Designated Survivor Recap: Season 1, Episode 10, ‘The Oath’

Something terrible is about to happen to the fictional president. (Photo Credit: ABC/Ben Mark Holzberg)
Something terrible is about to happen to the fictional president. (Photo Credit: ABC/Ben Mark Holzberg)

By Guest Contributor: Lakshmi Gandhi (@LakshmiGandhi)

If I ever have to deal with an assassination attempt moments after uncovering major threats to American democracy, I can only hope to deal with it all as competently as Maggie Q’s Hannah Wells.

When we last left Hannah, she had uncovered the link between the soon-to-be Vice President MacLeish and a war criminal and the Capitol bombing. She was racing back to Washington with all of this information when her car is slammed into, severely injuring her.

A man who appears to be a Good Samaritan quickly approaches and attempts to calm her down. Suddenly, everything turns scary as he attempts to strangle her as she bleeds in her car. Despite quickly losing oxygen, Hannah is alert enough to push down on her car’s gas pedal, zooming past her attacker and allowing her to escape into an alley.

You can only delay so long: Congresswoman Hookstraten, of course, is waiting for Hannah to report back on her findings so that she’ll be able to knock down MacLeish’s VP prospects for good. Concerned that Hannah is missing, Hookstraten continues to try to stall until she is found. The other representatives overrule her, however, telling her that it’s clear that her goal is only to become Vice President herself.

Chuck is the best friend we all deserve: While injured and hiding in the ally, Hannah realizes there is only one place she can go for help. She sneaks into FBI staffer (and her hacker friend) Chuck’s apartment, startling him as he returns home from work. He is horrified by her injury and promises to help her, sending her to bed so that she can rest.

“Chuck did you glue my wound?” asks Hannah when she awakes. “How did you learn how to do that?” “YouTube,” he replies. Of course there is still work for Hannah and Chuck to do, so she instructs him to hack into the phone that called her before her accident. Chuck manages to do so, just before his access is cut off.

Hannah has her most Asian American moment on the show: During Chuck’s hacking adventures, he gently suggests that maybe they should give up their unauthorized investigation, since it seems like both of them are in danger and because MacLeish appears to be on the fast track to get sworn in.

“Chuck why did you join the FBI?” Chuck’s answer had something to do with helping people. Hannah says she joined to piss off her father. Mr. Wells, she explained, is a highly regarded surgeon who wanted his daughter to follow in his footsteps. “He dragged me to Johns Hopkins,” she explains.

(We feel your pain, Hannah. We feel your pain.)

Hannah finally gets a major clue: Chuck’s hacking leads them to discover the phone calls were coming from a track phone purchased at a suburban convenience store. She contacts the store and the friendly store owner is happy to take her to the back room to go over the footage. They discover it was a woman who bought the phone and Hannah gets her license plate, which Chuck tracks to an isolated farm house in a more rural part of Virginia.

When Hannah arrives to the seemingly empty farmhouse, she finds an old man running in the woods. She is startled because she recognizes him. It’s Peter Langdon, the former chief of staff who supposedly died in the Capitol bombing. He immediately starts sputtering about vast conspiracies and urges her to back away. “Don’t trust anyone,” he warns her. Before he can elaborate, shots ring out from further in the woods. Hannah shoots back and ends up killing the mysterious man who tried to strangle her after her car crash. Alas, the mystery man doesn’t have any identification on him, but he does have a key card.

Further investigation (and help from Chuck) reveals the key card belongs to a hotel room overlooking where MacLeish’s swearing in is set to take place. Putting the pieces together, Hannah suddenly gasps. “They are going to kill Kirkman,” she says.

Kirkman and Emily are doing a parallel investigation: The president has been uneasy about basically everything since he discovered the blueprints to the Capitol that were leaked to the terrorists last week. He realizes he only really has two allies: His top Secret Service agent Mike and his longtime aide Emily.

Kirkman was very Jack Bauer like throughout this episode (what President takes on a major investigation almost completely on their own?) He concludes the blueprint was passed on to the terrorists by someone within the White House and that person worked with the prior administration.

Swearing Emily to secrecy, he reveals a list of White House staffers who could have abetted the terrorists. Aaron, Kirkman’s enigmatic chief of staff, is among the names of the list. Emily heads down to the White House switchboard to see who called the DOD to pass on this critical information. A helpful staffer reveals the call came from chief of staff Langdon. While Emily is relieved that her new paramour Aaron Shure isn’t involved, we learn later her relief is short lived.

With Secret Service agent Mike’s help, Kirkman learns the blueprint was created by a scruffy engineer named Dr. Enright. Enright is summonsed to the Oval Office in order to explain himself. “We’re talking about a conspiracy of unparalleled proportions,” a terrified Enright tells the president, citing the conspiracy as one of the reasons he didn’t come forward. Kirkman gives this a lot of thought and begins asking about Hannah Wells and her work on the investigation.

He also calls Congresswoman Hookstraten into the Oval Office to ask her about what information she had on MacLeish and what she was hoping to find out. Hookstraten reveals that Hannah was supposed to keep her posted on what she discovered but that she hasn’t heard from her in days.

Recognizing Hannah’s name, Kirkman reveals that MacLeish told him Hannah was obsessed with him. Hookstraten says she never got that impression, which leads the president to ask Secret Service agent Mike to try to locate Hannah.

It’s Mike who discovers Hannah was in some sort of car accident and hasn’t been seen since. It’s also soon revealed that Hannah shot someone at the mysterious Virginia farm. Kirkman, understandably, begins to freak out and asks Mike what is going on. For the first time, it seems like the president begins to really doubt MacLeish and his intentions. Sensing that, Hookstraten asks Kirkman if anything is going on. He doesn’t reveal anything, but says he’ll update her if necessary.

What’s up with MacLeish? We haven’t seen much of MacLeish and his wife lately, so it was surprising when viewers caught a glimpse of the couple getting ready for the inauguration. MacLeish is very, very nervous about getting sworn in and seems downright guilty. He confesses to his wife that he is hesitant about what is about to happen and wonders aloud if it’s all worth it. It’s his wife who then launches into an even more cryptic pep talk about how “this is what they’ve been working for” and how he has to fight for the people or some such thing.

Needless to say, it’s all very creepy.

Meanwhile, in Hannah’s timeline, the FBI agent realizes someone is planning to kill Kirkman at the VP inauguration. She (once again!) jumps into her car and races towards danger. Arriving at the Capitol site, she begins racing through the crowd while scanning the surrounding buildings for a sniper. She quickly locates him and aims her gun and fires just as the shooter was about to aim for Kirkman.

And then! The episode went to black! We won’t know what happened until March. All in all, it was an excellent Winter Finale.

Lakshmi Gandhi
Lakshmi Gandhi

Lakshmi Gandhi is a journalist and pop culture writer based in New York. Her work has appeared in Metro New York, NBC Asian America and NPR’s Code Switch blog, among other sites. She likes it when readers tweet her @LakshmiGandhi with their thoughts on Asian American issues and romance novels.

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