Designated Survivor recap: 'Outbreak'
I had a little bird; its name was Enza. Opened the window and in flew racism. Wait, that's not the rhyme...
Here at EW.com,when a writer is unable to fulfill their recapping duties, we invoke the 25th Amendment — and by that I mean that Dalene is out for the week, and you’re stuck with me, the proverbial Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, just here trying to keep you abreast of how our actual world is only slightly less chaotic than President Kirkman’s world, where things are constantly falling apart. I loved season 1, but I was slow to pick back up with the first two hours of season 2. (Like Kirkman, I’m just trying to be transparent.) But I got caught up, and Alex has bangs?! I know…there are more pressing details, like, you know…a pandemic of Influenza A. One year in, and I don’t know how President Kirkman is still standing.
The lowdown about this disease is that this flu could infect a ton of Americans in a very short amount of time if not contained, and God knows these guys have enough to handle. But it all hits too close to home because as the world is falling apart at the hands of the flu, there’s still time to argue about whether or not we should keep Confederate statues. The room is split on whether the statue represents history or, you know, hardcore racism. When the decision falls back to Reverend Dale, a protester and activist his whole life, he argues that the statue should not be moved because it reminds us where we came from.
Meanwhile, Agent Wells is still digging into the wreckage of the First Lady’s mother’s house. She argues that Lloyd was meticulous, and there are more details here than the team is picking up on. Any DS viewer knows that Hannah is always right because Maggie Q is a National Treasure. And of course, just like that, she stumbles upon files that show records of a heart transplant for Andrew Booker, and she’s convinced they didn’t find it. It was left for them. Oh, Hannah!
Down in Louisiana, everyone is wearing Hazmat suits because it’s flu season (have you gotten your flu shot, BTW?), and the flu is taking no prisoners. The team is going to have to work with a guy in Delaware to hopefully save, you know, the world. While Kirkman is fighting the good fight for the world, it turns out that they’ve named a frog after him. It’s a strange side story, but it’s there.
But Kirkman has no time to be offended, because he’s meeting with the man in charge of a cancer drug that could fight Influenza A. This guy, Mackey, says he only has 10,000 doses, but that may be enough, and God knows it needs to be. The area of Louisiana this is hitting hardest is predominantly African American. Meanwhile, other parties are fighting to keep Confederate monuments up. Not a far stretch to see African Americans getting dealt a bad hand here.
ANYWAY, Hannah meets with Alex to discuss all the information she’s found in Lloyd’s ransacking escapade. Alex gets to the insurance form and is surprised her mom kept it; it’s that form that reminds her that her father’s heart transplant was one of the first in the area, and he was down on the transplant list but it all came together in the end because…well, I bet that’s going to be a mystery! But as they discuss those forms, Kirkman is informed that his buddy with the cure didn’t deliver them to Louisiana, so…again, priorities.
So, the White House goes to court to call out that this drug manufacturer is getting in the way of public defense. This all has a Diet Martin Shkreli vibe to it because the rich can afford it, but no one else can, and guess what? Most of the people of Louisiana who are affected are not rich. The judge orders that Mackey make 10,000 doses available because fake reality is fairer than real reality.
Emily gives Kendra a high five for her work on the case, but Kendra still has her hands full with this Confederate statue issue. They recommend the statue be moved to a national forest, but Reverend Dale shuts that down. The other people at the table call him a racist, but he gives these whippersnappers a HISTORY LESSON.
Kirkman checks in with Dr. Bruner, who has secured all those doses of medicine. He thanks her for her service of putting herself at risk, and she says she does it because she knows that he would do the same. This group, y’all. So giving. So trusting. SO PATRIOTIC.
You know who isn’t so trusting? Hannah and her posse. They head to investigate those files associated with Booker, but when they get into the warehouse, a bomb goes off and nearly kills them. Somehow Hannah and her buds get in trouble for almost being blown up because it’s private property. She refuses to answer any questions though, because she’s Agent Wells. She runs things; things don’t run her. (Recap continues on page 2)
Meanwhile, Press Secretary Seth is in front of the press corps doing his best to answer what questions he can about the virus, but this is a tricky situation because eight times more people are dying in black parishes than in predominantly white parishes. And when Dr. Bruner checks in again, she communicates that the meds are working, but it’s not enough. That’s when she insists that there must be more medicine because 10,000 doses isn’t cost effective, so Kirkman and Emily hop back into action.
Hannah goes and visits Aaron (missed you this episode, bb) to discuss her warehouse blowup, and he wants ANSWERS. But she can’t give him answers because this involves Kirkman’s family, and she can’t expose him to those details until she has to. Game respects game, so Aaron backs down.
And Kirkman has enough going on: He’s throwing down on Mackey, who has now revealed that 30,000 doses were actually made, and he doesn’t feel bad about holding back because pharma companies are going to recreate it and sell it for cheap because money is life…wait, hold up. No. Life is life. When Mackey insists, “I’m not a racist. I’m a capitalist,” all of a sudden, this show feels too damn real.
So our worlds collide, and Reverend Dale shows up on camera to call out Mackey and tell the world that Mackey doesn’t care about black people. It’s like what Kanye did to Bush, and it’s worthy of a quiet, “Damn,” before your next sip of wine. It’s effective, too, because Mackey turns those meds over real fast. Turns out he doesn’t like being bluntly called a racist.
As the night draws to a calmer close, Kirkman goes and visits his frog, and he’s super down with this buddy being his namesake. What better way is there to celebrate a victory over the intersectionality of infectious diseases and racism than to meet a frog with your name? But frogs are just frogs, and Hannah has bigger plans. She sits down with her team and realizes that there’s a connection between the First Lady’s mother’s past and her father getting that heart transplant. It’s deeper than it seems.
Kirkman checks in with Dr. Bruner, by the way, and they’re beating the flu! Bless up! But Dr. Bruner isn’t looking so hot herself. If you’re basic like me, you assume she’s gotten the flu. But I’m just the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (of Designated Survivor recaps). If Dalene were here, she’d know. Dr. Bruner tested the meds on herself, and it appears the first dose that she gave herself…a double dose…is enough to cause kidney failure. But she’s a soldier. A good woman in the storm. She’s sticking it out, and that’s when she hangs up on Kirkman via Skype because a doctor’s job is to HEAL and maybe die while doing so.
Kirman brings Tammy Bruner home and ends the night by having a chat with his Secret Service pal Mike to make sure that he’s chill with how he handled race because Mike is black and that’s what you do, right? Oh…no? Well, whatever. Mike approves because Kiefer does no wrong, and he needs a thumbs up from the constituency! With that tension eased, we turn to Hannah, who has ventured out to look into the First Lady’s mom. But when she and her fellow agent arrive at their destination, they find one Eric Little dead. And I know we should be more shocked about that, but I’m a little distracted because do you ever think that sometimes this show is actually about Agent Wells? I DON’T KNOW, I’M JUST SPITBALLING.
So, do you think the First Lady’s mother is super shady? Do you think that will play into Natascha McElhone’s exit? And how do you feel about her bangs? I’m super shaken by all of it. We’ll discuss more next week, I assume. Hang in there…we’re just a couple of figurehead HUD Secretaries masquerading as, well, presidential figureheads. We’ll figure it out together.