Designated Survivor: Politics As Usual

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…

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