Designated Survivor – Outbreak
By: Patience Kapfer
Even though Patrick Lloyd (Terry Serpico) is no longer an immediate threat, he is no less a cause for concern than in previous episodes, as we can see in the most recent episode of “Designated Survivor.” This week Hannah (Maggie Q) and Damian (Ben Lawson) continue the hunt for any possible clues as to what Lloyd was planning and what he was attempting to upload to the cloud prior to his demise. While they search tirelessly for any leads, President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) is faced with a much more pressing issue in Louisiana-a deadly flu outbreak. The opening scene looks like something straight out of a zombie apocalypse, with an unsuspecting woman finding a boy’s mother barely alive inside her car.
President Kirkman is in the midst of showing Alex (Natascha McElhone) how his mother-in-law Eva (Bonnie Bedelia) likes him better when he receives a phone call that an unknown illness has broken out in South Carroll Parish. When the President arrives at the briefing, he is told that there have been thirty-two cases in the past twenty-four hours with twelve fatalities. As Emily (Italia Ricci) informs Kirkman, thousands are infected. The CDC specialist, Tammy (Alicia Coppola), says that this disease is Influenza-A with a likely avian origin and is highly contagious. When Kirkman asks if this is the superbug that the CDC had been worried about he is met with a somewhat bitter remark: that she would know if the CDC had some money for infectious-disease research. Kirkman; however, is unfazed as he knows her from his days at Columbia. She warns that, based on their simulation, the flu will spread to surrounding states in thirty-six hours and by seventy-two hours the flu will have spread across the entire continental United States. Luckily, the area is easy to contain and all travel has been suspended from the surrounding airports and highways, but there is no way to know how bad this outbreak actually is until Tammy is able to get boots on the ground.
Kendra (Zoe McLellan) seems to be fitting in well with her new position in the White House; however, Emily still reminds her that even though it is intimidating, it’s just like any other office building. In this episode, Kendra is responsible for handling whether to remove the Emmitt Akin statue or let it remain in front of the courthouse. Emily considers the issue of this confederate monument located on federal property to be starting Kendra off slow with her duties in the White House. But we soon see that this is no small issue as Kendra enters a room full of people shouting around a table and calling each other racists. With all of the opinions being shouted around the room, Kendra turns to Reverend Dale (Ron Canada) to be the voice of reason as he is seen as a prominent figure in the fight for civil rights.
To make the statue issue even more complicated, the outbreak in Louisiana is happening in an area that is 76% African American. So, Lyor (Paulo Costanzo) says that allowing a racist monument to remain standing in one part of the country while people of color are dying in another part is “no bueno.” Kendra brings a compromise of moving the statue from in front of the courthouse to a new location. Reverend Dale is still completely against moving the statue, thereby continuing to complicate Kendra’s job. Once Kendra brings Lyor into the room in which he accuses everyone in the room of being profiting off the issues at hand, Kendra is able to convince the group to compromise and move the statue to a less trafficked area.
Hannah, Chuck (Jake Epstein) and Damian struggle to piece together why Lloyd would break into and trash Eva’s house. Damian suggests that Lloyd was simply trying to show the President that he could get to his family or perhaps Lloyd was just a psychopath, but he is much more concerned with the file that Lloyd was trying to upload. Chuck is clearly not thrilled that Damian is still around and putting so much pressure on him to learn anything new about the file. Hannah hypothesizes that Lloyd was meticulous in cutting a pathway through the house and had a purpose for everything he did. His path leads them directly to a desk with a medical record for a heart transplant for the Alex’s father-but why is this important? Hannah questions Alex on various documents in order to learn more about the heart transplant form without involving her more in the case than she needs to be. Alex explains that her dad was far down on the recipient list and then at the last minute it all came together and he was able to receive a transplant.
Hannah takes Damian to obtain medical records that pertain to Alex’s father’s transplant, but getting a subpoena would take too long. So, when Damian says he cut a hole in the fence Hannah follows him through even if it is trespassing. As they walk through the building looking at boxes on top of boxes of files, Hannah notices a light behind a door, Damian rushes to her but doesn’t make it before she can open the door. The explosion knocks them both down and sets the building on fire, thwarting their attempt to get the file. Since Damian is not under United States jurisdiction, he is sent back to England, much to Chuck’s relief.
