HOLLYWOOD—This week’s episode of “Designated Survivor” introduced us to the attack’s only survivor, which raised more questions than it answered. Thirty-six hours’ post-attack, the FBI pulls Congressman Peter MacLeish from the rubble – but how was he the only one that survived?
For the most part, episode three—much like episode two—trails President Kirkman as he plods about his day like the average joe he is: an unimpressive development, considering the series’ pilot featured the Capitol engulfed in flames while 99 percent of the government was inside of it.
The first few moments of the episode, however, offered a glimmer of excitement. On the morning of what I presume is day two of his presidency, Kirkman gathers his staffers to mull over the day’s itinerary. The White House’s power cuts out – from a hack, we come to learn. Nevertheless, Kirkman and his staff unanimously agree to keep the hack on the down-low, lest the American people see it as another attack.
Later, Homeland Security’s hack analysis comes back and things actually manage to get more complicated. We learn the perpetrators didn’t touch a thing – meaning: all data, files and codes were intact. They did, however, leave behind a video confession from Majid Nassar (Nicholas Massouh)—Al Sakar’s leader—claiming responsibility for the attack. Still, Kirkman is reasonably suspicious, considering Al Sakar could have—and likely would have—simply leaked the confession to the press.
Amidst the chaos President Kirkman allots time for an interview—the first of his career, that is with real-life ABC news anchor Elizabeth Vargas (classic cross-promotion) and he’s completely thrown off his game when she asks, “Is it true President Richmond fired you from his cabinet on the day of the attack on the Capitol?” … “And if you were, can you understand why some may say you have no business being the President of the United States?” (Yikes) Bad news for President Kirkman – but realistically, did he think no one would bring that up?
Flash back to the Al Sakar situation: Kirkman’s suspicions of the video’s legitimacy are heightened when FBI Director Jason Atwood (Malik Yoba) comes forward to tell him that Agent Hannah Wells (who is now finally relevant – no thanks to her millisecond appearances in the last two episodes) has an unsubstantiated intuition that the evidence was manipulated and planted to frame Al Sakar. Simultaneously, General Cochrane is adamant that this is means for war and an opportunity to reunite the nation behind one common enemy. Expectedly, Kirkman is clueless – but he’s certain of one thing: the public cannot see the video.
That is, until it’s leaked—not even 12 hours later—by prospective Chief of Staff, Aaron (Adan Canto), who, upon being confronted—persists it was the right move for Kirkman’s presidency, but humbly offers his letter of resignation, if the President so chooses to accept it. Then, quite the contrary happens: he appoints Aaron his Chief of Staff, on the basis that he needs someone who “thinks differently” than he does – which is fair. Kirkman offers Emily (Itallia Ricci) the position of “special advisor” (whatever that means) but swears it’s not a “consolation prize” –which, yes, it is.
The episode closes upon two cliff-hangers: Agent Wells learns Congressman MacLeish left his seat in the moments leading up to the attack. That means he wasn’t in the room when the Capitol exploded; then, we see Aaron, the new Chief of Staff meeting with a private investigator – seemingly to dig up dirt on President Kirkman. Which renders one question: who can we trust?
“Designated Survivor” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.