Designated Survivor is so far proving itself to be quite the show for mid-week network television. One-hour dramas on ABC tend to be very soapy—lots of scandalous sex, melodramatic secrets and convoluted plot twists. But this series displays strong writing with various multi-dimensional characters, gripping conflicts and edge-of-your-seat plot twists. Kiefer Sutherland is fantastic as the lead, even if he occasionally goes into that signature whispery voice thing made famous on 24. And the overall premise remains fascinating, not just in terms of exploring the scenario of the designated survivor becoming president, but what happens in the aftermath. It’s only week three and it’s very possible for this show to take a strange turn or lose its momentum, but so far it’s getting stronger by the week. “The Confession” continues with Tom Kirkman’s journey of struggling to be the president, while revealing new conflicts and mysteries that are sure to hook viewers in for future installments. Here are the five best moments from the episode.
What at first seemed to be the beginning of a bottle episode turned out be nothing more than the cold opening. And what an opening it was! As the lights go from flickering, to suddenly shutting off throughout the entire White House, everyone inside panics, knowing that a cyber attack is occurring. There’s something very chilling about what should be the safest house in the world suddenly having a blackout. Instead of stealing from the White House, the cyber terrorists left something—a video. It’s a confessional video from the terrorist organization Al Sakar, which had been suspected of blowing up the Capitol.
Tom has a one-on-one interview with real-life ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas. She brings up the question of whether or not Tom was actually fired the day of the attack, which would lead people to wonder whether or not he really has any right to be the president (if the former president himself let him go). Tom is faced with a conundrum—does he start his presidency with a lie, or does he start it looking weak and out of place? Tom replies by saying that he was offered an ambassadorship, only to eventually admit that it was not by his own choice—thus presenting himself to the public as a man whose position is in question.
After the events of the televised interview, Tom is informed by the former president’s son, Tyler, that he will not be giving the eulogy at his father’s funeral, as he does not want Tom to use the funeral as a platform to promote himself. So who is invited to deliver the eulogy? None other than the Republican designated survivor, Kimble Hookstratten, who delivers a strong and inspirational speech. Tom’s public image is only getting worse. In addition to the doubt about his ability to be commander-in-chief, there’s now the question of whether or not the American people were given the correct (or best) designated survivor as president. Kimble claims she’s on Tom’s side… for now, at least until the next presidential election. But so far, Kimble has come off as something of a shark in the water, just circling around Tom waiting for the right moment to strike.
Tom has realized that he needs a Chief of Staff who does not think the way he does. After deducing that Aaron leaked the terrorist video and confronting him about it, Tom realizes that even though Aaron’s recent actions were insubordinate, Aaron is conniving in a way that he isn’t—and this is something he can utilize for his own benefit. Emily was the other person who so desperately wanted the position, but Tom tells her that she’s too much like him. He still offers Emily a position to be on his team as a special advisor. Emily accepts, and notes that she will not be afraid to contradict Aaron on any issues she may not agree with him on. It looks like Emily and Aaron are going to be Tom’s respective angel and demon giving him advice.
Hannah gets a call from a colleague who hacked into a deceased State of the Union attendee’s cloud account. The attendee’s video shows that McLeish was not present at the explosion. The public video feed of the State of the Union cut out half a minute before the explosion, which means McLeish had enough time to get up and leave. Perhaps he was going to use the restroom and got lucky, but that is not likely the case. We haven’t gotten to know McLeish’s character all that well, but he’ll likely be a new nemesis for Tom. Not only that, but now we have more questions to explore regarding McLeish, not as a victim of the attack, but a potential perpetrator.