Ben Mark Holzberg / ABC

The Designated Survivor Offloads Some Dead Weight

Another week brings another kick to the Kirkmans.

As if the Kirkman administration didn't already have enough problems, now it's got to explain to the American people why they've suddenly got a dead Second Couple. Not that Kirkman fully understands it himself, but he's got his best people working on it -- all three of them. At the same time, word leaks out that McLeish gave the shoot-to-kill order against Catalan when he was acting president, so now the White House has to deal with that issue as well. Kirkman responds to these twin crises by temporarily cutting loose key members of his inner circle and sandwiching the episode between personal addresses to the public. No wonder he can't seem to get anything done. But then, is anyone else getting anything done? Only one way to find out: consult this week's power rankings. Here they are, in order from least to most effective. Check it.

  1. Vice President
    Still dead.
  2. White House Staff
    The opening montage of Emily, Aaron, and Seth sleeping in their clothes wherever they crashed is totes adorbs. It's also their peak. When "disgraced" reporter Abe Leonard (Rob Morrow, exacting revenge on whoever failed to cast him as E.K. Hornbeck in Inherit The Wind and also, while he's at it, on every person watching this) pisses in the punchbowl of Seth's briefing with a question about McLeish having Catalan killed, it sends everyone scrambling. Aaron knows that the leaker must have been Kimble Hookstraten, who heard it from Aaron. After confronting the unrepentant Speaker, Aaron confesses to the prez. Who gives him the week off to rest up and get his head out of his ass. Emily is asked to take Aaron's place, and she more than steps up, at least sartorially. Meanwhile Seth does what he can to discredit the reporter, which doesn't look that hard given that said reporter now writes for Teen Mode (har har har) and appears to be lurching between drunk tanks at any given moment. However, Leonard is right about two things: 1) there was a connection between McLeish and Kirkman's would-be assassin, and 2) the White House is being run by idiots.
  3. President of the United States
    As usual, Kirkman is playing defense, behaving reactively to news stories rather than driving them. Plus, stumping around the White House with a cane while wearing a cardigan all day makes him look like a grandfather who keeps forgetting whether he actually needs glasses or not.
  4. Attorney General
    With the McLeishes both dead, Agent Wells follows the only lead she has left: the Vice President's old squad-mate, who tells the harrowing story of the Afghan crucible of death that led to the formation of the conspiracy. Not only is this a complete violation of show-don't-tell protocol, but we only hear the story second-hand when Wells relates it back to the president. So we've learned a little more about how McLeish knew Catalan, not that this information is remotely interesting. Alas, she's less successful in trying to enlist the help of her former boss Jason Atwood, now broken and defeated after burying his son. Her new boss, Director Forstell, is...there, I guess.
  5. Secretary of Homeland Security
    Mike gets to be in on the most sensitive discussions of the conspiracy mystery with the President, Forstell, and Wells. But his greatest achievement this week is arranging for Kirkman's SUV to break formation in a way that allows the president to spy in his own daughter as she arrives at school. Which is a totally normal thing for a dad to do.
  6. First Family
    Alex decides she's had enough of living in a fortress, so she takes the kids and decamps to Camp David. Tom whines about it at first, but eventually gives in. Apparently he's decided he could use a few less things to worry about, not that he was doing so great at it in the first place.
  7. Speaker of the House
    Despite being on the outside looking in, Kimble Hookstraten is still three moves ahead of everyone. She screwed Aaron over by leaking information she threatened him to get, and she did it using a reporter whose teetering credibility she can easily topple at the moment of her choosing. Failing that, she can just light a match in his presence. Oh, and did I mention that she's now second in line to the presidency? Well, Aaron already did, so I don't have to.
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