Designated Survivor – Suckers
By: Patience Kapfer
This week’s episode of “Designated Survivor” pulls the audience in right away as Charlotte Thorn (Larissa Gomes), a member of Parliament and a potential future prime minister, is out on a run in the forest (the forest alone already seems foreboding) recording notes on gun violence. Ironically, when she hears a rustling in the bushes and goes to check it out she is face to face with the barrel of a gun that takes her life. President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) is taking part in a government sanctioned hockey game with a friend of his that happens to be a Republican in the Senate, Alan Rouse (Christopher Cousins). Later, in the locker room, Kirkman takes the semi-alone opportunity to discuss a pension bailout bill that he needs to obtain bipartisan support to pass. Rouse says that his party “does not believe in bailouts, they believe in individual responsibility” to which Kirkman says “until it’s time to bail out Wall Street and the banks” (ouch). When the President says that the government’s job is to help those who cannot help themselves, Rouse tells him that isn’t at all true. Then, Kirkman makes the mistake of saying he will “make a stipulation that the American people are suckers” and finally after more convincing, Rouse agrees to “run it up the flagpole.” And that’s when Mike (LaMonica Garrett) comes in and tells Kirkman that a member of Parliament was just murdered in Rock Creek Park.
Shortly thereafter, we learn that Charlotte Thorn was going to be speaking at the G-20 conference and many thought she would soon be the next PM. Hannah (Maggie Q) briefs Aaron (Adan Canto) and Emily (Italia Ricci) on what went down in the park and tells them that Thorn had plenty of enemies as she was outspoken on everything. Aaron says they are already fielding calls from foreign leaders who are threatening to pull out of the conference, to which Emily insists that cannot happen as their goal is to show Kirkman wants to take a bigger role on the international stage with the IMF, arms control and the environment.
As this is an international issue, guess who’s back in town! That’s right, our agent from across the pond, Damian Rennett (Ben Lawson). Chuck (Jake Epstein) and even Hannah seem less than thrilled to see Damian back in Hannah’s office, but Chuck still explains what he’s discovered about Thorn’s plans for the G-20 conference. Her speech was leaked on the internet and was planning to go after illegal arms dealers and their state sponsors. Damian says that Thorn was going to be specific and name names, which leads to a relatively good motive for the killer. Hannah and Damian make a visit to the British embassy and talk to the Embassy Security head who tells them there have been numerous security threats. Her aide of six years says that she had wanted Thorn to turn down her speech for the G-20 conference, but instead Thorn had wanted to turn it up. Thorn’s aide also tells her that Thorn tended to have a conflict with Darius Cray (Paul Amos), a British importer-exporter that the head of Security says was a cover for arms dealing. Hannah notes that she didn’t see his name in the speech, to which Thorn’s aide says he called a few days prior to threaten Thorn not to identify him. Hannah and Damian then decide to pay Cray a visit while he is having dinner downtown. Unfortunately, he is less than forthcoming with any useful information.
Hannah and Damian discover that Cray has a boat moored in the Port of Baltimore and he filed paperwork three days prior to extend his slip rental for two weeks. However, right after they spoke with Cray he filed paperwork with the harbormaster to leave tonight, which seems pretty suspicious. They also have video of his car outside Charlotte Thorn’s hotel two nights before she was killed. Kendra sets off to use the evidence Hannah and Damian have gathered to get a warrant from a judge. Once obtaining the warrant, Hannah and Damian go to the harbor to check out the boat and its cargo. As they are quietly inspecting the boat, Hannah and Damian come face to face with each other and raise their guns expecting the worst. Relieved Hannah lowers her weapon only to see Damian raise his again and fire a shot at a man she was unaware was directly behind her. It’s Darius Cray! His boat had a five-million-dollar cache of black-market munitions and Aaron suspects that he was making a back-room deal with one of the G-20 delegates to arm an insurgency.
Aaron calls Hannah and Damian to meet with him once he’s received ballistics from Darius Cray’s gun. He tells them that Cray’s gun didn’t kill Thorn, but there was also activity in one of Cray’s accounts after he was shot. There was a transfer of 100 million Euros to a Swiss bank account and the only person with access to that account was Catherine (Michelle Nolden), Cray’s wife. Chuck is able to determine that Darius was not the one to kill Thorn because he was moving guns the morning Charlotte was killed; they determine they’ve been chasing the wrong Cray this whole time.
