Designated Survivor Recap: Michegas

How was your first day on the job you have? Because Tom Kirkman’s first 24 hours as Designated Survivor‘s President of the United States probably could have gone better.

And yet that is what we should expect to see from this series on an almost weekly basis, because the situation here is so unheard of, something that no one could possibly fully prepare for, that something resembling mayhem could only possibly ensue.

I want to see this Tom take one step forward while getting knocked two steps back, to deliver an A-plus speech at the bombing site only to get blindsided by breaking news about civil rights abuses in Michigan.

Oy, Michigan. That Governor Royce sure has a pair.To recap; When Tom gets wind that Dearborn police are enforcing a curfew in specifically Muslim neigborhoods, in the wake of the terror attack, he gets on the phone with the gov — only to be told, “You’re not my president,” and then get hung up on.

You don’t hang up on POTUS, I imagine. Even if you were almost Red John.

On the heels of that diss of decorum, Tom set out to visit the Capitol — or the very little that is left of it — wife Alex, Chief of Staff 1 Emily and Chief of Staff 2 Aaron, and the other designated survivor, Republican Congresswoman Kimble Hookstraten. There, Tom got the latest on the bombing investigation — minus, that is, Agent Hannah Wells’ suspicion that they are merely being led to believe that an Al-Qaeda offshoot called Al-Sakar was behind it. (Tom won’t let General Cochrane indulge his itchy trigger finger unless they have 100-percent certainty about the culprit.)

After, Tom grabs a bullhorn to address the first responders on site, and he delivers a fine enough speech… only to have the moment get cut off at the knees by breaking news about Dearborn police beating a Muslim teen. Aaron rushes Tom away from the press, which does the nascent POTUS’ image no favors. After fruitlessly consulting with a pair of conflicting legal minds about the Dearborn crisis — and after the beaten teen dies — Tom finally tracks down Governor Royce via video chat and at first orders him to have his police stand down. When Royce again blows off the Commander-in-Chief, Tom successfully bluffs that there are undercover operatives among the detained Muslims, and as such Royce will be charged with obstructing a federal investigation if they aren’t released.

But even in the wake of that “win,” Tom can’t get away from the media coverage of his disastrous visit to the bombing site. So he has Secret Service agent Mike drive him out that night, low profile, in a baseball cap, to resume thanking the first responders — as Hannah takes notice. Hannah then peruses a wall of photos of the missing, someone obviously close t her among them, when someone shouts out that a survivor has been found!


* Amid this week’s juicy, messy drama, alas, one of our early fears was confirmed: the Kirkmans’ son is going to be one of those nagging issues. Because while Drug-Peddling Party Kid has a certain noisiness to it, Aloof Big Brother is simply annoying. (Also: Did his hair get three shades lighter overnight?)

* Why would the press have assumed Kirkman had seen the breaking news video, as they inundated him with questions? Why not, “There are reports out of Dearborn that….. What do you have to say?”

* Would scouting out a new entire Cabinet be left to Emily and Aaron? With so much heavy lifting to be done, wouldn’t, say, a consulting firm (of which there are bazillions in D.C.) or Olivia Pope be enlisted? Or would that be akin to “privatizing” the process? Also: Wanna bet Tom decides to keep both Emily and Aaron — as “a Chief of Staff who knows the man, and a Chief of Staff who knows the office”?

* Is Hannah Wells, with her presumably accurate “gut” feeling and inability to sway authority figures, this series’ Jack Bauer? Discuss.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Louis E. says:

    Every cabinet department has a senior official who would be acting secretary/AG by default until the president named a new acting head (confirming permanent heads would await the seating of a new Senate).So there would be room to hold cabinet meetings with those placeholders.

  2. Seriously? I spent nearly the entire episode staring at the TV in disbelief. I mean I know Republican from MI are kind of fair game right now (what with Flint and all) but this was just ridiculous. Any real governor of MI would know that there has never been a radicalized Muslim from Dearborn (and considering the fact that Dearborn is over 40% Muslim that really says a lot about American Muslims). There is absolutely no way that the situation portrayed in the episode makes even a lick of sense. In a Red Bible belt state maybe. But in MI, particularly in Dearborn? Never.

