Designated Survivor – Two Ships
By: Patience Kapfer
We begin this week’s episode of “Designated Survivor” three miles off the coast of Kunami (a fictional country that borders the Persian Gulf). A United States Navy warship is being tossed to and fro during a violent storm. The men and women aboard the ship seem relatively unfazed by the storm, carrying on as usual as the waves crash over the deck and cause quite a bumpy ride. Out of nowhere there is a loud explosion and the crew in the control room are thrown across the room! Alarms blare and people are shouting as the main lights go out and leave the crew with only the emergency overhead lighting.
Aaron (Adan Canto) briefs the President, telling him that the ship is a destroyer called the U.S.S Verona and that it collided with a sanitation barge just off the coast of Kunami. Apparently, the ship was en route to Bahrain for joint military exercises and the storm disabled its radar and navigation systems, therefore leaving it stranded in enemy waters. President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) is perhaps rightfully a little surprised that a six billion dollar warship’s response to inclement weather is to run into a floating garbage truck. Mirroring the President’s dubiousness, Aaron says that “for six billion dollars the ship should be able to levitate.” Kirkman heads into the Situation Room to meet with military generals and advisors concerning how to further handle rescuing the sailors. Unfortunately, there are sixteen causalities and dozens injured following the collision and the Verona is completely incapacitated and will need to be towed out. However, towing the ship out will be difficult as they need Kunami’s cooperation in order to enter their waters to retrieve the destroyer. Aaron explains that it won’t be easy to achieve cooperation from Kunami since it’s considered a renegade regime that’s been under military and economic sanctions for over a decade. The US would have no problem handling Kunami on its own if it came down to using force, but other hostile nations in the Middle East are watching very closely to see how the United States handles this situation. It is also unwise to simply extract the sailors and leave the ship because it contains important technology that the United States needs to keep out of Kunami’s hands.
President Kirkman requests to speak to the Captain, but the commanding officer had been swept out to sea when the hull of the ship was breached. So, Kirkman is patched through to speak with the current senior officer in charge of the destroyer, Lieutenant Will Griffin (Gregory Smith). He tells the President that the damage is significant and the ship cannot move at all because all of the engines are down. President Kirkman promotes Will Griffin so that he’s now the Captain of the ship and also tells him that he’s a “design nerd” and knows all about the ship (it’s always fun to learn a little more about Kirkman’s hobbies). Later, the President meets with Secretary Moss (Geoff Pierson) who can’t be very much help with the Kunami situation since he was responsible for imposing sanctions when he was President. Instead, Moss volunteers to help out in the investigation of the Thorn murder and help smooth things over with the British Prime Minister.
To make matters worse, the Kunami ambassador put out a statement accusing the United States of a hostile incursion into their territorial waters. The ambassador is displeased that the US wants to violate their sovereign waters in exchange for nothing but a thank you instead of discussing the sanctions that have been placed on Kunami for so many years. The ambassador also isn’t convinced that the destroyer found itself in their waters on accident and they are not prepared to let a second US ship infringe upon the sanctity of their territorial waters. Kunami then constructs a blockade so that American ships won’t be able to get anywhere near the Verona without going through it which risks starting a war.
The Kunami ambassador does a press conference in which they say that the Verona was sent by America to spy on their “peace-loving nation” and is now the property of the Kunami people. This makes it pretty apparent that Kunami really just wants the ship. Kirkman proceeds to then ask Admiral Chernow (Mykelti Williamson) if the Verona was engaging in any form of espionage. Chernow informs Kirkman that the ship has a state-of-the-art surveillance system and the US was monitoring Kunami’s compliance with the sanctions. The ship also has a Voyage Data Recorder that tracks its movements to the second that would confirm Kunami’s allegations, which makes it imperative that the US doesn’t allow them to commandeer their destroyer. Kirkman asks Captain Griffin to destroy the data recorder, but unfortunately the recorder is located in part of the ship that is completely underwater.
When it seems like a bad situation can’t get any worse, count on “Designated Survivor” to up the anty. As the President attempts to find a diplomatic solution to save the sailors, the ship begins to take on much more water than the crew can handle and thus begins sinking. Griffin asserts that they probably have five or six hours until the entire ship submerges. Admiral Chernow recreates the crash between the destroyer and garbage barge using satellite imagery and discover that the barge suddenly veers and increased its speed purposefully causing the collision. After showing the ambassador the recreation video he still will not allow the US to remove the ship from their waters. So, the President (instead of further antagonizing Kunami) decides to leave the ship and simply rescue the crew, despite warnings from the Admiral that then Kunami will find out they were conducting acts of espionage. The crew of the Verona is successfully rescued from the ship and taken on the U.S.S. Wyckoff – all of the crew except Captain Griffin. President Kirkman tries his best to convince Captain Griffin to leave the ship, but Griffin has realized that they cannot allow Kunami to get their hands on it because they will learn the truth. Griffin is adamant that he must destroy the ship and the only way to initiate the sequence is manually with him on board. Sadly, he stays with the ship and does what is in his country’s best interest.
Hannah (Maggie Q) and Damian (Ben Lawson) brief Charlotte Thorn’s aide, Peyton Lane (Cariba Heine), to explain that they’ve looked into Catherine Cray (Michelle Nolden) and found that she is always in the same city as her husband for every meeting he has. They’ve attempted to talk with her, but Cray has lawyered up and is walled off in her hotel suite. The game plan is for Secretary Moss to freeze Catherine’s assets so that she will reach out once she realizes that she can’t write a check. This theory is proven correct when Catherine and her lawyer show up to put forth a motion to unfreeze her assets and a suit for malicious prosecution. Catherine informs them that she had nothing to do with her husband’s business and instead she simply made a mistake by having joint accounts with her husband. Chuck (Jake Epstein) calls Hannah and Damian out of the meeting to show them a video the FBI just received. In the video we see Peyton Lane has been kidnapped and the only way to free her is to extradite Darius Cray to Malaysia by four o’clock that afternoon. Moss enlightens Hannah and Damian as to why Catherine would want her husband tried in Malaysia-because the Cray’s have big holdings in East Asia which means that Darius would merely get a slap on the wrist for all of his crimes. This means that they have to find Peyton Lane before the press finds out about the situation and before Cray kills her because extradition is absolutely out of the question.
The kidnappers send another video to the FBI in which Peyton tells those watching the video to tell her siblings that she loves them…but she doesn’t have any siblings. As Peyton has past experience in Foreign Service training, Hannah determines that it’s a code to help them figure out where she is. Her code allows them to send a team to the building in which Peyton is being held captive and rescue her just in time. They later tell Catherine Cray that they traced the last call made by one of the captors to a burner phone in her hotel. Catherine tells them that she had nothing to do with Thorn’s murder, but the arms business was hers and it needed Charlotte Thorn because it took the spotlight off of her and her business.
While the President works tirelessly to save the crew of the Verona, Hannah and Damian continue to look for Thorn’s murderer and save Peyton Lane. Kendra (Zoe McLellan) is granted unrestricted access to Eva (Bonnie Bedelia) in an effort to keep Forstell from garnering too much information. Kendra attempts to convince Eva to sign a declaration stating that she’s had no contact with Eric Little in the last thirty years only to find out that Eva had seen Eric Little six months ago.
We are left with an unexpected cliffhanger as Chuck re-examines the security cameras inside Charlotte Thorn’s hotel from her hallway. The camera is positioned to see anyone who comes to her door and we see a mysterious older man approaching and knocking on Thorn’s door five hours before Thorn was killed. After running the visitor through facial recognition we are left with the realization that her visitor was Secretary Cornelius Moss.