t have to attend that dinner. She rejects it and confirms that she will happily attend. Domestic crisis averted.

Atwood and Hannah arrive back at Nassar’s holding facility when Atwood gets a call. Something’s wrong and its related to Nassar. By the time they arrive in Nassan’s cell it’s too late. . Medical is trying to revive him but the foaming mouth is a dead giveaway that it’s a lost cause. Further suggesting that there is at least one person on the inside. As Hassan appears to have died from cafeteria food.

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Today is an early morning in the Kirkman White House. Kirkman, Aaron and Admiral Chernow meet in the Oval to discuss the impending attack we knew was coming. Chernow attempts to put Kirkman’s concerns of collateral damage as Seth enters the office. Aaron introduces Seth to the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Chernow.

Seth (extends his hand): How are you sir? Seth Wright, Press Secretary.

Chernow: It’s going to be a busy day for you today. (Look toward Kirkman) I’ll be at Command Ops.

Kirkman (to Seth): I had to clear my entire schedule today, wanna know why?

Seth: If I know why, am I going to have to lie to the press all day?

Aaron: Yeah.

Seth: Ok, then let’s just assume that maybe somewhere there will be a military strike against the terrorist bombed the Capital. (Slowly turns to walk away) And I’ll just know more when I know more.

Kirkman spins the variables and potential casualties when Chernow reminds him of the time sensitive nature of F-18s flying toward the target. They don’t exactly have the time or fuel to wait. Kirkman takes one last look at the board, “It’s a go. Strike the enemy.” The order isn’t a go for 15 seconds before a station chief reports that the target is no longer in the compound. “We lost Majid Nassar”. The news gets worse, as intelligence suggests that someone inside tipped off Nassar who fled in a motorcade.

Hanna invites herself to Kirkman’s ceremony celebrating MacLeish. There is absolutely something very off about MacLeish. I’m not planting a flag anywhere with that comment, just reiterating. Atwood looks over at Hanna glaring at MacLeish as if she’s working on something in her head. “Just hope you never look at me like that.” As the event breaks up Hookstratten corners Seth. She wants to know when Kirkman plans on retaliating…AGAIN. Seth sees right through it, plays dumb and removes himself from the room.

The military brain trust meets with Kirkman in the Oval. Nassar’s location has been identified as a hospital. That makes the mission a little more complicated. At present, an airstrike is not an option. To get Nassar, they will need to be assets on the ground. This creates a new dynamic. Chernow wants to take Nassar alive. Kirkman is not willing to take Chernow’s word at face value regarding the confidence of the mission and request to speak to the commander on the ground and even asks for his location. Chernow give a great and at this point typical response.

Chernow: Sir. There is a chain of command. He comes to you.

Kirkman: I’m going to ask these men to lay down their lives, I’ll go to him.

With what should be the last ‘appointment’ before the President travels to the Navy Seals Training Facility at Little Creek, Hookstratten is all but demand stuff again. She lays out his ‘erratic’ behavior. Firing the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs. He was a man with his own agenda and circumvented the President’s authority. He should have been fired. Not erratic. Arrested the Governor of Michigan. Are you paying attention Hookstratten? He basically rejected the President’s authority, ceded from the Union, and arrested American citizens for being born the wrong ethnicity. Also, not erratic. She even pieced together the details of parking lot H at the Pentagon. Which would place high-ranking generals/admirals at the pentagon at 3am. She says all of this to suggest that the President is not consulting enough with Congress (i.e. her). Kirkman responds exactly how I wished he would.

Kirkman: Article one section eight. And I will notify you when it becomes appropriate.

Kirkman meets with the Seal’s Commander getting to know his men. Eventually Kirkman gets to the issue at hand. Kirkman is interested in the odds. The ‘odds’ are regrettably only 50/50, but the commanding officer gives the only response I would need.

Commander: We don’t know if they’ve wired the place. We don’t know if they have local militia. We don’t know a lot of things. The odds are 50/50, but we do know that Nassar is there. So we have to do it now. And may God have mercy on them, because the U.S. Navy will have none.

Kirkman meets with MacLeish and Hookstratten together in the Oval. This is where President Kirkman informs the current sitting members of Congress that he has deployed a seal team into Algeria to remove, dead or alive, Majid Nassar. MacLeish immediately conveys his support of this tactical decision. Hookstratten’s support is shrouded in her ulterior motives. She is a tiger laying in the tall grass waiting for the right opportunity to pounce. Aaron wants to look into putting Kirkman’s support to MacLeish for Speaker and not Hookstratten. There are bigger problems now. One of the Seal choppers has gone down.

The chopper had to perform a combat landing and Petty Officer Denton was injured, but no need to change the plan or abort. The Seal Team will proceed as scheduled. Meanwhile, Seth’s powers of disarm and deflect will be tested as the White House Press Corps has sources too.

Reporter: All of this adds up to a potential military strike. What’s the real story? You can’t keep pivoting to talking points.

Seth (stone faced): Watch me.

