Designated Survivor – Line of Fire
By: Patience Kapfer
After learning that Damian (Ben Lawson) might not be who he said he was and an incredibly intense argument over ethics between President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) and Alex (Natascha McElhone), we dive right in with Hannah (Maggie Q) borrowing Damian’s phone while he sleeps, and downloading its contents onto her laptop. Hannah cuts it exceptionally close as she finishes the download just as Damian wakes up and begins searching the apartment for her. She plays it cool and tells him that she was just getting a drink of water, and it seems Damian believes that to be the truth after a night of so much wine.
In this episode, Kirkman is faced with another challenge-dangerous wildfires that have consumed more than one million acres in the Shenandoah National Forest. As the President and his staff watch the news coverage, Lyor (Paulo Costanzo) says that “for most voters the President is God and should be able to put out forest fires” and so Kirkman’s inability to contain the fires is hurting the public’s opinion of him. Seth (Kal Penn) plans to put together a statement with quotes from leading conservationists saying why it’s in their best interest to let the fire burn itself out. In order to let the fire burn itself out, the park service needs to evacuate everyone in harm’s way. Aaron (Adan Canto) tells Kirkman that there are still a few remaining hold-outs and he will continue monitoring the situation closely. In an effort to clear the hold-outs, a firefighter goes to a cabin and tells the man who answers the door he needs to get everyone and evacuate. He tells the firefighter that they are on a religious retreat and will do as the firefighter says. However, as the door is closed, the man tells the parishioners “you know what to do” and they all begin boarding up the windows.
Emily (Italia Ricci) tells Seth that the religious group calls themselves the Witnesses of the Covenant, but when Seth asks if it’s a cult Emily tells him there is evidence of the contrary. There are a few hundred members, all taxpayers, no prior convictions, and solid citizens. The problem, Lyor says, is that letting 20 people burn on federal land during Christmas “is bad political mojo.” They bring Kirkman in for a briefing in which he is told that the fire has crested the ridge and if it cannot be contained there will be hundreds of people in harm’s way. All of this is to save 20 people who can leave but refuse to go. Kirkman makes sure that this isn’t a hostage situation and is told that their leader is Deacon David Sheridan and he says he will only speak to the White House. Emily says she doesn’t want Kirkman involved in this, so he suggests letting Aaron attempt to talk them down.
Aaron tells Sheridan that the White House is willing to talk, but they want to do it far from the dangerous fires. Sheridan tells Aaron that they are not afraid and gets right to the point of why they refuse to leave the cabin. Their parishioner, Carey Morgan’s six month old baby girl Grace Morgan is in custody of the federal government. Grace has a rare congenital heart condition and the medical intervention that the doctors recommend goes against Scripture. Sheridan says they are insisting on honoring God’s word by not allowing her to have surgery. The baby is currently at Walter Reed and Sheridan says as soon as the government releases Grace to the custody of her mother, they will leave the mountain.
Emily goes to see Carey Morgan at the hospital and tells her that the baby can live and would be okay if she underwent open-heart surgery. But of course, Carey says that’s not an option because she is not able to give the baby a transfusion as “the Bible commands us to abstain from blood because only God is the giver of life.” Carey is adamant that giving the baby a transfusion would condemn baby Grace. It’s obvious that Carey really wants to help her baby, but she is insistent that Grace is in God’s hands and she is unable to do anything. Kirkman is in a really tough position, as the parishioners won’t leave the cabin unless the baby is returned to her mother, and the fire is moving rapidly. Kirkman decides to speak to David Sheridan to assess his options in the situation. The President tells Sheridan that he doesn’t have the legal authority to release the baby to her mother, but if they come off the mountain they can sit and discuss this fully. Sheridan says that the moment the government releases baby grace into Carey’s custody they will finally leave the cabin, but not a moment before. As always, Kirkman goes straight to work looking for an alternative solution that will work for everyone involved.
Kirkman meets with a surgeon who is known for groundbreaking work with artificial blood in pediatric surgery. The surgeon says he could perform surgery on Grace using his new techniques, but he isn’t able to because every licensing board has stripped him of his credentials. However, since Congress is currently on recess, the President is able to reinstate the doctor. Using artificial blood finds a way around the Scripture, preventing the mother from allowing the surgery. President Kirkman assures Carey that it will be okay and isn’t a trick, and she agrees to allow the surgery. Unfortunately, during surgery the synthetic blood is not as efficient as real blood and Grace’s cells are not getting enough oxygen, meaning she needs a real blood transfusion. Carey’s blood type is the same as the baby’s – her blood might be what it takes to save her, yet again causing the mother to have another internal struggle. Emily is able to convince Carey that since she gave her daughter life, using her blood doesn’t go against Scripture.
