Welcome back after a two week hiatus (which was filled with the reality-show craziness of the final presidential debate), where we return to the many mysteries and suspicious activties that surround the world of DESIGNATED SURVIVOR. After the previous episode, which was filled to the brim with plot points, this week’s episode, “The Mission,” stays very centered and focused on the main issue at hand, capture the terrorist (supposedly) responsible for the Capitol Hill attack. Let us breakdown the main mission that has everyone on pins and needles.
When we left off with President Kirman (Kiefer Sutherland), he made it Jack Bauer clear to order an airstrike attack on the Algerian location where terrorist Majid Nassar was hiding. This way there would be minimum casualties and Kirkman is very clear on having as little collateral damage as possible. Unfortunately, their plan gets uprooted when intelligence informs them that Nassar was tipped off by the Algerian government about the impending attack and has fled the location. Kirkman must now quickly formulate another plan to find Nassar.
Meanwhile, congresswoman Kimble (Virginia Madsen) is breathing down Kirkman’s neck over every decision he makes. It appears as though the pleasantries that these two shared has now turned into mutual contempt. Kimble wants to know it’s taking so damn long on making a decision on finding Nassar. She reminds him (more than once in the episode) that Kirkman has the constitutional obligation of consulting with congress of any important decision that affects the country, especially war. Kirkman sarcastically informs Kimble that he is fully aware and thanks her for her constant “vigilance.” Watching these two go at it has become one of the more surprisingly entertaining elements of the show. Credit Madsen for an effective performance of someone who creates the facade of professionalism, but is no longer feeling the need to hide her annoyance towards Kirkman, while also appearing awfully suspicious in her behavior.
Back to the manhunt, military intelligence has found the whereabouts of Nassar, he appears to be hiding in the basement of an Algerian hospital. Kirkman is now fully aware that an airstrike is out of the running, due to the high casualties that would ensue. Kirkman is also hesitant about sending troops on the ground because of the high risk of possible deaths for the troops, but he doesn’t seem to have another viable option. The Joint Chiefs suggest that Kirkman instruct the SEALs to capture Nassar (alive, if possible), but Kirkman is afraid that it would create higher stakes of danger in the mission. While contemplating his decision, Kirkman decides to take a trip to Virginia to visit where the SEAL team is training.
While in Virginia, Kirkman speaks to the commander of the SEAL team in order to gather information on the success rate of completing the mission. The commander informs him that it would be a 50/50 chance of success, but is firm on being able to complete the mission. Kirkman feels confident enough with his observations and decides to give the mission a go.
Back in Washington, Kirkman meets with Kimble and Peter MacLeish (the lone survivor of the attack and who agent Wells is highly suspicious of, but more on that soon), who are the only members of congress, for now. He informs them of the mission of capturing Nassar. Peter shows unwavering support in Kirkman’s plan, while Kimble is quick to point out that if the mission fails, she will not back him up. Kimble has now made her alliances crystal clear and has become a formidable advisary for Kirkman. After the meeting, Chief of Staff Aaron tells Kirkman that would be a good idea to offer Speaker of the House to Peter, since he appears to be a supporter of Kirkman. Kirkman agrees and tells Aaron to pursue it.
The more interesting plot developments occurred with FBI agent Wells’ (Maggie Q) continued probing into the case against Peter MacLeish, which took a surprising turn that will affect the drama inside the White House. Last we saw Wells, she received a tip from a mysterious phone call from a woman telling her to look into Room 105. Wells follows up on the information and discovers that Room 105 is a secret room in the Capitol, which was recently renovated by a suspicious-soundng subcontractor. We quickly find out that Peter was discovered in the rubble of Room 105, cue the gasping music! Wells digs fruther, with the help of Kimble (who also wants to be in the loop of the investigation becuase that doesn’t sound suspect), discovers that the eight men who worked on the room have all died in the last two months, cue more gasping music! Deeper digging allows Wells to uncover that Room 105 had a bomb shelter, which means Peter is defintely involed in the attack, cue louder gasping music! Wells informs her boss Jason (who finally believes her) of her discoveries, but tells her to lay low with the new intel. The new information about Peter is telling when he declines the offer made by Aaron about becooming Speaker of the House becuase it would get in the way of serving the country, highly suspicious I say! Kirkman doesn’t question it since he himself was not qualified to be President, but decides he is better suited to be his Vice President. The plot thickens!
Back to the mission, Kirkman and his team watch as the SEAL troops inifiltrate the Algerian hospital and find Nassar and his men in hiding. Shots are fired and one of the SEAL troops have been hit and dies, while saving children that were in the room. Nassar is captured and brought into U.S. custady. Kirkman is glad the mission was a success, but distraught over the loss of life. Peter is in the room with Kirkman and his team and appears to be none too pleased that that mission was a success. Out of respect, Kirkman goes to Virgina to visit the casket of the fallen soldier. A fellow soldier informs Kirkman that they understood the risk and are just doing their job in fighting for their country. Kirkman walks away in somber as we are left the image of the casket.
This was another solid episode that had some effective plot reveals, which are creating complex scenarios between the White House and the FBI investigation. Peter is now at the forefront of the drama and his involment raises a lot of intriguing questions: how high does Peter’s involement go? Is he working with Kimble? Was Kimble the voice of the woman on the phone with Wells? What plan is Peter conocting? How will him becoming Vice President threaten Kirkman’s administration? The only plot reveal that felt weak was the discovery of First Lady Kirkman’s ex (who Aaron found out about from the Kirkman file he obtained in the previous episode), serving in prison, claiming the son President Kirkman thinks is his acutally belongs to the First Lady and her ex. This storyline took away from the momentum of the other plot points and felt a bit soapy. It appears the writers aren’t providing compelling enough drama for the First Lady. Overall though, the episode moved at a strong pace and kept enough plots moving forward to keep us gripped for the next epsiode. See you for the next episode in two weeks, cue the gasping music!
Season 1, Episode 5 (S01E05)
Designated Survivor airs Wednesdays at 10PM on ABC
Cristian Barros | Contributor