The White House battles a whistleblower

By Ray Rahman
December 08, 2016 at 02:26 AM EST
ABC/John Medland
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  • TV Show
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Tonight’s Designated Survivor has a little bit of everything. Congressional hearings! Wikileaks! Gross senators! Let’s start with a whistleblowing federal employee whose actions might lead us to the truth behind the Capitol bombing.

Security Breach

We open with a nondescript NSA employee walking out of the building with stolen intel on a thumb drive.

The next morning, the White House is in a panic over the security breach. The nondescript guy is named Gabriel Thompson, a longtime systems analyst, and he apparently swiped terabytes worth of data from the government.

Turns out, the guy’s objective is to release dirt on all the members of the previous (dead) president’s Cabinet, which, obviously, included Kirkman. Included in the Wikileak’d files is evidence the old Treasury secretary made paid speeches for corporations and that some other schmuck took international trips on a lobbyist’s dime — and other low-stakes stuff like that.

So, what does the whistleblower have on Kirkman? A years-old memo Emily sent insulting some old senator who likes to grope women. Unfortunately, it’s a particularly powerful senator whose support the president will need in Congress. And the senator is demanded Emily be fired.

Emily does the supposedly noble thing and offers her resignation, but Kirkman rejects it.

Meanwhile, the government finally hunts down Thompson’s location: He’s at the Venezuelan embassy. In other words, he’s technically on foreign soil and can’t be extradited.

With some help from Emily, a light bulb goes off in Aaron’s head. What Thompson really wants is a sit-down with POTUS.

Aaron arranges a meeting between Thompson and Kirkman. But first, Kirkman flips the situation on the pervy old senator by presenting him with leaked proof of his lecherous ways. The president give the senator an ultimatum: Retire or Kirkman himself will release the incriminating documents. Needless to say, the senator accepts and Emily gets to keep her job. Win-win!

With that out of the way, Kirkman finally sits down with Thompson to hear him out. Thompson ends up being somewhat of an ally; he respects and supports the President and his ethics. In fact, the reason he did all this wasn’t to threaten Kirkman, it was to warn and protect him. He whispers a cryptic message: “Careful who you issue file 12-80C to, sir.”

What does that mean? Thompson hands over his files, and what they reveal is damning: A nearly exact computer simulation of the Capitol bombing, made years before the actual event. (One might even call it a blueprint.) It seems to be concrete proof someone on the inside was involved in the attack.

Kirkman takes his glasses off dramatically. “There’s a traitor among us.”

NEXT: Maggie Q races to investigate MacLeish

Internal Affairs

Maggie Q chats with the Internal Affairs director to plead Jason Atwood’s case. He throws her a bone: If Jason didn’t kill Nassar, who did? Because she’s too smart to throw out her conspiracy theories in this newly dangerous climate, she doesn’t bite.

She goes back to the drawing board to do some more research her prime suspect: MacLeish. Her first move: To ask the men who served with him in combat about their version of the events that ended up making him a war hero.   

Interestingly, they all stick to the party line — MacLeish is a hero — almost down to the word.

On her final visit, however, Maggie Q finds the first chink in the armor: a photo of Catalan (remember Catalan!) and MacLeish together.

She keeps digging deeper with her sources and finds the smoking gun: Proof MacLeish is not only not a war hero, but a war criminal. Apparently, his unit shot down several Afghani villages, leaving countless of innocents dead.

Macleish’s Hearing

Kimble is on a media tour — “Megan Kelly to Jimmy Fallon” — to sh*t-talk Kirkman and his VP pick (MacLeish) ahead of MacLeish’s confirmation hearing.

Speaking of which, MacLeish’s televised congressional confirmation hearing goes swimmingly. “Look at him, it’s like he’s channeling Camelot,” remarks Maggie Q. “Even looks like a Kennedy.” (As someone who grew up in New England, she is wrong, but I get what she’s trying to say.)

Eventually, Maggie Q chats with Kimble to have her delay MacLeish’s confirmation as much as possible, which leads Kimble to tell Kirkman of her intention to do just that.

This raises a red flag for the president, so he has a short little sit-down with MacLeish to ask what dirt they might have on him. MacLeish pretends to be baffled, though it’s not clear Kirkman buys it.

While all that is happening, Maggie Q tells Kimble she has the evidence she needs to being MacLeish down, prompting Kimble to put together a hasty congressional-committee gathering. But as Maggie Q drives toward Congress, there’s a snag: Her car gets pummeled by a giant van.

Is she dead? Will she be kidnapped? Will MacLeish be confirmed after all? We’ll have to wait until next week to find out.

Episode grade: B

Episode Recaps

Kiefer Sutherland returns to TV in this ABC political drama. The 2016 new fall show follows his rise to president when all other cabinet members tragically die. Natascha McElhone, Italia Ricci, Adan Canto, Kal Penn, and Maggie Q also star.
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  • 09/21/16
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