Designated Survivor Season 1 Review

Chris Chalker, Student Life Editor

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After a bomb blows up the United States Capitol building, Kiefer Sutherland’s Tom Kirkman becomes president of the United States of America after being labeled as the designated survivor by Charles Langdon. Langdon, along with congressman Peter Macleish, are somehow tied to the conspiracy and the bombing of the Capitol. Kirkman has a lot ahead of him as far as his presidency, including controversial issues, being played with by other countries and areas, the press, uniting the American people after the bombing and figuring out who is tied to this conspiracy of the capitol bombing and who is involved.

Let’s get to it. Why was Kiefer Sutherland’s Tom Kirkman the “designated survivor”? Who is tied to the conspiracy behind the capitol bombing? And what has happened on this twenty one episode season of Designated Survivor?

Episode 1: “Pilot”

As a lower-level cabinet member, Tom Kirkman, who is about to be reassigned to an ambassadorship, would be surprised, like many others would be, to be labeled the “Designated Survivor”. What does this entail? The “Designated Survivor” is chosen in the event of a catastrophic incident where no one else remains in the line of succession to become President of the United States. Kirkman was just given the title of “Designated Survivor,” where he is taken to a site, far away from the other people in the line of succession as President Robert Richmond gives the State of the Union address.

Previous that day, Emily Rhodes (Italia Ricci) approaches Tom, saying that everything they worked for, to get into the speech is gone, none of it made it into the State of the Union address. Both Rhodes and Kirkman are mad and frustrated.

Richmond had speechwriter Seth Wright (Kal Penn) write the address he is giving right now. Wright was arguing about a segment cut from the speech before Richmond sends Seth away. Charles Langdon, Richmond’s Chief of Staff, informs Kirkman that Richmond has reassigned him to an ambassadorship, which is essentially to get rid of Tom.

Tom speaks to his wife, Alex (Natascha McElhone) about this, who is against it and doesn’t want to move again because of her job and how her kids have adjusted to the move already/shortly after that, Kirkman is called and labeled the “Designated Survivor.”

Kirkman is waiting in a room, watching the State of the Union address, but as the address goes on, the camera feeds cut out. Tom and Alex mess with the tv, seeing what other stations work, but not the station the State of the Union was playing on. They get a call, saying they lost the feed too before Kirkman sees the Capitol building is up in flames.

FBI agent Hannah Wells (Maggie Q) is out, she attempts to contact “Scott”, shortly after this is when she hears about the problems at the Capitol, she takes off, putting on her FBI attire and heads towards the wreckage.

Secret Service Agent Mike Ritter (LaMonica Garrett) picks up Kirkman and his wife, saying people are going to get their kids. Ritter tells Tom that he is “Now the president of the United States.” Tom is sworn in as Ritter takes off, Penny Kirkman (Tom and Alex’s daughter) was dropped off, but not Leo Kirkman (Tanner Buchanan), their son, who is not where he said he would be.

Shortly after being sworn in, Kirkman comes face to face with his first obstacle, General Cochrane. Cochrane takes the opportunity to try to seize the moment and take charge, trying to flex the muscles of the US, which Kirkman is against. Aaron Shore (Adan Canto)

Ritter finds Leo at a club, selling drugs with a friend. Ritter takes Leo away and says he is taking him home. After passing their literal home, Leo says “I thought you were taking me home.” To which Mike responds with “I am.”

After this point and the season progresses further, Tom deal with several obstacles during his rocky presidency, namely an article coming out that his son Leo is not actually his son but the son of a man that Alex was with beforehand and that man was arrested, his power and authority as president being questioned, the conspiracy (dealing with Al-Sakar, Majid Nassar and his murder, Nestor Lozano, better known as “Catalan,” a mole in the White House and Peter MacLeish and his death), along with journalist Abe Leonard, given clues by the mole in the White House.

Al-Sakar and Majid Nassar

Al-Sakar and their leader, Majid Nassar, claimed responsibility for the capital bombing and the United States, in response, later started an operation to capture Nassar, which was successful. Hannah Wells and Jason Atwood close in on Nassar, believing he was not part of the conspiracy. Nassar dies after Catalan poisons him.

Nestor Lozano a.k.a. Catalan

After Nassar’s death, Hannah continues her investigation while Jason is blackmailed by someone to stop him. These people kidnapped his son and had Jason get himself arrested for Nassar’s murder. Jason later finds out that his son was murdered regardless and he and Hannah find the woman who kidnapped him and kill her. Catalan later attempts to kill President Kirkman at his inaugural ceremony, but Hannah tries to shot him first. Kirkman is still hit and taken to a hospital for treatment and a squad is sent to take care of Lozano. MacLeish, now acting president, refuses to let Lozano be taken alive, as he knows Lozano ties directly to him. Lozano is “killed,” but he is later revealed to be alive when Jason and her find him at a secret bunker. Lozano is later killed in the finale when he gets a rear through the chest during a fistfight with Hannah. Previously, Jason sends some incriminating video recordings to Hannah just moments before Lozano finds him and kills him.

Peter MacLeish

MacLeish, dealt with prior to Catalan, is killed by his wife, who then commits suicide when Hannah is about to make an arrest. MacLeish was part of the conspiracy and had a bomb shelter built in the white house to that he could survive the Capitol bombing. MacLeish was part of the Pax Americana movement in the conspiracy and he also was behind the death of Catalan and what led to his faked death and Kirkman being shot and nearly killed. Kirkman, however, made a speedy recovery.

Abe Leonard and Jay Whitaker, the White House mole

Abe Leonard is a small time journalist who took a step up, taking tips and clues left by Jay Whitaker, the White House mole. Jay Whitaker was a more disappointing reveal as the mole because I myself had no idea who he even was and the way it was played up, I thought it was a main character (I honestly thought he was the general from the first episode, just shaved to look different but even that wasn’t the case). Whitaker used various methods to disguise himself you almost had to wonder if they’d ever catch the man. Before his untimely death, Jason Atwood sent Hannah a voice recording he had taken of Whitaker talking to new villain, Patrick Lloyd, tied into the conspiracy and the Pax Americana movement, The True Believers. While Whitaker was exposed, unfortunately for us and Kirkman, Patrick Lloyd escaped in a shell game of sorts, with numerous sightings and so on of Lloyd to throw off anyone trying to find him.

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