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The National Anthem Recap

In the middle of the night, Prime Minister Michael Callow is awakened by a call. Once he takes it, his wife Jane asks what the matter is. Michael tells her that something has happened to Princess Susannah.

Later, Michael meets with his cabinet and watches a video of Susannah released by the kidnappers. After sobbing, she reads her kidnappers' statement. Susannah states that she is being kept someplace that they cannot trace, and tells Michael that her life depends on him. He must do precisely as instructed or they will execute her. One of Michael's men, Julian Hereford, stops the recording and informs Michael that they are absolutely certain that it is Susannah. Section Chief Walker reports that Susannah's two bodyguards were knocked unconscious with tranquilizer darts.

Michael wonders what the kidnappers want and his staff avoids telling him. His advisor Alex Cairns finally warns Michael that the demand concerns him directly. He tells them to play it and Susannah continues. The kidnappers only have a single demand. At 4 p.m. that afternoon, Michael must appear on live British television on all terrestrial and satellite channels and have unprotected sexual intercourse with a pig. Julian shuts down the recording and says that it ends with a series of technical specifications for the broadcast.

Stunned, Michael asks why they're playing a joke on him. Julian assures him that it's real and the kidnappers want him to have sex with a pig, live on television that afternoon. Walker assures him that they're trying to get a lead on the kidnappers but they have nothing yet. Michael refuses to have sex with a pig, and his staff hesitantly agrees. Julian warns that they haven't been able to establish a dialogue with the kidnappers as they provided no means of response or negotiation. Michael tells them to keep the news silent, but his staff warns him that it was uploaded onto Youtube via an encrypted IP. They deleted it after nine minutes, but people are distributing it on their own. They estimate that 50,000 people have already seen it and it's trending on Twitter. Michael wonders what to do next, and Julian warns him that they have no idea how to deal with this unique situation.

People across the nation are soon watching the video and wondering why it isn't on the news. Among them is a nurse, Lauren and her boyfriend. One broadcaster, Martin at UKN, debates with his team whether they should go with the story and ignore the D Notice restriction. It finally goes out on overseas networks and Martin tells his people to go live... and tells his associate, Malaika, to update the obit on Princess Susannah. Martin then calls Tom Blice in Michael's office to warn him. Tom warns him that UKN will get nothing from them and hangs up as Alex comes by. Alex informs Tom that they're working on contingency plans and are briefing Michael.

Alex secretly sets up a backup plan and puts Special Agent Callett in charge. Callett meets with Noel, who won an Emmy for special effects on a HBO special. Callett asks if Noel can map a head onto a different live body. The kidnappers want a single hand-held camera used in a roving motion. Noel warns that it will be difficult and Callett informs him that he only has a few hours. The special effects producer bursts into laughter and warns that it can't happen, and Callett tells him that it has to.

Walker reports to Michael that they've turned up nothing yet.

Lauren arrives at her job at the hospital and wonders why the story hasn't appeared yet on the news. UKN finally goes with the story. People across the nation watch the broadcast, which includes reports of a raid on a suspected terrorist.

As Tom and his assistant track the broadcast of the news release, Malaika calls Andrew, her secret contact inside of Tom's office. He refuses to give her anything and hangs up. Malaika then goes to the ladies restroom and takes photos of herself, topless, and sends them to Andrew as incentive.

People across the nation render their opinion and 72% say that they wouldn't watch. At home, Jane reads all of the Twitter comments while she tends to their baby. She goes to see Michael, who has set up his team in their dining room. Jane insists on going in past the security guard and asks to talk to Michael privately. He orders his people out and Jane wonders what will happen if they don't find Susannah. Michael assures her that they've got a lead, but she knows that he's lying and insists that everyone is laughing at them. Tom's assistant comes in to tell Michael that the Queen herself is calling. Jane reluctantly leaves.

Across the nation, the citizens discuss the situation. Lauren wonders if it will be a female pig and her coworkers point out that it is, per the kidnappers' specifications. On UKN, Sir Harold Mount, the former head of MI5, warns that it's a new form of terrorism and whether the choice of a pig is an attack on Islam.

At his home, Michael tells Alex that the Queen told him personally to do everything possible to get Susannah back. Walker interrupts to tell them that his assistant Jamie has managed to trace the signal to an empty campus closed since 2010. Satellite photography shows headlights near one of the buildings and Walker takes a team out with helmet-cam relays so they can watch the entire operation.

At the film studio, Callett continues having Noel set up the special effects and warns that the performer is on his way. A security team brings in the stand-in, a porn star named Rod Senseless.

Tom and his assistant discuss the assault team on the way. Andrew, overhearing them, sends a text message to Malaika. She sends him full-frontal nudity photos of herself as a reward.

Callett greets Rod and pointedly refuses to shake his hand. The security agent hands Rod a suit and tells him to get dressed, and tells him that his co-star is in the truck. He also hands Rod a green-screen hood to wear on his head.

