DESIGNATED SURVIVOR Mid-Season Premiere Recap
BY The Screen Spy Team
Published 5 years ago
By Kirsty Pearce
Some of the most profound and life-altering moments can happen to us in the blink of an eye, most of the time with no warning at all. This is pretty much how Tom Kirkman landed his job as leader of the free world in Designated Survivor’s premiere episode. Framed as the most unlikely of candidates to take the office of President, Kirkman did however step up, and although his first tentative steps as POTUS were not without stumbles, his courage and conviction only made us relate to him even more.
After a fast-paced first half to the season where the twists came thick and often, we pick up at the scene of the shooting. As it turns out, in spite of some BRILLIANT shooting skills curtesy of FBI Agent Hannah Wells, Kirkman is indeed the shooting victim. Thankfully it’s a non-fatal through and through, and the conspiracy has been thwarted, at least for now. Nevertheless, because she did shoot a gun while surrounded by people at the same time the President was shot, combined her actions over the last few episodes, Hannah is arrested, and subsequently refuses to talk, which I completely get. I mean, if there was a ginormous conspiracy out there, and I had no idea who was a part of it, I’d keep my mouth shut too!
As we found out in the mid-season finale, Peter MacLeish is having serious doubts about going ahead with the plan to kill the President, and in a marvellous transition from likable supportive wife to disturbingly creepy conspiracy leader, his wife demands he stop his feet from getting cold and follow to the end what they’ve set in motion. Finding out the President is still alive does nothing to dampen her determination to go on as before, asserting nothing can link them to the assassination attempt
I love the friendship we’ve seen develop between Kirkman and his head Secret Service body-guard Mike, and you can see that trust here as they work together to figure out what is going on, starting with Mike going to talk to Hannah. Meanwhile, Special Advisor Emily and First Lady Alex compare notes, with Emily sharing some evidence she found that seems to imply Aaron’s involvement in the conspiracy. Now, this is one thing I am vehemently going to refuse to believe, as I’ve really grown to like him a lot, and am loving the romantic tension at play between him and Emily.
The doctor informs Kirkman that several bullet fragments are still lodged in his chest, and if they were to remain, he will die, so another surgery is in order. He informs Aaron and Emily, who tell him that means he will have to invoke the 25th amendment, temporarily vacating the office and leaving MacLeish in charge, a revelation that does not sit well with him, leading him to request a face-to-face audience with Speaker Hookstraten. He asks her to keep an eye on MacLeish for him, to make sure he is acting in the country’s best interests, not his own, which she agrees to do.
The first order of business for acting-President MacLeish is whether to close the stock market or not, and even though Emily, Chief of Staff Aaron AND Hookstraten all strongly advise he do so, he refuses. He also makes the command to divert all new information about the shooting to the White House, ensuring his former comrade is not found. A confrontation follows between him and Hookstraten, where she awesomely threatens him that she’ll be watching him very closely, and if he steps one toe out of line, she’s going straight to the Press Corps.
We then switch back to the interrogation that’s not really going anywhere between Mike and Hannah, who is too afraid to talk with the camera and listening devices on, saying she will only say what she knows to the President and no one else. As Mike moves to the door to leave, she, while under the guise of attacking him, whispers the name of the tech guy who has been helping her, Chuck, and tells Mike to ask him about Catalan, the shooter.
Speaking of Catalan, news has come in at the White House that the shooter has been found, and a team of FBI agents is already at the site. There is speculation that he is or was Special Forces, which is true, and the order to apprehend is given, as in these situations, they take their suspects alive, which makes sense, as they can get information from him about the attack. However, that would obviously not be very good for Peter, so he gives the kill order, something Aaron vocally disagrees with. The shooter is confirmed as dead.
As Alex sits in the waiting room during Tom’s surgery, she flashes back to the day he got the offer to go to DC and head the Housing Department. While he initially expressed concern about going into politics and maybe having to stand behind something he doesn’t believe in, Alex shuts his arguments down, saying he has to do this, and echoing his earlier statement to her they are warriors. Coming out of her reminiscing with the arrival of Press Secretary Seth, they start a talk which soon evolves into Alex pouring out that she blames herself for Tom almost dying, as she pushed him to take the Housing position.
Shifting back to the very busy White House, Aaron pulls Emily aside and asks her to tell him what is going on, as he got a call that she had accessed his personal call logs from two years ago. Although she tells him she is not at liberty to discuss it, he now knows he’s being investigated. Mike’s visit with Chuck fairs a little better, as he discovers that Catalan and Peter served together.
All major financial indices like the NASDEC and Dow Jones are in free-fall since MacLeish forced the SEC to keep markets open, with stocks plummeting. Hearing this news makes Tom anxious to get out of the hospital and restore confidence, which he does in small measure by leaning out the window and waving to the crowd of well-wishers and reporters below, his action helping the stocks to rise again. To finish the episode on the usual high-tense note this series has perfect over the last ten episodes, Hannah finally gets her one-on-one with Tom, and we witness her gearing up to share with him everything she knows about Peter before the screen cuts to black.
Coming back from a prolonged break, this episode was a solid return, jumping right back into the action from the word go. The beautiful support and love that exists between Tom and Alex is once again subtly and wonderfully on display throughout their every interaction, in comparison with the relatively cold, controlled, and menacing feeling Peter and his wife give off. The music during their scenes certainly doesn’t help either.
Something that I will say decidedly amps up the tension but I really don’t appreciate is the suspicion that’s fallen on Aaron, unjustly I might add. Full disclosure, conspiracy storylines make me antsy, especially ones where you’re forced to wonder if characters you like are good or bad. Another grey character I’m on the fence about is Hookstraten, this episode the first one where I actually really like her, her stand-off with MacLeish brilliantly acted. Finally, Leo shows that he’s stepped up a bit since the earlier episodes, handling putting his sister to bed and his dad being in surgery like a grown-up.