There's a conspiracy brewing. And brewing. And brewing. Designated Survivor obviously won't unravel the whos and the whys of the Capitol building massacre overnight, so in order to stretch this big mystery out over as many episodes as it can, it's mixing others up in it.
FBI honcho Jason Atwood (Malik Yoba), it's your turn to be a victim of the conspiracy!
"The Traitor" was an aptly named episode that explored double-crossing, blackmailing and, of course, treason through several different storylines, continuing the show's strong use of thematic foundations to tell different tales all orbiting the same subject. And it wasn't half bad!
Let's go over what we learned about Designated Survivor from "The Traitor."
1. People are back to accepting that Tom Kirkman is president... but now they're taking advantage of it
After last week's kangaroo court hosted by grumpy governors, there was no real political unrest about Tom's (Kiefer Sutherland) bona fides as president. Instead, people eyed Tom as a noob president ripe for being duped. Why did it take them this long? I would have been in Tom's office telling him to sign this document authorizing me unlimited access to the Starburst factory before his nameplate was on the door!
The episode's standalone plot involved Coach Weston, a former Olympic track star for the United States going to Russia as part of the nation's healing process of moving on after the attack. And of course those Russkies planted 20 tabs of HGH on him to paint him as a cheater in the international arena of sports.
Well, turns out that Weston was actually a spy for the CIA, and Russia was holding him because that's what you do when spies enter your country. Worried about an international incident, Tom brokered a three-way deal to swap spies and bring Weston home, except Weston never got on the plane because — DUN DUN — he was a double spy for Russia! Yep, Tom got worked by vets of diplomacy, and unlike other Designated Survivor standalones, this didn't have a happy ending. That's important for the series to show, and gives me hope that Designated Survivor may be steering towards showing the reality of the job and the experience it requires. You can't win them all, Tom. Turns out it really helps to have experience when you become president. Ahem.
2. Emily knows a lot about basketball!
While Aaron (Adan Canto) was watching the Washington Wizards blow another game, Emily (Italia Ricci) chimed in with some surprising knowledge about the sport. And it was her idea to negotiate a three-team trade for the spies, something she learned from the NBA. While Aaron and Tom looked on in shock, she replied, "Men don't own sports." Dang. She just posterized you guys. Y'all are Shawn Bradley and she's Darrell Dawkins!
The potential scandal of Leo's (Tanner Buchanan) biological father moved forward, with a man named Jeffrey Meyers claiming to be the one who planted Leo in Alex (Natascha McElhone). But he's rotting away in jail for tax evasion, and figured that the president might rather write him a "Get Out of Jail Free" card rather than have him spill the beans to the press about his relationship to Leo.
Designated Survivor hasn't really delivered on the family drama it promised in the premiere (I can't even remember what Penny looks like because we haven't seen her in so long), but we got some sparks when Tom found out Alex knew about Jeffrey's chirping over a week ago and didn't tell him. (Her defense was the whole Majid Nassar thing, which probably isn't as good an excuse as she thinks it is.) I wish we had a better family drama plot than "you're not the father," but let's give it another week before we totally dismiss it as a rejected story from ABC's canceled soapy drama The Family.
4. What ever happened to out of control Leo?
He was practically pleasant in this episode, even telling his "dad" he loved him! Remember when he used to be a bisexual clubbing drug dealer who let his sister watch mature political news against his parents' wishes? Now he's doing homework quietly? Hmmm.
We were on an every-other-episode routine of Tom barking out Jack Bauer's famous "Dammit!" but that came to an end tonight. However, we did get two mutterings of "son of a bitch!" That's hardly a compromise, though. We demand more "Dammits," dammit!
6. We learned more about Catalan
The name given to Jason and Hannah (Maggie Q) by a distressed Nassar was just a name last week, but we learned some crucial details about him this week. He's an American! Whoa! And he posed as a guard in Nassar's prison and was almost certainly the culprit who poisoned Nassar's grub (as if prison food wasn't bad enough already). We learned some of the info from Hannah's CIA pal, but she got a whole case file on him from a mystery person who left the details in her car. Was it her contact? Was it the same person who told her about the secret room in the Capitol? Will the truth about this conspiracy materialize before 2027?
7. Jason is about to confess to Nassar's murder
Sometimes I think FBI agents on TV only have families just so their family members can be kidnapped for extortion. Jason, getting a little too close to the truth and showing a few too many of his cards to Peter MacLeish (Ashley Zukerman), got the phone call every parent dreads (well, those parents with good kids, anyway): His son never got off the bus on his way home from school.
Jason was later met by a mysterious woman who showed him a FaceTime feed of his son Luke as a threat and told him that he was going to set up a meeting with Tom and do whatever they tell him to. What will they tell him to do? Confess to killing Majid Nassar, duh. At least, that's what I think. What do YOU think?
Designated Survivor airs Wednesday nights at 10/9c on ABC.