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Designated Survivor recap: Season 1, Episode 3

The President is forced to make enemies before he becomes one himself

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ABC/Ben Mark Holzberg

Designated Survivor

TV Show
run date:
Kiefer Sutherland, Natascha McElhone, Adan Canto, Italia Ricci, Kal Penn, Maggie Q
Current Status:
In Season

When someone comes along and kills off the entire U.S. government, it’s important to find someone to root for, you know? That’s what the last few minutes of Designated Survivor gave us — someone to root for. After days of searching, Congressman MacLeish is pulled from the rubble. Granted, he’s not even in the running to assume office, but as Emily puts it, he’s definitely a silver lining.

President Kirkman gathers his staff together to review everything that needs to be done immediately (which is, you know, everything because the government is in shambles), but in the midst of covering the punch list, the power goes out and immediately everyone assumes it’s another attack. Computer systems go down and the CIA confirms it — the White House has been hacked. Sounds like Hannah’s assessment that the attacks aren’t over might just be correct. Deducing that America might have enough on its mind right now, the staff decides to keep the attack under wraps. Next steps? Well, according to Aaron, it’s choosing a Chief of Staff. OH AARON.

Back at the Capitol search headquarters, Hannah and Jason go back and forth on potential survivors — in a sea of faces, only MacLeish has managed to be found alive. Hannah thinks they need to talk to the congressman, but Jason is not having it because where she sees a witness, he sees… well… a congressman who just survived a terrorist attack.

In the White House, Aaron comments on Emily being late because if Aaron knows how to do anything well, it’s mansplain to Emily how to get to work on time. She admits that she was late because her boyfriend was proposing, which is when Aaron goes into how these things tend to happen after tragedy — knee jerk decisions like marriage, divorce, getting bangs, etc. Emily knows he’d rather she go for it because it would distract her. They sit down with Congresswoman Hookstraten to go over Cabinet appointments, but she’s more interested in this computer hack she’s picked up on. They’re pulled out quickly though and pulled to the Oval.

Along with President Kirkman, they discover that nothing was hacked as much as something is left behind. A terrorist, Majid Nassar, left a video behind admitting that he was responsible for the attacks. General Cochrane is ready, per usual, to attack, but President Kirkman isn’t totally convinced. That’s when Jason stands up with Hannah’s theory that these “clues” like the bomb and the video are just diversions from the real terrorist. Jason admits that he’s not sure he believes the theory, but he does believe in her. He takes the tape to Congresswoman Hookstraten for her perspective, and she supports the president.

Hannah, meanwhile, goes to visit Congressman MacLeish, who doesn’t have much perspective other than he went from watching the president speak to seeing darkness. He’s plagued with survivor’s guilt and just wants resolution. He’s not the only one. The former President’s son, Tyler, has been brought in to speak with Seth and President Kirkman before his father’s funeral, and you can tell he’s still very clearly shell-shocked by everything that’s happened. But if anyone is adjusting decently well to the current situation, it’s Penny, who is helping Alex unpack and get settled into the White House the best they can. The fun ends though when Penny finds Leo’s stash and wad of cash because if anything is more annoying than being thrust into the role of First Lady after a terrorist attack, it’s finding out the First Son is a drug dealer. Alex confronts Leo, who admits to the ecstasy (these kids, am I right), and she insists that the conversation is not over.

NEXT: A President in need is a target indeed