Last week’s return episode of DESIGNATED SURVIVOR brought things back with a bang and in the case of the show, an actual “bang,” in regards to the aftermath of President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) being shot. If you thought last week’s episode covered plenty of ground, then this week’s hour revved things up to an 11, with the final moments being the biggest surprise of the season, but more on that later. This was another strong and compelling episode. The second half of the season has been charging at full speed and continues to move with a stronger footing than the first half. Let us unravel all of the intrigue and shadowy dealings from last night’s events.
When we left off last week, Agent Wells (Maggie Q) went to visit Kirkman in the hospital and informed him of her evidence on MacLeish. We begin this week right where we left off, Kirkman is still in bed, recovering from his gun shot wound. He reviews Wells’ file on MacLeish and her findings make an strong case against MacLeish. Kirkman is upset to find out that he had been involved from the beginning. He assumes that MacLeish was involved with the Al-Saqar terrorist groups, but Wells offers a different story, saying that MacLeish is most likely involved with a group on the domestic side and that Charles Langdon, the former Chief of Staff, is actually still alive. With the threat being close to home, anyone is a suspect. She and Secret Service Ritter advice Kirkman to keep his inner circle tight.
Now that Kirkman and Wells are on the same side, she goes on the hunt for more concrete damning evidence against MacLeish. She visits her former boss Jason Atwood in prison. He is nervous to give up any information because his son was kidnapped by MacLeish’s mysterious group and is still missing.
Wells decides to go another route and meets with an Army veteran named Joyner, who served with MacLeish and is part of the cover-up of their team’s war crimes in the Middle East. Wells immediately detects something is off with Joyner and decides to back off, but gets enough from his body language that he is hiding something.
At the hospital, Kirkman has a couple nightmares, the first about being shot at MacLeish’s inauguration day, laying on the ground bleeding with his wife in distraught. The second, waking up in the hospital and seeing a second explosion has occurred in D.C. Luckily, his children are there for comfort, but that is some major PTSD to be dealing with. Let’s hope this doesn’t lead to a cliched pill-popping dependent story line. Later on, he is told by a doctor it is okay for him to be released from the hospital.
At the White House, Speaker Kimble Hookstraten (Virginia Madsen) stampedes into Chief of Staff Aaron Shore’s office and demands to speak with the president right away. Aaron blocks her, but being the alpha that she is, doesn’t take no for an answer, but slightly obliges.
Meanwhile, at the hospital, MacLeish visits Kirkman to keep face and explains his reason for ordering the kill command on Kirkman’s assassin. Kirkman is not buying it, but he plays along to keep up appearances.
Back at the White House, Emily, Kirkman’s special adviser, plays the piano (hidden talent revealed), while Aaron walks and they have a conversation about him understanding her need to be secretive about doing background intel on him. It’s nice to see these kids getting along again and hopefully, get back to making out soon enough.
The following day, Hookstraten corners Aaron once again about seeing the president and bluntly tells Aaron that it’s about the gunman. She is demanding to know why the FBI was ordered to shoot him. She also informs Aaron that she and Kirkman have discussed about MacLeish being a suspicious figure. Aaron, hearing that, spills the details that MacLeish ordered the kill. Hookstraten looks concerned and possibly vindicated in suspecting MacLeish’s motives.
Speaking of MacLeish, as he is being driven around town by secret service, he sees a chalk marking on the side of a USPS collection, which clearly means something on a show like this. He calls from a secret phone and is told by the mysterious group that Wells questioned Joyner and she is close to exposing the whole operation. MacLeish tells his wife Beth about the information and in Lady Macbeth style, she says that Joyner needs to be eliminated and that they are serving a higher cause. MacLeish disobeys his wife and decides to meet with Joyner to ease his nerves.
MacLeish and Joyner meet at a U.S. National Cemetery (not suspicious at all) and chat about their treacherous ways. The Feds are nearby listening in on their conversation and MacLeish admits to lying to the public. Having enough information, Wells moves in and tries to arrest MacLeish, but Joyner tackles her and MacLeish runs off, as the rest of the Feds come out for back up. Wells is able to get Joyner out of the way and gets to MacLeish, but before Wells can apprehend him, he is shot in the head….by his wife! Wells turns around to see that it’s Beth, but she quickly turns the gun on herself and shoots, commits suicide! The episodes ends with Kirkman being released from the hospital and being told about the events with MacLeish.
This was one of the craziest twists the show has pulled this season and ends the MacLeish story line a lot sooner than viewers were expecting. It made for another riveting hour of the show. I appreciate that the show has moved past some of the slow burn of the first half of the season, to having more focused writing and moving things at a steadier pace. The new shift of the main arc now shifts to the mysterious group and what will they do next.
On a sad note, Atwood’s is found dead and it provided an unexpectedly emotional moment in the show.
All of this momentum continues as we get closer to the season finale. We will see what other crazy twists come next. See you next week!
Season 1, Episode 12 (S01E12)
Designated Survivor airs Wednesdays at 10PM on ABC
Cristian Barros | Contributor