The assault team moves in on the campus while Michael waits at the house. Tom comes over and assures him that all of the polls indicate sympathy for Michael and outrage at the kidnapper. If the kidnapper kills Susannah, then Tom tells Michael that the public won't blame him.

UKN interviews a friend of Susannah's while in the newsroom, the team monitors the exchange. They receive a package and open it, and discover a severed finger inside along with a flashdrive labeled "watch me." When they play the flashdrive, the kidnapper tells them that he knows all about the plan to substitute Rod Senseless. The message is followed by footage of the kidnapped severing Susannah's finger.

UKN goes on the air with the news, running the footage. Michael and his team watch and finally shut off the TV. The prime minister is furious that they went behind his back to set up the stand-in and when Alex tries to explain, he grabs her by the throat until Tom pulls him off. Once he gets hold of himself, Alex explains her plan and insists that she had his interests at heart. Tom checks Twitter and warns that it's not playing well now that the kidnapper has cut off Susannah's finger.

Jane continues to follow the Twitter feeds and all of the insulting comments about her and Michael. Eight-six percent of pollers are now in favor of Michael going through with it. Michael, watching, finally has enough and tells the assault team to go in. Malaika is hiding nearby and calls Martin to tell her that she's watching the entire thing. She goes in, taking footage on her camera, and Martin tells her to be camera.

Michael and his staff watch via the helmet-cams as the assault team moves through the building. When Alex tries to interrupt Michael, he silences her and continues watching. The assault team burst into the room and discovers that the kidnapper has left a mannequin on a chair for them. Malaika, watching from the next room, captures the entire incident on film. The soldiers spot her and open fire as she runs across the lawn, shooting her in the leg. Tom confirms who she is as the soldiers shoot Malaika's camera.

With twenty minutes left, Michael wonders if there's anything else they can do, but Julian tells him that they've done everything that they can. The prime minister insists that they're not out of time, but Alex points out that if he goes through with it, the public will view him as one man putting the life of a young girl over his personal embarrassment. Michael figures that Susannah is already dead, but Alex warns that if she isn't then the kidnapper will kill her and upload the video, and everyone will blame Michael. Tom warns that the polling bears it out, and Alex tells him that he will be a despised individual. She has been advised that she can't guarantee his or Jane's physical safety. As Michael takes it all in, Alex tells him that it's been taken out of his hands.

UKN is soon running footage of Michael and his entourage driving across London to the studio. At home, Jane calls Michael, who ignores her. Alex tells him that they've modified the law so that it will be illegal to record the event or keep any records as of midnight that night. Tom assures him that they will broadcast a sonic tone inducing nausea to keep people from watching. He has a press statement ready but Michael doesn't want to hear it. Meanwhile, Alex checks with Callett, who assures her that the pig has been sedated. She then tells Michael that it's time to go in.

The government interrupts the broadcast to explain that Michael will perform an obscene act on television in the hopes of saving Susannah's life. All viewers are advised to turn off their sets. The sonic tone goes out to the millions of people gathered around their TV sets.

Michael enters the studio and takes Viagra, and Alex assures him that they've placed visual aids to assist him if necessary. He goes inside and finds himself facing a pig, surrounded by TV screens of visual aids. Michael faces the camera and says that he hopes it will bring about Susannah's safe return, and then undresses. He says that he loves his wife and hopes that she will forgive him, and then proceeds with the act. Across the nation, millions of people watch. Some watch, some turn away in disgust or horror, some take bets on how Michael will react. Jane sits her in room, the television turned off.

A sedated Susannah staggers onto a bridge and then collapses.

An hour goes by as Michael tries to perform. At the hospital, Lauren tries to turn the TV off, but one of her coworkers stops her, insisting that it's history.

A garage mechanic hangs himself, one bloody hand dangling down.

A couple finds Susannah, lying on a bridge, and calls the police.

Afterward, Michael goes to the bathroom and vomits. Walker calls to tell Alex that they've recovered Susannah. Her finger is intact, and they've confirmed that the finger has male DNA. They've checked the CCTVs and confirmed that Susannah was released thirty minutes before Michael went on the air. Alex realizes that the whole thing was intended to make a point, and tells Walker to bury that page of the report so that Michael never sees it. She then knocks on the door and tells Michael that Susannah is safe. Jane calls him and he ignores her, sobbing.

One year later, Michael's approval rating is three points higher than it was, and he is making public appearances with Jane. Susannah is pregnant and makes her first public appearance since the announcement of her motherhood. The kidnapper has been identified as Carlton Bloom, an aspiring artist. Some art critics consider Carlton's plan the first great artwork of the 21st century.

Michael and Jane return home and Jane coldly walks away from Michael and goes to her room.

Written by Gadfly on Sep 14, 2015

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