DESIGNATED SURVIVOR Recap: “The End of the Beginning”
By Kirsty Pearce
“The End of the Beginning”
This week’s Designated jumps us straight back into the debrief between Hannah and Tom, who are sharing info on MacLeish being in on the bombing from the start. Mike and Hannah warn Tom he can’t tell anyone, even his own wife, of the new developments for reasons of both national security, and personal safety. Tom then tasks Hannah with finding a plan to bring down MacLeish. Her first stop is to see FBI agent John Frostell about providing legal counsel as he is the closest thing they have to a DA. MacLeish goes ahead with his unannounced (until that morning) press statement, which is a sickly-sweet sucking up to Tom piece of fluff, his attempt at being presidential (I for one, would not have been impressed). Alex shares her and Emily’s suspicions about Aaron with Tom, but he refuses to believe it.
John tells Hannah they need concrete evidence on MacLeish, and so Hannah decides to go after the woman who was blackmailing Jason Atwood, her old boss. She visits him in prison, but not realizing he doesn’t know his son Luke is still missing, reveals it to him. He says the only way she can help him is find his son, but John refuses to let Hannah do it, as she has to concentrate on nailing MacLeish.
We switch back to Emily and Tom, who are having a talk about Aaron, with Tom saying he’ll handle it from here out. Tom tells Emily he doesn’t believe Aaron is a traitor when she asks, as she doesn’t want to believe it either. Another conversation is then held, this time between Hookstraten and Aaron regarding her urgent need (isn’t it always?) to talk to Tom. Aaron refuses, telling her she can appraise him instead, as it’s his job to know what’s going on, which is kind of sad, considering he isn’t really being told anything.
MacLeish stops by the hospital to try to justify the kill-order to Tom. Afterwards, he meets with his wife Beth to tell her Tom wants him to take over his public schedule for the next month. Beth says they need to lay low until further instructions, implying they are taking orders from someone higher up in the conspiracy. MacLeish conveys his concerns about loose ends, which include Hannah. Tom then talks to Mike about how, though he’s always been the peacemaker, he thinks he could have easily killed MacLeish when he was talking to him earlier, he was that angry. Mike proceeds to point out in a brilliant turn of phrase about Peter being a prisoner in plain sight, his every move watched by both the public and secret service. He will lower his guard, and when he does, they will catch him.
Tom then meets with Aaron to explain that the extra vetting he had Emily do on Aaron was done in accordance with Secret Service advice. He also wakes up later on screaming from a nightmare in front of his kids, showing how much emotional stress he is actually under. Meanwhile, Hannah and John go through MacLeish’s army unit with a fine-tooth comb to try to uncover the weak link they can rattle.
Aaron hears Emily playing the piano in the White House, and they share an endearing and sweet moment as he apologizes for being rude to her after learning about her digging into his history. While this rather large hitch in their budding romance is a standard device in shows that builds the tension and further draws out the lead-up to them getting together, I hope it doesn’t last for too much longer.
Back to Hannah, who confronts a member of MacLeish’s army unit, Alvin Joiner, about a specific mission where there was one extra person on the manifest coming out. Alvin is very close to losing it, nervous and on edge, and you feel slightly sorry for him. In the interim at the hospital, Tom has discharged himself against doctor’s orders so he can get back to work. Peter is also on his way back from a ship launching when he spots a signal on a post box to contact a member of his team, who tells him Alvin wants to meet.
Hookstraten confronts Aaron about the shooting of Catalan, and tells him the President is suspicious of Peter, underlying the fact that Tom didn’t confide in Aaron about his concerns. She finally gets Aaron to tell her what happened in the room when the kill-order was given, and he tells her not to tell anyone else, a decision I’m sure is going to come back and bite him soon. While Tom is packing his things, he makes it clear they are to exonerate Aaron, not bury him in a conversation with Mike, who then tells Tom the trap is set for Peter.
We head back to the MacLeish house, where Beth tells Peter he shouldn’t meet Joiner, but have him eliminated instead, as he has become a liability. This turns out to be Peter’s breaking point, and he finally stands up to his wife, who is disturbing in her total commitment to whatever cause it is they have invested themselves, and goes to meet Joiner. In a devastating but not entirely unexpected turn of events, it is revealed Jason’s son has been found dead.
Emily and Seth have a drink and Emily confides in him her disillusionment with Washington’s brand of politics. Seth shares how he felt the same way until he met Tom in the bathroom after the bombing, who demonstrated integrity over expediency, was everything decent, and showed him by example how to believe in something bigger again.
Creepy mystery blackmailing woman (yes, that’s what I am calling her) arrives at the police station where Hannah was held, only to find she has been released. Beth is then informed of this, and after realizing Hannah is the one who questioned Joiner, she unsuccessfully tries to call Peter before grabbing the car keys knowing where he will be. Joiner and Peter met at the Arlington cemetery at 9 pm, where FBI is also recording the meeting unknown to the two men. It is revealed that the mission Hannah asked Joiner about was Peter’s tipping point in turning against the government. He goes on a bit of a rant about how he believes the government used him and his men, sending them into a slaughterhouse, and admits he lied to Congress. FBI agents give the order to arrest Peter, but when Hannah attempts to, Joiner rushes her. She overpowers him and goes after a running Peter, but when she catches up, Beth shoots Peter and then herself.
The episode closes with Aaron finding out he’s been denied access to the White House Networks, and Mike arriving at the hospital to inform Tom about Peter’s death while excluding Alex from the conversation.
I continue to be impressed with both the direction and scripting of this show, and in this episode the two stand-out moments are Seth’s talk with Emily, which, while a little on the sentimental side, was well delivered and felt sincere, and the final montage of the Atwoods grieving their boy, and both Alex and Aaron being shut out by Tom, that image of the door closing on Alex starkly powerful.
While I understand the whole necessity of being to be safe over sorry, and wanting to protect those you love, this secret-keeping thing NEVER works out well, as the person who is being kept in the dark will inevitably find out, or get involved in the situation anyway, and because they don’t have all the facts, they end up putting themselves and others in even greater danger. It also undermines trust and could ruin substantially damage friendships. Foreshadowing, Designated Survivor?
Let’s just hope this show continues to handle the effect these secrets will have on the various characters in a way that doesn’t become frustrating to watch.