We open somewhere in the Middle East. There is a man on the run, literally. He makes it into an apartment and pulls out a satellite laptop, powering to send a message. His pursuers are hot on his trail just steps behind. He sends “Nassar location confirmed” and grabs for his gun just as the door is broken down and he is tazed.
Kirkman is back in the West Wing after managing a whole three hours of sleep. Aaron updates him on the state of the nation, schools are reopened etc etc but still no word on Nassar’s location. Oh and Hookstraten is in his office, again.
She asks for an update and he gives her a soundbite before kicking her out before Emily walks in to update on Michigan. The governor is trying to say that Kirkman’s admission during the Vargas interview is proof he is an unfit president and he starts imposing his own rules, which violate the Bill of Rights. Kirkman needs someone he trusts on the ground to help things out. Emily volunteers and he agrees.
As she and Aaron leave, Harris Cochrane (Kevin McNally) walks in. Nassar has been located. Meanwhile, Wells shows Atwood that MacLeish had left his seat before the bombing and can’t be trusted. He tells her to calm down and that this could be explained away.
Kirkman gets updated about Nassar. Turns out there is an American agent undercover in Algeria and he sent the message. He was given 24 hours to evacuate. It’s been six and there has been no words as to his whereabouts. He could be in the compound with Nassar and die if Kirkman gives the order to bomb it.
The president decides to wait. Aaron has been in contact with the Algerian government and Kirkman thinks that if they can orchestrate an arrest the agent can be pulled out.
Governor John Royce (Michael Gaston) is having none of Emily’s presence. He tells her that no one from or affiliated with the Kirkman presidency
Wells confronts MacLeish as to why he wasn’t in his seat when the bomb went off. Apparently he stepped out to call his wife. She had just sent him several frantic texts because she couldn’t find their youngest daughter and didn’t know what to do. Wells nods along but calls the techie Chuck (Jake Epstein) on the way out.
Agent Ritter (LaMonica Garrett) calls the First Lady because she has a call coming through the main switchboard by a woman named Maria Serrano (Paula Rivera). Alex accepts it. Serrano is a former client and is being deported by ICE. Alex agrees to look into it.
The new press secretary Carter (Ben Lewis) is terrible. He stutters and is nervous. Aaron tells Seth to take over.
Royce continues to disparage Kirkman and ignore his orders. Emily calls and suggests flying home but Kirkman has another idea. Alex is on her way to her firm when Kirkman calls her back to the Oval Office. He needs legal advice. Can he federalize the National Guard in Michigan? She says yes though it would be setting quite the precedent. He does it.
Royce is still speaking when Kirkman updates Emily. She will get an escort from General Munoz (Mark Owen) and he will stay with her for the duration.
The Algerian president tells Kirkman that Nassar is not in his country and therefore cannot make an arrest.
Seth gives Carter a bit of coaching on how to be a better press secretary and then sends him back to the wolves.
Alex goes to talk to Duncan (Darrin Baker) at her firm. She tries to figure out how to save Serrano and comes up with an idea. She’s first lady now. That’s got to count for something.
Emily waits for Munoz and the guard to show up and when they do she walks outside to meet them. She has Kirkman on the phone and passes it to Munoz who says in no uncertain terms that the guard will stand behind Royce.
Kirkman discusses the issue with Alex and she gives him the pep talk he needs.
Emily devises a plan to get Royce to back down. The only way to take down a bully is to stand up to him, right? When the protesters she was originally planned to observe call with worries of arrest, she tells them to come to the airport.
Carter panics and runs from the podium when the questions from the media get too tough. He can’t handle the roll of press secretary. Seth steps up admirably.
Wells looks into MacLeish’s phone records and it all checks out.
The protesters arrive at the airport and their peaceful presence is displayed on national television, thanks to Royce. In order to appear executive he has to order his men to stand down and fly to DC with Emily for a sit down with Kirkman.
Cochrane authorizes taking the air defense in Algeria offline, an act of war, which Kirkman cannot abide by. When Cochrane calls him weak for not sacrificing one man to save the nation, Kirkman fires him.
On the flight back to DC, Emily and Royce discuss the difference between Muslims and extremists. She also takes the chance to talk Kirkman up.
Aaron offers the press secretary job to Seth because he is capable, but also because he is Muslim. It would be great for the country to see, Aaron says, but Seth isn’t interested in being the president’s friendly Muslim.
Alex goes to Hookstraten for help with the Serrano, who agrees, for a favor to be named later.
Wells requests a transfer. She can’t handle working on a matter that affected her so personally. Atwood agrees to put the application through, if she sleeps on it first.
Royce disembarks ready to have an open dialogue with Kirkman. He doesn’t get the chance. Kirkman has him arrested for treason while Emily looks on, completely disgusted. She’d made headway and thought she had Kirkman’s trust. He tells her he had to make a statement and couldn’t let Royce forward his own agenda.
Aaron updates him on the situation overseas. Nassar’s body was just dumped on the steps of the embassy. On the way back to the Oval, Kirkman stops to see Seth. He tells him that the offer was actually from him and that he just wanted someone he respected on the job. Seth agrees.
Emily goes to Aaron and asks if the arrest was his idea. He tells her he wishes it was. She’s worried that Kirkman is changing but Aaron points out that he has to. They share a drink.
Seth calls the press corp in one last time to announce his own appointment as press secretary. He admits it’s not a job that he wanted but points out that everyone is called to do things they didn’t expect for the betterment of the nation.
Serrano is released. Wells is mourning her loss when she receives a call from an unknown number. It tells her to “find room 105” to understand MacLeish before cutting out.
Kirkman verifies that Nassar’s body was identified and then places Admiral Chernow (Mykelti Williamson) in command. Kirkman tells him to prepare because we are at war.
This was a pretty good episode. I’m glad that Kirkman didn’t knuckle under to Royce but I don’t like all the shady behind the scenes dealing that Aaron is involved in. I’m hoping in the end he’ll stand up for Kirkman but I don’t think it’s likely. Seth stepping up was wonderful though completely expected. At this point he’s probably my favorite.
Designated Survivor is not on next week and will return at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26.