A Chinese nuclear submarine sinks off the coast of California. China declines to rescue the trapped men because it would mean admitting they were spying on the U.S. President Garcetti can’t authorize a rescue operation because it acknowledges that he knows China was spying on the U.S. This all has Elaine hopping up on the highest horse she can find and lecturing everyone about decency and loyalty and whatnot. Vice President Collier calls her a hypocrite, seeing as how disloyal she’s being by running against Garcetti. Elaine denies everything, but it doesn’t make any difference. Bud tries to get her to use the incident as a breaking point to separate herself from the current administration. Shut up, Bud. Even if he’s making sense. Just… shut up, Bud.
Meanwhile, T.J. is getting ready for opening night of the Dome. Palling around with him is his sobriety sponsor from Narcotics Anonymous. His name is Gunner Cox. Gunner Cox! It’s so awesomely awful. Amid all this, T.J. remembers the last time he was happy and sober. It was six months ago, when he was in love with a hot, young — and very, very closeted — Republican senator. Collier uses knowledge of the affair to blackmail the senator into voting with the Democrats on some contentious bit of legislation. Elaine warns T.J. about the move ahead of time, but he’s devastated when she can’t/won’t fight Collier on the issue. The young senator goes into gay panic overdrive and pretends like he’s super disgusted by the thought of being with T.J., despite an earlier declaration of love. This is what leads up to T.J.’s suicide attempt in December.
In the present day, the whole family is planning to attend the Dome’s opening night. Or so they tell T.J. Once the actual night rolls around, Bud announces he’s not going, and Elaine follows suit. T.J. descends into a self-destructive spiral, and brings Gunner along for the ride. Bud, feeling bad for slighting his son, shows up at the club, only to find him unconscious on the floor.