Designated Survivor – Sting of the Tail
By: Patience Kapfer
Continuing where “Designated Survivor” left off last week, Patrick Lloyd (Terry Serpico) is on the move in Washington D.C., where he unlocks a black SUV and leaves to carry out whatever mission he may be on. Chuck (Jake Epstein) shows Hannah (Maggie Q), Damian Rennett (Ben Lawson) and Aaron (Adan Canto) the surveillance they picked up from the night before with Lloyd within the city. Aaron asks if they picked up Lloyd’s fingerprints, but Chuck tells him the surveillance video caught his ear which is just as good, if not better than a fingerprint. Aaron assumes that since Lloyd has been on the move for the past six months that he has to be running out of options, while Hannah wonders why he would return to the scene of the crime. After some deliberation, Hannah mentions that Lloyd has an estranged son that lives in Reston and they decide to pay the son a visit.
Lloyd’s son Travis (Landon Norris) says he hasn’t seen his father in a decade and that Lloyd hasn’t attempted to contact him during that time. However, Travis slips up and says he doesn’t want anything; he wouldn’t even take Lloyd’s money. As Hannah and Damian never mentioned Lloyd offering him money, this tips them off that Travis is clearly hiding something. Once Travis is told if he hides anything from them he will be considered an accomplice, he tells them that his father came by that morning and Hannah quickly calls Chuck to tell him they got a sighting of Lloyd in Rockville. This leads Chuck, Aaron and Director Forstell (Reed Diamond) to being able to locate what they think is Lloyd’s SUV and places some cars in pursuit-two in front and two following. Lloyd has been traveling in the HOV lane with no EZ-Pass so when he hits a check point MDTA snaps a picture which allowed the FBI to locate him. Hannah realizes this seems unlike Lloyd so she tells Forstell to get rid of the two lead cars even though that might give him the chance to accelerate and disappear. Once the lead cars have been called off, Lloyd doesn’t pick up the pace and Hannah is convinced that it’s not even him.
President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) is forced to deal with whether he is going to follow through on his promise to the American people of complete transparency or if he is going to keep information pertaining to Patrick Lloyd’s whereabouts secret to help the mission. If they tell the public they not only risk compromising the mission, but they also risk Lloyd hurting more people if he knows they are coming for him-he is an ex mercenary after all. Kirkman decides on a method to keep the American people safe by keeping the mission under wraps, but he will tell the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee (HSC). Kirkman invites Senator Feller (Zachary Bennett) and Senator Cowling (Rochelle Aytes) along with their committee counsel, Kendra Daynes (Zoe McLellan), to the White House to meet with Aaron and Emily (Italia Ricci). Aaron expresses that they do not want to share this information with the public, but Senator Feller from Missouri doesn’t think they should keep this information from the public. He believes his constituents deserve to know what is happening. Kendra notices that the President has already classified this intelligence even though she thought the committee was brought in for advice and consent. Senator Feller thinks that classifying the intel and not meeting with them for advice and consent is executive overreach.
During a press briefing Seth (Kal Penn) is alerted to a rumor that the President had a secret meeting with Senator Feller. To deal with the situation Kirkman invites Feller back to the White House and asks if he leaked information to the press about their meeting since it’s a national security issue which is why it’s classified. In the meeting, Senator Feller seems obviously flustered, especially as Kirkman accuses him of leaking the meeting even if he did develop a fake story about the pretenses for it occurring. Feller explains that a base closure in Missouri will cost the state six thousand jobs and he’s been attempting to get the White House’s attention. Unfortunately, Kirkman will not allow Feller to use Lloyd as a way for Feller to achieve political gain and tells him that the base closure will not be revisited.
Hannah receives notice that a silent alarm was tripped at a private residence in Rockville at the First Lady’s mother’s home. Patrick Lloyd ruthlessly ransacks the house while Alex’s (Natascha McElhone) mother, Eva (Bonnie Bedelia), hides in her bathtub fearing for her life. By the time Hannah and Damien arrive Lloyd is long gone, but Hannah makes sure to get a detailed report of everything Lloyd touched. Kirkman is insistent that Lloyd is sending a message and one that he can get close to his loved ones and make this personal.