The President is left assuring foreign leaders that every attendee will have their own Secret Service detail and they’ve widened the presence of the FBI and police around the city. After making these assurances, President Kirkman takes some time to discuss potential lawyers with Alex (Natascha McElhone) for her mother. He tells her any one of the firms she is looking at will do a great job, but he has already recommended Kendra Danes (Zoe McLellan). Alex takes his recommendation to heart and questions Kendra on her method to dealing with this subpoena. Kendra tells her she represented eleven Senators who were targets of a criminal investigation and none of them were indicted. This finally seems to be enough to convince Alex that Kendra is the right attorney for the job. Later in the hearing Alex insists she wants to be second chair and work with Kendra since it is her mother’s livelihood that is at stake. Unfortunately, Alex allows her emotions to get in the way of Kendra doing her job and defending Alex’s mother, which almost compromises their case. The judge determines that since the evidence was obtained illegally there was no basis for the subpoena so Kendra was able to pull off a win once Alex moved from second chair to the gallery.
Later, President Kirkman has a meeting with Alice Rowland (Megan Gallagher), a victims’ rights advocate to discuss the beneficiaries of the compromised state pension funds who lost their money in the financial crisis. She is frustrated that they have had to meet so many times and it seems as through Kirkman isn’t making any progress to help these people.
We learn in this episode that Emily feels very strongly about her dislike for tricks (and treats according to Seth (Kal Penn). Right as Seth is set to address a group of auto manufacturers; Lyor (Paulo Costanzo) tells them they are all going to be dead men walking in five minutes because of Carson Kramer (John Ralston) who is featuring a certain Senator Rouse on his show. In this interview the Senator calls the President’s pension bailout bill just another handout and proceeds to tell the entire nation that Kirkman called the American people suckers. And thus begins “Suckergate.” Kirkman’s staff is appalled to find out that Rouse isn’t lying and is extremely worried that this will affect the President’s image since the people know him as “honest Tom.” Lyor tells Kirkman that this is a “middle finger aimed squarely at his base” and says that if this sticks it is political Armageddon. While Kirkman attempts to smooth things over with Congressional leadership, Seth attempts to do damage control at a press briefing but they are relentless and refuse to let up until he gives a statement of some sort on the President’s meeting with Senator Rouse. Lyor insists that the President needs to offer a strong denial in order to keep this from getting even more out of hand, but Kirkman says he cannot do that since that would be considered lying to the American people.
Kirkman invites Senator Rouse to the White House to discuss the suckers comment. President Kirkman expresses that when he says something among friends there is the expectation that it will stay in the confidence of friends. Kirkman then explains that he would like Rouse to set the record straight and tell the American public the context surrounding his statement, but of course Senator Rouse says that he can’t help and will not retract or give the context of the statement. Following Kirkman’s sucker comment his presidential approval has plummeted, along with his Congressional support and likelihood of passing the pension bailout bill and nominating judges. Lyor is bound and determined to find a way to stop Suckergate in its tracks so he brings the President a folder with dirt on Senator Rouse, but if we know Kirkman he definitely isn’t going to use it.
After a talk with Mike, President Kirkman realizes what he should be doing – instead of slinging mud he should be slinging hope. The President decides he would like to do an ORT (on the road) so that he can take his argument to the people and show them that he’s fighting their fight. Kirkman appears at a diner and has a few great meetings with the average public. He really is a man of the people and just loves being with the people. When Lyor says he’s never seen anyone this good at crowd work, Emily assures him it’s because “it’s not work for him.” Leaving the diner Kirkman notices Alice Roland and goes over to address her. She informs him she’s not doing well as she’s heard that the pension bailout bill is dead and asks if he can promise her that he can still help them. Since Kirkman hates lying he says he can’t promise to do that and she quickly jumps at the chance to say that means he is right and the American people are suckers for trusting him.
Kirkman is once again faced with whether or not he should use the file Lyor found on Senator Rouse. Once he looks at the file, he agrees for Lyor to call Carson Kramer. When President Kirkman is finally put on the spot to either ruin Senator Rouse’s reputation or take the high road, there is a brief moment where the audience is unsure of which tactic the President is going to take. He begins by saying there is something everyone should know about Senator Rouse…that he is telling the truth. And much to Lyor’s horror, the President decides to potentially make this much worse for himself. When Kramer then asks Kirkman if he really thinks the American people are suckers, Kirkman responds with “yes. I guess so.” But to the entire staff’s surprise, Kirkman goes on to say they are suckers because they believe in the American dream and if that makes them suckers then you can count him in as well. President Kirkman yet again is able to take a completely horrible situation and find an alternative solution while maintaining his image of a trustworthy man of the people.