Ben Mark Holzberg / ABC

Designated Survivor Reconnects With An Ex

A couple of blasts from the past resurface with some helpful hints for POTUS.

The Designated Survivor gang reconnects with a few old familiar (and not-so-familiar) faces this week. Charles Langdon -- the other other guy who was supposed to have died in the Capitol bombing but didn't -- has resurfaced to dish some dirt on the capital-C Conspiracy behind the attack. (As per usual, the actual amount of dirt dished is maddeningly small.)

Also, former president Cornelius Moss has stopped by, and while he's expecting to throw back a couple of wagyu sliders and give his two cents on some Cabinet appointees, he ends up getting a little sucked into the Executive Branch's problem du jour: the tiny, war-torn, fictional African nation of Naruba teeters on the brink of genocide, and by the end of the episode, warlords will have captured, then released, fifteen American aid workers. It can't be easy to handle a high-pressure situation under the watchful eye of someone who used to do your job, but Kirkman strikes the right balance between counsel-seeking and decisive action.

Big strides are made this week on the domestic intrigue front as well: Kirkman formally exonerates Wells and tasks her with investigating all the hinky stuff around the Capitol bombing, a job which includes such perks as a secret office, carte blanche to seek assistance from Agent Forstell, and a meaningful, slow-motion close-up of Hannah's steely gaze and windblown locks against the backdrop of a floodlit Capitol dome. If she had an official Executive Branch job title, surely she'd be pretty high up in the power rankings; alas, it's still a top-secret gig, so no spot in the order of succession for her.

  1. Speaker Of The House

    Seriously, where the hell was Hookstratten this week? Hitting the outlet malls in search of more statement brooches? Her badassery was sorely missed.

  2. First Family

    After little more than a day or two away from Washington, Alex breezes back into town for dinner with the ex-president, but she doesn't get to do much more than serve as set dressing when all is said and done. The First Kids, still squirreled away at Camp David, weigh in solely via crayon drawings and relayed anecdotes.

  3. White House Staff

    Emily (now acting as Chief of Staff) and Seth attempt to bro down over some pretty tasty-looking tacos, though their third Musketeer, Aaron, is sadly absent: he's off getting interrogated by the frickin' FBI, and everyone's still harboring those lingering little doubts whether he was actually partially responsible for killing every single government official in Washington who wasn't, you know, designated.

    For his part, Aaron's super-emo over having to vacate his position. Once Aaron's finally cleared of any Conspiracy-related wrongdoing, Kirkman then has to spend the back half of the episode trying to assuage his hurt feelings over being the target of investigation, but it does no good. His reputation's taken too much of a hit, he says, although you can tell he almost takes it all back when he catches a glimpse of Emily. Which probably means we haven't seen the last of him.

  4. Secretary Of Transportation

    On the day of the bombing, Langdon says, he was on his way to rat out The Conspiracy, but they hacked his car and forced it to drive off a bridge. It's a ludicrous story (accompanied by equally ludicrous flashback footage), but it checks out, apparently, and it has the added bonus of clearing Aaron's name. (Notable: if these Conspiracy people are so omnipresent and plugged-in that they can remotely take over a car's navigation, it seems a little odd that they didn't know Langdon took a photo of their ringleader while she was asleep.)

  5. President Of The United States

    Tom learns that instead of just being the unlucky rando who drew the short straw on the night of the Capitol Bombing, he -- specifically -- was the guy the Conspirators wanted on Designated Survivor duty. So he's got that going for him, which is nice.

    Oh, wait, it's because they thought he was the least qualified person for the job. Ouch.

    Joke's on them, though: Kirkman's secret urban-planning superpowers lead him to a masterful plan to resolve the Naruba situation, and with Wells handling the Conspiracy junk, he can devote himself ever more fully to running and repairing the country...and what's more, he's starting to get good at it.

  6. Secretary Of State

    Ex-President Cornelius Moss (played here by Geoff Pierson, no stranger to playing presidents on primetime dramas with Kiefer Sutherland) stops by to help Kirkman vet some Cabinet appointees, but he basically gives the guy a ten-minute monologue about how totally screwed he is, and then hops on the phone to play catchup with old pals on the White House kitchen staff. Indeed, Moss mostly just wants to talk about food in a folksy way...until, that is, the Naruba thing heats up. (Seriously, though, Naruba? Like that's not just going to make us think we're hearing them say "Aruba," and then we spend the rest of the episode with "Kokomo" stuck in our heads. Gold star for immersive world-building there, show.) (Also, when the plot turns to international politics, shows should either make up all of their foreign countries or none of them. It's either Russia and Syria and Switzerland or Mypos and Genovia and Zamunda. Don't mix and match. I am not a crackpot.)

    Anyway: when the situation in NARUBA seems to be headed toward a crisis, Moss gives Kirkman a virtual master class in presidential gravitas. For his troubles, he gets offered the Secretary of State job, which I guess saves them both a little extra work.

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