President Kirkman made it a year in office — and has yet another problem to solve.
Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg/ABC
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It’s been one year since the disastrous attack on the Capitol and one year since we met Kiefer Sutherland’s President Kirkman. A lot has changed in that year: The Capitol has been rebuilt, the terrorist has been discovered (but not found), and Lyor Boone (Royal Pain’s Paulo Costanzo) has been added to the cast White House staff.

And we’ve gone international! In the premiere, we find Agent Hannah Wells drunk in an Amsterdam bar where a fellow patron offers to take her home. And by home, he means his home. He lays her down on the couch and before he knows it, a very not drunk Agent Wells knocks him out. She begins rummaging around the apartment and finds a USB drive (that she can plug into her phone? what phone is that??). Hannah calls Chuck and he says the USB is full of addresses and each location matches the node of the dark web.

A “node of the dark web” does not sound like a place you should go to alone, but Hannah does, despite Chuck’s protests. Once she’s there, she’s immediately followed in by the creepy bar guy, who now has a gun on her. He’s not just mad that she knocked him out with an ashtray; he’s MI6, and he’s also trying to track down Patrick Lloyd, the man behind the U.S. terrorist attacks. Turns out Patrick’s been a bad dude in England as well.

Hannah and the MI6 agent, who we learn is Agent Damian Rennett (Ben Lawson) team up and search this dark web node place. They find a hidden security camera, which reveals footage of Lloyd killing the guy running this node. (How many times do you think I can use “node” in a recap? And how many times do you think I’m using it correctly?) They’re able to track down the guy who sold Lloyd his computer, and with Chuck’s help, they find Lloyd’s next location.

To be honest, I got a little lost in how the two agents were tracking all this, but what you need to know is that Lloyd wasn’t at that location. He’s back in — dun, dun dunnnnn — D.C. So that’s great! (On page 2: What’s going on in Washington)

While all of that is happening, President Kirkman is dealing with yet another crisis: Ukranian terrorists have hijacked a Russian plane in Chicago. There are 165 hostages on board, including 68 Americans, one of whom is an old friend of Kirkman’s.

Always calm and collected, Kirkman sends Aaron and Emily to chat with the Ukrainian and Russian ambassadors. No surprise — they both are unwilling to do anything. “To use an American phrase, ‘We don’t cry uncle,’” says the Russian ambassador.

These two countries don’t exactly play nice on a good day, so the Russians are taking this as a threat and amassing troops at the Ukranian border. However, Kirkman finds something to make them cry uncle: The Russians hired the Ukranians to hijack the plane. When the president confronts the ambassadors with this intel, they try to balk. But then the president whips out his fluent Russian (who knew?) and they agree to call off the whole plan.

The Russian troops back off and the terrorists surrender. All the passengers are able to disembark, and it almost ends happily. Kirkman’s friend was a doctor, so he stayed behind with an elderly passenger. And a spark from the runway caused that passenger’s oxygen tank to explode and they both died.

Kirkman takes this hard since the last time they spoke, after leaving the Peace Corps together (did we know he was in the Peace Corps??), they had a falling out. Always a great partner, Alex calls the man’s wife and finds out that he never held a grudge against Tom.

Tom’s friend had a drive to help people; Tom remembers that about him and uses that memory to reignite his White House staff, who’ve been feeling burned out lately. (Mostly Seth, who that very day was interviewing for a new job but ultimately turned it down.) They’re ready to take on the world, which is good since they have an international terrorist on their doorstep.

Do you think they ever got that cake Kirkman wanted?

Episode Recaps

Designated Survivor
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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