After the Secretary of State is killed in a plane crash, Elizabeth McCord's former boss and current President of the United States asks her to fill the newly open position. Two months later we rejoin Elizabeth as she thoughtfully advises the President on foreign matters and is considered one of the most powerful women in the world. Yet she finds herself routinely dismissed by select members of her staff and other power players in DC, including the Chief of Staff.
When two American teens are captured in Syria and face execution, Elizabeth fights to bring the boys home. When Operation Stupid Kids goes array, she breaks the rules to get the President to let her do things her way. When the press gets wind of the hostage situation in Syria at a critical moment, she ditches the glasses and pantsuits and undergoes a makeover to draw attention to herself while giving them a more interesting story. The press and the public eat it up.
On the home front, Elizabeth worries about whether her family is adjusting okay to the move to DC. Her daughter misses her boyfriend and her anarchist son is constantly seeing conspiracy theories. But he's not the only one. A former CIA colleague, warns Elizabeth that her predecessor's death was no accident. She dismisses him as being paranoid until he dies under mysterious circumstances.