Kirkman crosses party lines to get legislation passed while Wells makes a startling discovery about the attack
Credit: ABC/Ben Mark Holzberg

Sandwich Diplomacy

Kirkman holds court at yet another White House press briefing. According to the show’s own timeline, it’s the second one he’s held, like, this week, which is weird — a president probably shouldn’t be tied up in this many press conferences, especially when there’s barely any government in place.

Nonetheless, Kirkman talks with the press about Senator Bowman’s weak gun-control bill from last week and basically dares Congress in front of the entire nation to come up with stronger legislation.

To counteract Bowman, Kirkman meets behind the scenes with Massachusetts senator to strengthen the current legislation to make it much more palatable for the liberal wing of Congress — but the problem is there are only 46 Democrats in the Senate. They’ll need at least five Republican votes to get behind them.

To get this done, Kirkman resorts to what could be called sandwich diplomacy. He personally invites individual Republican senators into the Oval Office to eat lunch — and, of course, try to change minds on the gun-control bill.

Speaker Kimble Hookstraten also gets into the mix. As one of the top Republicans on the Hill, she does her best to talk some sense (or rather, moderation) into Senator Bowman. He doesn’t take to it too kindly, more or less telling her, “Get out of my way.” Such intransigence from Congressional Republicans? Who would imagine!

Even former President Moss gets in on it, lobbying his closest contacts in the Senate to do the right thing and vote their conscience. Emily also jumps into the action by striking a deal with Aaron Shore at a behind-the-behind-the-scenes drink.

Meanwhile, FLOTUS meets with a group of concerned citizens to hear their thoughts on the best way to handle gun control, because the writers absolutely must give her something relevant to do every week. The meeting really weighs on her. She relays her feelings to the president, who hugs her. Later, she also throws some shade on Bowman right to his face, guilting him for his hard-line position on the issue. And that’s your weekly FLOTUS update.

By the end of the episode, the efforts of every single one of them — Kirkman, Moss, Speaker Kimble Hookstraten, Emily, the First Lady — pay off. The bill passes. Leave it to a television show to finally get some gun-control legislation passed. Yay, fantasy!

What Is Browning Reed, and What Do They Want?

Agent Wells and Ritter look over the attack simulations found in the now-dead Brooke Mathison’s possession. Are they rejected plans — as in, options before the conspirators settled on the Capitol — or are they plans for future attacks? The answer requires more investigation.

To that end, Wells and her team do some light digging into a military-industrial entity known as Browning Reed. The company’s name and logo suggests a Lockheed Martin-ish organization, but they seem to be more in line with Blackwater: a shady group of mercenary soldiers-for-hire. “It was the go-to private military for the Pentagon,” Wells notes. They’ve been responsible for some unsavory acts during the war in Afghanistan, and as a result the group was officially dissolved years ago. Yet… they’re still actively paying rent for key real estate properties, including one in North Dakota. And as it happens, records show that Brooke Mathison has taken numerous trips to that very state in recent years.

So Wells and Jason Atwood fly to North Dakota to hunt for clues. They head to the coordinates of the Browning Reed facility, but, weirdly, they find no facility there, only a large, open field.

What gives? They find out that what they’re looking for is actually in that exact spot — but it’s underground. After some milling about, they find the entrance and start inspecting the spookily abandoned facility.

What they find is troubling: piles and piles of bombs. It’s the same type that was used to blow up the Capitol, in fact. “There’s enough explosives here to blow up three Capitols,” Wells notes. Or perhaps three landmarks… such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and, um, the Hoover Dam.