Kirkman accompanied by MacLeish watches from Comm Ops. Simultaneously, Hanna all but begs Atwood to listen to what she has to say about MacLeish. The seal team is efficient through the first floor. Once they make it to the basement floor the video feed is intermittent at best. Once the team gets to Nassir, the lighting changes and the picture clears. Nassir has a gun pointed on a child demanding the Seal Team lower their weapons. His words get louder and shots ring out. Communication with the seal team is lost.

All Capitol renovations are classified. However, Hanna convinced Hookstratten to assist in this. What Hanna has feels like its straight out of the Cold War Playbook. THe men in charge of making the renovation, specifically to room 105 (where MacLeish was found) are dead. First one ot a heart attack. Second to a car accident. All eight men who worked on room 105 are dead. All accidents or natural causes. Putting that on hold for a moment, the bigger elephant in the room is what were they renovating? Room 105 was transformed into basically a bomb shelter. And why would there be a need to build a bomb shelter in the Capitol two months before the State of the Union. MacLeish survived because he was supposed to survive.

A new concern arises. When Aaron dangled the potential of making Peter MacLeish the next speaker of the house, he declined. Opting for a position within Congress that isn’t simply bureaucracy and politics for politics sake. Now we feel fairly clear and certain that MacLeish was in on this from the jump. And now he is in a room with the President and military council overseeing a Seal operation aimed to take out the terrorist responsible. Right about the moment, Kirkman has the worst idea yet. Maybe Cochran was right. Just then Chernow announces that they have Majid Nassar. Amidst the celebrating, Chernow has to report that Clarkson, the seal team leader was lost in the assault.

There were seven children in the room. Clarkson shielded 2 with his body after the shots began. The seal team returned fire and captured Nassir. Clarkson took 8 rounds in the back and 1 in the neck. He was killed instantly but the children he shielded survived. Clarkson died but he died a hero. Due to his actions, there were no civilian casualties.

The President quietly makes his way into (what looks like the mural room?) unnoticed as his ‘senior staff’ discuss MacLeish turning down Speaker. This of course is news to Kirkman. Kirkman then offers up, maybe we offered him the wrong job. How about Vice President. So let me get this straight. MacLeish turns down Speaker because it’s purely political and doesn’t think he can actually get anything done from that perch? And you want to give him VP as if that’s better? Let’s disregard that MacLeish is probably as dirty as they come, Speaker to VP is downgrade move.

Aaron has been doing opposition research on Kirkman in an attempt to see the pitch before it’s thrown. In that digging we’ve discovered that there was infidelity on Mrs. Kirkman’s behalf. All of this is not new information. What is new information is that the other party in this is in prison and telling anyone who will listen that Leo is his son not Tom Kirkman’s. From her reaction, this is both startling and potentially true.

Jason Atwood is finally coming around to believing Hanna’s theories. However, he is not ready just yet to impune a sitting Congressman not to mention all the other names likely to be brought light. Not yet at least.

Courtesy of ABC

Courtesy of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

We begin tonight with the pursuit of our “enemy”. It appears a plan has been foiled and a laptop stolen. Back stateside, the President makes his way to the Oval intercepted by Aaron. Aaron gives Kirkman his itinerary for the day, which begins with Hookstratten. She is still pushing to get Kirkman to make a move and publicly announce they have identified the perpetrator of the Capital Bombing. Kirkman is very political in his responses to her. In the beginning, Kirkman would have given her a second set of keys to the West Wing, now, she gets the rehearsed soundbites.

Governor Royce of Michigan is leaning on the President’s interview (where he kind of hinted to being asked to resign prior to the bombing) as precedent to ignore any order the ‘fake’ President gives. In a bold move Emily offers to travel to Michigan to act as legal observer to make sure Royce doesn’t wrongfully imprison Arab Americans or do anything else short of legal.

General Cochran has the next morning appointment, none of these the President has or probably will enjoy today. Before Cochran can stand before Kirkman, the President makes it very clear that he’s had a rough morning and already is not in the mood for Cochran’s antics.

Kirkman: General it’s barely 7am and I’ve already been ambushed by the presumptive Speaker and we may have domestic crisis on our hands. So please, choose your words wisely.
Cochran: I don’t need to sir. We found Majid Nassar.

In the situation room, there is more evidence that points to Al-Sakar. An American agent on location has identified the same bomb signature as the one found at ground zero. Kirkman is much more at ease about the certainty of Al-Sakar. But with an American agent on the inside, Kirkman isn’t excited about trading one American life for retaliation for killing a thousand.

Upon touching down in Michigan, Emily returns a call to Aaron who is worried about her up there and trying really hard not to show it. Emily gets off the phone to depart the plane only to find the plane is surrounded by local police. The police presence is not a welcoming committee. Royce is now behaving like Michigan is their own sovereign state independent of the rest of the country. In no uncertain terms, Royce strongly suggests she and the staff get back on the plane and head back to Washington.

