Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be First Ladies who are gonna get you arrested

By Justin Kirkland
October 18, 2017 at 11:43 PM EDT
Ben Mark Holzberg/ABC
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That heart transplant insurance form.
The explosion in that warehouse.
Eric Little.
Alex’s bangs.

There’s a lot to unpack from Designated Survivor‘s latest episode, so let’s get to it because there’s no time in this world for dilly-dallying. Especially when your mom is taking bribes and vases are getting broken and Mexican-American relations are crumbling.

Hannah gets asked about being at the center of every crime in Reston, and you know what? I can’t argue this poor guy’s point because I’ve been to Reston, and there isn’t much that happens there. So with someone on Hannah’s case, she turns to her friend John to discuss what she’s found in regard to this insurance form. And boy howdy, it’s a very complicated situation; this could take down a presidency that’s never really had any footing, but Agent Wells has never been one to back down.

Elsewhere, there’s some tension between U.S. truck drivers and Mexico, and you have to wonder if this would even exist if they’d just build that damn wall! I jest, because that’s absurd. As absurd as a trucker blockade strike that ends with a truck driver from Mexico ramming across the border and getting shot by border patrol…actually, it’s upsetting, but that doesn’t seem like a totally unrealistic headline. (Heavy sigh.) But when tensions hit the fan and a man dies, people start paying attention. And of course, the poor truck driver driving on the shoulder is blamed — because when someone gets shot, why not blame the victim?

Okay, let’s step back because someone is getting way too political. We’re meeting in Seth’s office (BTW, great beard Seth!) to discuss whether this is about immigration, trade, gun violence, or racism. It’s a messy ordeal, and Emily is just here in nighttime lipstick trying to make this situation make sense. She’s bothered by a broken vase, but this vase has history, and it’s definitely going to come back into play. You just wait.

Back in Hannah’s world, it appears that the First Lady’s mother is pretty squared away when it comes to her past, but Hannah’s treading dangerous waters around this investigation, and ultimately the issue falls back to that dead contractor. So Hannah has to go ask the First Lady about her mother’s crimes to clear her name around that contractor. It’s very messy. And when Kendra heads with Hannah to speak to Alex, Alex doesn’t take Hannah’s insinuation of bribery very lightly.

Back at the White House, truck driver union representative Zalecky is not happy with his meeting with Kirkman, so he heads on cable news to spew some nationalist nonsense. Meanwhile, Aaron meets with his cousin, who is working for someone new these days, and she’s not very happy with Kirkman’s actions either. When you’re president, no one is pleased, ya know? But Aaron swoops in to speak to the senator, and the senator is willing to stand beside Kirkman and his trade deal. And God knows he needs the support because as this deal floats in the air, the grieving widow of the Mexican man shot in that truck is speaking about how she and her husband love America but were not able to become citizens. Yikes. (Recap continues on page 2)

Back at the White House, Alex bends a little bit and decides to ask her mom about the bribery allegations. And while I’m distracted by Alex’s bangs, her mom admits to the allegations because it saved her husband’s life. She isn’t apologizing for it — she did it for her family, and it’s #FamilyFirst, you know? Alex is SHOOK by this revelation, but her mom is just like, “Bribe’s a bribe, brah.”

And God knows Kirkman has enough on his plate. The Mexican widow comes to visit Kirkman, and he refuses to turn it into a PR opportunity because Kirkman always takes the high road because he is a GOOD MAN. Privately, they discuss her husband, who was also a good man who loved his family and baseball. And he had just taken that trucking job; it was finally something stable. When Ms. Menes takes off, Kirkman has Emily get the information on the trucking company her husband worked for because that might be the answer to their problems.

In the meantime, Emily has Kirkman’s daughter sent down. It is nice to know his daughter is still alive because we never see that girl anymore. She admits that she broke his watch, but when he asks about the vase that was broken, she says she didn’t do it. Ugh, I need to know about this vase. Of course, other adults don’t believe her because who trusts kids?

Elsewhere, Alex is interrupted when Kendra rolls in with bad news: It’s an FBI subpoena for Alex’s mom, because at the end of the day, it’s not just a bribe, brah. It’s a federal crime. Alex retreats to Kirkman because that’s what you do when your mom might go to jail: talk to your husband. He assures her that it’s going to be okay.

But he’s quickly pulled away — Zalecky is back at the White House, and Kirkman is there to shut him down because he is partly to blame for the situation that killed that Mexican trucker. Kirkman tells Zalecky that he will sell the union president on the trade agreement and then resign, or he’ll have him charged with manslaughter. With just a bit more work to do, Kirkman goes to his friend who is working on those new electric cars and asks him to hold off on their release because it will save jobs on both sides. It’s not a forever solution, but it does answer the problem for now, and Kirkman will push through tax breaks for him.

So back to that vase. Here’s the deal: It’s not important. It’s put in place to set up Maya and Lyor in a small romantic situation. I refuse to pay it any more attention because I was expecting more out of that vase. Keep watching because they’ll be forced together, stripping us of important time with Alex’s bangs (which are growing on me) and Emily’s nighttime make up. At the end of the deal, the trade agreement is pushed through and Kirkman kicks back to have himself a beer. And Aaron’s run-in with his cousin inspired him to go home because, again, #FamilyFirst.

But like usual, we end with Hannah, who confronts John for subpoenaing the First Lady’s mother, and it all goes back to the ever-mysterious Eric Little. And we’ll have to just wait and see how that all folds in together.

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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