Welcome to the mid-season finale of DESIGNATED SURVIVOR, where plenty of pieces have been uncovered throughout the season in trying to solve the mystery of the Capitol Hill bombing. When we left off in last week’s installment, we were left with plenty of questions: who created those blueprints that Kirkman discovered? Is Agent Wells going to make it out alive? How involved is MacLeish in the bombing? Is Hookstraten more reliable than we thought? This episode provided some answers and of course offered a HUGE cliffhanger, but it was an overall entertaining and suspenseful hour of television. Let’s dig in deeper into this week’s mystery.
We start with the political chess pieces being played in D.C. Hookstraten (Virginia Madsen) is trying hard to delay the confirmation vote until agent Wells (Maggie Q) arrives with the evidence she has against MacLeish (we learned last week that he is a war criminal and not the hero that has been portrayed to the public). Unfortunately, the committee is growing impatient and decides to move forward with the vote and MacLeish is officially made Vice President of the country. Hookstraten knows that MacLeish is up to no good and decides to speak with President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland). She informs him that Wells clued her into the bombing investigation and that there is evidence implicating MacLeish. Kirkman is surprised and takes the information into consideration. He alerts Secret Service Agent Mike to meet with Wells and gather all of the facts before doing anything about MacLeish.
Kirkman decides to do some research in regards to the blueprints of the Capitol Hill bombing he was given. He brings in the computer engineer who designed the blueprint for questioning. The engineer is visibly nervous and shaken by Kirkman’s questioning. He informs Kirkman that he is not a traitor and offers an important clue that a couple of years ago, he gave the file over to General Cochrane. The same General that Kirkman fired many episodes ago and was all kinds of suspicious at the beginning of the series. I had a feeling we hadn’t seen the last of him and I was right (which can occur at times). Kirkman meets with Cochrane and questions him about the blueprint. Cochrane claims he as never seen the blueprint and was denied access from viewing it. The order came from someone above him, someone in the White House!! We have twist number one!! Who do we know that is in the White House that was also a part of the previous administration? That’s correct, Chief of Staff Aaron, but he can’t be guilty, right?! He’s been busy giving Emily flirty eyes the whole time. On this show, you can never trust anyone entirely. Of course, all of this is terrible timing because Emily and Aaron have started to make out and are planning a date. Kirkman tells Emily about his discovery and asks her to secretly find out background information about the former administration, including Aaron. Uh oh, what’s a girl to do, a tricky spot indeed.
Moving on to the action involving Wells. Last week we left off with her getting into a car accident, caused by an on-coming vehicle, just as she was heading to meet with Hookstraten with the MacLeish evidence. We see Wells lying unconscious and injured in her car as a man approaches to check on her. This man could care less about her well-being and spots the classified document in the passenger seat. He quickly tries to strangle her (how rude!), but she smartly hits the gas pedal to escape and runs out of the car to get further away, but leaves the classified files behind for the strangler to find. She manages to escape and hides out at the apartment of her co-worker Chuck (the tech wiz, who has been helping Wells all along). He might be the only person she trusts right now. Lucky for her, he is apparently a master with glue, which he uses to tend to her injury, all thanks to the power of YouTube (I will overlook this questionable method for the sake of moving the plot along). Chuck is hesitant to help Wells, but she reveals her reasons for joining the FBI, to piss off her father. It was refreshing to finally get some background on Wells and Maggie Q’s acting was surprisingly touching in her vulnerability. Now that Chuck is on board to help Wells, she heads out to find the trace of the mysterious calls she’s been receiving. This leads her to a house in the woods, where she discovers that former White House Chief of Staff, Peter Langdon, is alive and in hiding. He warns Wells to not trust anyone before shots are fired in their direction. Langdon quickly runs away as Hannah shoots the guy dead, who turns out to be the strangler from the car accident. She finds a key card on him that belongs to room with direct window access to Capitol Hill across the street. Wells quickly realizes that an assassination attempt on Kirkman is underway, during the swearing-in ceremony for MacLeish! Twist number two! Run Wells run!
The biggest revelation comes right before the ceremony commences, as MacLeish is at home getting ready and tells his wife that he has second thoughts about going through with the plan. Then, in a Laby MacBeth manner she tells him to toughen up and that he was chosen to survive for a reason. She continues to tell him that they have worked hard to get to this point and that he was given this tremendous responsibility in restoring the greatness of what the country used to be. This is an important scene because it provides a big clue as to what we have suspected all along, that Kirkman will die and MacLeish will become the new President. The fact that Mrs. MacLeish seems to be pulling the strings is a surprising development. So many questions are now raised about her involvement and I look forward to finding out more.
As the ceremony commences, Emily gets a call confirming that Aaron was the one who made the decision to prevent Cochrane from viewing the blueprint. Does this make Aaron a bad guy or is this merely a distraction for the viewer? It’s hard to tell, but it sure puts a damper on their budding romance. Meanwhile, as MacLeish is being sworn in, we see a mysterious man enter a room in the building across from Capitol Hill. He puts together a sniper gun and aims right at Kirkman for the kill. Wells rushes into the crowd of the ceremony and aims her gun towards the window of the shooter and fires her gun, but the secret service tackle her and she misses the shot, causing it to hit the side of the window and startle the shooter into firing his weapon. And then, we fade to black. Who got shot??!! Twist number three!! Now, we must wait until March to find out the answer to the big cliffhanger. We are left with many questions: Will MacLeish be sworn in? Is Kirkman dead? Is Mrs. MacLeish the mastermind behind the bombing? Will Wells go to prison or be set free? Will Atwood also be released? Is that reporter that Seth has been dealing with getting her accurate intel from the mysterious group against Kirkman? Will Aaron and Emily’s romance survive? So many questions! Overall though, this has been a consistently entertaining show, even when it pushes plausibility because the actors are solid and the story remains intriguing. Let us hope that the remaining of the season continues to hold our interest and answer our pressing questions. See you in March!
Season 1, Episode 10 (S01E10)
Designated Survivor airs Wednesdays at 10 PM on ABC
In the crowded TV jungle, Cristian searches through the dense vines to find quality programming for all to enjoy.
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Cristian Barros | Contributor