Seth and Aaron observe the acting Press Secretary from the back of the room and he is, in a word, horrible. Aaron delegates this one to Seth. As Seth is essentially the Communications Department, this would technically fall under his purview. He pulls this “Carter” aside 1 on 1 and gives him a perspective he might not have considered. A Press Secretary must tame the beasts. Learn to deflect. Control the situation.

Kirkman is now getting a full glimpse into the madness that is Governor Royce. Royce will not allow Emily to leave the airport. Emily seems to think retreating and regrouping is the best strategy. Kirkman has an idea. Royce has forced Kirkman’s hand and this will not end well for Royce. President Kirkman is about to declare Michigan in a state of emergency and is going to federalize the National Guard. Only, when they arrive, the commanding officer (General Munoz) refuses to follow Kirkman’s order and puts their support behind their local Commander-in-Chief, Governor Royce.

In the Cabinet room a call has been set up to include the Algerian President to bring in Nassar. The Algerian President maintains that Nassar is not in his country. This changes things slightly. The American operative has 12 hours to check in. If he hasn’t by then, the attack on the terrorist compound will commence with or without the safety of their operative.

With Carter’s first attempt at establishing control and taming the beast he fails. It started out well, then the gaggle turned on him. In what must be a significant low point, Carter, without warning, jets out of there. One of the reporters makes a crack at the “Kirkman Presidency” and there is a short moment before Seth jumps in to take questions. He has that CJ Cregg (West Wing) command and gravitas needed to be a successful Press Secretary. And Aaron sees it too.

Emily has a great plan to turn the attention away from Royce’s protect Michigan bs to forcing him to pull back when a large group of Muslim-American protestors descend upon the airport. The last thing Governor Royce wants is for the American people to see him give the order to use force in order to remove non violent protestors. Just when it seems like things might start to fall in line for Kirkman, Aaron gets a phone call. “We might have a second mutiny on our hands.”

Kirkman and Aaron hastily make their way to the situation room. Cochran has begun to lay the ground work for an eventual attack that the President did not authorize. Cochran charges in with what fictional Generals in this situation charge in with. Using terms like “eradicate them from the face of the earth” and “is a sacrifice worth making”.

Cochran: When a snake’s in your kitchen, you don’t invite it to dinner. You cut off its head.
Kirkman: You make a very good point, General. And seeing that this is my kitchen, I am relieving you of your command, effective immediately.
Cochran: What…?
Kirkman: General, you are fired.

Aaron walks in on an unsuspecting Seth. “You hear the rumor? There’s a rising star in the White House Communications department.” Seth shrugs it off as if Aaron is referring to Carter. He quickly figures out that Aaron is talking about Seth. Aaron lays it out but hesitates on the elephant in the room. This is a political move. Aaron wants Seth because he’d be great at the job…and he is the son of Muslim-American immigrants. Seth rejects it immediately asking Aaron to leave.

Hannah has spent most of the episode trying to find holes in the McLeish story and she can’t. It appears he really was just a lucky guy. Hannah requests to be reassigned. The Director agrees, kind of. Hannah is requesting a new assignment. The Director asks her to let him sleep on it. The Director is banking on the idea that Hannah will hate herself if she quit just because it got difficult.

During the plane ride from Deerborn to Washington DC, Emily turns around Royce’s steadfast stance on being anti-Kirkman. He begins to extend the proverbial olive branch and is met by Kirkman’s arrows (see what I did there).

Kirkman: I believe all Americans regardless of race or religion should be afforded and protected by the same inalienable rights.
Royce: If I may—
Kirkman: You may not. Governor, you violated the rights of the citizens of Michigan and today you conspired with the National Guard to defy a direct order from the President. James Royce, I am placing you under arrest for treason against the United States of America.

Kirkman and Aaron leave with a very confused if not offended Emily wondering. why that just happened. Kirkman and Aaron make their way to Seth’s office. Seth was right to turn down the job if the reason was to parade a muslim, but when the President asks, its clear that was not his intention. Kirkman just wanted the right man for the job. Despite Kirkman’s almost willingness to beg, Seth won’t make him. Seth accepts the job under the right circumstances.

Hannah lies on her bed thumbing through pictures of her lover and recently deceased when her phone rings from an unknown number. The voice on the phone is foreign to her but comes with a significant new lead.

Woman on the phone: Find room 105 and you’ll find out more about Peter McLeish.

Kirkman enters the situation room almost undetected. He’s there because the 12 hours are up and the identity of a dead body has been confirmed as their agent on the inside.

Kirkman: Admiral Chernow, you are in command. I would like to proceed with the attack in Algeria as planned.
Chernow: Sir?
Kirkman: Admiral, prepare us for war.

Courtesy of ABC

Courtesy of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

At ground zero screams of a survivor make their way to Hannah’s ears. We still have not nailed down whether or not her ‘friend’ is alive or not. Naturally, she rushes to the area in the hopes that the survivor is her friend. While she’s happy to see someone pulled from the rubble. The someone in question is not the one she needs confirmation on.

