Possible Wrong Decisions, By Possibly The Wrong Designated Survivor
Pressure mounts for Tom to make a move, thanks to moves made by others.
Tom's second day is hardly better than his first, as his White House deals with a cyberattack, a TV interview that goes south, increasing impatience for him to deliver somebody a military curbstomping already, and the public embarrassment of being benched at his predecessor's memorial. And that's just the stuff he knows about. One nice thing about all the subplots in this show: if you don't like one of them, wait a minute. If you don't like any of them, well, that's just hard cheese. So again, in line of succession format, here's how the episode's power rankings shake out, in order of least to most effective.
- First Family
While moving their stuff into the Residence, Alex discovers Leo's pills and the roll of cash he's been earning by selling them. Turns out Leo is much better at dealing than Alex is, as she barely yells at the kid and then keeps Tom in the dark about her discovery. Alex even misses the chance to tell Leo the moral of his story, which is that you should always do your own unpacking.
- National Security Advisor
Somebody went to the trouble of hacking the entire White House just so they could drop a file onto Tom's personal laptop in the Oval Office. It's a video of Al Sakar's leader taking responsibility for the bombing. Because everyone knows that if you have a message you want to send to the world, what you do is slip it onto a single device inside one of the most secure rooms on the planet. I suppose you have to get up pretty early in the morning to get past the White House's firewalls, but it doesn't seem to take much more than that.
- Secretary of Defense
General Cochran is still pushing Tom for a move against Al Sakar, particularly in light of the new video. He's still getting the straight-arm from Tom about it, but those horses are only going to be held for so long.
- President of the United States
Still not catching a break, this guy. He finds time to sit for a TV interview in which Elizabeth Vargas asks him about having been fired two days before, which is awkward. Then, President Richmond's son refuses to let Tom speak at Richmond's memorial, and is none too polite about it. Pretty much the only thing that goes right for him are his efforts to posthumously repair the former first son's relationship with his late father, and even after that he's still three hours late for family dinner at the residence. Which, upon further reflection, is probably his smartest move of the episode.
- White House Staff
All Seth gets to do is write a eulogy for President Richmond that Tom never even gets to deliver. Meanwhile, Tom's two putative Chiefs of Staff continue to butt heads, as the more cynical Aaron vies with the more idealistic Emily for the job. Things come to a head when Tom learns that Aaron leaked the Al Sakar video to the media, changing the conversation about Tom's preparedness for the job to one about going after the bad guys. It also forces Tom's hand on the issue, and Aaron offers to resign. Instead, Tom punishes him by making him Chief of Staff, I suppose reasoning that the White House lawn needs a snake in the grass. Emily will get stuck being "Special Advisor," which is the most bullshit title since the one they offered Tom in the pilot.
- Attorney General
A mixed day for Agent Hannah Wells. On the plus side, the shady hack she ordered from a tech guy yields fruit (see below). Also, her boss finally tells Tom -- and the Situation Room at large -- that there's an alternate theory that Al Sakar is being set up by unknown parties who were actually behind the bombing. But she gets a lecture from Atwood about following procedure, and she also gets confirmation that the senator with whom she was having an affair died in the bombing. So kind of a good news-bad news situation.
- Speaker of the House
A Representative MacLeish has been pulled from the rubble, doubling the size of Congress at a stroke. Between him and Representative Hookstraten, both chambers could be fully repopulated in a year and a half at this rate. Too bad they're both so damn squirrelly. MacLeish looks guilty from the moment he's unearthed from the wreckage, and indeed Wells's tricky methods reveal that he wasn't even in his seat at the time of the explosion, making him suspicious as hell. As for Hookstraten, she's still claiming to support Tom, but isn't above taking his place on the program at President Richmond's memorial when she's given the chance. And she all but admits to Tom that she's going to challenge him when his term is up in a few years. Tom is a lot more bothered by this than you would expect, given that he never wanted the job in the first place and claims not to want it now. But then, we're quickly learning that decisiveness isn't really his thing anyway.