Season 1 Episode 1
"Spies, Allies and Enemies"
On the anniversary of her fiancé's death, top presidential briefer Charleston Tucker is forced to choose between quick revenge and the long game...[button color="black" size="small" link="http://www.nbc.com/state-of-affairs" target="blank" ]Official site[/button]
Kabul, Afghanistan, one year ago: Senator Constance Payton, her son Aaron and his fiancée Charleston "Charlie" Tucker are in the backseat of a Humvee driven by Special Operator Jack Dawkins. Under fire, the vehicle crashes and Aaron urges his mother and Charlie to climb out over the backseat. Moments later, Charlie watches as Aaron is shot and killed, then pulls out of her reverie. She's been recounting the story for her therapist again, and she's convinced it's not making anything better. The therapist thinks Charlie's repressing something - and dealing with the trauma with booze and men? No good can come of that. In Charlie's opinion, good doesn't have to come... she does. Since Charlie starts her day as Langley CIA analyst and point person on the President's Daily Briefing at 2 a.m., she tends to love 'em and leave 'em.
With only six hours until the Presidential Daily Briefing, Charlie waits for the elevators in her office building as news reports indicate that today is the one-year anniversary of Aaron's death at the hands of Abdul Fatah. She's feeling vulnerable by the time new briefer Lucas Newsome boards the elevator. Charlie starts grilling him. Lucas is old for a new briefer, and he can tell Charlie's suspicious right off the bat. They proceed to the PDB Vault where Charlie introduces her team: Maureen James, Secretary of Defense briefer; Kurt Tannen, State Department briefer; and Dashiell Greer, Justice Department briefer, aka Leave It to Briefer. Together, they assemble the President's Daily Briefing (The Book or PDB), which is basically the top 10 list of the most critical threats facing our country. The team wastes no time, ticking through crises spanning the globe as Charlie picks the worst. It's all fun and games until Dashiell brings up video of Dr. Benjamin Butler, who's been working with children in a Kenyan refugee camp and very much resembles Aaron. The team watches as several men blast their way into the camp and abduct Dr. Butler; his case is now at "the top of the book."
When Acting CIA Director Skinner summons Charlie, she grabs Lucas, who has been hired as his briefer, and orders her team to research which special ops (JSOC) teams are near Kenya. Skinner has an agenda: convinced that Syrian Intelligence Chief General Abu Khan is their next great asset, he wants Charlie to leverage her special relationship with the president to set up a meeting. Charlie has many good reasons why she thinks Khan is a gangster, not least of which is that he's rumored to be in league with Abdul Fatah. Dismissed, Charlie returns to the team. With only three hours left until the briefing, Dashiell calls everyone to his monitor to watch another video from Kenya: the terrorists who stormed the refugee camp want 25 of their men released from Guantanamo, and they're starting to behead hostages. Charlie rushes off to the cafeteria to find Stephen Heinz and his team of African analysts eating breakfast. It turns out Dr. Butler traveled to Syria six months ago - but why? Charlie asks Stephen to expedite the intel to her, then rushes back to the briefing room where analyst Earl Givens presents another crisis. Jack Dawkins - whom we'll recall as the driver in Charlie's flashback - has a line on Abdul Fatah. Charlie gets on the phone with Dawkins, currently in Djibouti. He leads the only JSOC team capable of rescuing Butler, so when Charlie learns he's got a 50% chance of killing Fatah today, she tells him to call back when it creeps over 80%. There's no time to vet the situation with Fatah, plus they could blow the operation already in place to take down his entire network, including Sheik Hukam. Charlie makes a tough what-if vs. what-is call: Fatah isn't going into the book. That's when more video from the terrorist group comes through: Dr. Butler will be the next hostage to die.
The next hour is spent assembling the Presidential Daily Briefing, which Charlie loads into a locked satchel. As Dashiell drives her to the White House, Charlie receives a series of untraceable texts from someone who claims to know her secret about the day Aaron died. Charlie meets with Chief of Staff David Patrick (DP) and President Payton, who immediately recognizes how much Dr. Butler looks like Aaron and recalls Jack Dawkins' role in the operation that killed her son. Charlie moves on, briefing the president about Abu Khan, per Skinner's request. Sensing Charlie is phoning it in, the president asks for her true opinion, so Charlie admits she doesn't trust him. Absent from the briefing is any mention of Fatah, and Charlie is sent on her way as the president promises to consider Dr. Butler's urgent situation. On the way out, Charlie receives more texts, taunting her about her wardrobe choice - who the hell is watching her?! Kurt hasn't been able to trace the number. Dawkins calls, claiming he's 80% and climbing on Fatah. In Charlie's mind, the train has already left the station: Dawkins is to go after Dr. Butler.
