Designated Survivor – Equilibrium
By: Patience Kapfer
After finding Eric Little dead in his own home at the conclusion of last week’s episode of “Designated Survivor,” Agent Hannah Wells (Maggie Q) finds herself being questioned by the same detective that found her after the explosion that occurred while Hannah was illegally trespassing on private property. Once again, Hannah gives the detective the same answer, that she’s “not at liberty to discuss that” when asked why she was at Eric Little’s home in the first place. The detective warns Hannah that he will let her go, but whatever she’s “messed up in, her hands better be clean.” Hannah then decides to take the new information she’s found and her concern over Eric Little’s death to one of the few people she trusts – Director Forstell (Reed Diamond). Forstell tells Hannah that she is impeding an ongoing police investigation and she needs to tell someone, preferably Alex’s mother Eva (Bonnie Bedelia). Even though Hannah would like to continue digging and hopefully prove Eva’s innocence before telling her, she takes Forstell’s advice and brings the White House counsel Kendra Danes (Zoe McLellan) into the loop.
Kendra tells Hannah that the good news is that there’s no legal jeopardy for the First Lady’s mother even if she took a bribe since the statute of limitations is long past. But Kendra does tell Hannah she needs to talk to Eva to get her denial on record since so much of this case is circumstantial. As it would be imprudent to actually ask Eva if she committed a crime, Kendra tells Hannah to ask the First Lady instead. In the meeting, Alex (Natascha McElhone) is understandably displeased that Hannah used deception to get her to provide information about the transplant form to begin with. Alex is also upset and relatively offended that Hannah could ever think that her mother could be involved in this type of bribery. After her meeting with Hannah and Kendra, Alex decides to approach the subject with her mother. When she asks her mother if she accepted a bribe, to Alex’s (and the audience’s) surprise, Eva says yes and admits she broke the law in order to save Alex’s father’s life.
Shortly thereafter, Kendra comes to see Alex to apologize and bring something urgent to her attention: an FBI subpoena to question Alex’s mother. Forstell would like to question Eva in a closed-door hearing. Hannah goes to see Director Forstell and is furious that he subpoenaed Alex’s mother after she came to him in confidence. She accuses him of allowing his ambition getting the better of him and going against her for malicious reasons. But then Forstell shows her the contract of Icarus Astrotech’s contract with the Defense Department for three billion dollars. The contract was signed six months ago – right after Lloyd’s Pentagon hack and the Icarus signatory is Eric Little. As he is the same one who bribed Alex’s mother and he just wound up dead, this doesn’t look good for the First Lady’s mother at all.
President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) just can’t seem to catch a break as this week tensions continue to mount in regard to a trucker blockade at the American border with Mexico. The truckers have been protesting trade negotiations which have dragged on for two months so far without any signs of a breakthrough. Some Americans say they are sick of “Mexican’s stealing their jobs and taking their money” while others think that the blockade is a “racist move against all Mexicans.” At the border, a lone Mexican trucker removes part of the barrier blocking his truck and then barrels his truck through the fence separating Mexico and the United States. As his truck speeds across the border, Americans, both border patrol and truckers, shoot at him and thus kill the Mexican trucker.
When we catch up with Kirkman him and Lyor (Paulo Costanzo) are discussing how much money the blockade is costing the United States per day (more than two billion dollars) until they are finally able to agree on a trade deal. Lyor reminds the President that Mexico is the United State’s most important trading partner, that Americans are worried about their jobs and will hold Kirkman responsible if he fails to protect them and that the administration desperately needs this trade deal to prove itself on the international stage.
Emily (Italia Ricci) is responsible for meeting with the Mexican trade representative to attempt to get him back to the table to make an agreement. He feels as though the US is not treating Mexican employees fairly thinks the tariffs are far too high, but Emily tells him that he needs to meet the US half way in order to reduce many of those tariffs. However, the deal that Emily is attempting to get the Mexican trade rep to accept isn’t good enough and the rep tells her that Mexico is willing to wait and suffer longer in order to get a better offer. So, it’s safe to say that meeting didn’t go nearly as well as planned. Meanwhile, the American trucker’s union representative, Paul Zalesky (Aidan Devine) has a meeting with Lyor who tells him that he is headed toward extinction as less and less people are members of unions in the US currently. Lyor also tells Zalesky that he needs to face the facts that Mexican workers take jobs that Americans won’t and cheap Mexican goods force the US to innovate so he should get back to making a trade deal.
It is soon determined that the bullet that killed the trucker, José Menez, was from an American gun therefore leading to even more rallies to protest the shooting. So, now Mexico has increased its demands to include expanded rights for undocumented workers and rollbacks on agricultural tariffs. Unfortunately, this puts them back to square one in the trade negotiations. Aaron (Adan Canto) sets up a meeting with Senator Flores (Alexandra Castillo) to attempt to involve the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, but instead finds himself in a meeting with his cousin Nadia (Mercedes de la Zerda). He tells her he can’t discuss these issues with her, but feels it’s best to meet with Senator Flores face to face. While the White House staff works tirelessly to find a way to ease tensions and bring both parties back to the negotiating table, Zalesky makes a statement completely undercutting the president and tell him what he needs to do.
After witnessing a public statement provided by Menez’s wife (Sofia Lama), President Kirkman decides to reach out to the widow to attempt to bridge the divide between America and Mexico. It would help to soften the plight of the undocumented worker and to also gain points with the Mexican trade representative who might then soften his demands. Once they bring Menez’s wife into the office and brief her on what she is going to do, the President notices how badly her hands are shaking and can’t bear to go through with using a widow for political gain. Instead, President Kirkman is kind and asks her to tell him something about her husband; she tells him that her husband only recently got the job as a truck driver which spurs an idea for Kirkman. President Kirkman finds out that Transport Transnacional is the Mexican trade rep’s company who only recently hired Menez to run the blockade and therefore give Mexico the upper hand. Kirkman then threatens Arronte and forces him to make the Mexican President agree to the trade deal without giving the Mexican’s all of their demands. Kirkman still manages to broker a deal with the union representative and the Mexico, by enlisting his friend to employ 50,000 people on both sides of the border in his future auto manufacturing plant.