‘Designated Survivor’ Season 1 Episode 10 Recap and Review: The Midseason Finale

Designated Survivor Episode 10 Maggie Q
Maggie Q in ‘Designated Survivor’ episode 10 (Photo by John Medland / ABC)

“Emily, I think there’s a traitor here in the White House and I need your help to find him,” says President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) to his special aid, Emily (Italia Ricci), as he begins to work toward finding the inside man involved in the attack on the Capitol in ABC’s new political thriller series, Designated Survivor.

Season one’s midseason finale begins right where it left off last week with Agent Wells (Maggie Q) still in her totaled car, slowly starting to come to as some strange man outside her car is telling her not to move and that she’s been in a bad accident. The man tries to strangle Wells but thankfully she realizes what he’s doing and hits the gas, throwing him into another car and managing to escape.

At the White House, Kirkman tells his wife (Natascha McElhone) about discovering the blueprints to the Capitol attack and that there is a traitor among them. Needless to say, she’s freaked out and wants Tom to tell someone. He points out he doesn’t know who on his staff to trust besides Secret Service Agent Mike (LaMonica Garrett).

Meanwhile, Seth (Kal Penn), Emily, and Aaron (Adan Canto) are celebrating the soon-to-be confirmation of Peter MacLeish (Ashley Zukerman) as the vice president. When Seth leaves the room, Aaron and Emily start making out.

FBI Agent Wells makes her way to Chuck’s apartment and promptly passes out. When she wakes the next day, she finds that Chuck has tended to her injuries as best he could and put her in his bed to sleep. (Who says chivalry is dead?!) Chuck wants to stop looking into the Capitol attack, pointing out that she almost died. But Wells has a mini heart-to-heart with Chuck about why they joined the Bureau and it was to help people. “They aren’t going to stop until we stop them,” says Wells, and he once again agrees to help her. He’s able to track the burner phone her mysterious caller has used to leave her clues and discovers the convenience store where it was bought. Wells heads out to try to find more clues.

Back at the White House, Kirkman talks to the computer guy who created the simulation of the attack on the Capitol. Scared of just how big the conspiracy might be, the creator of the blueprint tells the president he handed the file over to the general in charge at the time who it just so happens is the general who Kirkman fired earlier. Kirkman has the ex-general secretly brought in for questioning, and at first he denies knowing about it but then admits it was taken from him before he had a chance to read it by someone at the White House who was part of the former president’s staff. Kirkman makes a list of anyone who was part of the White House before the attack and lived, and needless to say only a few names are on the list. POTUS has Emily brought in and he confides in her what’s going on. He knows he can trust her because she was his righthand person before the attack and had nothing to do with the White House. He shows her the list and her heart sinks when she sees Aaron’s name on it.

Since Wells never arrived to give Congresswoman Kimble (Virginia Madison) her evidence about MacLeish, the vote goes ahead and MacLeish is now to be sworn in as the new vice president. Kirkman has Kimble meet with him to ask her about what she had on MacLeish, and she tells the President about Agent Wells and being a no-show. She asks if everything is okay and Kirkman tells her he’ll let her know as soon as he’s able. Kirkman asks Mike to find Agent Wells.

At the convenience store, Wells gets a license plate after going through the security video and has Chuck run it, which leads her to an old house in the woods. As she’s approaching it, she sees someone running and chases them. After a brief chase, she discovers the man is Langdon who everyone thought was dead. He tells her he doesn’t know how big the conspiracy is and she notices a gunman off in the distance point his weapon at Langdon, so she fires at the would-be killer and puts him down. A black SUV speeds off and Langdon is in the wind. Wells checks the pockets of the gunman and discovers it’s the guy who tried to strangle her. She finds a mysterious card key and with Chuck’s help discovers it’s to a room in a building with a direct line of sight to the steps of the Capitol where MacLeish is going to be sworn in as VP. Wells realizes the conspirators are going to try to assassinate the president.

While handling the press, Seth gets cornered by Lisa, the reporter who used him and is whining about not getting called on. “The president forgave me. Why can’t you?” she asks. The next day Seth calls on her and BOOM she hits him with a question about who they have in custody regarding the murder of Nassar. Seth ends the press conference and tells Aaron who tells the president who in turn tells Seth to inform Lisa that tomorrow they will give her an exclusive about who the FBI has in custody.

The FBI and Mike are comparing notes on Wells and Mike gets the picture that although she was once a good agent, she might now be a loose cannon and unstable. He shares this with Kirkman who recalls that MacLeish said she had become obsessed with him. They get word a little later that someone saw Wells shoot someone and both the FBI and the local police are looking for her.

MacLeish is starting to become unsure and uneasy with being a party to the conspiracy and confides in his wife he’s not sure he can go through with it. His wife tells him he was chosen to survive for a reason. “You’ve been given a tremendous responsibility to restore this nation to the empire it once was and can be again,” says his wife who seems more determined than her husband to make sure everything goes as planned. It’s a disturbing and chilling scene.

At the Capitol where the ceremony is taking place, a man enters the building across the way using a keycard and heads up the steps. He arrives at the window and begins to put together a sniper rifle. The president and his entourage arrive and Kirkman walks up to the microphone and begins speaking to the crowd and the reporters. Emily gets a call from the person she asked to track down who used Langdon’s phone while he was out of the country and learns it was Aaron. This confirms that it was Aaron and not Langdon who pulled the blueprint attack file from the ex-general, making sure he didn’t see it.

As the president introduces MacLeish, the sniper across the way positions himself and takes aim. MacLeish is taking the oath when Wells pulls up and starts making her way through the large crowd. Mike and a few other security people recognize Wells and begin to make their way to her. Wells looks up at the building where the assassin will be and sees an open window. The sniper has his site locked on President Kirkman just as Wells shoots at the window with her handgun. She misses the sniper but distracts him and causes him to move just a hair when he fires his shot. Screen to black.

Designated Survivor Season 1 Episode 10 Review:

Suspenseful, fast-paced, and action-packed, episode 10 titled “The Oath” brings the first half of the political thriller’s first season to a close with a surprising mid-season cliffhanger. The president’s secret manhunt for the traitor in the White House (and it does seem as though there is more than one) and Agent Wells’ race to stop POTUS from being assassinated are the definite highlights and major driving factors of this episode.

The stand-out performance this time goes to Italia Ricci as Emily who shows wonderfully her character’s shock at being told about the traitor and heartbreak as she learns her friend, colleague, and even maybe something more, Aaron, is part of the conspiracy.

Now the real question is…who was shot and will he or she survive?! Can’t believe we have to wait until March to find out.