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Home Articles TV Recaps DESIGNATED SURVIVOR “The Ninth Seat” Recap


BY The Screen Spy Team

Published 5 years ago


By Kirsty Pearce

Designated Survivor S1E17 “The Ninth Seat”

The return of a promising character, the setting up of an undercover storyline, and the struggles of putting together a working Supreme Court; these are the challenges faced in this week’s episode, and our favorite characters handle them with their usual aplomb.

We open on a war-torn, desolate street with armed soldiers escorting someone sporting a pillow-case over their head, who is revealed to be Abe Leonard, our intrepid reporter still chasing the story of Catalan, the man who shot the President. He is dragged into a building for a meeting with a terrorist, who tells him the terrorist group that took credit for blowing up the capital was paid to do so by Catalan, first name Hector.

Later Leonard surprises Seth in his office to give him a chance to comment before his story runs, and then goes to visit with Kimble about her delaying MacLeish’s confirmation for VP, dropping Hannah’s name. Hookstraten refuses to comment, but gives him a hint in her wording it’s an ongoing investigation. Aaron sets up a meeting with Hannah, who is of course currently out of town, so John comes in her place. Aaron informs him about what took place, and he in turn tells the President, who passes on John’s strong advice to bring Abe in.

Abe’s editor tells him his story was kicked back by her bosses because he does not have enough evidence or credible sources to prove MacLeish was connected to the bombing, which was why he was fired last time. She tells him to go find Hannah Wells. He types Hector’s name and conspiracy theories into Google, and is suddenly sent a link to a website dedicated to conspiracy theories on the shooting. The website has videos from the day of the shooting as well, one of which shows Hannah front and centre. He later discovers he is being followed, and finds a package with a burner phone in his car, which rings, and a man tells him his interest in Hector has caught their attention, setting up a meeting.

Hannah reports back to John and Mike about her and Jason’s discovery in the last episode, and while John wants to seize the explosives as soon as possible, Hannah convinces him to wait till they know more. She and Jason set off for the nearest town to gather more info, where they find vehicles with license plates from all over America, and are stopped by a creepy couple whose ‘test’ they apparently fail. A bartender proves quite helpful though, and informs them all the out-of-staters are called the ‘True Believers’ by the locals, that they come several times a year and meet on a huge plot of property that used to be owned by the air force, where the silos are. He also informs them of the movement of trucks and helicopters at night. The eerie music in this scene helps to set off major disturbing vibes.

Hannah approaches another of the outer-towners for ‘directions’, and notices he has the same book that was on the dashboard of the car belonging to the couple they spoke to earlier, which she skilfully pick-pockets. The title reading ‘Pax Americana’, it is a manual or manifesto for a new American order, their motto ‘No Victory Without Sacrifice’. When they attempt to go back to the silo, they find a bridge being guarded by three people with guns. The license plates turn out to be bogus, and when Hannah and Jason go for some night-time reconnaissance, they see about 35-40 people lighting bonfires which serve as a helicopter landing pad. And who should emerge but Hector, long-since presumed dead.

Emily informs Tom that Hookstraten seems to have come through for them regarding getting the gun control bill passed by the House, but warns him they have to manage expectations when it comes to who the next Vice-President will be. Tom is completely focused on getting the Supreme Court up and running at the moment though, and meets with Julia Rombauer, another strong woman he knew in college who looks to be a formidable ally and has compiled a list of nine nominees the leadership committee and both parties will now have to formally confirm. Apart of this committee is our favourite Senator from Montana who, predictably, throws a major spanner in the works when he raises objections to the candidate for the impartial Chief Justice. He puts the gauntlet down again when he states that either the Republicans have the majority of Justices in the High Court, or they will block every nominee that comes up. This sends Tom on a new mission; to find someone for the seat Bowman cannot say no to. They finally end up asking Julia herself to take the position, but she reveals she has early-on-set dementia. She does, however, come through with a new plan, which is to not nominate anyone, but proceed with the eight judges already confirmed. This is successful, and the Supreme Court is now back in business, another win for Tom’s administration.

While the blocking and direction continue to be impressive, especially that last scene of Tom silhouetted in his office in a very isolating shot after Julia leaves, I have a feeling the on-going thread of Hookstraten becoming VP is going to blow-up soon. And Abe Leonard makes me very nervous, though the possibility that next week we will finally find out who is the leak is exciting. My favorite aspect of this episode however belongs to the wonderfully compelling Julia, whose scenes, though short, showed her to not only be brilliantly clever, but empathetic as well. She brings a wonderfully unexpected depth of pathos and poignancy to a story which had very little screen-time.

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