Kiefer Sutherland is back on TV and better than ever. The series premiere of ‘Designated Survivor’ aired Sept. 21, following Tom Kirkman as he’s thrust into the presidency after a devastating attack. We have a full recap of what happened right here!
Tom Kirkman is just an ordinary guy. He’s a member of the President’s Cabinet, but he’s one of the ones that, quite frankly, disappears into the background. He’s logical, smart, and does his job well. He doesn’t make bold statements or ruffle feathers. On the night of the State of the Union address, Tom is the lone cabinet member who does not attend, in the the event that something catastrophic happens.
His wife, Alex, is busy on the phone with their young daughter, Penny, trying to force her to get to bed. When mom’s words fall on deaf ears, Tom gets on the phone. He’s a pro at negotiation, even with a child. Once he convinces Penny to go to sleep, Tom and Alex kick back to watch the rest of the address.
Alex is in the middle of drinking a beer and eating popcorn, when the TV suddenly cuts out. At first, they think it’s just a glitch, but then Secret Service men bust through the door. News of an explosion is going around. Tom goes to the window, draws back the curtain and sees something he never could have imagined. The Capitol Building has been obliterated and consumed by flames.
Tom Kirkman’s Irony
That’s when the show flashes back 15 hours earlier. Everything is normal for Tom Kirkman. He makes breakfast for his wife and two kids. He’s looking forward to the State of the Union address. Tom meets up with Emily, his Chief of Staff, who has to inform him that none of their talking points have made it into President Richmond’s speech.
Emily’s ready to fight to get their message heard, but Tom stays calm, cool and collected. “At the end of the day, I’m not the President of the United States,” he says to Emily. Oh, the irony.
When he goes to have a meeting about the speech, things just go downhill. Apparently, the president wants to make some changes. He’s offered Tom an ambassadorship to the international civil aviation organization. In a nutshell, they don’t want him to be the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development anymore. He’s furious, but there’s not much he can do.
Alex is pissed and doesn’t want to move their family to Montreal. She loves her job and the kids have settled. Tom knows they’ll work it out, even if he has to commute. Alex can’t believe he’s not fighting harder.
‘We Need A Leader’
The Secret Service men rush Tom and Alex out of the room and into a car. Mike Ritter, one of the Secret Service agents, receives world that the President, Congress and the Cabinet have perished. “Sir, you are now the President of the United States,” he tells Tom. And with those 10 words, Tom’s life has changed forever.
He’s brought to the White House, dressed in a Cornell jacket and jeans, and takes the Oath of Office. It starts to hit him as she says the words of the oath. He is now the President of the United States of America.
Aaron, the White House Deputy Chief of Staff, brings Tom to the President’s Emergency Operations Center. His first order as Commander-in-Chief is a moment of silence for the ones that were lost in the attack. Aaron takes charge and says Tom is going to be facing the nation in just 60 minutes. He has to give the public something — a motive, possible suspects, etc.
Tom is clearly out of his element. Everything is coming at him so fast. He could have been one of the ones who died tonight. He races to the bathroom and throws up. In the next stall over, a speechwriter is wallowing in his misery. He starts talking junk about Tom, saying he’s the “lowest rung on the ladder.” The speechwriter, named Seth, really puts his food in his mouth. He thinks Tom should step down. Seth believes Tom is a just a follower. “We need a leader,” he says.
Seth walks out of the stall, and Tom is standing right there. Tom asks him point blank, “You really think I should step down?” Seth nods and says, “I do.” Before ordering Seth to write him a speech, Tom replies, “You may be right. But for now I’m all you’ve got.
My Fellow Americans…
FBI agent Hannah Wells heads to the bombing site and urges the other agents to let her get involved. She’s on the scene when another bomb is found, but it’s a dud. After doing some research, she knows something is amiss. The people who attacked America are keeping silent, and they’re doing it for a reason. Because they’re just getting started.
Meanwhile, Tom is shown every location in the United States that’s capable of launching nuclear weapon. All he has to do is make the call and things will happen. He’s informed by a general, who wants him removed, that the U.S.S. Eisenhower is heading into the Persian Gulf, even though America’s known enemies are saying they had nothing to do with the attack.
Tom openly admits he does not feel comfortable showing force so quickly, especially when he doesn’t know all the facts. He wants to meet with the ambassador to Iran before making a move. Right off the bat, Tom asks about the Strait of Hormuz, where Iranian destroyers are stationed. Tom demands that Iran pull their destroyers or he’ll attack. Tom totally owns the conversation, and Aaron’s impressed at what he sees.
Tom prepares to address the nation for the first time since the attack, and the first time as POTUS. Seth stresses that Tom can’t be relaxed anymore. He has to be strong and confident. Tom takes his seat in the Oval Office with ease and begins his speech, “My fellow Americans…”
HollywoodLifers, what did you think of the Designated Survivor premiere? Let us know!