Dalene Rovenstine
April 19, 2017 at 11:00 PM EDT

Designated Survivor

TV Show
run date
Kiefer Sutherland, Natascha McElhone, Adan Canto, Italia Ricci, Kal Penn, Maggie Q
Current Status
In Season
We gave it an A-

You do not want to make President Kirkman angry … or maybe you do because all that happens when he gets angry is he yells sternly and then immediately apologizes for “losing his temper.”

“The Ninth Seat” focuses on the new government’s attempts to fill the vacant Supreme Court. That beautiful foe Senator Bowman isn’t pleased about not getting his way on the gun control bill, so he’s taking out his frustrations by not letting Kirkman’s justice nominations pass. The president is not having it — and he will sternly tell you so.

In order to fill the Supreme Court, the president has called on his former supervisor from his university days, Julia. She has been working tirelessly for weeks to get nine nominees vetted. In order to get quick approvals, she’s been working with senior leadership in the Senate to find four progressives, four conservatives, and one impartial independent. The independent would serve as chief justice so that everything is fair and everyone is happy. And according to Julia and Emily, everyone is happy and on board with the plan.

So, naturally, Kirkman is thrown off guard when Bowman, one of the senior leaders who’s been in on these talks, says his party won’t accept the nominated chief justice (he has shown liberal bias in the past). Either the Republicans get five justices they find acceptable or they’ll hold up ALL confirmations.

And here’s where Kirkman gets angry. He says there are 126 cases on the Supreme Court’s docket that can’t be heard. Bowman is holding the justice system hostage, he quips. One of the other Republican senators offers a compromise: If Kirkman puts another chief justice name forward, the Republicans will consider it. Kirkman agrees, and Bowman smiles. (This guy has a face you just want to punch. Mark Deklin, you’re doing your job too well.)

Julia comes up with another name, and Bowman and his side immediately shoot it down. Emily and Kirkman come up with yet another name: Julia, herself. She’s not a judge, but she did clerk for Justice Gray, and her decisions are studied in law schools. They say the right would never be able to say no.

In seems like a perfect plan until Julia tells Kirkman why it’s not: She has early onset dementia. It’s a sad turn for the character we just met — and Kirkman takes it hard. But even though Julia can’t take the job herself, she does find a solution.

Calling another senior leaders meeting, Kirkman has Julia explain her plan: There will only be eight supreme court justices. Four on the right and four on the left. The number of justices isn’t dictated by the constitution, and the next president (or Kirkman at a later time) could nominate one as he sees fit. Bowman acquiesces; “I can wait you out,” he tells the president. Man, I really do want someone to punch that guy.

In other political news, Congresswoman Hookstraten is ready to be made veep. She helped the gun control bill pass in the House and she’s ready for the president to hold up what she thinks is his end of the deal. Aaron tells Emily all this, but Emily says Kirkman never promised anything. I except this situation to heat up in the next episode or two, but the bigger story line of the episode is Abe Leonard.

Abe has graduated from Teen Mode (anyone else LOL every time they say this?) to The New York Standard. They’ve tasked him with reporting on the conspiracy theories around Nestor Lozano. This takes Abe to Iraq, where he meets with a terrorist leader who tells him that Lozano paid Al-Sakar to take credit for the capitol bombing — they didn’t actually do anything.

Abe rushes back to Washington and asks Seth if the president has a response. Seth of course has nothing to say on the matter (someone should really clue this guy in at some point), but he asks Emily to flag with POTUS. After all, Abe Leonard’s last crazy story ended up being confirmed true.

Abe next goes to Hookstraten. He’s poking around about MacLeish as well, and he heard that Kimble wouldn’t approve his VP confirmation initially. Kimble refuses to say anything, but the conversation spooks Aaron. He calls Wells’ phone, which is routed to Forstell, who tracks Aaron down himself.

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