– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Image via ABC

Image via ABC

I have to say, the episode before this one left me a bit worried. It wasn’t a bad episode, by any means, but I began to get this nagging feeling in the back of my head that the premise was starting to wear thin. The government was crippled, and rather than focus on getting the government up and running, they focused their attention on finding and killing the men responsible for the terrorist attack. I understood the idea of focusing on that aspect for the sake of TV drama, but it felt like a real missed opportunity.

I can’t say this episode completely solved those concerns, but I can say it alleviated some of them.

The focus of this episode was a SEAL team operation to capture the Majid Nassar, the leader of Al-Sakaar, the terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the attack on the Capitol. When Nassar vacates an open building in favor of a crowded hospital, they have to set soldiers on the ground to either take Nassar in by hand, or kill him during the operation. The moments during this operation are definitely nail-biting in nature, and given the great lengths it’s taken for President Kirkman to take action, it’s quite the rewarding payoff.

The other subplot that makes up this episode revolves around Hannah’s continued investigation of Congressman MacLeish, the sole survivor of the terrorist attack that made Kirkman president to begin with. How did he survivor an attack where everyone else was killed? And the fact that MacLeish was absent from his seat prior to the explosion is all the more suspicious. After hitting the pavement, Hannah learns the disturbing truth: that MacLeish was in a bomb shelter built into the building — a bomb shelter whose construction was shrouded in secrecy. The implication seems to indicate that MacLeish was somehow in on the whole deal.

As the investigation goes on on Hannah’s end, MacLeish manages to score some real brownie points with Kirkman, when he lends his full support on the SEAL team operation to take out Nassar, with no strings attached. This is in stark contrast to Congresswoman Hookstraten, who all but says that she’ll deny any support of the operation should it fail. Kirkman offers MacLeish the position of speaker of the House, but MacLeish refuses, stating that he got into politics to serve, not to play the whole game, and speaker was a position for those who played the game. 

In a bit of a left turn, Kirkman then suggests that perhaps Speaker wasn’t the best role for him anyway, and then throws vice president out to his advisors as a more fitting offer.

This episode made me feel all kinds of stuff, and as intriguing as the SEAL team operation was, I’m incredibly interested in what’s going on with MacLeish. Is he in on this whole thing, or are we just supposed to think he’s in on it? All arrows seem to be pointing at him as a backstabbing liar, but the front he puts up is that of the most honorable of men. Which is the true MacLeish? That’ll undoubtedly be the crux of the next few episodes, but I hope Hannah is able to uncover everything about MacLeish (and tell the president) before he rises to power.

One potential theory, of course, is that someone else in the White House had somehow manipulated MacLeish into that mysterious bomb shelter prior to the explosion, and that MacLeish is a patsy, but there are too many variables on that front to speculate too much.

All in all, I think this episode moved the plot forward much better than the last one, but it’s not perfect. The actual government itself is still crippled, and while they’ve mentioned putting together Congress a couple times, I feel like that would be the first priority in event of this actually happening. That being said, everything they presented to us was still entertaining television when all said and done. 

My main grievance comes at the tail end of the episode. They’d done a pretty solid job of downplaying Kirkman’s kids. Perhaps the writers realized that focusing on them for a portion of the plot wasn’t as good of an idea as they originally thought? Doesn’t seem like that’s the case, as Kirkman’s Chief of Staff has uncovered the possibility that Leo isn’t Kirkman’s biological son — that he was a result of what I can assume is adultery. Thankfully, Kirkman seems to be well aware of this adultery, but considering the shaky foundation on which he stands for the presidency, it could be enough of a scandal to have him lose face in front of citizens already doubtful of him.

Blah! No, thank you to that subplot. Hopefully, they one-and-done that potential problem next episode. As of right now, I have very little desire to see anything having to do with the kids, but who knows — maybe they’ll handle it better than I think.

Despite my minor quibbles and the continued “TV-ization” of the politics, Designated Survivor continues to be a series that I look forward to every week, and if you’re a person who’s into these types of shows, you’ll likely still be on board.

Grade: B

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let us know in the comments down below!

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Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.