DESIGNATED SURVIVOR Recap: Uneasy Alliances and A Shock Resignation in “Commander in Chief”
BY The Screen Spy Team
Published 6 years ago
By Kirsty Pearce
Commander in Chief
This episode sees Tom struggling with both the moral implications and consequences of holding a position where on occasion he has to decide who lives and who dies. Picking up where we left off last week, Aaron and Charlie (the former President’s Chief of Staff who everybody thought was dead), walk into a church for a private meeting, because of course they do. He asks Aaron for a favor, telling him his life depends on it. Hannah and her team storm the church a few seconds later, but he is nowhere to be found.
In a meeting with Seth and Emily, they again reiterate to Tom the problem they are having getting people to take cabinet positions because of residual terror over the bombing, and mention their hope that former President Moss will be able to help. Mike then interrupts to pull the President away for an up-date on Langdon, leaving Seth and Emily aware he is keeping something from them. Hannah tells the President Aaron revealed that the favor Langdon asked for was a deal: immunity for information.
Hannah and John disagree about the veracity of his proposal, with Hannah pushing for Tom to accept, as Langdon only gave Aaron 24 hours to respond. Tom decides to bring Langdon in. Aaron meets with him again, and he gets in a car with Hannah taking the wheel. Langdon, whose body language spells distress with a capital D, shares that he first got caught up in the conspiracy when he met a woman just after his divorce, who just happens to be the same mystery woman blackmailing Hannah’s old boss Jason Atwood, and who asked for the threat assessment on the secret room MacLeish used to survive.
John meets with Aaron, and shows him that same threat assessment, which the FBI believes he suppressed, sharing with him the tail on Langdon was actually for him, and asking what he knows, which turns out to be nothing. Seth is later approached by someone he works with who tells him a source came forward with information that Aaron was escorted into the FBI. After Langdon clears him of guilt, he is released, and goes to see Seth. Clearly troubled, he leaves an envelope of papers with Seth to work his magic on. Because his political reputation has been damaged and he believes he would now be a liability, Aaron goes to Tom and informs him he is resigning. Although Tom flat-out refuses to accept it at first, Aaron tells him the papers he left with Seth are a statement announcing his resignation to the press right at that minute. Tom is genuinely upset about Aaron’s departure, something I relate to, although I’m sure he’s not going to be gone for long.
This episode also finally gives us a story-line that is not conspiracy related as Tom becomes concerned over a situation in Africa where a war lord has broken a deal with the government and gone on a killing and corruption rampage. Since the events are happening near where Tom was stationed in the Peace Corps years ago, he has a vested interest in doing more than just applying a patch, telling Emily to put some pressure on State. He later has a meeting with the General in charge, who informs him there is nothing to stop a potential genocide, and that the UN are dragging their feet on intervening.
In Tom’s first conversation with President Moss, Moss informs him of his honest opinion of his presidency so far, which is that he has only been reacting to recent events, and not truly leading. His manner is quite condescending, and he seems to enjoy making himself back at home in the Oval Office. While at first Tom is in awe of this man he has admired for a huge chunk of his life, that quickly gives way to a more business-like, wary attitude. Alex is back from dropping the kids off at Camp David, and reveals in an off-handed way that her mother is Russian, which I’m sure is going to come up again at some point as it’s the Russians that are stalling the US’ attempts to stop the killing in Africa. The rebels are closing in on the capital, and the option is put forward to have missiles take them out.
Tom then goes to meet with Langdon himself, and he makes no attempt to hide his disgust and anger. However, Langdon reveals that the reason he was the only one other than MacLeish to survive is because the blackmail woman blackmailed him into naming Tom as the Designated Survivor, a twist I did not see coming, but that actually makes a lot of sense. After he refused, she threatens his life. Not knowing who to trust, he got out of the White House and drove straight to the FBI, almost getting there before his car was hacked and he loses control, crashing.
During a dinner between Moss, Alex, and Tom, the two men have a private talk, becoming philosophical about the heavy duties incumbent with the role of being President. Emily interrupts to let Tom know the rebels in Africa have taken American humanitarians hostage, which puts the kibosh on using drones to take them out. Tom is left to wrestle with whether or not to give the go-ahead for the drones and risk taking American lives, or let the rebels go and abandon the people living in the capital to certain death. Moss advises him to first secure the release of the Americans, and then deal with the war lord. Tom doesn’t feel he can sacrifice either the Americans or the innocent civilians, so Moss offers a third option; lift the sanctions on the war lord’s money, in exchange for the return of the Americans, using his reputation as a straight-talker to convince the war lord he isn’t going to break his word and take the deal, and then bomb him anyway. Tom tells him to do it, and they succeed in getting the hostages out. Tom then finds a way to also keep his reputation and conscience intact by telling the General to take out certain bridges and check-points to delay the rebel’s progress to the capital. Tom then offers Moss the job of Secretary of State again, and this time he accepts. In the last few minutes, Aaron hands in his credentials and officially signs out for the last time, while Tom removes Hannah’s FBI supervision, putting her solely in charge of the investigation so he can start to focus his attention on actually governing the country.
I believe what I enjoyed the most about this episode was, one, seeing Captain Roy Montgomery on my screen again (this time as a General!), the way Tom ended up handling the situation in Africa, and Aaron’s talks with Seth and Tom. You can really feel a lot of respect for each other between all three men, and I’m quite sad Aaron felt he had to leave, although to be honest am not surprised at his resignation. We’ll see what the show has in store for him next, but I’m sure it’ll be good. Maybe a turn in the spy ring?