When Tammy is finally in Louisiana she informs Aaron that ten more people have died and eleven more are in the ICU. Unfortunately, the flu is resistant to all the antivirals that are in the stockpile and creating a new vaccine would take months even with the best brains from the CDC. Tammy suggests an experimental cancer drug called Extasis that has antiviral properties that seems to reduce the ability of viruses similar to that of this flu to replicate. The only problem is that there is only one place to obtain the drug and that is from a guy named Carlton Mackie (Richard de Klerk). President Kirkman arranges to meet with Mackie who warns him that this drug has not been tested by the FDA and if it doesn’t work and kills someone his company’s (Benevax) liability could be catastrophic. Only after a speech about working together for the greater good does Mackie agree to allow the President to have 10,000 doses of the drug, which will hopefully be enough to contain the outbreak.
Shortly after making the deal with the President, Mackie fails to deliver the medicine and reneged on the deal and plans to sell to another buyer – pharmacies whose clientele are willing to pay two thousand dollars a dose. So, now the rich residents will receive the medicine while the poorer individuals in South Carroll Parish will not. Kirkman arranges for Kendra to take Mackie to court in which she states that the Defense Production Act requires businesses essential to the national defense-like drug manufacturers-to sign agreements when necessary for the national defense. Mackie’s lawyer argues that Mackie has already made the medicine available to the population, but Kendra is quick to point out that it is only available to the rich population who are predominantly white. South Carroll Parish has 95% of the cases and the President determines how to distribute a drug during a public health crisis and at what price. The judge determines that Mackie needs to relinquish 10,000 doses to the government immediately.
Tammy reports that the medicine is working and allows the body’s immune system to have a fighting chance and the patients that they have administered it to are recovering. The problem is that they don’t have enough of the medicine and Tammy doesn’t think Mackie only had 10,000 doses. The President meets with Mackie again, but this time in a much less amicable setting. Kirkman presents Mackie with a document from the Postal Service for the shipment of 30,000 doses of Extasis to a warehouse in Jacksonville. The President is furious that Mackie withheld the availability of more doses of the medication and is now simply using the drug to make more money. This leads Mackie to explain that now they will lose money since other corporations can reverse engineer the drug and manufacture their own, but (of course) the President wants to hear none of that. Mackie insists he needs to be paid what he deserves or be arrested for contempt of court, but he has a business to run. In order to get Mackie to hand over more doses of the medicine, Kirkman enlists the help of Rev. Dale who gives a speech about how Mackie doesn’t believe in equality for all people. Instead, Rev. Dale says that Mackie believes only the rich should benefit from the healing properties of modern medicine. By doing this the President ruined Mackie’s reputation, but he allows Mackie the chance to look like a hero by giving them the medicine, which Mackie does.
While the President focuses on stopping a deadly illness and Hannah struggles to solve the mystery surrounding Patrick Lloyd, Seth (Kal Penn) and Lyor have a much lighter issue to handle. The President is lucky enough to have a new species of animal named after him; however, neither Seth nor Lyor are impressed, as the animal is a tree frog. The frog is named Hylidae Kirkmanus and there is nothing Seth and Lyor want more than to keep the President from seeing it. But as Lyor and Seth return to make sure the scientist is removing the frog from the White House they are greeted by President Kirkman examining the frog. As we can expect from Kirkman, he is thrilled by the frog and thinks he is a perfect namesake.
Hannah and Chuck are able to decipher more of the document they located earlier and realize it’s a defense-department purchase order for a contractor called Icarus Astrotech. Conveniently enough, Alex’s mother used to work for the Department of Defense in Contract Oversight Services. However, a contracts officer named Eric Little signed this purchase order and still works for the D.O.D. Hannah deduces that Alex’s father receives a heart transplant at the same time that her mother is handling the paperwork for a defense contract and Chuck tells her that at the same time Eric Little was on the board of the hospital where Alex’s dad received his transplant. The only way to now prove this is more than just a coincidence is by speaking to Eric Little. By the time Hannah and Chuck get to Eric Little’s house, they realize they are not the first to arrive. Instead, they find his door open, and Eric Little dead.