    • Respectfully Disagree says:

      You’re using red southern states as s scapegoat to disavow the possibility of discrimination in other states. There are plenty of people in MI with Confederate flags on their doors and who may react poorly when facing an attack like 9/11.

      • I don’t disagree that there can be racism everywhere. However in this situation it honestly felt like the writers just went, “Well one of the largest Muslim population centers in the country is in MI so we’ll make them be the ones who become crazy racists.” Nevermind the fact that such an action doesn’t fit the political or social climate of Southeastern MI in the slightest.

        • Never mind that it’s a TV show, and you’re totally overreacting.

          • Sean Johnson says:

            I’d like to think it’s just entertainment but Hollywood is very outspoken when it comes to politics. If you really don’t want Trump to be POTUS, show what it would be like if say, he was a governor that rounded up Muslims and beat the crap out of them while throwing in a big dose of anti-cop sentiment.

    • Aeol says:

      There actually were massive protests and attacks against Muslims in Dearborn in the weeks and months after 9/11. It became something of its own ground zero for biased targeting of Muslims. Just because there have been no radicalized terrorists from Muslims doesn’t mean Midwestern mouthbreathers didn’t display shameful behavior there.

      • True enough, but I can’t see any real Governor of MI ordering the police to behave that way, regardless of political party. (If only because Muslims statistically speaking vote Red, believing that it better reflects their more conservative values)

        • Penny says:

          I agree that the premise ridiculous. I just watched my last episode.

        • Lisa says:

          In the episode, the Governor didn’t order them to behave violently, he ordered them to round up any suspicious individuals. People are at their worst when they are scared or shocked and underlying racism comes out. Everywhere. The governor in the show probably didn’t build his campaign on racist comments (like real life Trump) but in such a chaotic and scary situation, his worst side came out and he didn’t stop the police from being incredibly violent with no justification whatsoever.
          It doesn’t mean every single white person, or even every single what police agent, suddenly became racist, it means that some people were able to show their true colors. Which is what the media reported as it is the most news worthy aspect of the situation.
          To everyone saying they don’t like the show, fair enough. But to those stating the premise is ridiculous or unrealistic: while it may not be 100% accurate in terms of legal procedures, it is completely impossible to predict what would happen in real life (so why assume it’s wrong?) and honestly, it is not very far fetched. Do I need to remind you of the necessity for a #blacklivesmatter movement because racial targeting has been so prominent? Or of the student who was arrested for having built a clock and not being white? Or that someone as openly racist as Trump is an actual candidate for POTUS?
          Those are the realities of the USA right now even though the capitol is still standing and Barack Obama is still president.

    • Gary Page says:

      The internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor shows that this could happen.

    • Jane says:

      So it is ok to trash southern states based solely on what you think people in the state are like but how dare anyone imply anything negative about Michigan? Maybe you should just stick to defending your own state and not bashing others.

      • I’m not trying to bash the South, I lived there for many years and it still holds a special place in my heart. But there is an attitude of mistrust of the “other” that I personally found to be more prevalent there than I’ve found it to be in Southeastern Michigan.

    • My spouse asked if something like that could really happen, to which I replied “probably not.” The (fictional) governor can think what they want, but to believe that subordinates and law enforcement officials would act on illegal orders without any question is not realistic. It our human nature to question everything.

      • Ali says:

        Especially considering that the real Dearborn Police Department just became the first department in the country to swear in a Hijab wearing officer.

      • Kathi Coburn says:

        Lest anyone forget that Gov. Wallace defied the Supreme Court and the POTUS when he was ordered to allow segregation in the schools in his state. Johnson had to call in troops to make it happen.

  3. Lysh says:

    This week’s was so much better! I’m finding myself not caring too much about the kids though. Aloof Big Brother’s hair seemed to grow half a foot. I’ve never been so briefly mad at Michigan (and I live in Ohio haha). I thought the Congresswoman/2nd designated survivor would be more of an issue, but I like her so far. Looking forward to next week!

  4. Lisa says:

    We also got a Jack Bauer- style dammit!

  5. Amelia says:

    I have three words for you: Leo from Smash. The druggie kid is NEVER interesting.

