Designated Survivor Recap: Son of a....

This week on ABC’s Designated Survivor, President Tom Kirkman dealt with assorted blindsides, while the discovery of a congressman alive amid the rubble raised new questions.

When last we tuned in, Tom demanded of General Cochrane and the FBI 100-percent certainty that Al-Sakar was behind the bombing. And this week he (seeeeemingly) got it, though through a most unusual channel, when during the course of preparing to eulogize the fallen President Richmond the White House computer system got hacked. And all the perpetrators left behind was a video deposited onto Kirkman’s computer, of the Al-Sakar leader boasting of being responsible for the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Tom and his staff agreed to keep the hack under wraps, lest the American people see it as another attack. And Chiefs of Staff Aaron and Emily even tried to keep it a secret from Congresswoman Hookstraten aka the Republican designated survivor. But everyone feared the worst when, during Tom’s first televised sit-down, Elizabeth Vargas went to confront the freshly minted POTUS with some damning intel — about, no, not the hack, but the fact that he had been basically fired by Richmond the day of the attack. Which, if you buy into it, could suggest he has no business inhabiting the Oval Office.

After excusing himself for a quick consult with Aaron (who recommends skirting the accusation) and Emily (who suggests honesty), Tom proceeds to confirm that Richmond had offered him an ambassadorship — albeit an unwanted one. That sets pundits tongues a-wagging, and even prompts Richmond’s son Tyler to unceremoniously forbid Kirkman from delivering the eulogy at the funeral. Worse, Hookstraten is instead tapped to speak — and speak she does, delivering a rousing oratory that makes people further second-guess Kirkman’s holding of the highest office in the land.

“Luckily” for Tom, the news cycle is agitated anew when the Al-Sakar video, whose authenticity Kirkman questioned in front an ever-irked Cochrane, is leaked to the press. By giving America an enemy face to unite against, the heat is taken off the new President. Tom at first accuses Kimble of leaking the vid, but she claims to be innocent — though she does have eyes on running against him the very first chance she gets. Tom later takes Aaron aside to share his deduction that the wannabe Chief of Staff orchestrated the leak, which he in fact did, and for the very reasons that bore themselves out. As a result, Tom eventually taps Aaron to be his Chief of Staff, being “someone who doesn’t think like me,” while Emily is offered a “special advisor” role with full access and the freedom to oppose Aaron’s ideas.

Little does Tom know that Aaron later meets up with a P.I., who turns over what could be damaging intel on his new boss….

Elsewhere in the hour:

* A survivor, Congressman McLeish, is found amid the rubble. Hannah is quite curious how this guy managed to survive, when hundreds of others — including the senator she was having an affair with — did not. Scrutinizing video of the State of the Union, Hannah notices a 34-second gap between when the feed cuts out and the actual blast happened. After coaxing a colleague to break laws by hacking into the cloud account of an attendee who was seen taking pictures just before the blast, Hannah discovers that McLeish actually wasn’t in his seat at the time of the blasts.

* Tom invited Tyler Richmond back to the Oval, not to seek out an apology for the funeral affront, but to share with the lad an anecdote about how his father — whom he apparently hadn’t spoken to for years — secretly slipped into one of his recent classical music concerts. Tom then gives Tyler one of the programs the proud dad handed out to Cabinet members, leaving that sad storyline on a happy note.

* First Son Leo’s drug-dealing habit is unwittingly uncovered by kid sister Penny. Alex rips into him until she needs to rush off to the funeral, then later tracks Leo down at their old home, where he claims… actually, I’m fuzzy on his lame defense. Feel free to fill in the blanks. At episode’s end, though Tom is wayyyy late due to the video leak crisis, the First Family — including Leo, who opted not to stay over at a friend’s — sits down for dinner (or at least Corn Puffs) together.

What did you think of “The Confession”?