DESIGNATED SURVIVOR ended its first season on a solid, if unspectacular, note. That being said, the final moments of the episode set up some higher stakes for season two. Somehow though, the outlandish things that have occurred all season long continues to pale in comparison to all of the wild events happening in our current political climate, led by that who shall remain nameless. But enough of my personal political views, let us dive into all of the details of our final briefing for the season.
Let us start with all of the political intrigue occurring around President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) and his administration. We see Kirkman watching one of the many political talk shows on the air. This is one called The Nate Butcher Show and Aaron Shore pops up to discuss Kirkman, along with our favorite political villain, Senator Bowman of Montana. As usual, Bowman is attacking Kirkman’s handling of all things political, but at least we have Aaron around to defend Kirkman and his good name. Kirkman appears to appreciate Aaron’s honest words.
Kirkman meets with Aaron in the Oval Office to discuss highly classified information. He finally lets Aaron in on the fact that there is a mole in the White House and no one knows who it is. Kirkman is determined to learn who it is and enlists Aaron to help with any clues he can provide from the eight years he served. Aaron complies and tells Kirkman he will look into his personal records to catch the sneaky bastard.
Kirkman then has a meeting with intrepid journalist, Abe Leonard, to ask him to pause on publishing a damaging article. Leonard is resistant at first, but Kirkman explains that while FDR was in office, there was a respect that the press gave to the office during a time of war. Kirkman asks Leonard for the same mutual respect. He informs him that we are in a time of war and that his article would cause issues with national security. Leonard takes Kirkman’s words to heart and decides to stop the story from getting published, for now. It appears that Leonard might become an ally for Kirkman next season, but we will have to wait to find out how much of one.
Aaron returns to meet with Kirkman and hands him a list of names given to him General Cochran (AKA General Angryface), who has been on house arrest, but is not an enemy, like we have been led to think early on in the season. Each person on the list had a say in selecting the designated survivor on that fateful night of the bombing. Most likely one of them is the traitor. He later informs Aaron that he has been impressed with Aaron’s loyalty and performance. He offers Aaron a spot in the White House, but Aaron points out that there aren’t any available roles. Kirkman assures him that he will create one if he has to, which sets up what important position will Aaron find himself in season two.
We switch now to the dramatically juicier plot of the ongoing conspiracy against The White House. Last week’s episode ended with Agent Wells (Maggie Q) in a scary situation of being inside of an timed bomb that was minutes from exploding inside the parking structure of the FBI, surrounded by agents with guns. Since Wells is a quick thinker, she takes the van hostage and drives quickly towards the Tidal Basin in front of the Jefferson Memorial, jumping out and letting the van drown in the basin, just as the bomb explodes in the underwater. Wells is arrested, but quickly released because Director Forstell intervenes and informs the agents that the president wants a meeting with her.
At The White House, she meets with Kirkman and Secretary of State Moss and informs of everything she has been through and discovered. They believe everything she says and instruct her and her team to bring in Patrick Lloyd, the main villain of the show and ex-Browning Reed CEO, who is behind all of the conspiracy and bombing of Capital Hill. The problem is they don’t have concrete evidence against him, yet. Wells and her team quickly move to raid Lloyd’s compound, but come up empty and discover that he has escaped in an underground tunnel.
Before Lloyd’s escape, he sent Lozano, our favorite assassin and killer of poor Agent Atwood, to put a plan into motion. The mole hacks into the White House system to create an ID for the Pentagon for Lozano. Lozano, wearing a white military uniform, makes his way inside the Pentagon, undetected. He heads straight into the building server farm, where he transfers classified, but still unknown to us, information into his briefcase computer. He is able to escape the Pentagon, but on the road, Wells notices he is driving in the opposite direction and quickly chases him down. Their car chase makes Lozano crash his car and a chase by foot ensues, which leads to a one-on-one fight in an abandoned apartment. Eventually, Wells pushes Lozano, which causes him to land on iron pipes and die, but not with whispering to her that it’s not over yet. See ya Lozano, nice knowing you!
Back in the office, Wells discovers an email that Atwood sent her, which contains audio between Lloyd and the mole Mr. Whitaker, discussing their involvement with the conspiracy. Wells and her team corner Whitaker at the White House and take him into custody. Lloyd is still on the loose, but thanks to information gathered from Whitaker, the FBI was able to raid and apprehend over 200 co-conspirators across the country.
Kirkman decides to celebrate this victory by addressing congress and the nation to tell them the entire truth of what’s been going on this season. He mentions Al-Saqar wasn’t behind the attacks and that it was in fact a domestic terrorist group, led by Patrick Lloyd behind everything. This now makes Lloyd the most wanted man in the world. Kirkman’s speech is rousing and allows for the country to come together in unison to defeat the bad guys. The room erupts in applause and everything seems okay, for now. Kirman has come a long way from an unsure man taking office to now fully exuding a presidential presence. This transformation was made effective due to Sutherland’s strong and subtle work this season.
The episode leaves us with a strong and concerning set up for season two. Kirkman is pulled into the situation room for an update on Lloyd’s location. Thanks to Lozano’s hack at the Pentagon, Lloyd is in possession of access to the Defense Department’s most highly classified information. This means he has access to nuclear weapons locations and intel. He can hold the country hostage. So, there you have it, an intriguing new conflict for next season. Now, the manhunt for Lloyd truly begins and the threat to our safety is at an all-time high.
The season finale lacked some of the exciting fireworks we got from the mid-season finale of Kirkman’s assassination attempt and the surprise of the MacLeash’s murder/suicide plot. There were some missed opportunities in allowing us to see Whitaker’s questioning and probing into the scary psychology of Lloyd’s radical group. This was an overall good episode though, but it didn’t quite have the dramatic juice we got whenever we had Hookstraten in the picture, who was sorely missed in the season finale. Season one has come to an end and though the show has had its flaws, overall it has been solid, with a nice mixture of action and DC-style politics. The show also benefited from strong work from Sutherland, Maggie Q and especially Virginia Madsen as Hookstraten. My advice for next season is for ABC to shorten the season to allow for better pacing and more focused narratives. Also, more Hookstraten! Until next season!
Season 1, Episode 21 (S01E21)
Designated Survivor airs Wednesdays at 10 PM on ABC
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Cristian Barros | Contributor