  6. Bob says:

    I thought tonight’s ep was great. i like how it open with Kal Penn’s character being racially profile and ends with him being approach by a cop who asks him if he lost anyone. it was a tense moment at first but a great moment to watch at the end.

    LOL @ his code name being “Glasses”. not a big fan of the glasses but great joke XD

  7. laurelnev says:

    Still not sure if I’m in for the long haul or not. Okay…I get it. People suck, police suck, and we’re too quick to start a war. Not sure I need a TV show to remind me of that. I’m liking the prez himself, but none of the characters really are developed enough to make me care…and if that doesn’t change, one of the shows I time shift will start to fill the Wed @ 10 hour…

    • Jim says:

      Yeah, I want this show to be about Americans pulling together, not pulling apart. Experience shows us that in a crisis of this magnitude, that’s how we behave. Also, in a crisis like this, things would be moving much faster. Tom would have already spoken with the governors of all the states. The process of appointing people to fill the seats in Congress would be underway within forty-eight hours. In most cases it would be former Senators and Representatives called back to do the job. The cabinet departments have people who would step into the job almost seamlessly. The federal government would take some time to get back up to speed but it would be restaffed almost immediately. I already feel they’re trying to stall to make 22 episode seasons and that’s not entertaining to me as a viewer, it’s frustrating.

  8. Tim says:

    I thought the show was great. I hope it carries us thru Christmas. It is great, Tim

  9. Elijah Ingraham says:

    What a piece of crap. Liberal nonsense.

  10. SD says:

    I want to love the show, but honestly is just cheesey.

    • Totally agree. I find myself almost rolling my eyes at times. I think I’m done with it.

      • Lazy writing. I doubt if the writers have any interest beyond the Wikipedia in political science or government. They want to constantly focus on the “family drama” and micro events that they think will draw us into the characters, but with an incident like this, the real drama is how do you put a government back in place and secure the nation against further events. This show is very disappointing up to this point. And if next week’s episode shows continues to spend inane minutes of the First Lady/Leo/Penny melodrama, then I think it’s Code Black for me.

        • Sarstan says:

          Tonight, episode three (and these are approximate quotes) : president “does anyone know who did the hack?”, staffer “could be the Russians or the North Koreans”, president “or the people who did the bombing…”. Staffer leaves. Discussion over after this complex analysis of the situation.
          “(I found your post when I googled “designated survivor lazy writing”).

  11. Gary Page says:

    I find the show, despite some weaknesses, pretty enthralling. However, the FBI seems pretty dense. They aren’t asking the right questions. How big a bomb would cause that much damage and what was the point of origin of the blast should be the first things to consider. I would guess that a bomb would have to be at least 1000 pounds to cause that much damage and you can’t just smuggle that into the Capitol in backpacks. Plus, after 9/11 security in Washington is tighter than a snare drum. The only way a bomb like that could have been put in place is if it was an inside job. Thus, it almost certainly not a result of foreign terrorists, but of some domestic group with resources or moles in the federal government that included security personnel. The push to declare this mythical terrorist group as the culprit is a definite plot hint that it is a false flag operation.

    • herman1959 says:

      Maggie Q’s character has already started questions.

      • Denis Donovan says:

        Maggy Q is a star with a string of film roles and two Top of the Bill TV roles behind her,e.g. Nikita and Stalker. Given this, I can not believe that she would take on any role where she would not be featured predominately. So far, in DS, she has been almost an afterthought, buried in the drama’s B-Story. Look for this to change. I thought I would have trouble separating Kieffer Sutherland from his Jack Baur persona, but so far, so good.

    • Marshall Borgen says:

      I was thinking the same thing ! There is NO way that big a bomb could get in the capital without it being an inside job. That is the first thing they should be thinking about and they are not even talking about that. He has to watch his back. They should be asking who is to gain from this. Generals or military ? Corporations with big military contracts ?

