We are heading into the home stretch of the first season of DESIGNATED SURVIVOR and we getting closer to uncovering the truth of the Capitol Hill bombing, which means more surprises are in store (this show sure does love its twists). This week offered another solid episode, but felt more like a build-up for the anticipated excitement and explosive reveals of next week’s season finale. Either way, I prefer living in this political fantasy than the continued freak show of our current administration (is it too late for a bid for a Kirkman presidency?). I digress, though, so let us dig deeper into this week’s proceedings.
Secretary of State, and former President, Moss, Press Secretary Seth (who experiences some unfortunate air sickness) and President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) are all on Air Force One, heading to Toronto to attend the large NATO summit. While on the flight, Moss acts as an adviser to Kirkman, since this is Kirkman’s first summit. Moss provides pointers on their international arms reduction strategy and the key players they will be meeting and how to handle them. They have a plan in place and they are ready to go.
When Moss and Kirkman have drinks with the NATO members the night before the summit, all appears to be in their favor. Everyone is enjoying each other’s company and getting along swimmingly. Since this is a show about conflict, that goodwill is short lived. The new morning, an explosive article hits the front page of the New York Standard, which is journalist Abe Leonard’s newspaper. The headline reads as “Al-Sakar Not Behind Capitol Bombing.” Kirkman and his staff scramble to try to temper this blow to the administration. Moss wants answers and Kirkman fills him in on the conspiracy stuff. Moss is upset by being kept in the dark about this, but he should really give Kirkman a break. Being President of the U.S. is not easy job and he of all people should understand. Luckily, Moss does and they try to form a new plan of action for the summit.
During the summit meeting, Kirkman quickly goes into clean-up mode and tries to assure the NATO members that the U.S. is looking into the matter, but he can’t say anything because of national security. Most of the members appear to accept this plan of action, but a few members are not quite as understanding. France and the U.K. mention that they were part of several countries that supported the U.S. during their retaliation attacks following the bombing. They feel like they were blindsided because their support was based on false information. The French prime minister is firm on her stance and decides to hold the U.S.’s NATO initiatives until concrete answers are provided. Kirkman is not getting out of this situation that easily. As usual, being President of the U.S. is no easy task.
Moving on to our favorite intrepid journalist, Abe Leonard. He does a TV interview, where he talks about his incendiary article, which has caught everyone by surprise. The interview catches the eye of Patrick Lloyd, our new baddie involved in kidnapping Agent Wells and part of the group responsible for the bombing. He calls his henchman Whitaker, the mole inside of The White House, to tell him that Leonard has served his “purpose.” Things don’t sound too bright for Leonard’s future. Remember, Lloyd and Whitaker have been feeding Leonard information to help distract the public from their bigger plans. Leonard, is of course clueless to all of this and returns to the office, where he meets with his editor and a lawyer for his paper. They advise him to meet with the FBI as a potential witness, but it’s mainly to avoid future subpoenas that would likely result from Leonard’s provocative articles. Leonard complies, but he is not happy about it.
We go back to NATO, where Kirkman meets one-one-one with the French prime minister to plead his case to her and turn things around. He tries to convince her that the arms-reduction initiative is the moral vision of countries like France and it would help in keeping Russia’s nuclear ambitions in check. This is an issue that affects the whole world and the safety of its citizens. She admires Kirkman’s passion and shares his ideals. She decides to give him a break and take a closer look at his plan. This is big win for Kirkman and everyone is pleased with this new course of action. Kirkman and the U.S. leave on better terms with the NATO members. On the way back home, Moss and Kirkman are cautiously optimistic about the agreement with France, but time will tell.
Meanwhile, in conspiracy land, Wells continues to try to find a way off of the cargo ship. She knocks out a few bad guys as she makes her way to the control center of the ship. She finds a radio and quickly calls for help. She sends out a distress transmission, which a nearby coastal guard station picks up, but they can only make out Agent Wells’ name. It’s not long until the bad guys find her and knock her out, but it’s Lozano who has the pleasure taking Wells back into hiding. He wakes her up and informs her that MacLeish was a friend of his and he throws Atwood’s ring at her, indicating that he killed him and that he is truly dead. Atwood has had such a tragic trajectory on the show, with the death of his son and now his own. Assistant FBI Director Foretell gets in touch with the coast guard and track the cargo ship off the coast of Baltimore. He and his team end up raiding the ship, but Wells is nowhere to be found. It turns out, she is inside of van full of explosives, parked inside the parking structure of the FBI headquarters. Oh and the bombs have been triggered to go off in less than three minutes! This twist leads us to the season finale, which will hopefully answer our burning questions.
This was an overall decent episode and the pacing meandered at times, especially in the Wells plot, which made this feel more like a filler episode, but the pieces are all there for a strong finish for the first season. This season has delivered its shares of effective twists and turns. Hopefully, the writers bring it for the season’s end and give us genuine pleasure in seeing the bad guys get taken down and bring the bombing story line to a satisfying conclusion. As a side note, it’s sad to see Hookstraten sidelined on the show because she has been one of the best and most interesint characters this season. I hope they find a way to bring her back for the finale and allow to rip into all of those D.C. baddies once again. We will find out soon enough. See you all next week for my season finale review. Until then, happy watching!
Season 1, Episode 20 (S01E20)
Designated Survivor airs Wednesdays at 10 PM on ABC
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Cristian Barros | Contributor