‘Designated Survivor’ Recap: Season 1, Episode 9, ‘The Blueprint’

December 8, 2016
Things continue to get complicated inside the Kirkman White House. (Photo Credit: ABC/Ian Watson)
Things continue to get complicated inside the Kirkman White House. (Photo Credit: ABC/Ian Watson)

By Guest Contributor: Lakshmi Gandhi (@LakshmiGandhi)

Wait, the fictional Congress in Designated Survivor has 162 registered independents?

Of all of the outlandish things this show has thrown at viewers over the last seven episodes (including a massive bombing that wiped out most of the government), the idea that American voters would embrace scores of independent candidates during the first post-terrorist attack election might be the most implausible.

But because American politics are what they are right now, this fantasy is probably very, very welcome to most people watching.

Here’s what else stood out this episode.

Hannah presses for an investigation: Maggie Q’s Hannah Wells seems to be the only one within the FBI who hasn’t swallowed the story of Assistant Director Jason Atwood’s guilt hook, line and sinker. She insists on talking to everyone within the FBI about Atwood and asks why no one else has any doubts about his confession to the killing of Majid Nassar. Weirdly, no one in the FBI seems to have interviewed Atwood’s family or have discovered that his son is missing, but I think we’re just supposed to roll with that.

Realizing that the Bureau isn’t going to help her save Atwood, Hannah again turns to Chuck Russink, a geeky hacker type who has helped her in the past. (I’m going to freely admit here that I am not quite sure what Chuck does, but he seems very competent!) Chuck helps Hannah search through footage and electronic files as they try to figure out who is manipulating Atwood and why. They also continue their investigation into MacLeish, quietly looking into his actions while in the army and in the lead up to the attack.

The prickly and generally distrusting Hannah starts to rely on Chuck more throughout the episode, especially when he says he will stay and help with her very much unauthorized investigation. She points out that helping her could effectively ruin his career, if not his life, he says he’s willing to stay anyway.

“There are few people I trust,” Hannah tells Chuck. “One is in jail for a murder he didn’t commit and the other is you.”

Things start to look dicey for Chuck though while he’s on a call with Hannah. He suddenly finds himself locked out of his FBI computer and sees agents walking towards him. (I think this is the last we see of Chuck.)

A war widow has the key: Just as Hannah feels like she’s hit a dead end, she arrives at the home of woman of whose husband served with Congressman MacLeish in Afghanistan. When Hannah asks about her husband, she reveals he has died but that he did have a bunch of his army things in a dusty box in the attic. Anyone who knows anything about how network dramas go, dusty boxes in attics usually reveal the answers we are looking for.

This dusty box was no exception. As Hannah goes through old photographs of MacLeish’s unit in Afghanistan, she notices a familiar face behind MacLeish in one of the shots. It’s the mysterious Catalan (the man who is suspected of manipulating Jason Atwood.)

As Hannah leaves with the photo she decides to make a phone call to the one person who has asked for updates throughout: Congresswoman Hookstraten. The senior congresswoman has been leading the confirmation hearings for MacLeish and is more than happy to stall them as Hannah continues her search for incriminating evidence.

MacLeish knows something is up: For his part, Congressman MacLeish looked like he was going to sail through his hearing before Hannah’s big discovery. (As Hannah tells Chuck, “it’s like he’s straight out of Camelot.”) When Hookstraten calls for the delay, everyone in the White House knows something is up. President Kirkman calls MacLeish into the Oval Office to ask if he knew of anything or wanted to reveal something to the President.

MacLeish says no… but then adds a twist. “Agent Wells seems to be a little obsessed with me, he tells the President.”

And with that revelation rolling around Kirkman’s head, MacLeish leaves the Oval Office.

As you can tell, this was very much Maggie Q’s episode (I found myself annoyed with the Wikileaks-lite storyline and everything else that was going on because Hannah’s investigation was so interesting.)

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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