While Charlie's on the way back to the CIA HQ, Kurt and Maureen hear yelling coming from Skinner's office. What's Abu Khan doing on the 7th floor, which is supposed to be secure? Apparently the president has already declined to meet with him. Maureen and Charlie know French Intelligence busted Khan last month for smuggling a cell phone inside their HQ - and it was transmitting! Skinner summons Charlie's team to the conference room, where he demands to know why Dawkins' team is going after Butler. Maureen cautions Skinner; they shouldn't be having this conversation in front of Abu Khan, who claims he's there to deliver a location on Fatah. Hell-bent on getting his meeting with Khan and the president, Skinner dismisses the team. Maureen calls Charlie to warn Skinner's taking a shot at her; he's already left the building with Khan. And if the president hears from Skinner that Charlie left Fatah out of the book, there will be hell to pay. Charlie drops Maureen to pick up a call from DP, who's already heard Skinner and Khan are on their way to the White House. Charlie assures him the only person who wants Fatah dead more than the president is her. Before hanging up, DP reminds Charlie that she doesn't make policy - that's the president's job.
Charlie is about to go through CIA security when Maureen calls again. Skinner has just issued a lotus note, banning her from the CIA building. Charlie hands off the PDB to Dashiell and heads out of the lobby while asking Maureen to pick up the file from Heinz, then bring it to the security dock. Charlie calls private-sector fixer Syd, asking for a big favor, with only minutes to intercept Khan and his transmitting cell phone before he reaches the White House. Without a pause, Charlie grabs Heinz's file on Dr. Butler from Maureen in passing, tells her to get the team to the White House, then evades security by hopping into the bed of a truck. Meanwhile, Syd and his team, posing as Secret Service, intercept Skinner's vehicle and make off with Khan, just as Charlie climbs in a taxi to return to the White House. Within moments, Syd pulls the transmitting cell phone out of Khan's hat.
Back at the White House, Skinner and Charlie's team are already in the Oval Office. When Skinner suspends Charlie for withholding intel, the president demands an explanation. Charlie admits there was a possibility they could have killed Fatah today, but not a certainty, and going after him risked the loss of his network. Moreover, Khan had a cell phone, which was likely transmitting from the seventh floor of the CIA. With little indication of her true feelings, President Payton makes the final call: it's time for Dawkins and his JSOC team to bring Dr. Butler home. Back at the CIA, Charlie and the team watch as they do just that. Charlie falls into memories of more intimate times with Aaron, the love of her life, when she was stressing about their upcoming trip to Kabul with then-Senator Payton. Flash forward to the next day's memorial service at Arlington for Aaron, presided over by the president. Instead of Taps, Payton has opted to play Coltrane instead. For the millionth time, Charlie recalls the day Aaron was killed. After the ceremony, Charlie assures President Payton that had they gone after Fatah today, his entire network - and Sheik Hukam - would have vanished. Charlie vows to find and kill every last person who was involved in Aaron's death. The president knows Fatah's death will make killers of them both...
That night, Charlie returns home to find her apartment door open, her guns missing and "old friend" Nick Vera drinking her bourbon. Charlie clearly neither trusts nor likes Nick, who's been dark for over a year. She hasn't seen him since "that day," and she's certain he's the one who's been sending the texts, since they're the only two people who know about Fatah. Nick denies it; someone else must know what they did. Indeed, the latest text reads: "We know what you did with Fatah in Kabul." For all Charlie knows, it was Nick who hit her convoy and killed Aaron. What's going to happen when the world learns that the man who may have killed the president's son was a CIA asset? Nick points out that Fatah was Charlie's asset, then heads out. Once again, Charlie replays the incidents of that fateful day in her mind. She knows she's missing something; now she sees Aaron pointing a gun directly at her - or is it just the camera? Charlie deals with her anguish per usual, at a bar with yet another anonymous man...