In the search to figure out where Lloyd went after terrorizing Kirkman’s mother-in-law, Chuck finds property that used to belong to an affiliate of Lloyd’s company just two miles from the house. Hannah and Damien drive to the abandoned property and are greeted with automatic gunfire. As they pursue Lloyd, he disappears inside an old bunker, despite Hannah’s best efforts to apprehend him. Lloyd then sends a message to Kirkman that says he has a thousand kilograms of sarin gas that he will disperse inside Washington DC. Lloyd says that if the President uses his Correspondent’s Dinner speech to grant him unconditional amnesty he will not use the sarin gas. Based on Lloyd’s previous behavior, it is best for the President to assume he does have sarin gas, so they need to look for alternative methods to stop him. They would need to not only breach the bunker, but also need to incinerate the sarin gas at a considerably high temperature to neutralize the biological compounds. They determine that the use of drone and a nitrogen based component they could neutralize the target. Emily makes the case that the use of drone on a civilian, even one that is a terrorist, is unprecedented and may not even be lawful.
While Hannah and Damien find an alternative way inside the bunker, Emily encounters Senator Cowling at the dinner. She reveals the situation with Lloyd and the sarin gas to the Senator, including the use of a tactical drone. This was a massive mistake, as Congress rushed to court to preclude Kirkman’s use of a drone (also determining that it was Senator Cowling that leaked the meeting information, not Feller). Congress takes issue with the President’s use of a tactical drone on an American citizen even if he is an “enemy combatant.” Taking this issue to court poses an issue with the President only having fifty minutes until Lloyd promised to release the sarin gas. The longer Aaron has to spend in court, the less time the President and military have to orchestrate an attack on Lloyd to prevent him from killing more people. This episode showcases the true depth of Kirkman’s intelligence when he realizes that Lloyd’s sociopathic tendencies along with narcissistic personality disorder are likely due to a trauma from his childhood. Since Lloyd’s father was taken away at a young age and Lloyd was kept from his own son, he blames the government for taking his father and son away. Kirkman tries in vain to convince Lloyd to take his quarrel with the government to a courtroom rather than sacrificing American lives.
In court, Aaron notices that the legal obstacle is that the military is in charge so if the president has a civilian agency like the FBI call the shots the problem will go away. The President has the military leave the bunker and puts the FBI in charge of firing the tactical drone. With five seconds before Lloyd’s deadline, the President tells Forstell to engage and fires the missile from the drone to blow up the bunker. As the FBI searches through the rubble they find no trace of sarin gas, but they do find Lloyd’s remains. The President then goes on national television to tell the American people that the FBI conducted a drone strike on a bunker occupied by Patrick Lloyd. He confirms that Lloyd and the ongoing threat that he posed to the United States has been neutralized.
Kirkman invites the Senate’s counsel to the White House and in typical Kirkman style he offers her the job of being counsel to the White House instead of the Senate. Despite being completely taken aback, she gladly accepts the job. Instead of ending on a dramatic cliffhanger, this episode ends on both a heartwarming note and a dramatic one. Kirkman goes to check in on Penny (Mckenna Grace) who he assumes to be asleep, but she surprises him by being awake. He tries to tell her a joke, but she doesn’t think it’s funny at all; her joke on the other hand makes Kirkman chuckle. He then asks her if she wants a job, to which she responds “I have a job, I’m the President’s daughter” which puts a smile on both President Kirkman’s face and the audiences. Meanwhile, at the bunker, Damien shows Hannah what is left of Lloyd’s computer which shows that Lloyd was able to hack through the FBI’s firewall and was uploading something to the cloud when the bomb hit. Whatever it was, it couldn’t possibly be anything good.