President Kirkman has said that he never imagined he would be responsible for making life or death decisions. He certainly can’t avoid them now. The President of the United States makes life and death decisions for every American citizen, and that’s under normal circumstances. The reality for Designated Survivor is anything but normal circumstances. As if going to war after a terrorist attack isn’t enough danger, a terrorist and a scandal pose the greatest threat to the country. This week the unknown is the enemy.
A planned airstrike to take out Nassar, the terrorist suspected of bombing the Capitol, fails before it even gets off the ground. Trying to handle the situation diplomatically gave Nassar time to be tipped off about the airstrike coming for him. Kirkman has no choice but to send in Navy SEALS to retrieve him in Algeria. More disturbing is that the Admiral thinks that it would be a good idea to take Nassar alive, that way he can be used as a source of information. Before Kirkman feels comfortable asking men to put their lives on the line, he meets with them. It strengthens his resolve that the SEALS’s lives are more important than Nassar’s. The mission is a success, but it comes at a price. In an effort to keep innocent children out of the crossfire, the SEAL team leader takes several bullets and succumbs to his wounds. The weight is heavy on Kirkman, but ultimately he made the best decision, and things could have gone much worse.
Congresswoman Hookstraten doesn’t miss anything. She suspects what Kirkman is up to, and reminds him that while Congress consists of one person, she has the constitutional right to know what is going on. When he informs her and Congressman MacLeish what’s going on, he gets mixed reactions. MacLeish and Hookstraten are supportive, but Hookstraten is going to be politically savvy about this. If the mission succeeds, she will continue to offer her support to the presidency. If it fails, she’ll be the first to say something negative if it will help her future bid for Commander-in-Chief. This is why Kirkman offers MacLeish the job of Speaker of the House. MacLeish cares more about serving the people than playing politics, which is why he turns down the job.
The events of the day are scattered and on a need to know basis. Seth Wright is handling his new job as Press Secretary like a pro. He’s extremely skilled at diverting reporter’s attention away from speculation. Everyone in the White House loves Seth not only because he is good at his job, but because he knows how to keep his mouth shut where he should.
Since she is Special Advisor to the President, not his Chief of Staff, Emily is left out of classified military operations as well. Her job is to try to put together a whole new Cabinet, Congress, and House of Representatives. Now we’ve all done that “dream you’re on an island and have to put together a new government” exercise. It’s just that the United States hasn’t had to do it in more than 200 years, and even then they had a set list of people for Cabinet. She’s thrown off when Aaron mentions a Jeffrey Meyers and his connection to the Kirkmans. The First Lady does a good job of covering her shock when Emily brings it up, but summons Aaron to set the record straight. Jeffrey Meyers was Alex’s boyfriend years ago, and there is a possibility that he’s Leo biological father. Â It’s not a secret between the President and First Lady, but Leo is completely unaware. Forget incompetency, conspiracy, and terrorism. Nothing dismantles a presidency faster than a scandal.
Agent Wells persistently follows up on the mysterious tip about Room 105. She finds out from an expert architect who knows the Cabinet schematics that Room 105 was a hideaway office. Wells asks Hookstraten for permission to take a look at the schematics. What she learns is that the last construction company commissioned for upgrades focused only on Room 105. All 8 men who worked construction on that room were killed within the month before the Capitol blew up. These men didn’t do standard renovations, they built a bomb shelter inside the Capitol. MacLeish was meant to survive, and he knew it, which explains his dismay when Nassar is captured alive. The realization terrifies Atwood. The country’s greatest terrorist attack came from the inside, so they can’t tell anyone what they suspect if they don’t know who to trust. What should terrify Wells and Atwood more is that President Kirkman is thinking about offering Congressman MacLeish the Vice Presidency.
We’ll return to this terrifying version of Washington D.C. after Election Day. Would you elect Tom Kirkman as your President?
Designated Survivor Season 1 Episode 5 Review: "The Mission"
Designated Survivor‘s presidency isn’t threatened by war, but by two different, terrifying secrets.