They did it, folks! The most powerful man in America finally got let in on the big secret. Phew!
"The Blueprints" was a very bottom-heavy episode of Designated Survivor, slowly meandering through 40 minutes of television before smashing us over the head with a few whoppers at the end, including one that corrects a lot of what I noted about last week's episode: that president Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) was tragically misinformed about what was really happening under his watch, and it wasn't a whole lot of fun to see that since we knew a lot more than he did.
There's a very good chance that "The Blueprints" will be the episode we look back on that did a lot of the legwork to steer Designated Survivor in the direction it needed to go. That is, with Kirkman fighting back instead of dealing with (relatively) petty issues of minimal importance. Let's hope so, because I still believe that Designated Survivor can be one of the better political dramas to hit networks in some time.
Now that we got that out of the way, let's review what we learned in "The Blueprints."
1. People are both doubting Kirkman's presidency and endorsing it!
Do people trust Tom Kirkman to be their president or not this week? Both! Kimble Hookstraten (Virginia Madsen), who is on a mission to make everyone else miserable as revenge for being named Kimble Hookstraten, made her distaste for Kirkman's presidency very clear during an interview with a cable-news program (wasn't she on board with helping Tom not that long ago?). But she's not just after Kirkman; she also wants Peter MacLeish (Ashley Zukerman) to go down with him. Why? "I don't trust anyone who has things handed to them in life. Especially power." This woman is a bulldog who will stop at nothing to make sure she gets Kirkman's job... and has power handed to her. Hmmm...
On the flip side, the plot of the week involved a government whistle blower and NSA employee whose path led him directly to Kirkman, who he endorsed fully. Why? Because he read every email and text that Kirkman sent and liked his moral stance and the fact that he texts his kids a lot. Fair enough! So to summarize: Elected and respected government official doesn't like Kirkman as president, potential whack job who exposes government secrets does.
2. President Kirkman would pardon Edward Snowden in a heartbeat
Though Kirkman admitted the whistle blower would head to jail for a long time for stealing NSA data, including dirt on the late exploded president's cabinet, he admitted that the whistleblower wasn't insane and showed him a lot of respect. We know Kirkman is running things on his own terms with the government in ruins, so he'll probably find a way to pardon this fella and skirt the legality that targets government whistleblowers as traitors.
What does this really mean and why am I blabbering on about it? Because it's another clue that Kirkman — who claims to be independent and is supposedly equally on the right and left (so, center) — is fundamentally more liberal than the show claims he is. I'm still waiting him for him to put an abortion doctor in the electric chair or jail a flag burner to even things out.
3. Dammit Watch 2016
No "Dammit!" from Kirkman this week. Not even a "Gee Willikers" or "Gosh Golly!" Just normal non-profane words.
4. Emily and Aaron, get a room
Several episodes back, Designated Survivor planted seeds for a romance between Emily (Italia Ricci) and Aaron (Adan Canto). It felt forced and unnecessary, like most TV romances, but Designated Survivor seemed to let it go and hasn't mentioned it much since. It was back big time in "The Blueprints" during a flirty exchange after Aaron helped save Emily's job in a very unnecessary time-filling storyline about a dirty old senator who Emily previously called out for making unwanted advances on female staffers. Aaron asked Emily out for dinner, she said, "OK," and KAPOW! We have a new romantic story to navigate. Hopefully it's better than Seth and Lisa's whatever-it-was. Let's just say that romance isn't Designated Survivor's strong suit.
5. Chuck is the best
New favorite character alert! Chuck (Jake Epstein), Hannah's (Maggie Q) tech friend, is out there putting his life on the line to help Hannah out because he believes in her. And also probably because Hannah is insanely hot. I relate to you, Chuck! Keep being great!
6. Hannah gets closer to the conspiracy... again
At this rate, Hannah should unlock the conspiracy sometime in 2063 from the courtyard of the old folks' home she lives in. But the revelations tonight were a big step. Still on the hunt to discredit Peter MacLeish before he's confirmed as vice president, Hannah figured out (well, Chuck did) that the 11:14 p.m. clue from last week was actually 11/14 PM, a date and MacLeish's initials. That date? The day MacLeish supposedly became a war hero in 2005. Hannah tracked down (well, Chuck did) MacLeish's squad mates to interview them, and she found out (well, Chuck found out too because she made him interview people also) that all his vet friends said the same thing and had the same story. "He's a hero," they said.
But Hannah found an old photo of MacLeish's squad and lo and behold, mystery terror suspect Catalan was in his squad! Visiting her CIA friend and their dingy diner meeting spot, Hannah learned the truth that the government covered up: MacLeish led his group to the slaughter of three villages after his team was hit with sniper fire. "He's not a war hero, he's a war criminal!" she said.
Racing to MacLeish's confirmation to reveal the truth, Hannah was speeding through D.C. traffic with her FBI lights on and drivers didn't even pull over! How rude. And when a cab cut her off and made her stop in the middle of an intersection, a truck came crashing down on the car, hitting her broadside and leaving her fate uncertain. (She'll be okay.) Looks like the conspiracy is onto Hannah and will stop at nothing to make sure she doesn't reveal the truth. It also looks like D.C. drivers are the worst.
8. President Kirkman learns a kernel of truth, finally
Congratulations, Kirkman! You are one step closer to being let in on what we all know! The whistleblower gave Kirkman a parting gift: a flash drive with all the NSA files he stole and a warning to take a look at a certain file. In that file? A blueprint simulation of bombs exploding in the Capitol building, showing how the entire place can crumble if bombs are placed in just the right spots. (I'm still uncertain why the government had this simulation, to be honest.) Tom's deduction? Someone in the government is a traitor. DUN DUN.
Designated Survivor airs Wednesday nights at 10/9c on ABC.