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Designated Survivor - Bombshell - Review

Designated Survivor “Bombshell” was written by San Kyu Kim and was directed by Sharat Raju, whose other credits include Scandal, Criminal Minds, and Law & Order: SVU. As expected, the secret that Al-Sakar wasn’t behind the bombing if finally starting to leak. It’s hard to believe that there’s only on episode left in the first season – and we can breathe a sigh of relief knowing we will get more of the show in season two! But I wonder how that will affect the final episode? It was likely written and filmed long before renewal decisions, so will they wind this plot up? And if they do, what’s on the table for next season? Will there be a cliffhanger?

Hannah (Maggie Q) sees that there are guns and or explosives being loaded onto the ship and she manages to get a Mayday through to Lucy Fernandez (Romina D’Ugo) of the Coast Guard before Lozano (George Tchortov) takes her prisoner again.

Meanwhile, at the White House, Mike (LaMonica Garrett) insists on bringing Chuck (Jake Epstein) into the circle to help find the mole. Forstell (Reed Diamond) thinks he’s an air cadet – which really doesn’t speak well for Forstell’s judgment. Mike is hoping that Chuck can retrieve the deleted Browning-Reed files, but he can’t. I rather liked that it was a bit more realistic than this always being a magic bullet.

Chuck does plant a trace on the remaining 5 files, but Whitaker (Richard Waugh) outsmarts them again by cloning his digital fingerprint. Let’s hope they can at least narrow it down based on who Mike saw in the hallway just before the clone took off…

Also at the White House – or White House-adjacent as it’s at a bar – Emily (Italia Ricci) sees Aaron (Adan Canto) with a woman. Is it just me or did she seem jealous? She needn’t be as Aaron is having a drink with Nadia (Mercedes de la Zerda), but it’s clear when he introduces her that Emily didn’t know who she was – at least not on sight. The entire scene is really just there to reassure us that Aaron will be back next season as he’s not going off with Hookstraten (Virginia Madsen) when she becomes Secretary of Education. It would also seem to confirm that Madsen won’t be back for season two. It’s too bad as I quite enjoyed her and it’s always hard on a show to lose that caliber of actor.

Seth (Kal Penn) doesn’t enjoy his first flight on Air Force One very much, and in fact, has a pretty difficult NATO Summit all around. I loved some of the great shots of Toronto. The problem with knowing the city so well, of course, is that when they loop the background in the car ride, I really noticed! If you are curious about where they were staying, it’s the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, and it’s right downtown across from Union Station – and the background in the car isn’t the route they would have taken from the airport… But it IS a beautiful Hotel!

Moss (Geoff Pierson) briefs Tom in the car about the other leaders he will need to win over to his side to support the arms reduction initiative. The French PM (Jocelyne Zucco) can be “prickley” and will have to publicly criticize even while she supports the initiative. The German Chancellor will be an ally. The British PM (Sonia Dhillon Tully) is the first Indian woman PM of the country and is fiercely independent and will also need to be convinced.

The initial meeting goes well, and Tom tells the other leaders that it’s a proposed weapons reduction, not a change in policy. He tells them it will lead to a more stable and secure planet. He also mirrors the real world – and I love that the writers continue to be brave in this way – when he says that despite the disruption to world order, it’s not the time to retreat into isolation or populism. Truer words were never spoken! Poland (George Kelebay) is concerned because they rely on the US nuclear umbrella for safety. Tom reassures them with a guarantee of his word as President.

Everything seems to be going well – the initiative is third on the summit agenda – when Leonard’s (Rob Morrow) story breaks that Al-Sakar was not behind the bombings. Moss and Seth both want Tom to come out and strongly denounce the story, but of course he can’t. He tells Seth to tell the press that they stand behind their military and FBI. Seth insists that it’s not strong enough, and as a result, has a terrible time in the press conference.

Meanwhile, Tom confesses to Moss that it’s true. Moss is pissed that Tom didn’t tell him, but Tom insists that it’s his responsibility to protect on-going investigations and confidential information. Hmmmm. That doesn’t sound like the real world just now does it? Yet even Moss has to agree that that is true. Moss also agrees that he can’t deny the story because lying would be perjury. No suggestion of using “alternative facts” here!

Lloyd (Terry Serpico) is watching Leonard on tv and sees him name Lozano. Lloyd immediately calls Whitaker. Lloyd is pleased that it’s working and the press is focusing on the FBI. Whitaker can’t explain how Leonard knows about Lozano, but Lloyd ominously declares that Leonard has served his purpose. I have to say that I won’t miss Morrow’s dreadful acting if he’s killed off in the finale. The one thing that might save him is that both his lawyer and his editor want him to talk to the FBI – or it might make Whitaker kill him faster…

Tom addresses NATO and stonewalls them with the fact that it’s an on-going investigation so he can’t comment. He asks them not to let his national issues stop global initiatives from going ahead. In the end, the arms reduction initiative is tabled. Tom tries one last time to appeal to the French PM, by asking her in a private meeting what kind of world she wants to leave for her children, but it’s not enough. He can’t win her over.

There’s a terrific scene between Seth and Tom. Tom thanks Seth for dealing with the press – what Seth refers to as “dying on the world stage.” Seth reiterates his faith in Tom and tells him that he knows when Tom makes a decision it’s for the right reasons.

There’s also another nice conversation between Tom and Alex (Natascha McElhone). She calls to see how he is. She’s figured out what’s going on and why he shut her out, and even why he doesn’t want the kids at the White House. She also understands why he has to continue to shut her out. She asks him how she can help him, and he asks her not to lose faith in him.

On the plane ride home, Seth is exhausted and sleeps through his chance to enjoy the ride – I loved Tom covering him with the blanket with the giant logo! Moss and Tom take a moment to talk, and Tom thanks Moss for standing by him. This scene really was just a bit over the top for me. Moss tells Tom that he sees something special in him – that might approach greatness… and *gag* - too much writers, too much. Moss does finish by saying that while Tom salvaged some credibility with NATO, they’re facing a firestorm when they land.

Meanwhile, Fernandez has finally figured out who Hannah is and has contacted Forstell. She gives him the location of the ship – it’s at the port of Baltimore. We get cuts between Hannah waking up and Forstell searching the ship – but did anyone really believe she was on the ship? In the end, she is in the back of a van, filled with explosives, in an underground parking lot. It’s the FBI building and they’re there when she opens the door, demanding she gets down on her knees, but she’s already triggered a 3 minute countdown on the gigantic bomb in the van…

This seemed like a bit of a filler episode as we ramp up to what will no doubt be a nail-biting finale. I’m still curious as to how much of this storyline will actually be wrapped up. What would you like to see happen in the finale and next season? What did you think of this episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!