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Designated Survivor Is About to Meet a "Shattering and Unexpected" Development

Something big is coming

Tim Surette

Last season, ABC's Designated Survivor met its winter break with an assassination attempt on President Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland). What will happen in this season's fall finale? According to showrunner Keith Eisner, you can expect Wednesday's episode to be capped with a "shattering and unexpected" development that will change things forever. Well that sounds ominous!

But before we get to that, we have to deal with what's next for Hannah (Maggie Q) and Damian (Ben Lawson) now that she knows he's up to no good and has been playing her for an unknown agenda. Is he a double agent? Is he an agent at all? And how bad can he be if he worked with the FBI to take down the country's most wanted?

To get you prepared for the big episode (Wednesday, 10/9c on ABC), we got Eisner on the horn to drop some hints about what to expect.

Kiefer Sutherland, Designated Survivor

Kiefer Sutherland, Designated Survivor

ABC/John Medland

I never trusted Damian! How will Hannah play this out given she has feelings for him?
Keith Eisner: One of the things that interests us dramatically is the fact that you have a guarded person who's been burned in the past who has now been compromised by someone she's had a relationship with -- perhaps an ill-advised relationship with. And now those chickens come home to roost. She's torn a bit, which is to say, she has a professional duty to investigate Damian, who has become a suspect. On the other hand, that conflicts with her personal connection. So that puts her in a very difficult position for an agent to be in, and also creates some conflict with Aaron (Adan Canto), who is essentially her supervisor. So she's compromised -- that fuels her desire to get to the bottom of whatever Damian is up to. But the tension of being compromised and having to be professional about it is very interesting.

Are they going to square off in the next episode?
Eisner: There will be a terrific confrontation between Damian and Hannah, and really that's a long time in the making. As we revealed in the previous episode, Damian is highly suspect and may have done things that only were able to be done because he had gotten close to Hannah, at least that's Hannah's suspicion. So this will lead to a pretty shattering confrontation between the two of them, an unexpected one I would say as well. I don't think the audience will be able to predict the tenor of that confrontation.

There's been a faceless villain who has been pulling strings behind the scenes this season. Is it a good bet that Damian is working with them?
Eisner: What I'll say about that is -- I don't want to reveal if he is or he isn't -- but I will say that he occupies a very interesting place, which is to say it's very hard to get to the bottom of what Damian's agenda is because he's certainly done things that put him in the good guys' camp. He helped Hannah track down Patrick Lloyd, and that is something that has been established. The question is: What else is he doing that potentially works against the president's interest, Hannah's interest, the White House's interest and America's interest? So he's a complicated character with a fairly complicated agenda, but one that we're going to take a little bit of time with before revealing.

Tom and Alex got into a big argument about how she should handle Forstell and his investigation against her and her mother. How does that progress in the fall finale?
Eisner: We bring Alex's (Natascha McElhone) brewing legal problems to a head in this episode, where she actually decides to go before Forstell (Reed Diamond) and answers questions. The conflict [between Tom and Alex] has two dimensions, there's the personal dimension, which is how does what happened affect the marriage, and we see a little bit of that in the episode. But there's also a difference of opinion in how to handle this -- the subpoena and Forstell's machinations -- so we're going to see conflict on that level as well, and it's going to reach a climax in Alex's decision to actually appear before Forstell and answer questions. How she resolves that legal question and how she resolves that conflict with her husband, if she in fact resolves it, I think will be very interesting to the audience.

It's a fall finale, so does anything big happen in the episode?
Eisner: The nature of our West Wing family will change after this episode, or the structure of it. There's a shattering and unexpected development that people won't see coming, and it will affect the lives of the people in the White House, and beyond that, I don't know how specific I want to get. [laughs]

The fall finale of Designated Survivor airs Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 10/9c on ABC.