Another busy week for President Tom Kirkman. There’s a survivor of the attack on the Capitol: young up-and-coming Congressman Peter MacLeish is found, still alive, in the rubble, claiming to have no idea what happened. Everyone accepts his story at face value except, of course, Agent Maggie Q – also lamenting the death of her married Senator lover – who interviews MacLeish then, with the assistance of a Zapruder-esque photo of the seconds before the explosion, finds evidence which strongly suggests that MacLeish isn’t what he seems.
This might be as well, because there are plenty of people desperate for war with terrorist group Al-Saqar; including, apparently, the leader of Al-Saqar himself, Majid Nassar, who sends the White House a video claiming responsibility for the attack. Agent Q’s boss advises the President and the Situation Room of her theory that it’s a false flag operation; but someone then leaks the video to the media, ensuring that the American public, like just about everyone in the White House, get the enemy they’ve been craving. “Track the son of a bitch down!” barks the President, obviously with spectacles off.
But will Tom still be around to lead the fight? Kimble Hookstraten is on manoeuvres: this week, she somehow manages to arrange things at the funeral of the deceased President Richmond so that she, rather than Tom, delivers the eulogy, and looks hella stateswomanlike while doing it. Tom is also undermined when, during a TV interview he’s asked if it’s true that he was going to be sacked by Richmond just before the explosion, and dissembles a little. So he’s under more and more pressure to justify his legitimacy as President; and while Kimble, at the start of the episode, is talking bipartisanship it’s becoming increasingly obvious, even to Tom, that she’s up to something. Which is confirmed when she admits that she wants the Oval at some point. What isn’t quite clear to me yet is why Tom is so desperate to cling to office: he never wanted the job, he’s barely qualified, and lots of people want him out. Just chuck it, Tom, and hand over to Kimble. Let her sort things out, if she’s so clever. And maybe she is, although her motives remain opaque for now.
Meantime, though, Tom seems wiling to make a go of it. First things first: he needs a Chief of Staff. Does he go with honest, principled, worked-for-him-for-years Emily, or hard-nosed, duplicitous, video-leaking (as it turns out) Aaron? It’s the latter, naturally, and although Emily is not happy with Aaron – she gets, from POTUS, the consolation prize of special advisor – she did reject her boyfriend’s proposal of marriage on the same day, thus appreciably boosting the chances of #Emron by the winter hiatus. Aaron, meantime, meets a mysterious woman and collects from her a mysterious folder, which might or might not contain dirt on the President. I’m wondering, just a little, about him and Emily…?
I can still live without the family stuff in Designated Survivor – this week, the tedious saga of Leo the drug dealer dragged on, with his mother and sister finding drugs and a roll of cash, very strongly suggesting that he’s been dealing. It isn’t what it looks like, he protests, and either way I don’t care. That aside, though, this was great. This show looks like a keeper.