Welcome back to the world of DESIGNATED SURVIVOR, after a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday, we return to the presidency that we all seem to prefer, where Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) is in charge and while he continues to experience growing pains, at least he has the best interest of the country on his mind (unlike that guy that was just “elected” in real life). Though it does seem that Kirkman has been having more losses than wins, this week he is able to claim a small victory. In this political world, any win is an achievement. That being said, getting there is never easy. Let’s dive into the action.
Press Secretary Seth Wright (Kal Penn) is in the middle of handling the daily press at the White House, when a pesky journalist asks him about Nassar, who is in U.S custody, and there are reports saying that he has died. This causes quite the commotion and poor Seth must try to find the best way to navigate the chaos. He decides to confirm that the story is true, which creates a larger commotion with the press. Kirkman informs his team that it was the right call and he would rather be open about it to the public. This doesn’t sit well with Congresswoman Hookstraten (Virginia Madsen), who is upset that she was left in the dark about it (I’m not sure what she expects, she has made it crystal clear that she is not a Kirkman fan). He sort of apologizes and she promises to help with getting a Congress together, but we all know she isn’t going to help THAT much. Just as this flare up dies down, a new one erupts when a doctor from the CDC informs Kirkman that a toxin has been released in Kansas City, which is likely an act of bio-terrorism (so much for an easy day, if that’s even possible on this show). Kirkman thinks this could be a counter-attack in response to Nassar’s death, but this quickly doesn’t hold much weight. After some investigation, it is revealed that this toxin was released in connection to the election and voters are being targeted. This is most likely the work of the group that the mysterious woman from last week, who threatened agent Atwood, is associated with and most likely destroyed Capitol Hill.
Kirkman thinks that the elections have become too dangerous from this threat and considers shutting down the election, but opts to have the polling places inspected before making a final decision. Meanwhile, a suspect is found with large traces of the toxin in his home and he also belongs to an anti-government group. With the new information, Kirkman can’t be certain that all of the polling places will be safe. A victim turns up dead from the toxin, which worries Kirkman enough to shut down the elections, but the victim’s daughter makes an on-air speech about her mother wanting to have had the elections continue. This warms Kirkman’s heart enough to change his mind and move forward with the elections. When Kirkman and the First Lady show up to vote, it appears like a ghost town, which worries Kirkman, but soon enough the public views Kirkman’s act as a safe way and large groups start to gather across the country to vote. This a rare win for Kirkman, who was needed one badly. Like I said before, it wasn’t easy getting here.
We move on the story line that has been dragging the show a bit, which is the who is Leo’s birth father one. Thankfully, this week we finally reached the conclusion. Leo and Secret Service Mike are confronted at his school by a snooping reporter asking Leo if he is Kirkman’s actual son. Leo is shaken by the news and runs back home to confront his folks. They at first don’t know how to approach it, but Kirkman tries to ease his pain, but the damage has been done and Leo runs off. Kirkman decides to get the DNA test to finalize this whole situation once and for all. Meanwhile, Seth confronts his reporter crush as to why she leaked the story to another reporter, but she denies it and blames her editor. It turns out that she did indeed pass it to another reporter, which upsets Seth and puts an end to their flirtatious dance. The DNA tests come back and Kirkman tells Leo that no matter what it says, he will never stop being his father, which seems to warm Leo’s heart. The Kirkmans are bunch of softies underneath their tough exteriors. Leo decides to not open it and is fine not knowing for sure, but Kirkman decides to sneak a peak because we’ve come this far with this filler story. Turns out much ado about nothing, Kirkman is the birth father after all. Kirkman takes the information to Seth’s reporter crush to shut her up once and for all. She is ready to turn in her badge, but Kirkman stops her and encourages her to keep doing what she does to keep the White House honest. Still, Seth is done giving flirty eyes, all business moving forward. This story line could have been concluded in one episode, but got dragged out and became a distraction from the main action of the show. Also, can the writers give First Lady Alex some better story lines moving forward?
Now we move to the juicy stuff, which has been all of the action associated with the bombing of Capitol Hill. When we last left off with agent Wells (Maggie Q), she had discovered the identity of Catalan was Nestor Lozano and he was responsble for killing Nassar. He is also associated with the mysterious woman that kidnapped agent Atwood’s son. Before Wells has a chance to tell Atwood any of this information, he is dealing with his missing son. The mysterious woman told Atwood to not tell anyone about their interraction and to make an appointment to meet with Kirkman. When Wells speaks with Atwood, he doesn’t say much and lies to her, but his body language is giving other signs, which is enough for Wells to know something is wrong. Atwood drives to meet the mysterious woman, now that he spoke with his son and knows he is safe, and Wells follows not too far behind, where they end up in an abandoned warehouse, all shady dealings seem to always occur here in TV shows. The mysterious woman gives Atwood information to say to Kirkman, but he seems hesitant. Wells is taking photos of the interaction and not too far behind Wells is Catalan watching her move. People sure do love to spy on each other in this show. Fast forward to Wells not finding anything on the mysterious woman and Atwood heading straight to the White House. Agent Wells can’t get inside and stop Atwood, who “confesses” to Kirkman that he was behind Nassar’s death because it was for the country. Kirkman has Atwood arressted, but is not fully convinced that Atwood is guilty, so he runs an investigation to speak with those close to him. She informs Hookstraten and Peter MacLeish about all of this. Hookstraten is on board to help, but MacLeish is hesitant about looking into it. Everyone seems to have something up their sleeve. Before Wells walks into the White House to speak with Chief of Staff Aaron about Atwood, she recieves an unknown text saying to not reveal anything. Wells finds out about Atwood’s confession and is shocked. She gets the CIA to trace the text and she calls the number to meet with the woman on the line, but this woman is not having it. She does tell Wells to look into 11:14 PM. We have another clue folks! Also, MacLeish goes to meet with Hookstraten and the two have a heated discussion, where she calls him out on wanting Kirkman to fail and become next in line to the presidency. She admires his boldness, but warns him to get out of her way becuase she will leave no one behind on her way to the top. I think Hookstraten is the real villain of the show and Madsen plays her deliciously sly. MacLeish denies it and chalks it up to her having an overactive imagination. Now here comes the twist of the week, MacLeish meets with the mysterious woman we’ve all come to love. He asks her how many more people have to pay, which appears as though he is being threatened into working for her. She says one more and we all know what that means, Kirkman is going down, but not without a fight. This was another solid episode, despite the Leo daddy drama, which is now out of the way. Moving forward, the drama looks to intensify as Wells digs deeper. Kirkman needs to REALLY watch his back now. Until next week!
Season 1, Episode 8 (S01E08)
Designated Survivor airs Wednesdays at 10PM on ABC
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Cristian Barros | Contributor
I only counted 3 clear federal obstruction of justice offenses in this episode. Usually there are at least 4 or 5. Hopefully all these lying federal agents can be tried in a future episode and share a cell at Leavenworth. this continues to be the shows biggest weakness, the FBI, its agents and other federal agents all knowing of the plot but lying to persons at the highest levels of government about what they know. Where are the handcuffs!