In the Oval Office, Aaron, Emily and Seth await Kirkman’s arrival. The sun has yet to come up, they are in for a long day. They run through the immediate to do list and things seem to normal. That is until, the electricity in the White House begins to fluctuate, like a town affected by a brown-out. Which is never supposed to happen. White House ops center can’t make heads or tails of it. Mike drops everything to get to Kirkman. About the time Mike head’s toward the oval, Kirkman and Seth have the same idea. This is not supposed to ever happen…unless this is another attack.

Mike (to Kirkman): The White has just been hacked.

The hack seems to only have attacked President Kirkman’s laptop. A file is found but its type and origin are out-of-place. Seems like a big risk, but I’m sure we’ll come back to it. Meanwhile Hookstratten, there the act as the whole of Congress to confirm Kirkman’s cabinet choices, is noticing the influx of IT people removing hardware. Aaron and Emily won’t give her anything. Then that’s the moment Aaron and Emily are abruptly asked to leave Hookstratten and follow the gentleman at the door.

The hack was not to take something it was to leave something. Kirkman escorts Aaron and Emily into the situation room. On a massive screen we see what was left behind. A video of a man claiming responsibility for the Capital. The worst part is that he identifies himself as part of the larger group that Cochran already believed was the culprit. The entire room seems to be ready to bomb this group off the face of the planet, except Kirkman. He asks the room for any other theories. No one steps up, except Hannah’s boss, Deputy Director Atwood.

Atwood begins to lay out Hannah’s theory. The undetonated bomb they found was intentional and built-in such a way that would suggest this terrorist group so that they would be forced to consider no one else. Kirkman is not willing to bomb anyone. But he is all too ready to get the leader of this brought in. No matter where he’s hiding.

Kirkman decrees that no one outside the Situation room sees this video. Then he turns around and immediately shows it to Hookstratten. As the totality of Congress (minus our lone survivor from earlier in the episode) she is to be brought in on anything and everything that concerns National security. There is something off about Hookstratten and I’m sure you’ve felt it since her introduction. As she and Kirkman are from opposing parties, eventually there might be something to cause tension. The first hint of that comes when Hookstratten reiterates Cochran’s issue. America needs a villain. Kirkman refuses to believe that Americans need war and violence in order to come together.

Mrs. Kirkman and Penny decide to unpack Leo’s stuff so it feels less temporary. A fine gesture until Penny finds a ziplock bag with pills. President Kirkman has an interview, his first media exposure that the media gets credit for, so the news or assumption on Leo will have to wait. The interview goes well for the most part, until the interviewer suggests that Kirkman had been fired before the Capital incident. Aaron interjects to get Kirkman out of the room. Lie about it and start the Presidency off bad, tell the truth and potential end the Presidency before he has a chance to actually do anything. Kirkman answers the question truthfully and even admits that the ambassadorship signaled the notion that President Richmond no longer wanted Kirkman in his cabinet.

Hannah works with an analyst going over the State of the Union footage. Hannah is looking for anything that looks off. As they scan the footage, Hannah notices a strange woman in the crowd taking pictures with a camera. Hannah orders the analyst to hack her cloud without documentation. He resists but Hannah sells him on it considering that if they don’t play a little dirty they are going to lose.

Earlier in the episode Kirkman and Seth spoke with the son of the late President Richmond. Apparently the kid saw the interview and has completely soured on Kirkman. The President decides to honor the wishes of a son who lost his father. But this feels more political. The son speaks and builds his momentum citing how his father loved those he worked with, especially appreciated support from the other side of the aisle. The President’s eulogy will be replaced by a different speaker. Can you say Hookstratten? This what I’m sure a hostile takeover looks like.

Seth enters the Oval. After the funeral, Seth met up with some former White House staffers who were closer to President Richmond. Apparently, Tyler Richmond (punk son) and his father had a falling out two years ago and had not spoken a word since. Which is intriguing, but will need to take a back seat to the next bit of news. Someone with security clearance (or someone who was graciously brought into the loop) leaked the terrorist video. While the obvious move is to suggest Cochran, Kirkman believes this is the work of Hookstratten. She denies it and shifts focus. She sees this as a good thing. Now the national narrative will switch from fired or not, to rallying support for the sitting Commander-in-Chief. It appears that Hookstratten is not after Kirkman’s job. She’s just laying the groundwork to run in the first post Capital incident General Election.

Atwood requests Hannah’s presence. The meeting begins with him letting her know that skirting the law is not going to pass by unnoticed. Next he hands her a folder of the confirmed dead. Her friend is among them. And now we can narrow the scope of ‘friend’. This particular Senator was married and having an extramarital affair with Hannah.