  12. RyanDoctrine says:

    A couple of comments one on The First Family and one on the upcoming episode “The Confession”. On FFOTUS. According to well established protocol on COG and protocols concerning security of FFOTUS, The Secret Service upon notice of an Acting Officer in line of succession for continuity of government as established by the 25th Amendment and CFR being transferred due to incapacity or illness or death of the intervening officers to the office of POTUS activates one of their contingency plans (the plan with the officer who is to be elevated (and yes they have a contingency plan for every cabinet level officer, Speaker, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and every other ranking member of congress by committee being elevated to POTUS and to VPOTUS) to the office of POTUS) and upon activating locates the principal (in this case the Designated Survivor , who by the way is not picked the night before the SOTU speech but about a month prior and maintains that Designated Survivor status until the week after the SOTU, who would be either in the Presidential Situation Room of the West Wing of the White House, or at the Presidential Retreat at Camp David or at some other secret location) informs that principal that he or she is now to be taken into the protection of “The Detail” and is then asked where he or she would like to be sworn in (when Johnson was sworn in after Kennedy’s Assassination it was his decree to find the nearest federal judge and have them meet them at Love Field and swear him in before taking off back to DC with Jack’s body. It was he who asked to be sworn in then and there. Jacky actually wanted him to wait until they returned to DC but Johnson nixed that on grounds that if he were killed unsworn it would leave a constitutional void). While this is happening the other members of the First Family are located and immediately moved to a secure location until the detail can take charge of their safety

    After the new President is sworn by a magistrate, The first act that the president usually makes is selection of a chief detail officer. Once that choice is made it is up to that CDO to choose an agent in charge for each of the principals (in our fictitious case, an aic for FLOTUS, an aic for each of the two children. Then detail agents are assigned (after vetting) to each particular detail.

    Although a novel concept neither POTUS FLOTUS VPOTUS nor any other member of the FF have ever been required to wear body armor (that’s what the details job description is. THEY are there to make sure that no one gets within range of the POTUS or his/her family and if they do manage to do that to intercede between the attacker and the POTUS or FF member) the reason was sort of hinted at in the pilot episode. The POTUS and FLOTUS must not appear to the citizens or to other countries as anything other than calm considered and courageous (regardless of whether they feel that way or not) in the face of catastrophe.

    Now on to next weeks episode teaser. A reporter asks the POTUS if he was fired. While any cabinet level position serves at the pleasure of the president. Firing a cabinet member is very very rare (I think it has happened perhaps three times in the history of the United States. 1867 Johnson tries to fire Stanton the Radical Republicans in congress (esp the senate) feared that he would fire all of Abraham Lincolns conservative cabinet in favor of people of his own choosing and so they invoked the Tenure of Office Act as reason to impeach (which fails in the senate trial by one vote) , Wilson tries to fire Post Master First Class of Oregon and gets sued (which Wilson wins at the Supreme Court) and Roosevelt fired William Humphrey who took umbrage at that and sued in The United States Court of Claims and the Supreme court eventually decided after Humphrey’s death that Roosevelt exceeded his authority). The process is not immediate and The President must in fact send notice to the United States Senate Sergeant at Arms (Chief Protocol Officer of the Senate) of the dismissal of a cabinet member which could take as long as 10 days to claim receipt of the such notice. Therefore whether the previous presidents intent to fire him or to move him to another role, the fact that the catastrophe intervened before that was made public makes the point moot. Additionally in the current case the (so far only other person of rank known to be alive was the republicans “designated survivor”) republican DS is far enough down the chain of succession to not be eligible through normal statutes.

  13. Tom says:

    My biggest question is, who’s supposed to approve this new cabinet with, you know, likely all 100 Senators dead.

    • Katherine215 says:

      I wondered this too. Why was there no discussion of states appointing Senators and Congresspeople ASAP? I know the cabinet is important, but like someone said above, there’s deputies who can run things and sit in cabinet meetings until they’re promoted or their bosses replaced. And what about the VP? With Kirkman running around town, wouldn’t it be prudent to be researching VP options rather than cabinet secretaries so they’re ready when the Senate has been restored?

  14. kmw says:

    Very good episode. Matt’s right nothing good comes from googling so I know she is up to no good. While I like most of the characters Kirkman’s wife and son aren’t quite there for me yet but it is still early. Good show

  15. Katherine215 says:

    I found this episode to be a bit cheesy and cliched. Many of the characters seem like caricatures of their roles (and the annoying son needs to go ASAP). I’m going to stick it out, but I hope the writing gets a little better…

  16. Mommaknowsbest says:

    Wow – I must be one of the viewers the producers love to have: I’m enjoying the mystery of the “whodunnit” and I actually find myself not wanting the show to end, because I want to see more! Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

  17. herman1959 says:

    I’m hoping that Hannah turns out to have the POTUS’s back for real; there is already too much back stabbing in this show. I like her for VP – I know she from the opposing party, but we are already breaking/making the rules. I’m liking this show.

