Nearly all of the federal government has been decimated in an attack, and the one surviving cabinet member who was sent elsewhere in case of a catastrophe, has to assume the presidency.
In one horrific instant, outgoing "Secretary Tom Kirkmak", played by Kiefer Sutherland, takes over the Oval Office.
"Designated Survivor" is a real life policy during big government events like the State of the Union, and officials who've been in that hot seat describe it as sobering.
"You have the secret service with you, you have what they call the football with you, the communications devices, because if it happened, you would immediately be at war," New York State Governor Andrew
Governor Cuomo was the designated survivor twice during his time as a cabinet Secretary in President Bill Clinton's administration.
"You're accompanied by numerous secret service members and Army officials, vehicles, and it really makes you think how quickly the situation could get so bad, and how fragile this whole system is and how fragile the world is," Gov. Cuomo said.
Current Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson found himself in the same situation during January's State of the Union address.
The need for continuity has "President Kirkman", and viewers, gearing up for a frightening but thrilling ride.
"Going through it twice with the briefings and etcetera, is an experience that has stayed with me for a lifetime," Gov. Cuomo said.