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Designated Survivor - Line of Fire - Review

Designated Survivor “Line of Fire” was written by showrunner Keith Eisner and was directed by Chris Grismer. While the episode doesn’t end on a nail-biting cliffhanger, it does leave us with a number of questions to ponder before the show returns on February 28, 2018. Are we sure that Damian (Ben Lawson) is really the bad guy? How will Tom (Kiefer Sutherland) deal with Alex’s (Natascha McElhone) death? How they killed her off was really unexpected, but then was it just an accident or something more sinister?

Before getting into the heavier plot elements, I do like how the show is able to have a little humor too. There’s a nice bit of business between Lyor (Paulo Costanzo) and some carolers – and of course, he’s mean to kids! I also liked the walk and talk we get with Lyor and Seth (Kal Penn) as they discuss Christmas and religion. We learn that Seth was adopted – did we know that?

Once again the show seems to mimic the headlines somewhat as the major crisis involves a wildfire burning out of control only instead of it being in California it’s in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Placing the story in the traditional “Bible belt” makes sense as Tom finds himself faced with a group of religious extremists who refuse to leave the fire until their demands are met.

Aaron (Adan Canto) is there monitoring the evacuation, so he goes in to meet with Deacon David Sheridan (Kristoffer Polaha) of the Church of the Witness of the Covenant, which Lyor insists on calling a cult. They want a baby – Grace Morgan – released because the court has deemed she undergo a medical intervention that goes against the scripture of their church.

Emily (Italia Ricci) goes to the hospital to try to talk to the mother, Carey (Emma Bell). It’s always nice to see Bell pop up (Amy from The Walking Dead among her other credits), and she and Ricci play off of each other really well in this episode. In fact, this is the first episode that I’ve really liked Emily in in a while. We also get to see another side to Emily – she really knows her scripture, though she’s not actively religious herself. And of course, that’s why Tom sent her in. The baby needs a blood transfusion, but Carey is refusing. She tells Emily that she has to honor God even when it’s harder not to, and she’s trusting the baby to God’s hands. This is a nice theme that runs through the episode – the need to not just let things run their course but to take an active role in them.

Tom consults Kendra (Zoe McLellan) who tells him that they are in a legal gray area because the surgery is not a sure thing – it might or might not save the baby’s life. This also sets off an interesting debate as Lyor takes the position of the child’s right while Seth speaks for religious freedom.

Tom video chats with David, reminding him that it’s Christmas, so it would be appropriate for a child to bring them together not tear them apart. Of course, Tom’s forgetting just how many religious wars have torn people apart over the years… Both Kendra and Lyor tell Tom that they can’t go in and forcibly remove David and his followers because David isn’t crazy.

Tom is far from giving up, however, and Lyor brings Dr Rune (Jim Piddock) to Tom. Rune has an unlicensed procedure but lost his license over performing it. Tom pulls some strings and then talks to Carey. He tells her that it’s not a trick – he’s also honest in telling her that he doesn’t agree with her, but he is giving his word. The procedure avoids a blood transfusion by using artificial blood, but of course, it doesn’t go as planned, so Carey then has to decide if it’s okay to give her own blood. In all reality, I think that either procedure counts as a blood transfusion, however, one can also argue that the baby already received the mother’s blood in the womb…

There’s another really nice scene between Emily and Carey in the chapel. Rune tells them shortly after that baby Grace is going to make it. Emily calls Tom who calls David who agrees to evacuate, knowing the mother’s beliefs weren’t compromised. Tom then asks Mike (LaMonica Garrett) to bring the motorcade so that he can stop by the hospital to see baby Grace.

While all of the baby drama is going on, there are two other plots we should talk about! Alex is still fighting the subpoena and working on her defense in the apartments when we first see her. Tom tells her that Seth has moved the tree-lighting – ostensibly to help her schedule, but she somewhat bitterly, remarks, “Sunny news in case it’s a bad news day.” I was worried that the two would still be on the outs when she died – because we all knew it was coming.

Kendra goes to Forstell (Reed Diamond) with an offer. She tells him that he doesn’t need to stop investigating but she asks him to wait. Forstell assumes that she’s worried, but she tells him that they won’t oppose any discovery because the First Lady isn’t complicit in any wrong-doing. He gives her a mere two hours.