  18. oliviasdad2 says:

    Am I the only one who see’s the President offering Republican Congresswoman Kimble Hookstraten the VP position, partially as an olive branch, and somewhat because she isn’t coming across as crazy partisan.

  19. JTANK says:

    I just LOVE this show! Had me hooked from Episode 1, and last night was not a disappointment. Yes, there are, of course, protocols in place as to what wd happen and how it wd happen should such a situation arise. However, sometimes all the best laid plans turn out to be far more difficult to put into place than one ever anticipated. I believe they said in the show last night that 800 or 900 people were killed. I am perfectly happy to follow along with the show’s premise and see how things shake out. Sure it’s a little far-fetched, but as nothing like this has EVER happened to this degree, how are we to know WHAT the result wd be, HOW individuals wd react in such a situation, and what it wd take to re-establish the government? Paper plans are great, but when the reality hits, paper plans can’t always be followed. All of that being said, I think the new Prez is going to show the country what he’s made of. Like that he stood up to the damn General and demanded 100% proof as to who is at fault. Like the very solemn moment when they all arrived at the Capitol site and all looked on in shock at the devastation. Love that he snuck back in the middle of the night to talk to the people working the site. Love how he put the MI Gov in his place. Love how he approached his speechwriter about being confronted by cops that morning and offered him a lift home. Love how the cop at the candlelight vigil approached him to ask if he had lost someone. And then how the other lady gave him a candle to light. Not much of a fan of the drug-selling son. Seems pretty useless to me. The little girl is precious and I love how her daddy, the Prez, has such a good relationship with her. Mom? Eh…hasn’t quite grown on E yet. I hope he doesn’t choose either of the two contenders as his Chief of Staff, although if it has to be one or the other, while Aaron is more knowledgeable from a White House standpoint, the girl had a better grasp of the Prez as a human being. Think Maggie Q has potential to be an integral part of the investigation and maybe will get a promotion or something out of it, so she will get more exposure on the show. As far as unconcerned, because I don’t mind having the limits of reality stretched, this show gets an A++! Keep up the good work!

  20. Jim says:

    OK, I’ve got it. Military bad. Police bad. Muslims good. I don’t know who the terrorists will be, but you can be sure they’ll be white, and not Muslim.

  21. Caleb says:

    If POTUS does not stop acting like Obama, I won’t be watching DS much longer.

  22. arial2 says:

    My first reaction to the beginning of this episode was that President Kirkman wasn’t doing as well as President Laura Roslin that many hours after the devastating attack. But by a few minutes in I realized she had it easy: all she had to win over was one military guy because every other leader, EVERYWHERE, was dead. My other reaction was to wonder if some of this isn’t what a Trump presidency would look like, even without a huge explosion. Sobering thought. I really liked the cooperation between Kirkman and the designated Republican survivor, but, apparently, that will all change next week if the previews are to be believed. Technically, I gathered Kirkman hadn’t been fired, just warned of it by the Chief of Staff(is that who he was?), so I don’t see there being a problem with his succession. After all, the White House still had him participate as the Designated Survivor that night. Loving Kal Penn in this. And I’m still holding onto my prediction that the Cylons did it. This is The New Plan. ;)

  23. Lisa Echerd says:

    At one point the oval office is packed with people asking a dozen questions at once and soon hardly anyone ever asks the president to do anything. Aren’t there still plenty of problems to be addressed besides the situation in Michigan? Banks are closed, the markets are closed, mass transit is shut down. All meaning the US economy is at a standstill and we spend most of the episode trying to get one governor on the telephone. I’d have sent someone from the FBI up to the governor’s office and demanded he get on the phone! The public would have to be panicked. Americans would be stranded all over the globe trying to get home. Looting would likely be taking place in every city. Every state would need to be organizing elections to replace Congress. Clearly whoever is writing this is too young to remember the days after 9/11. They have tried to tackle an almost unimaginable event and have done so poorly.