Designated Survivor: Wrong Side of the Questions

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.

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