Aaron meets with staffers of some sort tracking the social media and actual media to gauge what’s being talked about. As Hookstratten predicted, no one is talking about the Secretary of HUD being fired. Kirkman bursts through and asks to speak with Aaron. They are barely out of that office when Kirkman has is “Fredo, I knew it was you” moment. He doesn’t kick Aaron out of the building like I at least was expecting. Kirkman is nothing if not meticulous and willing to hear all angles. Aaron does not deny the action. Furthermore, Aaron believes he was acting in Kirkman’s best interest, unlike most of those he’s surrounded by at the moment. In an even bolder move, Aaron hands over an envelope holding his letter of resignation. Then opens the door for Kirkman to accept it an any time moving forward.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Kirkman places the letter in a drawer in his desk before Tyler Richmond is lead into the room. Kirkman apologizes to Tyler for having him brought in to tell stories about his father to make Kirkman’s speech better. Then Kirkman offers a story of his own. The time the President spent an hour of a cabinet meeting fawning over his son Tyler and how talented he was. Tyler believed his dad missed the recital in question. But in fact, the former President observed from the back to not take focus away from his son. Kirkman was even able to produce a program from that show to prove he was not blowing smoke. No motive. No agenda. President Kirkman just wanted a son in pain to think differently about his father with one sliver of truth.

Emily meets with the President in the Oval. With the recent events of the day, Kirkman has made a decision on his Chief of Staff. He has chosen Aaron. Kirkman needs a political mind. One who sees through the fluff and can steer Kirkman correctly, politically. Emily is not thrilled. Kirkman explains that he needs Emily to be Emily. Appoints her to Special Advisor. Kirkman looks at the clock. Its 9:30 and he’s missed his 6:30 family dinner date.

Tom Kirkman arrives at the residence to a set table, no food, no family. Penny comes out first, the Alex. Alex informs Tom that she gave Leo permission to stay at a friend’s house. Then Leo emerges from the shadows as he has ‘changed his mind’. He makes eye contact with his mother can’t possibly go unnoticed. Shades of Ralphie’s reaction when his mother chose not to tell his father about the fight, in A Christmas Story.

Hannah is called back to her analyst that betrayed her. He did indeed hack that woman’s cloud and found two pictures. Both of the surviving congressman. First photo, sitting in his seat. Second photo almost 30 seconds later, he is no longer in his seat. That congressman survived the attack because he wasn’t inside for the attack.

Aaron is seen taking a stroll beyond the Jefferson Memorial. Kirkman calls and charges him unceremoniously with the overseeing the securing of the Terrorist leader in question. When he hangs up a woman approaches and hands him an envelope labeled, “Thomas Kirkman”.

Aaron: Anything good in there?
Woman: Depends on what side you’re on…

Courtesy of ABC

Courtesy of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Mere hours after being sworn in, President Kirkman finds himself speaking to the American people. Trying to put their concerns at ease. The snipit from the speech sounds like every other we’ve heard (short of maybe Bill Pullman’s Independence Day speech). The media reaction is not what he would have hoped for. Meanwhile the FBI continue to comb through the rubble that once was the US Capital building.

President Kirkman’s Secret Service Code name: PHOENIX. Not bad actually. I’ve heard many that are much worse.

Kirkman takes the slow march down to the West Wing and it is not the majestic trek one might think. Everyone is reacting to the event’s of the night before. He is warned of the chaos he is about to experience but Kirkman foolishly underestimated said chaos. He attempts to gain intel on a number of topics from economic to defensive. The free wielding fear motivated actions discussed are extreme. Before 2 minutes has past, the Oval Office more closely resembles an elementary school cafeteria. Amidst the chaos, Kirkman excuses himself from his own office to think clearly.

In the cabinet room, Kirkman takes a moment to see how far he’s come in one short day standing behind and eventually sitting in his old Secretary of HUD chair. The acting Chief of Staff and Kirkman’s former Chief of Staff almost go at it when the notion of choosing his Chief of Staff comes into the equation. Kirkman quickly squashes that discussion, but an organized approach to rebuilding the government is necessary. He gives very direct orders to his two potential Chief’s of Staff. Close the banks, monitor reported violent activity in Michigan, and start putting together a Cabinet. Then later, President Kirkman will visit what’s left of the Captial Building.

Seth departs (what looks like) his Georgetown residence on foot. A neighbor that he seems to be familiar with gives him the judgemental treatment. As if Seth’s (played by Kal Penn) appearance somehow indicts him as a suspect. If that wasn’t enough, DC police pull up and give him grief about what’s in his backpack. He cooperates with their misguided inquiry, if only to minimize drama.

Kirkman stumbles into Seth’s office. It will take some getting used to. The idea that everyone stands the moment Kirkman enters a room. If I may steal a line from the great President Josiah Bartlet (The West Wing), “In this building…when the President stands, nobody sits”. Kirkman apologizes for not giving the performance Seth’s speech deserved when the ‘Chiefs’ enter the room. Something’s happened in Michigan.

In Dearborn Michigan, local authorities begin rounding up Muslim citizens or people who ‘look a certain way’. Shades of what happened to the Japanese Americans following Pearl Harbor. One might have hoped these were the actions of rogue, misguided officers. However, upon a call to the Michigan Governor, we learn the officers are only doing as they were ordered. The Governor makes no bones about his disregard for President Kirkman and the title he’s inherited.

