Designated Survivor: Another Side To Tom Kirkman

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.

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