Designated Survivor – The Results
By: Patience Kapfer
This week’s episode picks up where we left off at the exciting conclusion of last week’s episode. After Majid Nassar’s murder, Agent Atwood (Malik Yoba) is being blackmailed by an unknown woman while the President (Kiefer Sutherland) and his staff are left putting together any possible pieces to who committed this crime. The opening scene shows Nassar’s body being prepared to be sent back to his home country of Algeria, reminding us that there is still a large problem looming over President Kirkman’s presidency. In the episode “The Results,” Kirkman is forced to face not only issues of national security, but also tribulations within his family.
The United States is finally set to hold Congressional elections after the devastating attack on the Capitol building that left the country with only three surviving members of the national government. After obtaining approval from the state governors, the president is looking forward to rebuilding the country and allowing the citizens to be hopeful about their future once again. Talk of a new strain of the H5N1 super flu is broached early in the episode, pointing to the potential for an outbreak in the Kansas City area. The prospects of a new treatment-resistant flu is waved away by the White House, but left to linger in the minds of the viewer for what this might mean for election day.
In the first press conference of the episode, Seth (Kal Penn) briefs the press on the election and is met with a reporter eager to learn the fate of Nassar. This stirs up the press room where Seth is faced answering questions concerning not just if Nassar is dead, but if his death is a result of enhanced interrogation techniques. Instead of avoiding the questions, Seth answers eloquently and truthfully, leaving the press hoping for more information. President Kirkman refuses to address the death since they still do not have concrete information from the FBI.
Instead of being able to make progress on mobilizing the public to vote in the next day’s elections, President Kirkman is briefed on yet more unfortunate news. He’s told that the flu outbreak in the Midwest is in fact not the flu at all, but a synthetic toxin. The president is forced to deal with yet another instance of terrorism, but this time it’s bioterrorism. At this point, the only thing all twelve citizens affected by the bioterrorism have in common is that they are all from the Kansas City area, leaving the president and his colleagues unsure of the motive behind the attack.
Soon though, the president learns that all of the victims affected by the terrorist attack were poll workers that had volunteered for the upcoming election. They realize that whoever was responsible for the attack had aimed to affect those who turned out to vote, not just make a few random people ill. This was an attack on the election itself, which leads the president to consider if it would be in the public’s best interest to cancel the election all together. Although Aaron (Adan Canto) makes a compelling appeal against cancelling federal elections, what truly solidifies the president’s stance is talking to the daughter of a poll worker who died from the attack; she believed that protecting the citizen’s right to vote was her most important duty. In the president’s first press conference he promises to turn out to vote and hopes the American people will carry out their civic duty and do the same.
While Agent Wells (Maggie Q) has been up all night stressing over Nassar’s murder, Agent Atwood has been MIA from the bureau. When he finally arrives, Agent Wells is determined to discuss Nassar’s case further after expressing her concern over Agent Atwood’s missing son. Atwood assures her that he simply “wasn’t where he was supposed to be” and tells her everything including that his son is fine. But the audience knows that he still is unaware of his son’s location or who is holding him hostage. In an attempt to alert Wells to the problem Atwood is facing without being explicit, he suggests she look into an old case. While Wells begins to dig into the case, Atwood sets up another meeting with the president to follow through on the orders from the mystery woman in order to keep his son from being harmed.
As we’ve grown to expect, Agent Wells follows her guy instead of following directions and chases Agent Atwood when he leaves the office to a sketchy rooftop. She witnesses his meeting with the mystery woman and takes photos of their interaction to try to identify her with later. Unbeknownst to her, someone else sees Wells on the adjacent rooftop. As Atwood leaves, Wells receives word on the old case Atwood told her to look into which references a kidnapping of a former DEA agent’s daughter that forced him to drop a case. This information gives Agent Wells all of the material she needs to understand what Agent Atwood was trying to tell her. Unfortunately, she was unable to beat him to his final destination – the White House.
Next comes the most unsettling part of this episode, for both President Kirkman and for us at home. Agent Atwood informs the president that Nassar was killed by a lethal dose of poison mixed into his food, but he doesn’t tell him they are looking into the suspect. Instead, Atwood confesses to the murder of Majid Nassar. As Atwood explains why he did it, the president and the audience are left in utter disbelief. Aaron calls Wells to the White House to answer questions about Atwood’s behavior. While on her way, she receives a mysterious text that advises her not to tell Aaron anything about the deputy director. On top of that, when she calls the number to try to meet with the mysterious informant, she’s left with yet another puzzle – she is instructed to look into 11:14pm.
On top of all of this, poor President Kirkman and Alex (Natascha McElhone) can’t seem to catch a break from the prying press, this time in regards to their own family matters. On his way to school, Leo (Tanner Buchanan) is assaulted by a reporter asking if the president is in fact his father. Since this is the first time Leo has been approached about this, he’s obviously afraid and angry that his parents could possibly have been lying to him his entire life. The moment Leo and his father share after getting back the DNA test (but not opening it) is heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time. Even without the DNA test as biological proof, President Kirkman will always consider himself to be Leo’s father and he leaves the decision to read the results to Leo. After a heartfelt talk between the two, and further conversation with his bodyguard, Leo decides he doesn’t need a DNA test to know the president is his father. The creator, writers and actors in this show deserve so much credit for the emotional scenes they put together between Leo and his father in this episode.
The audience is left with a disturbing scene to close out the episode-one with Peter McLeish (Ashley Zukerman) meeting with the mystery woman who kidnapped Agent Atwood’s son and blackmailed him. She leaves him and the audience with a chilling line “You’re about to be a heartbeat away,” and with the audience questioning Peter’s roll in this terrible vendetta.
This was a beautifully crafted episode that provided not only suspense and turmoil, but also a roller coaster of emotions. Between the president’s efforts to mobilize the voters to turn out regardless of a bioterrorist attack and the dialogue between the president and Leo, I had a hard time controlling my tears. When President Kirkman went to the polls to cast his ballot, there were very few voters out doing the same. It was clear the president felt disheartened and that he would never be who the public wanted or needed. But later the news showed record numbers of citizens turning out to the polls all because they saw the president was undeterred and unafraid. He motivated and inspired the American public and showed that the public finally places their trust in their unelected and unexpected president. And in this show, any little victory for President Kirkman is an immense triumph for him and the country.