'Designated Survivor' Just Killed off [SPOILER]

Designated Survivor's midseason finale featured a dramatic death, delivering a major personal blow to President Tom Kirkman.

Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) successfully negotiated with a religious group, and Alex (Natascha McElhone) stopped Forstell (Reed Diamond) from continuing an unfounded investigation into allegations of bribery and obstruction.

It looked like the show would have a happy ending, but that was not the case. As Alex was in transit, a large vehicle hit her escort, totalling the car.

The last shots of the episode showed Kirkman getting a phone call and falling to his knees as he heard the news. Alex, his wife, was dead.

In a post-show interview, showrunner Keith Eisner told TV Guide that Alex is definitely dead. This means the show will have a new theme - a bachelor president.

It's "terra nova dramatically, we haven't seen this in a television show," Eisner said. "A president who is essentially by himself, and the isolation of being a single parent and of having to figure out what to do professionally and personally without his partner. And that is a very interesting and exciting dramatic area for us to go into to. And we'll see how that isolation has ramifications in both the personal and political arenas. Something we're very excited about is sort of a new direction."

It was already known that McElhone would be leaving the show, but the way Alex was written off was a surprise. Back in September, McElhone joined The Fist, a new Hulu series from Beau Willimon (House of Cards) that will co-star Sean Penn.

Last month, Kim Raver joined Designated Survivor to play Andrea Frost, who runs a high-tech company. Raines previously worked with Kiefer Sutherland on 24.

One big question remains though. Was Alex killed in an accident or purposefully targeted?

"That's something I won't reveal," Eisner told TV Guide. "It certainly has the earmarks of that, but we'll wait 'til we get back before figuring out exactly what happened and why, but that's something we're going to tease a little bit."

Designated Survivor is back on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT on ABC.

Photo credit: ABC/John Medland