Surviving Becomes A Full-Time Job On Designated Survivor
The assassin's bullet hasn't killed anyone...yet.
Leave it to Designated Survivor to come back from a three-month cliffhanger by offering us the most predictable resolution possible. That's right: the bullet hit President Kirkman himself. Luckily, he's fine! But then he's not. And then he is again. The point is that Kiefer Sutherland gets to ease back into work by spending 99% of the episode either off-camera or flat on his back.
While the president undergoes surgery to remove bullet fragments (because what kind of slapdash assassin would use ammunition that goes straight through?), the 25th Amendment makes the brand-spanking new Vice President, Peter McLeish, the brand-spanking new acting President. Alas, he's acting like a moron. Or rather, like the puppet of a conspiracy that's giving him his real orders. We still don't know who's behind that conspiracy, so the following power rankings will be necessarily incomplete. But as always, we're presenting them in order from least to most effective. And in order of succession format, which would seem a little morbid if we believed President Kirkman were ever in any actual danger.
- Secretary of Commerce
Acting President McLeish is advised to keep the stock markets closed the day after the shooting to avoid a panic. McLeish ignores this advice, because he's really working for a shadowy conspiracy that's gone to all this trouble just so they can buy up cheap stock, I guess.
- First Family
Alex stresses out about her husband's injury, which is kind of her job. We also get a flashback to when she insisted that Tom accept his Cabinet post even though she had a job offer in Manhattan (probably because she knew she was much more likely to get future job offers than he was). Surprisingly, though, Leo is the one who really steps up, putting his little sister to bed -- and, even better, keeping her safely off-camera.
- Speaker of the House
Kimble Hookstraten and President Kirkman aren't always on the same page, but one thing they can agree on is that Peter McLeish is shady AF. Before going under the knife, Kirkman asks the Speaker to keep an eye on McLeish. She takes to the task with relish, warning the acting president that if he slips up, she'll be all over his skinny ass. Peter plays it cool, but he's secretly more scared of her than of probably anyone.
- Vice President
During his time as acting President, McLeish gets to make all of two decisions and they're both super-sketch. There's the aforementioned deliberate crashing of the stock market, and then there's his order that the president's assailant be shot to death on sight. He gets his way in both cases. But even with Catalan out of the picture, McLeish is clearly stressing about evidence leading back to himself. And he doesn't even get to be president for the whole episode.
- White House Staff
Aaron finds out that Emily has been asked to look into his shady pre-bombing activities, only to get frozen out when he confronts her. In his defense, he's not really acting all that guilty, other than the hair. Meanwhile, Seth reminds the world that the bar for a White House Press Secretary doesn't always have to be at a subterranean level. It's quite refreshing to see someone doing that job who is so calm, confident, and unlikely to be played by Melissa McCarthy on the next SNL.
- President of the United States
Kirkman's hours of medical incapacitation are sandwiched by a couple of smart calls. First, asking the Speaker to watch over McLeish, and then waving from his hospital room window to the crowd outside, saving the stock market single-handedly (literally).
- Attorney General
Agent Hannah Wells's days of running around D.C. investigating some nutty conspiracy seem to be over, at least for now. Currently in FBI custody, she refuses to say anything to anyone, up to and including the FBI's director. Because like another famous TV FBI agent, she can trust no one. In fact, she tells Mike that the information she has on Peter McLeish is so explosive that she will only share it with the president himself. Too bad that's out of the question. Or is it?
- Secretary of Homeland Security
For whatever reason, Kirkman dispatches his personal Secret Service guy Mike to try and find out something from Hannah Wells that the FBI can't. The crazy thing is that it works! Hannah won't say anything while she's on camera in an FBI interrogation room, but she's able to slip Mike a clue. Next thing Mike knows, he's asking Wells's old work buddy Chuck about Catalan. And the next thing he knows after that, he's ushering Wells into President Kirkman's hospital room. Jeez, took long enough for those two people to finally meet, and one's been shot and the other arrested. I hope they'll have each other on speed dial after this.