Ben Mark Holzberg/ABC
S2 E5
October 25, 2017 at 11:44 PM EDT

Sit back. Close your eyes.

Do this for me.

You there? Sitting back with your eyes closed? Okay. Think of a time when the president was held accountable for his actions — when his words mattered, and when, if he attacked, say, a portion of the nation, he would be taken to task. Doesn’t that seem reasonable? For now, we’ll have settle for fiction. Tonight is all about Kirkman and what happens when he says the wrong thing, because in an alternate universe, saying something offensive is, well, an offense. One that could cause you to pay dearly.

We open with the shooting of a woman who’s on a run while she’s recording notes on, wait for it, gun violence. We’re quickly thrown to a government-sanctioned hockey game (because that’s what government officials do), after which Kirkman is briefed on the woman who was shot. That woman, Charlotte Thorne, happened to be a member of Parliament and a potential future prime minister. Turns out she was going to out people around gun violence at the G-20 summit and thus was taken out before she could.

Meanwhile, Alex is choosing a lawyer for her mom because bribes. Kirkman recommends Kendra because she’s a lawyer who knows how to get things done [points directly at camera]. Designated Survivor is giving us a lot more walk-and-talk, Aaron Sorkin-esque, West Wing-looking scenes this season, so when Emily talks about wanting movement on Kirkman’s agenda and appointments, this feels like a political show, but I swear, it’s hard when every episode is caught up in an absolutely insane hot-button political topic. Then again, that’s reality these days, so who am I to judge?

But then, in a private moment with a senator, President Kirkman refers to the American people as suckers. Y’ALL, it does not go over well. Seth is stuck with the press, who aren’t letting Kirkman off easy, and the other representatives of the U.S. government aren’t loving it too much either. Meanwhile, Emily is meeting with a senator to discuss the judicial nominees, and she has her own idea of who should be nominated to the federal courts. It’s pretty controversial.

Alex meets with Kendra because lawyers with aggression are the way to go. You see, Kendra has defended 11 senators during criminal investigations and none have been convinced, which is like…Olivia Pope stats. As for her husband, after Kirkman meets with that senator, Alan, the senator turns over his words to the press and makes him seem like a total a–hole. Kirkman tells him to turn those words around, but Alan is not having it because he’s a salt-and-pepper god just trying to serve The People.

Somehow, in this world’s fragile state, the murder of MP Charlotte Thorne and this comment about Americans being suckers are enough to end Kirkman’s presidency. Does that make sense? Not really, but hey, sure, why not? If that’s not enough, there’s also a reporter trolling to unearth the First Lady’s mom’s subpoena, even if Seth tries to shut it all down. But when all else fails, Kirkman returns to Security Detail Mike, who says, “Don’t sling mud, sling hope.” God, why isn’t Mike president?

Of course, the real story line we care about is Hannah and Damian, because is that not honestly the best part of this show? They’re taking a moment off their normal case to look into the murder of this member of Parliament, and they find a suspect on a boat doing some mischievous things. When they go to inspect the boat (Hannah, stay away from boats, girl!), she’s almost attacked by a man before he’s shot by Damian. CLASSIC HANNAH.

Hannah’s alive, so back to Suckergate. The plan moving forward is to appeal to the American people by letting Kirkman be reasonable and accessible. While that’s in the works, Alex decides to attend the subpoena hearing for her mother. And not only that — she also decides to chime in as co-counsel because who cares about ethics here? Kendra calls a 10-minute recess because Alex is BONKERS.

In some diner, Kirkman holds babies and turns down trying some guy’s chili because he’s not ~crazy~ (insert laughter!). When he walks out, he’s met by a senator who is not down with his judicial choices, and then she makes the suggestion that maybe they all are suckers for trusting him. Yikes! With 20 minutes left, how will this get resolved? Oh, you just wait. It will. But as things start to spiral, Emily and team suggest that they have to cut the cord and solve this matter today, and the solution is sitting on the coffee table. Kirkman isn’t loving it, but he knows that he has to move on it. (Recap continues on page 2)

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Kiefer Sutherland returns to TV in this ABC political drama. The 2016 new fall show follows his rise to president when all other cabinet members tragically die. Natascha McElhone, Italia Ricci, Adan Canto, Kal Penn, and Maggie Q also star.
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