Moles are everywhere! It is in every show's contract to have at least one mole storyline per season. I'm exaggerating, of course, though it wouldn't be too hard to believe given how many sneaky, rat-faced moles we see every season on our televisions.
Designated Survivor took its turn with the mole in "Lazarus," an episode that treated small reveals as HUGE REVELATIONS before Designated Survivor dives into its four-episode finale. And, well, good mole storylines aren't that easy to pull off, folks. They generally fall into two categories: ones that were so obvious that the reveal didn't mean much, and ones that were so under-the-radar that the impact of the reveal is diminished greatly. "Lazarus" fell into the latter.
Let's break down what happened in "Lazarus" before we all hop into our new Ford Fusions that, for some reason, we just HAD to have after watching the episode.
1. Kirkman finds his dance partner!
With all the buildup of the disconnect between what Hookstraten (Virginia Madsen) wanted and what President Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) was willing to give after she helped push through the gun control bill (take that you rootin'-tootin' gun nuts!), I fully expected Kirkman to not offer her the vice presidency. Both their camps were arguing about it even in this episode. But Kirkman did offer the job to her in a quietly sweet moment between the two. So sweet I almost expected him to dive in for a smooch! But instead, it was a full turn for Hookstraten, who entered the show a potential series-long nemesis to Kirkman but is now one of his strongest allies. That's how Washington do, you shred people to pieces until they can help you get something you want. Ain't that right, Mitt Romney?
2. Designated Survivor crosses over with Scandal
No, Olivia Pope didn't strut in. But scandal rocked Hookstraten as some bogus story sprung up about a trip to Turkey she took a dozen years ago and a bill to give Turkey military aid that she passed shortly after. Now she's under investigation by the House for taking favors from Turkey in exchange for military tech! I guess it's easier to become vice president by being a total traitor and puppet for a shadowy organization than it is if you accepted some free doner kabab. Everyone figured it was Senator Bowman (Mark Deklin) who leaked the info, but Hookstraten figured out it was an old employee of hers, Liam Price (David Lafontaine), looking to settle a score for being fired a long time ago, but in actuality, he was just a bitter jerk who tried to latch on to Bowman. It's the first time we met Price, so this was a reveal that didn't really pay off. That was a bit of a theme for the night, unfortunately.
3. Dammit Watch 2017 is now Son of a Bitch Watch 2017
I've given up all hope of hearing Kirkman say, "Dammit!" again and closing my eyes to think Jack Bauer is still alive. But that doesn't mean Kiefer Sutherland is done cursing on TV. His new mantra appears to be a hushed "son of a bitch," as he learned of Hookstraten's troubles with the scandal. Yes! He's been saying S.O.B. frequently, so let's get that printed on some shirts, ABC. President Curse-Man is on a roll!
4. Hannah gets closer to the conspiracy (again)... but this time, too close!
Lozano is very much alive, as we learned last week. But how? That's what leggy super agent Hannah (Maggie Q) decided to find out. Turns out the body that was shot to hell by the FBI that they thought was Lozano was actually an employee of the consistently shady company Browning Reed, which led Hannah to its CEO, Patrick Lloyd. In his combative chat with Hannah, he wasn't exactly hiding his true beliefs, which happened to match up perfectly with the Pax Americana manifesto that those crazies in North Dakota were all humming about. It's circumstantial evidence, but I think we've found our guy behind the conspiracy, and he's a rich white man who we just met. Yep, another new character playing a pivotal role in the season's biggest story. Hannah would later get kidnapped and drugged by conspirators, and taken away in a van!
Wow, I haven't seen such horribly obvious product placement in a TV show since Under the Dome took time away from dome-tastrophes to hawk a Prius and Microsoft Surface tablets. After talking to Lloyd, Hannah decided to show us that you can fire up your Ford Fusion from your smartphone with closeup shots of the app and the car's interior. Hey, it's tough out there for a mega-conglomerate! Gotta get those dollars where you can. Lloyd's car was also a Ford, and I'm guessing the van that took Hannah away was also a Ford. Kirkman will probably sign a bill making Ford the national car next week.
6. A dynamite new dynamic
Just a quick note that since Aaron (Adan Canto) moved over to Hookstraten's orbit, the White House drama between Emily (Italia Ricci), Seth (Kal Penn) and Aaron has been on fire. In a good way! With each of them having clearly defined roles and goals, most noticeably with Aaron working for someone else, the dramatic dynamic between the three of them is much improved over all of them working for the same guy. Well done.
7. Hardly anyone wants to talk to Abe Leonard
Poor Abe (Rob Morrow). He's just trying to do his job by forcing his way into everyone's business but people keep shutting him out or only give him partial answers. Or in Jason's (Malik Yoba) case, a punch to the intestines. But Abe was part of the show's biggest reveal as his chats with his White House source got deeper and deeper. He got tips about Hannah before, and now he's getting tips about Jason's role in Majib's murder and the White House coverup of the Capitol bombing. But who is his source? We found out it was... Jay Whitaker! Wait, who? Jay Whitaker, Homeland Security Adviser. Here's a picture to remind you who he is:
Now, I don't blame you for not knowing who Jay Whitaker is because we've only seen him a handful of times. In fact, I had to look it up. According to IMDB, he's been in three episodes before this, but he never made enough of an impression for me to remember him. Now he's the man who is working with Lozano and (likely) Lloyd. It's just too bad that promos treated the mole's identity as a huge revelation for the show, because it wasn't.
So to recap: The person leaking info about Hookstraten was someone we only met in this episode, the man behind the conspiracy was a person who we just met this episode, and the White House mole was someone who we barely knew about. As far as reveals go, they're not blowing our minds. But the pieces do fit, and with three showrunners attached to the show already, it may have just been a matter of slotting things where they need to be.
With that out of the way, there's still plenty left to be excited about as Designated Survivor reaches its critical final four episodes. Will Hookstraten get reamed by the investigation? Will Hannah survive her kidnapping? Will the conspiracy blow up Hoover Dam?
Designated Survivor airs Wednesday nights at 10/9c on ABC.