Ben Mark Holzberg / ABC

The Designated Survivor Wonders Who's Governing Whom

While the FBI grills the Capitol bombing's alleged architect, state leaders grill its biggest beneficiary.

Terrorist leader and prime bombing suspect Majid Nassar is in U.S. custody, for all the good that does anyone. He's not even Tom's biggest worry right now. No, that would be the forty-odd foot of state governors gathered at the White House to approve or deny Tom's Senate appointments. Naturally, they didn't get to be chief executives of their respective states by going along to get along, so they're not giving anything away for free. Pretty much the only thing Tom has going for him is that he doesn't have to worry too much about Nassar because our two favorite FBI agents are on the case.

Or are they? Well, let's see how the rankings shake out. As always, from most to least effective, in order-of-succession format.

  1. Attorney General
    Good thing Deputy FBI Director Ryan Atwood gets to join Situation Room meetings when it suits the plot. In this case, he convinces Kirkman to let his department have a crack at Nassar before the terrorist is handed over for rendition and torture. He and Agent Wells have a nice little sit-down with Nassar, using Nassar's family as leverage to find out who got him to lie about being responsible for the Capitol bombing. All Nassar gives them is a code name: Catalan. Unfortunately that comes up blank on Google.gov back at the office, so they return to Nassar to get clarification -- only to find him dead in his cell. Next time confirm the spelling before you end the interrogation, you dingbats.
  2. First Family
    I would say that the Kirkman Kids are still missing in action, if anyone missed them at all. Their continued absence remains a strong point in this show's favor. But I'm liking how the show keeps finding things for Alex to do besides play the doting wife. As an immigration lawyer, her expertise keeps coming into play under the show's fraught fictional circumstances. Too bad Tom appears to have begun screwing her on the professional front as well as the marital one.
  3. President of the United States
    Between getting steamrollered by the governors (see below) and being on a fast track to name the worst possible Vice President (see slightly less far below), the best thing Tom accomplishes this episode is to make a get-well-soon phone call to Mike from Secret Service. He's also shitcanned the horn-rims, because nothing is more presidential than fiddling with contact lenses.
  4. Secretary of Homeland Security
    Oh, yeah, Mike from Secret Service, remember him? He's not even on duty when some nutter sprays the White House with an AR-15, but he's the guy who takes down the shooter. Unfortunately, he also takes a couple of bullets in the process. He says he was lucky. To survive? Or to have something to do again for like a minute there?
  5. White House Staff
    When five minutes of gubernatorial grilling all but drive Tom from the conference room and almost out of the White House, it's Aaron who talks him down with an impassioned speech about how he has come to truly believe in the new President. Whereas Seth, the genius former speechwriter and current Press Secretary, can't come up with anything better than "What he said." On the other hand, Seth appears to have embarked on a light-speed flirtation with a new member of the White House Press Corps, which anybody could have told him was a bad idea even before she asked him about the rumors that Leo Kirkman isn't Tom's son. Oh, and Emily something.
  6. Vice President
    Aaron and Emily approach Congressman Peter McLeish (the one bombing survivor) to offer him the position of Vice President, and he seems into it. All that remains is to have him vetted by the FBI, right? Obviously Atwood, who knows more about McLeish than he can yet say, figures his best bet is to stall. So rather than waiting around, Aaron has his own personal Dumpster-sniffer look into McLeish's background…and everything comes back clean. Looks like it's going to be up to just Atwood and Wells to stop the creepy veep now. We're all dead.
  7. The Governors
    Presumably Tom only has forty-nine governors left to contend with, given that he tossed the one from Michigan in the clink. But he's still outnumbered, and now they won't recognize his authority to re-appoint the Senate unless he subjects himself to the equivalent of a group job interview. Which is ridiculous on too many levels to enumerate here, but it does allow the editors to set up a supposedly slick parallel between Tom and Nassar approaching their respective interrogations. Alas, the governors have more success getting what they want, which is for Tom to shut down all immigration indefinitely. Which hurts him deeply, and gets him in the White Doghouse with the First Lady, but that's hardly their problem, is it?
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