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Designated Survivor recap: Season 1, Episode 7

Kirkman deals with bad Russians and worse Americans

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ABC/Ben Mark Holzberg

Designated Survivor

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Kiefer Sutherland, Natascha McElhone, Adan Canto, Italia Ricci, Kal Penn, Maggie Q

Hey, look — things are happening! Well, sort of… We’re getting closer to figuring out if MacLeish is good or bad (probably bad!), who blew up the Capitol (probably someone on the inside!), and who Leo’s real dad is (probably a scumbag!). Plus, there’s a good old-fashioned Designated Survivor-ian twist at the end. Let’s get to it, starting with this week’s Russian plot.

International Intrigue

We first see Kirkman as he’s giving a speech about the Yankees playing baseball after 9/11. That, he says, serves as an example of how sports can help heal a nation, which is why he has decided to send the USA Track & Field team to Moscow for an international competition. There shouldn’t be any potential problems there, right?

After the presser, Kirkman shares a private moment with Coach Weston. The two bond over their shared leadership and general handsomeness. But, of course, it doesn’t take long for things to go awry: Weston is arrested pretty much the moment he steps foot in Moscow. Why? A potential doping scandal — Russian authorities have apparently found 20+ vials of HGH. The whole team, they allege, is implicated.

Kirkman is livid and in disbelief: “Coach Weston is a national hero!” He orders the State Department to look into the situation, but he later gets some surprising news: Coach Weston is actually working on behalf of the CIA. He’s a freelance spy, more or less, and it looks like the Russians are on to him. The doping drugs were planted to give them an excuse to detain and scrutinize him more easily.

In other words, it’s a tricky situation. Kirkman decides to meet with the Russian ambassador to try and find a solution. The ambassador says they’re willing to let Weston go if the United States basically disarms one of their bases near the Russian border in Turkey. Kirkman declines, at the risk of Weston standing trial in Moscow.

It gets worse: The Russians force Weston to confess to his fake crimes on television. It’s a play to get Kirkman to budge, which he does by coordinating a “three-way trade” of sorts. Kirkman stages a meeting with both the Russian diplomat and a Saudi Arabian representative and proposes something that would make everyone happy: “a transnational three-way spy trade.” Nutty! But effective.

The plan works…almost. Everything falls apart when they’re thrown another curveball: Weston is a double agent working on behalf of the Russians. National hero, schmational schmero!

Kirkman meets with the Russian ambassador again to congratulate him on his trickery — and to put him on notice with a chess metaphor: “There’s nothing more than a dangerous pawn that thinks it’s a queen.”

NEXT: Kirkman’s VP selection hits a snag