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Home Articles TV Recaps DESIGNATED SURVIVOR “Party Lines” Recap


BY The Screen Spy Team

Published 5 years ago


By Kirsty Pearce

Designated Survivor S1E16 “Party Lines”

The proverbial battle lines are drawn this week as we see Senator Bowman go toe to toe against both Tom and Hookstraten as the battle to get his bill approved by the Senate gets underway. We also get more traction on the conspiracy front.

First off, Mike’s back! He is getting an update from Hannah on last episode’s activities, primarily the plans they discovered at Brooke’s surveillance set-up, which are shown to be threat assessments of vulnerabilities in important national landmarks created by the same people at the Pentagon who did the one for the Capital. She later meets with John and gives him, and the audience, a brief run-down on Browning Reade, which was basically a private army for the Pentagon who committed atrocities in Afghanistan that were covered up. The company since dissolved, though they are still paying property taxes on real estate holdings, most of them located on an isolated stretch of land in North Dakota, prompting a trip there by Hannah and Jason. They reach the location, which, predictably, is found at first sight to be just an open field. They later find out from John that an old missile silo from the Cold War era is buried underground. When they go to investigate, they discover a huge cache of bombs like the ones used to blow up the Capital in a truly chilling scene.

On the political front, Tom is first seen attending another Press Conference, this time specifically to address the gun bill brought forward by the annoying Senator Jack Bowman last week. While mainly focused on expanding background checks, it’s the push they need to get the ball rolling on this very important issue, one that should trump petty but strongly-ingrained party politics. To that end, Tom acknowledges that the wording is not ideal, but reiterates his determination for a bipartisan approach in working to make it better. Aaron and Hookstraten are also in deep discussion concerning how she should respond to the announcement of the bill, as Jack is a member of Hookstraten’s Republican party, and yet did not consult her, or even give her a heads-up before he made his intention public. Aaron advises her that she needs to push back before Bowman takes over. She proceeds to have a frank conversation with Bowman about his stunt to embarrass the President and kill any kind of gun control bill, strongly warning him to consider the bigger picture. He responds by throwing down the gauntlet, calling her the last of the old guard, and that she better stand by him, or step aside.

Tom meets with Democrat Senator Diana Harris, and explains they have every intention of re-working the wording of the bill, which at present is much too broad to really do any good, in the House, but they need to get it passed by the Senate first. She agrees, having been a proponent of stronger gun laws for years, and says she will get her colleagues to fall in line as well. Tom than has a talk with Secretary of State Moss, who offers him some honest, great advice concerning the bill, which is to forget about how he got there, and just concentrate on fighting the battle he’s in at the moment.

Alex has been tapped to participate in a roundtable of people from around the country who has been affected by gun violence, an opportunity she is excited about. She walks away inspired by their strength, and tells Tom he needs to win this fight. She later meets with Harris in order to keep a promise to one of the women she meet at the roundtable, and they confirm their common goals in regard to stopping gun violence, before she is waylaid by Bowman, and three other Senators presumably on his side. Like always, she handles the situation with grace, and a quiet dignity.

They are still five Republican votes short, but Emily later has a drink with Aaron who offers her Hookstraten’s influence. Kimble also goes to Tom herself to inform him she is willing to work on an amendment to the bill with him in the House as well as publicly support it, which she goes on to do, though there is some speculation as to her motivations, which appear to be wanting the Vice-Presidency. This endorsement, while succeeding in swinging three Senators, also causes some trouble regarding party loyalties and worries from Senators concerning re-election odds in their next term depending on how they vote, leading to one of their yeses reneging. There is a short conversation held between Hookstraten and Aaron that touches on the point that, while loyalty to the President is a good thing, if this bill goes south, they will have to look to their own first.

Tom, Moss, and Emily each take one of the three Senators they need to get the vote through to persuade them to vote yes. Moss and Emily succeed with theirs, and although Tom’s, a Senator from Alaska, eventually decides to say nay, the lone woman, Senator Vandenberg, who was with Bowman during his confrontation with Alex and expected to say nay because of her late husband’s position on the topic, ends up voting yes. The bill is passed, but more importantly, Jack Bowman lost!!! Vandenberg, who just recently took her deceased husband’s seat, is later invited to the Oval Office to meet with Tom and Alex. She informs them she agrees with everything Tom said at last week’s Q&A, and was always going to vote yes, but it was also due to Alex’s statement about doing to right thing and standing up to Bowman that made her realise she could too. She urges him to keep doing what he’s doing, and expresses her intention of not giving in either, no matter how much flack she gets. She is awesome, not only for her courage, but also because she proves that not all opinions held by men are shared by their wives, something you’d think would be common knowledge in today’s world.

Finally finding a good balance between the on-going suspense of the conspiracy story-line, and the different challenges presented by actually running a country like America, this episode really brings home the fact that Tom does not have much, if any, political capital to spend, due to the fact that he’s never been in the politics game before now. However, he is learning fast, and thanks to Hookstraten and Moss’ support and advice, and his own honesty and commitment, he is slowly getting there. Based around the often-fought battle of weighing up what doing the right thing looks like in the field of politics, the scenes that wrung my heart the most were definitely seeing the vote get passed, and Vandenberg’s meeting with Tom and Alex. I am also warming up considerably to Secretary Moss, who is a font of great, practical advice.