Alex wants to plead to obstruction of justice because the proceedings would be sealed and they could just walk away from the whole mess. Kendra argues that tying Alex to the bribery is a longshot. Tom is adamant, however, and insists that he believes in Alex’s innocence and that it’s worth fighting for!

We get a nice scene between Tom and Alex – which turns out to be their last together. He apologizes for the last few days and tells her that he knows that she’ll make the right choice. He tells her that he’s just so angry that they are doing this to her. He then promises to take the night off and make it up to her. Personally, I’m disappointed in what they did to the character. If she’s supposed to be a brilliant lawyer, that never came across! I do feel badly that they couldn’t come up with better plots for McElhone.

When Alex and Kendra arrive at FBI Headquarters they are hounded by the Press. The proceedings are supposed to be sealed, and Kendra is sure that Forstell leaked it to the Press. She tells Alex that that breaks the deal and they can walk away, but Alex insists on going through with it. Kendra tells Forstell that they want to unseal the proceedings – and Alex tells him that they both know what he did. He agrees to unsealing the proceedings.

Forstell is ready to start grilling Alex, and she says she won’t take the Fifth. Kendra, however, says that the First Lady wishes to read a statement first. Forstell tries to deny it, but Kendra makes him agree. Alex sums up the entire investigation and then neatly ties it to Forstell’s political ambitions. At that point he has the recording shut off. She’s won.

Finally, Hannah (Maggie Q) looks into her suspicions about Damian (Ben Lawson). She goes to Chuck (Jake Epstein) to help her find proof against him. Hannah has checked Damian’s phone and Chuck discovers it’s been cloned. Chuck suggests that Damian could have done it himself just to throw them off and admits that he’s always thought there was something “off” about Damian. Hannah thanks Chuck for looking out for her, but tells him that she can do it for herself.

Meanwhile, Detective Blakely (Dillon Casey) has brought information on Damian to Aaron. Blakely tells Aaron that Damian is bad news and not to trust him – but of course, we don’t really know Blakely either. Hannah still doesn’t think that the evidence on Damian is conclusive enough. She and Aaron view the video of Damian going into the warehouse two hours before she went in with him.

Aaron surprises Hannah by knowing that she’s been sleeping with Damian. He points out that the know Damian helped Lloyd, but they don’t know why he’s helping to frame Alex. Aaron reluctantly allows Hannah to run a sting on Damian to get definitive proof – and more answers.

Damian and Hannah meet for coffee and he gives her a trip to Maui for Christmas. She got him a watch – but of course, it’s not just a watch. Chuck has put a tracking device in it, and they catch Damian in a lie. He tells Hannah that he’s at the British Embassy when he’s actually in Arlington. Hannah takes pictures as Damian meets with a mysterious stranger.

Hannah reports to Aaron. Chuck has traced the car to the Russian embassy. Hannah insists that Damian is MI6, but Aaron is now convinced that he’s been turned. Hannah sees it as Russia taking advantage, but she takes responsibility for it being her mess and insists that she’ll clean it up. Aaron warns her that Damian is dangerous – and how stupid is it that she meets with him alone?

Hannah meets Damian in the middle of a bridge and tells him she knows everything. She pulls her gun on him. He tells her that he needs to show her something that will explain everything. She tells him that if he reaches in his pocket he’s a dead man – and of course, he does it anyway. She shoots him and he falls off the bridge into freezing water. But of course, he’s not dead and the last thing we see is him pulling himself out of the river – because why would you actually search for the body?

But, of course, the climax to the episode is Alex’s death. I loved that she called him and told him that she beat it – but stressed WE beat it – they were a team in it. She also tells him that she loves him. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m so glad they didn’t let her die still being mad at Tom.

We see the car crash, and Mike getting out of the car. Tom is at the hospital when he gets the call. I loved how this scene was shot. Sutherland is terrific as we see Tom overwhelmed with grief.

There’s no question that Alex is really dead. I am looking forward to the storylines that can branch out from this. I would love to see them bring back Alicia Coppola, but I’m sure that I saw a quick shot of Kim Raver in the scenes for the next episode. So much was made of the Raver/Sutherland pairing in 24 that I’m betting that that is where they’re heading. I’m also still firmly in the camp that Damian is going to turn out to be a good guy after all… What did you think of the episode? What are you hoping to see in the new year? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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