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The Confession is the third episode of the first season of Designated Survivor and the third episode overall.


A cyberattack hits the White House, leaving behind a video from the purported bombers; when the video is leaked, it forces Kirkman to military action. During an interview, Kirkman reveals that he was fired by his predecessor, leading many to question the authenticity of his presidency.


This episode begins with a short recap leading to the discovery of Congressman Peter MacLeish being the sole survivor of the Capitol Building bombing.

It is a new day in the Oval Office and Kirkman gathers his core team together: Seth, Emily and Aaron. As part of preparations for President Richmond's funeral, Seth suggests Tyler, the former president's son, could help make the speech more personable with memories and anecdotes. The discussion then shifts to the Al-Sakar topic whilst Emily chips in that the Michigan issue seems to have subdued for now. As the meeting concludes, an intrusion into the White House network occurs, with the initial signs imitating a power surge. The Secret Service rush into the Oval Office and confiscate all laptops.

In the subsequent briefing, there is a lot of doubt and confusion with more questions raised than answers. The team agree that the White House will continue operating as usual to avoid raising concerns from the media and public. At the conclusion of the meeting, Aaron reminds the President that a decision is still pending on the appointment of White House Chief of Staff.

In the FBI offices, Agent Wells presses Deputy Director Atwood to interview MacLeish as sole survivor. In the NSA investigation into the hack, it is revealed that only the President's computer was compromised. It is revealed that nothing was taken but instead, a video file was transferred in.

On the way to meeting Congresswoman Hookstraten, Emily reveals to Aaron that her boyfriend of 10-months had just proposed to her that morning. They present the list of potential Cabinet choices to Hookstraten and as part of their conversation, the Congresswoman inquires about the increased IT work in the West Wing which is downplayed as minor technical issues. Their meeting is interrupted when Emily and Aaron are called away to join the President in watching the file down in the Emergency Operations Centre.

While a video confession has now been provided as further evidence of Al-Sakar being the perpetrator, two issues niggle at this revelation. Firstly, why would the confession be delivered via a hack direct to the President and not via a public medium like Al Jazeera, and secondly, that Al-Sakar had previously taken credit for attacks committed by other groups. With these disclosures, President Kirkman offers up an opportunity for any other reasons to believe that Al-Sakar was not behind the attack. It is at this point that Jason Atwood speaks up and mentions the alternate theory being championed by Agent Wells. This doubt and alternate theory is enough for Kirkman to direct the action to focus on a manhunt of the leader - Majid Nassar with the intent of getting confirmation that the confession and perpetration align.

The President shows the video to Congresswoman Hookstraten, who reminds him that the country needs an enemy to target so that the country can rally together. Kirkman simply states that he wants to ensure they have the right enemy in their line of sight. Understanding the challenging situation, Hookstraten reinforces her support for the President whilst having no desire for being in that hot seat herself.

Agent Wells pays a visit to Congressman MacLeish where he claims that he was seated when the bombing took place. He requests that he be kept informed of any progress made in the investigation. Tom meets with Tyler Richmond who reflects on how, no matter what the President had to deal with, his father was always there for him. Concluding their meeting, Tom, on the way to his sit-down interview with Elizabeth Vargas, then calls First Lady Alex to arrange for a simple family dinner that night at 6:30pm. As Alex hangs up her phone, Penny innocently finds her brother's hidden stash of drugs which Alex quickly explains away as headache pills. Alex also notices the wad of cash in his drawer.

Both before and during the interview, Kirkman emphasizes his quality of sincerity. This catches him out when the final question is asked on whether former President Richmond had fired him on the day of the Capitol bombing. After a quick consultation between Emily and Aaron, Tom returns and admits that the transfer out of Cabinet was not a career move he had sought, effectively admitting to being fired.

Over at the FBI, Agent Wells works with Chuck Russink on the footage and figures out the video feed cut out 34 seconds prior to the bomb explosion. Fortunately, they realise one woman had been using her own phone to either film or photograph and offered a potential lead.

Back at the White House, Alex confronts Leo about the drugs but their dispute is put on hold when Mike from the Secret Service comes in to gather her for the funeral motorcade. At the funeral, Tyler informs Kirkman that having seen his interview, he was not going to let the President deliver the eulogy. Instead, on the podium, Tyler welcomes Congresswoman Hookstraten to make the eulogy, which she does successfully.

Alex detours to the family home on the advice of the Secret Service who had brought Leo there on his request. There, Alex helps them to realise that the move to the White House did not cause any of these problems, but instead brought the problems with them. She ends the conversation by reminding him that they would deal with the issue over a family dinner later that night.

Just before breaking news of the leak of the Al-Sakar video confession, Seth updates President Kirkman that Tyler had actually been estranged from his father for the previous two years and that the funeral eulogy snub was potentially part of his own way of dealing with the loss. However, the focus shifts rapidly to the leaked video which helps to savage the administration's low standing. One of the first people Kirkman asks about the potential leak is Congresswoman Kimble who states it was not her. She does provide a clue in that whoever did leak had done Kirkman a tremendous favor in changing the media focus. Kirkman follows the trail and concludes it was actually Aaron Shore who leaked the video. As a result of their robust conversation, Aaron offers to resign.

Tyler Richmond drops by the Oval Office where President Kirkman is able to offer reconciliation to him. Admitting to the insensitivity of the earlier request, Tom is able to share a story where the former President had attended one of his recital performances in the last year. Sharing this story along with a copy of the program is evidence enough for Tyler to break down.

At the FBI offices, Jason informs Hannah that her lover Senator Scott Wheeler had been confirmed as dead. In consoling her, Jason also cautions her in not flouting the 4th amendment because any illegality will invalidate the entire investigation. Chuck also has an update for Hannah that he can now reveal footage showing that Senator MacLeish was not in his seat at the time of the explosion.

Back in the Oval Office, Kirkman finally makes the decision that Aaron Shore will become the Chief-of-Staff with Emily Rhodes appointed as Special Adviser. The two staffers make peace and Emily also updates Aaron that she turned down the marriage proposal. Aaron is tasked with finding Al-Sakar as a priority since he was responsible for putting in motion a timetable that would test the patience of the American people and their expectation for results. The final scene shows Aaron having a clandestine meeting with an unknown person on a bridge with an exchange of information on the President, creating a new cliff-hanger.


Main Cast

Guest Stars