Designated Survivor s1 ep 8

President Kirkman wants to hold Congressional elections, but things keep getting in the way, dammit. He’d prefer the death of Majid Nassar not to be a distraction, so is still trying to keep it secret, but Seth is asked about it at a news conference. Polling machines in Kansas City have been covered in ricin. And – worst of all – Leo is confronted at school by a reporter, who asks him whether his real father is, in fact, in a federal prison. Fortunately, though, this storyline might be finished: Tom gets a DNA test done; after the usual business about not having to look at the test results to know who Leo’s father is, he opens them anyway; they proves he’s Leo’s biological father. If anyone suffers as a result it’s Seth, who is betrayed by Lisa, and loses out on what was looking like a decent chance to get laid.

To the rest of America the ricin is more of a problem, and in fairness you can see that risking respiratory failure and death in order to vote might be a deterrent. Tom toys with cancelling the elections, but decides to go ahead anyway, and in order to set an example he visits a more or less empty polling station in order to vote. Back at the White House he’s beating himself up for going ahead with an election that everyone is too scared to vote in, but what do you know? The people, inspired by their President, have turned out in their millions. Democracy is saved.

But not for long. The mysterious woman acting as liaison between the Big Bad(s) and Deputy Director Atwood – and if we’ve had her name I missed it, so she’s getting called Janice for now – gives Atwood written (?) instructions about what to do if he wants his son to live, which he does. So Atwood hits up POTUS, tells him that he, Atwood, poisoned Nassar, and gets arrested. The thing is, though, that it doesn’t make sense. “It doesn’t make sense”, observes Kirkman, who orders Aaron to get hold of Atwood’s closest colleague in the FBI and ask her – for it is, of course, Agent Q – what the hell’s going on.

And this is a question that Q has already been asking herself, having had to endure an incredibly unconvincing Atwood assuring her, “Yeah, everything’s all right, my son had just, uh, wandered off or something. He definitely hasn’t been kidnapped. No, you said kidnapped, not me”. So she tails him and sees him deep in convo with Janice. When she finds out, therefore, that he’s suddenly admitted to murdering the most important criminal suspect in the history of the US, she’s able to work out that he’s being leveraged, because she isn’t completely effing stupid. Then she gets another of those annoying cryptic clues: 11.14pm, whatever that means. In the meantime, though, with Hookstraten threatening to open a Congressional investigation into the death of Nassar,  a worried MacLeish has to be debriefed by Janice, and drops the first hint that he might also be caught up in something beyond his control. A good episode, although I kept waiting for an OMG moment which never quite arrived.


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