A powerful player within Congress makes her way through the West Wing corridor. As it turns out, the Republicans also set aside a Designated Survivor. And one with much better political chops than the sitting President. Any previous notions about her motives (at least for now) are squashed. She seems sincere in her advice about making the White House his own. She gives a lovely speech about shedding the partisan approach and uniting under the umbrella of just being Americans. Kirkman invites her to join him at the Capital Bombing site later.

The General barges into the Oval Office interrupting what was supposed to be a candid moment between Mr. and Mrs. Kirkman (devoid of the responsibilities of the room they stand in). They believe they know who blew up the Capital. The FBI is only 75% sure and the General is content to go out and kill someone who isn’t us, presumably to make us feel better. President Kirkman is having none of it though.

General Cochran: America is demanding action and I am giving you an enemy we can kill.
President Kirkman (rips off his glasses): You think I don’t want to strike back against those that did this? I lost colleagues, friends, I lost people I love. I want to find every single person involved in this attack from planning to execution and rip them limb from limb. Which is why I need to know EXACTLY who did this. Come back to me with more than 75% and I’ll launch the damn missiles myself.
General Cochran: How much more?
President Kirkman: Twenty-Five dammit!

The trip to the bomb site is proving to be more difficult that our characters originally lead us to believe. Donning a kevlar vest the President makes his way through. FBI acting director briefs the President on what they have. At no point does the director even hint to Hannah’s theory that the undetonated bomb found on site was probably a red herring.

Kirkman decides to lose the vest despite Mike’s insistence as it does not project confidence. Outside, Kirkman grabs a bull horn and stand atop a pile of rock. Kirkman delivers an impromptu address to the first responders and it seems to go better than his speech the night before. That is until the brutality in Michigan goes viral. Cops beating citizens based on nothing more than how those citizens appear. The crowd becomes restless and demands Kirkman respond to the transgression in Michigan. Aaron and the secret service jump in to remove Kirkman from the situation and one in the crowd is taken down as he approached the group with his hand in his jacket.

Alone in the Oval Office, the First Lady has an idea to force the Governor of Michigan to fall in line. As was done during the racial integration of public schools, federalize he National Guard and made the state of Michigan obey the law. Before Kirkman can make any headway in that area, the call some of us knew was coming, came. The 17-year-old Muslim citizen of Michigan that was savagely beaten by police, was pronounced dead.

Emily connected a couple of dots and found common ground with the Governor of Michigan and Kirkman’s new friend the other Designated Survivor, Congresswoman Hookstraten. They are able to get him via video conference. This is where Kirkman lays down the law so to speak. Demands the Michigan police stand down. Orders the Governor to release anyone detained on this day as three of those are Homeland Security operatives working on a long lead investigation. Refusal to do so would be tampering with a Federal investigation and I guarantee the Governor wants no part of that. After the Governor agrees and ends the call, Kirkman admits that Homeland piece was a well executed bluff. The President asks Seth to take a walk with him after dismissing everyone else.

Kirkman: DC Police called the White House switchboard, they wanted to confirm that you worked here. What happened this morning?
Seth: What happened in Michigan. What always happens. When people don’t know who the enemy is, they start with people who look like me.

Kirkman further explains the situation with the FBI, Cochran and blaming Iran without sufficient evidence. For to do that would render Kirkman no better than Governor Royce. The need to get this one right is paramount. A notion that Seth visually can appreciate. Then after Seth leaves the room, Kirkman asks Wyatt (who I believe is his body man-boy) to get him the number to Danny Fied’s parents, the kid who died moments ago. Seth leaves the White House to find many citizens leaving flowers and praying for those lost in this attack. Including but not limited to the cop that had harassed Seth earlier in the episode.

Kirkman asks Mike if he has a ‘baseball cap lying around anywhere’, code for the President would like to sneak out of the White House minus the cameras and exposure. All he wanted to do was to thank those working the bomb site without political motivation.

Hannah finally gets up the strength to look through the pictures of those confirmed dead. Hoping against hope not to find her loved one presumed missing. It doesn’t take long to find his picture. Right about the time it begins to set in that he’s lost, someone in the distance yells out, “WE FOUND ONE, WE FOUND A SURVIVOR”.

Courtesy of ABC

Courtesy of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Preamble: I’d like to take a moment and share my enthusiasm for this series. Here at NJATVS there are no shortages of instances where I have touted the West Wing as the greatest achievement in television history. While I don’t think Designated Survivor will be that show, I do feel there are bound to be unintentional similarities that will present themselves yet allow Designated Survivor to etch its own place in the spectrum of White House shows. I may from time to time draw parallels between Designated Survivor and The West Wing but look forward to Designated Survivor to be its own show and will stand alone on its own merits.

Tom Kirkman enters what must be a government office board room with two flat screen televisions running the same feed of the State of Union address. Tom looks out-of-place in his jeans and Cornell hooded sweatshirt. He stretched out with a beer and take out pizza. Tom begins to anticipate the President’s talking points. Alex Kirkman enters the room giving someone the business. Like a lobbyist barking at a senator. Only in this case the one being barked at is their daughter refusing to go to sleep. Tom diffuses that in a diplomatic way that his wife sees as writing on the wall of a future bigger problem. However, they will have bigger problems tonight.

