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Designated Survivor recap: Season 1, Episode 5

The Kirkman administration hunts down a terrorist; Maggie Q makes some headway in her investigation

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ABC/Sven Frenzel

Designated Survivor

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

Welcome back to Designated Survivor, which took a break last week for the third and final presidential debate (apparently, Wednesday night didn’t need any more ridiculous political intrigue/drama). Whereas the last episode was jam-packed with story lines, tonight’s hour is almost entirely focused on one important thing: The mission to take out Majid Nassar. Let’s dive in!

Preparing for the Titular Mission

President Kirkman originally planned on killing Nassar via an airstrike because he didn’t want to put troops on the ground. However, that plan gets thrown out the window when they receive intelligence that Nassar is no longer where they thought he would be. Apparently, someone in the Algerian government tipped him off before the attack. See, Kirkman, this is what you get when you try the sensible diplomatic route.

This initial setback leads Kirkman to second-guess himself throughout the entire episode. To make matters worse, he still has Kimble breathing down his neck and demanding to know what’s taking so long to make a decision. She also reminds him he’s constitutionally obligated to consult with Congress before going to war. He assures her he knows:

Kimble:It’s reassuring to know that you’re fully aware of your constitutional duties.”

Kirkman:Thank you for your continued vigilance.”

By this point, these two are barely putting any effort into hiding how much they don’t care for each other — and I love it.

Eventually, military intelligence finds Nassar hiding in the basement of an Algerian hospital, which means an airstrike is no longer an option because it would result in too many civilian casualties. So his options are to either wait for another opportunity or to send in Navy SEALs to handle the job. Obviously, he doesn’t want to risk American lives, but it’s the only viable option. The Joint Chiefs suggest Kirkman instruct the SEALs to take Nassar alive (if possible) so he can be interrogated, but Kirkman is unsure because it would increase the danger of the mission.

Before making a decision, Kirkman travels to Virginia to meet with the SEAL team to learn more about its chances of success. The commander says it’s 50/50, but he’s confident they’ll get the job done. “God have mercy on them, because the United States won’t,” says the commander. I’m guessing that epically quotable line was all the reassurance Kirkman needed, because he green-lights the mission.

Kirkman heads back to D.C. and meets with Kimble and Peter MacLeish — a.k.a. Congress — to brief them on the Algeria plan. While Peter gives Kirkman his support, Kimble warns him she will turn her back on him if the mission fails, which is unsurprising — Kimble showed her true colors in last week’s episode. After the meeting, Aaron suggests Kirkman ask Peter to volunteer for speaker of the House once Congress has been re-formed. Kirkman thinks it’s a good idea and tells Aaron to get to work.

NEXT: Designated Survivor gets soapy