Designated Survivor – Warriors
By: Patience Kapfer
After a long mid-season break, everyone’s favorite new political drama has returned. We were left wondering who, if anyone, was shot at the swearing in of the new vice president-Peter MacLeish (Ashley Zukerman). Despite Agent Wells’ (Maggie Q) attempt to prevent the assassination of the still new president, the attacker managed to pull the trigger before the Secret Service could intervene. This episode wastes no time in giving the audience the answers they have been waiting for since December 14th.
“Warriors” begins with a literal bang and jumps in right where we left off with the assassin pulling the trigger, and we immediately learn that the shot hit its target. In all of the commotion the President (Kiefer Sutherland) doesn’t even realize he’s the victim of the shooting, instead thinking it’s his wife Alex (Natascha McElhone). It’s not entirely clear if President Kirkman jumped to protect Alex, or fell on her as a result of being shot. Upon first glance, both the president and the audience see the blood on Alex’s jacket, but very soon we realize the blood is in fact President Kirkman’s. The president is taken to the hospital, where medical professionals examine the gunshot wound to evaluate the damage. Upon the first assessment, it appears the bulleted went straight through, missing the president’s vital organs.
However, as most viewers of this show know, it’s never that simple. The X-rays showed several bullet fragments that are at risk of dislodging and potentially severing his aorta which would prove fatal. They need to operate, which means President Kirkman must invoke the 25th amendment, making Vice President MacLeish the temporary acting President of the United States. Yikes! Before the president goes into surgery, he requests to see Senator Hookstraten (Virginia Madsen) and tells her to keep an eye on the vice president to make sure he is putting the country before his personal agenda. Even though Hookstraten and the president haven’t always seen eye to eye, he sees her as a trustworthy ally when it comes to dealing with Peter MacLeish.
As President Kirkman is being put under for surgery, we watch acting President MacLeish enter to meet with Congressional leaders. This moment just scratches the surface of the immense foreboding surrounding Peter MacLeish. Later, we see another eerie conversation amongst Peter and his wife (Lara Jean Chorostecki), in which she informs him he has the power to right now from keeping everyone from finding out their involvement in their awful plan.
The president’s staff has to not only keep the press in line, but also deal with their own emotions while the president is in the hospital. After Emily’s (Italia Ricci) discovery about Aaron’s (Adan Canto) possible betrayal, she is highly suspicious of any action he suggests they take. An emotional moment is when Seth (Kal Penn) points to the small blood stain on Emily’s jacket, which visibly distresses her as the realization someone close to her was shot, leaving not only an emotional but now a physical mark as well. While Emily is desperately attempting to clean the stain from her jacket, Alex notices her and comes in to offer her comfort. Emily takes this time to tell Alex about Aaron’s involvement in the call from the White House. Alex responds by telling Emily to keep Aaron away from the president.
The newly instated Vice President, Peter MacLeish, continues his questionable dialogue with his even sketchier wife. Upon learning that the president is likely going to be okay, he turns to his wife and says they have to wash their hands of this situation, which she ominously responds with, “blood doesn’t wash out, it stains.” The audience is allowed to see the vast extent of MacLeish’s involvement in the attempted assassination of the president.
Early in the episode, President Kirkman notes that they need to stabilize the stock markets, as they are likely to “go crazy,” but Emily assures him that they have already closed for the night and they will keep a close eye on the global markets. While the president is undergoing surgery, his worries of the stock market come to fruition as the Asian markets fall dramatically. Acting President MacLeish ignores the suggestion to keep the markets closed the following day in order to prevent greater losses which would lead to increased market panic, stating that the market will bounce back and they need to let people know that “America is open for business”. Senator Hookstraten does exactly as President Kirkman asked. First, she criticizes MacLeish’s decision and later confronts him in the Oval Office to let him know she will be watching him very closely for any missteps.
Shortly after, MacLeish is informed that the suspected shooter has been found and is surrounded. He is told they will follow protocol and apprehend the suspect alive for questioning. In yet another move that exemplifies how sketchy Peter MacLeish is, he tells them to shoot to kill despite Aaron’s advisement otherwise, trying to remove any condemning evidence that the shooter could use against him.
While President Kirkman is undergoing treatment in the hospital, Agent Wells is arrested and brought in for questioning. After everything she has gone though in the last few days, Hannah doesn’t know who she can trust anymore. All of the evidence points to Hannah conspiring to kill the president, which would result in the death penalty. However, when given the option to tell the FBI everything she knows, especially concerning her evidence about Peter MacLeish, she refuses and says she has already given her statement.
As always, President Kirkman knows there is something going on and the story is not as simple as Agent Well’s attempting to take his life. He sends his secret service agent, Michael Ritter (LaMonica Garrett), to speak with her personally, since she refuses to tell the FBI anything else about her involvement. Hannah once again refuses to answer Agent Ritter’s questions and says she will only give answers to one person: the president himself. Realizing that Hannah’s eyes keep going back to the camera in the interrogation room, Agent Ritter blocks the camera and turns over one of the photos he brought with him-on the back it says “let me help you”. Once she realizes Agent Ritter might be her only hope, Hannah lunges at him as if she was attacking him, but uses the opportunity to give him important information to obtain the answers he is looking for.
Agent Ritter takes Hannah’s information and goes to Chuck’s (Jake Epstein) apartment where Chuck will be able to tell him all of the details about MacLeish that Hannah was unable to. Chuck is equally untrusting of Agent Ritter, refusing to provide him with any information – that is, until he says Catalan. Hannah had told Agent Ritter to ask Chuck about Catalan, which was convincing enough to not only get him to answer the door, but also to provide more details about Catalan in general. He tells Agent Ritter that Catalan was in the same army unit as the man who attempted to assassinate the president and that Hannah had evidence, but it was stolen.
The audience is again put on edge when one of the bullet fragments knicks an artery and the surgeons rush to find the source before the President can bleed out. As the president’s blood pressure drops, the audience is left hoping that he makes it out of surgery alive and Peter MacLeish is not the new sitting POTUS. Luckily, the surgeons are able stabilize Kirkman.
The episode ends with implications of more impending doom for President Kirkman and the country, as well as a ray of hope: the stock markets plunging, Peter and his wife discussing what to do about Senator Hookstraten if she continues to be a problem, but we’re encouraged by the emergence of the President, which seems to restore confidence to the American people. The final scenes show Peter MacLeish silently watching the news of President Kirkman’s recovery, only to turn off the television with a forlorn expression. Finally, to close this week’s episode, we turn to Agent Ritter bringing Hannah Wells to meet personally with the president to discuss the information she has regarding Peter MacLeish.