Mr. and Mrs. Kirkman both focus on the speech. Without warning, the video feed cuts out. Tom quickly changes the channel. Other channels work fine, clearly this is no outage. Their phones ring with others experiencing a similar occurrence. Before they can make heads or tails of it, Mike (Secret Service Agent) burst through the door demanding they get off their mobile devices. They’ve lost contact with the capitol. Just then, a news feed interrupts the tiling and snow on the tv. “Reports are coming in about an explosion near the capital. In a powerful moment utilizing slow motion, Tom advances towards a window closed with wooden shutters. He tears open the shudders. What is revealed is a wonderful view of the Capitol building and the Washington monument, with a massive explosive cloud spitting fire and smoke from the Capitol building.

What follows next is flashback to earlier that day. This reveals Tom Kirkman to be a typical family man struggling with the day-to-day challenges of raising two children at their respective points in their childhood/adolescence. To them, he is just Dad. Before arriving at work, Tom’s assistant meets him before he gets to the office. Side note, any show/movie that deals with elected officials and government, having the assistant meet the public servant outside is always bad news. She informs him that the President will not include any of HUD’s initiatives in the State of the Union. If you missed it or have yet to see the show, Tom Kirkman begins this series as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. A relatively low ranking station among the Presidential Cabinet. While Tom attempts to diffuse this situation as well he utters something that might as have otherwise been dipped in irony.

Tom: Don’t get me wrong, I’m as mad as hell. But at the end of the day, I’m not the President of the United States. We should remember that.

Tom and his assistant make their way over to the President’s Chief of Staff to discuss the lack of HUD material in the State of the Union. Its made clear pretty quickly that Kirkman’s contributions to the agenda hadn’t been taken seriously and there’s a pretty obvious reason. The Chief of Staff asks for a moment alone with Tom. Once they are alone, he informs Tom that the President is looking to make a change. After the State of the Union, Tom will be asked to step down and take essentially a low ranking ambassadorship or be let go. Tom has the day to get back to them. That will prove to be a very important distinction later.

Back at present, Tom and Alex are rushed into their first Presidential motorcade (even if they don’t know that’s what it is yet). Tom pleads with Mike for any information they have. Mike returns focus back to the phone call he’s on. Mike’s stoic demeanor shifts a little with the news he’s being given. He eventually turns around to face Tom and Alex to give them the biggest news they’ll ever hear, good, bad or otherwise.

Tom: Mike, please, just tell us what you know.
Mike: The Capitol’s been attacked. There’s still no word on the President or his detail. (Returning to the call) This is Ritter. Oh God. Don’t tell me that.
Tom: What is it?
Mike: It’s confirmed. Eagle is gone. Congress. The Cabinet. (Returning to his call) Yes sir. I’ll let him know. (Back to Tom) Mr. Secretary, we’re enacting continuity of government. The DC Appellate judge will meet us at the White House. Sir, you are now the President…of the United States.

Hannah Wells (played by Maggie Q) sees the coverage from a downtown bar. She makes a call and gets voicemail. She leaves on foot and doesn’t get very far when she gets a visual of the smoke billowing from above the Capitol. Hannah finds the FBI tent on location and jumps in to help. It takes a little convincing but she makes it clear, she’s the only one who knows what to look for if they are going to catch whoever did this. Helen makes her way out of the tent to find the wreckage. It is substantial. Well over 60% of the Capitol building is missing and the rest is burning to ash.

Tom and Alex arrive at the White House. Secret Service has already moved to secure their children. The White House at the moment is a somber collection of despair. Chaos and sadness at once. The chaos settles long enough for the Appellate judge to swear in President Tom Kirkman, street clothes and all.

Tom gets whisked away to a command center one must assume is the Situation Room where we find more chaos. The Secretary of Defense is leading the loudness, clearly I’m not going to like this guy. The SoD is asserting himself without any real clarification as to who has what level of authority. Tom drifts back out of the foreground and eventually finds his way to a restroom to throw up. Problem is, Seth Wright has been doing the same thing. Seth is a speech writer for the former President who has strong feelings against Kirkman’s fitness to lead. He just didn’t know he was talking to Kirkman between the stalls until it was too late.

Seth and two staffers sit in a room. One of them, “Nicky” (can’t imagine she’ll be around for long) begins to rip Kirkman. Calling him a glorified real estate agent and also questioning Kirkman’s fitness to lead. Then she does something rather stupid and I’m just glad Seth was there to point out her stupidity in a very Sorkin-esque manner.

Nicky: I’m sorry but no one could have foreseen this.
Seth: Why the hell do you think there is a Designated Survivor, Nicky? Because this was foreseen.

Right about the time Tom gets a moment to breathe and really measure the gravity of what is going on, its the first time he questions himself. Even considers quitting as he ‘isn’t the right guy for this’. Then Mike appears with more bad news. Leo (eldest child) is not at the home he claimed he’d be.