Hannah and Chuck (Jake Epstein) get to work trying to find out if Damian is the one who tipped off the banker, because if he did he may be connected to the plot frame the First Lady and might even be connected to Patrick Lloyd. Chuck confirms that Damian’s SIM card proves the call that tipped off the banker came from his number, and his phone was also cloned. This means that someone could have used his number in an attempt to make him look guilty or he cloned it himself to throw them off the scent in case he came under suspicion. Hannah seems to be conflicted as to Damian’s guilt, but Chuck is insistent there has always been something ‘off’ about Damian.
Detective Blakey (Dillon Casey) pays Aaron a visit as soon as he returns from the fires. After a call from Chuck, Blakey was asked to look into Damian further, so he brings Aaron security footage and tells him that it doesn’t seem like Damian is anyone’s employee. The White House won’t answer for him and neither will the British Embassy, who Damian insisted he worked for. Blakey says that Damian is bad news and they shouldn’t trust him. With this new information, Aaron brings in Hannah to discuss Damian and her suspicions. He shows her the video from the warehouse fire in Reston in which Damian got to warehouse two hours early, cut the fence and walked through, making him a prime suspect for the arson. Hannah meets with Aaron and gives him a watch, but of course it isn’t just any gift; she puts a tracker inside in order to see if he is as suspect as Chuck and Aaron say. Chuck and Hannah track him to Hannah’s apartment using Hannah’s laptop, after she told him she had new leads that she had found using that exact laptop.
Meanwhile, Alex and Kendra (Zoe McLellan) continue to look for a way to deal with the investigation. Alex wants to plead to obstruction of justice in order to put an end to this investigation. Forstell (Reed Diamond) is offering Alex a no-contest plea which isn’t an admission of criminal conduct, but according to Kirkman it is legally equal to a conviction. Kendra says that Forstell has found a way to grand Alex immunity from any other events arising out of the facts they will collect. If she takes the plea they will be able to walk away from all of this, but Kirkman says that “innocent people don’t plead”. Kirkman insists that Alex shouldn’t take the deal, but instead she should fight; he believes in her innocence and it’s worth fighting for. Finally Alex decides that she’s going to fight and this is the end of this investigation one way or another. Kendra tells Forstell that they want to unseal the proceedings and make the testimony public, which Forstell agrees to do.
The ending of this episode is what I’d call an emotional roller coaster. Baby Grace’s surgery is successful. She is going to be okay, and they were also able to keep as close to Scripture as possible. Kirkman tells the parishioners that Grace made it through surgery and none of her mother’s beliefs were compromised and they gladly evacuate the cabin and get clear of the fire. President Kirkman goes to the hospital to see baby Grace, while Alex begins her meeting with Forstell. During her meeting, Alex makes a statement that calls attention to Forstell’s bid for Senate, that the investigation is based on circumstantial evidence and on information from murderer Patrick Lloyd. Hannah meets with Damian on a bridge to confront him about him potentially turning from MI-6 to working with the Russians. Damian tells her he has something to show her to prove his innocence and moves to take something out of his pocket, but Hannah warns him if he continues to move she will shoot him. Damian doesn’t heed her warning and continues to reach into his pocket. Hannah doesn’t hesitate to pull the trigger, hitting him square in the chest with a bullet that sends Damian over the railing of the bridge and into the river. While Kirkman is at the hospital, Alex excitedly calls him to tell him she is no longer the subject of investigation. It might seem like this is the end of all of their troubles, but unfortunately this isn’t close to being the case. As Hannah makes her way from the bridge, Damian emerges downriver and pulls himself onto shore, and then pulls the bullet from his bulletproof vest. But that’s not all. While in the motorcade back to the White House, a truck runs through a red light crashing into Alex’s SUV. Shortly thereafter Kirkman receives a call and falls to his knees in the hospital. The grief is palpable, sending waves of emotion across the screen and into viewers’ living rooms.