On to the next item of business, Tom is introduced to the Nuclear Football. Despite the power that symbolizes, Tom finds a way to be slightly humorous in the moment unintentionally. After seeing a movie or two that references the Nuclear Football he asks if they need a retinal scan or something. The Army Major accompanying it shrugs it off and claims it’s nothing like the movies.

Leo is not at the designated friend’s house because he’s out selling some kind of drug at a rave. They aren’t there long before cops make their way in. Leo tries to evade them but can’t get past Mike. In the car, Leo asks how they found him. Mike gives a long story about setting up an Ops Center at NSA and identifiying his digital footprint. Just a joke. They pinged his cell phone. Leo looks around at the route they’re taking. They are traveling to the White House and Leo is out of the loop.

Leo: I thought you were taking me home.
Mike (pauses): I am.

In what I believe is supposed to pass as the Mural Room, Seth works with Alex and Tom (yes in that order) to find Tom’s Presidential voice. Seth quotes a line that sounds like something a President would say. In fact, its something Tom said in regards to a HUD initiative. Now is not the time for that sentiment.

Seth: Sir, tonight, you’re speaking to the world. We don’t need another friend right now. You can’t be relaxed or disarming. That’s not going to work anymore. Mr. President, you need to be stronger than you’ve ever been before. We all need that right now.

Then what follows probably gets brushed under the rug for what it is. A staple of Presidential TV shows or movies. The West Wing, American President, and now Designated Survivor. Once someone is thrust into the role here, they at first, find it hard to accept the instant respect given to their title. In the case of the West Wing, Mrs. Santos wanted Donna to call her “Helen” which Donna can’t do in the current arrangement. Same here with Seth and Alex.

Alex: It’s ok. We’re all feeling it.
Seth: Thank you Ma’am.
Alex: Alex, please.
Seth: Uh…no Ma’am. You’re the First Lady.

In the Situation Room, there is movement. Apparently Iran is moving ships in position to affect the transport of oil to the United States. A curious move considering the timing. This proves to be the 2nd of as many brushes between Kirkman and his Secretary of Defense. Kirkman isn’t willing to just throw men and artillery at everything like his SoD wants him to.

Tom: General, you can scramble your bombers. But they do not engage. We are going to do this my way. If it doesn’t work, we’ll try yours.

Outside Emily (previous Kirkman assistant) knocks heads with the acting Chief of Staff (the deputy Chief of Staff to the Chief of Staff who was in the Capitol. She wants in because of her familiarity with Kirkman. He wants her out because Kirkman is no longer the Secretary of HUD but the President. Before he walks away, she says something cryptic. “You know more than anyone why its important for me to be there for him right now”. I’m not crazy about how that sounds.

Helen is still searching for someone named Scott. This in a small way feels like stories we heard from 9/11 of people calling loved ones. Calls going straight to voicemail, just trying to confirm that those people were alright. Only to find out later that they had sadly become casualties of the event. I hope we find Scott well, but I have a bad feeling about it. On site they find an un-detonated bomb or explosive device. With the area secured, the bomb squad goes in to dissect it. It was just a dud, but may prove to be advantageous in moving forward.

Tom waits to speak with the Iranian Ambassador. The Ambassador starts with the predictable greetings and message of support in this dark time. Tom does not hesitate, he does not bat an eye before charging in with having Iran remove their destroyers from the Strait of Hormuz. The Ambassador pushes back as if that has not happened.

Tom: Mr. Ambassador, you may not know much about me, but what you should know is I’m about as straight a shooter as you’re gonna find in Washington. So you should believe me when I tell you that I do not want my first act as Commander-in-Chief to attack Iran. But as both of us know, it’s not always up to us how history plays itself out. Now I have chosen to believe that your country is not playing on our emotions tonight. But nevertheless, you’ll feel the full impact of them if you do not comply with my demands. Mr. Ambassador…dock your destroyers. Or the lead story on the morning news will not be the attack on our Capitol, but the devastating attack on yours.

Helen’s agents toss around a theory that she’s not buying, but offers up one of her own. The big attacks, 9/11, Paris, Belgium all reported massive chatter leading up. As if they were telegraphing intentions. We knew something bad was going to happen, just not what. Right now, in regards to this attack, Helen is hearing absolutely nothing. Silent. She submits a simplistic notion. No one has taken credit for the attack because you don’t take credit until you’re finished. Is it possible that the attack on the Capitol was just the beginning?

Alex preps Tom to address the nation and has a hard time placing his suit. That’s because he had to borrow it from someone else. She reassured him that he looks the part. Outside on the Portico, SoD converses with Aaron (acting Chief of Staff) about doing something to remove Kirkman. Aaron is not comfortable with the conversation as it technically is grounds for conspiracy to commit treason.

Kirkman sits at the Resolute Desk looking ironically resolute. Before the cameras roll, Seth jumps in to remove Tom’s trademark horned rimmed glasses as they don’t look ‘Presidential’. Tom takes one last look around the room.

Tom Kirkman: My fellow Americans…