“The White House is covering up the truth,” says a mysterious voice over the phone to reporter Abe Leonard (Rob Morrow). “The truth about what?” asks Abe. “The Capitol bombing,” replies the voice in season one episode 18 of ABC’s political thriller, Designated Survivor.
As the episode begins, Agents Hannah Wells (Maggie Q) and Jason Atwood (Malik Yoba) are still spying on a very much alive Lozano and his followers when they’re spotted and have to make a run for it. They’re shot at as they race through the woods, but manage to get away. Unfortunately, as Wells drives away she realizes Atwood has been shot in the arm. Wells reports in to John Forstell (Reed Diamond) and Mike Ritter (LaMonica Garrett) about what she and Atwood have uncovered, and she decides to check out the body they have tagged as Lozano in the morgue.
Meanwhile, Abe is still trying to uncover the truth about what really happened to the man who tried to kill the President. He calls in a favor and gets the license plate of a car used by someone in the White House. However, he can’t seem to get anyone to run it down for him because anyone could use it who works at the White House.
President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) enjoys signing the gun bill he got passed into law, along with the help of Senator Hookstraten (Virginia Madsen). Later as they are enjoying their victory, Kirkman tells Hookstraten he wants his daughter to witness the first-ever female Vice President being selected. Despite their rocky and at times distrustful start, Kirkman offers Hookstraten the VP position after she passes the vetting process. She agrees.
Things seem to be going almost too smoothly for the new administration so it’s not that surprising when a story breaks on the website Politico about Hookstraten. They report she took a paid trip to Turkey and then voted in an aid package. The article suggests she accepted favors to help pass the package. With this story breaking, Emily (Italia Ricci) wants Kirkman to back off announcing Hookstraten as his pick for Vice President.
Aaron (Adan Canto) visits Senator Bowman and accuses him or someone on his staff of leaking the story to Politico as revenge for her helping get the gun bill passed. Bowman warns Aaron to be careful what he says and reminds him that he’s no longer the White House Chief of Staff.
Ritter finds the President before meetings and photo ops and tells him about Agent Wells’ findings and that it looks like Lozano is still alive. He also suggests they increase security to be sure of safety and that he needs to keep this information close to his chest.
In the Oval Office, President Kirkman meets with Hookstraten to talk about the Turkey scandal and she explains that it was a while ago and all very innocent. He chooses to believe her and they both agree the leak must have come from Senator Bowman who not only wants revenge but also wants to force Hookstraten out because she’s his competition in the Republican party. Emily interrupts their talk to inform them the House Ethics Committee is opening an investigation into the situation.
Wells does her own investigation at the morgue and discovers it’s another man’s body tagged as Lozano, and someone made sure it had Lozano’s fingerprints. Wells talks to Jay Whitaker (Richard Waugh), the Homeland Security Adviser, and requests a copy of the surveillance video showing when authorities moved in and killed Lozano. After studying it, Wells discovers Lozano sent out a decoy to fake his own death. The man was named Desmond Legarth and he was a former Army veteran and a Browning Reed employee who had ties to the CEO of the company, Patrick Lloyd.
Abe approaches Atwood, who’s still recovering from getting shot, while at a diner and tries to get him to talk about the death of the terrorist and why he was fired as an agent. Atwood tells him he resigned and starts to leave. Abe brings up his son’s death and Atwood warns Abe to never mention his son again. He leaves the diner with Abe following him (seriously, this reporter can not take a hint) and Abe brings up his son again which leads to Atwood punching Abe, reminding him he was warned. As he drives off, Abe throws out a question, asking if Atwood is a good guy or a bad guy.
Later that day, Atwood meets up with Wells and she tells him to rest and heal. He doesn’t want her going it alone, but she believes she’s better off going solo for now. She assures him when she needs back-up, she’ll reach out to him.
Hookstraten figures out who it was on Senator Bowman’s staff that leaked the story. She calls Liam into her office and tells him it wasn’t hard to figure out it was him since she gave him the choice of resigning or being fired after she discovered some illegal activity he’d been involved with. Liam taunts her, saying she’ll have to resign. She reminds him she still has all the evidence of his activities 12 years earlier and she sent a copy to his boss, Senator Bowman. Hookstraten smiles at a shocked Liam and tells him he can go now.
Forstell and Wells question Patrick Lloyd at his place, which is a fairly large ranch. He handles their questions like a pro, telling them he doesn’t remember Legarth who they inform him is a person of interest in an ongoing investigation. Lloyd says he had many people working for him when Browning Reed was up and running. They bring up the missile silo and he says it was all contracted years ago and threatens they’ll be hearing from his attorney about unlawful trespassing. As they finish the interrogation, Wells notices Lloyd quotes a line from the Pax Americana book she stole from one of Lozano’s followers in North Dakota. She shows Forstell the passage when they’re back in the car.
Later that night, Forstell is concerned for Wells and their investigation and tells her to get some rest. He says proving Lloyd is part of or running the terrorist group will be harder than catching Vice President MacLeish because Lloyd is rich, powerful, and politically well connected. After he leaves, Wells calls Atwood and asks him to do something for her.
Meanwhile, Abe meets with his secret source who tells him the White House is covering up the truth about the attacks on the country. Abe’s “Deep Throat” gives him another clue and leaves, telling him not to try to follow him. As the mysterious man walks into a building, it’s revealed Abe’s inside contact is Jay Whitaker – the Homeland Security Adviser.
The last scene is Wells returning to her motel and just as she’s about to go inside, she realizes someone is already in the room. She quickly makes a run for her car but is taken from behind, drugged, and thrown into a van driven by Lozano.
Designated Survivor Episode 18 Review:
Full of cloak and dagger moments and some tough backstabbing politics, episode 18 titled “Lazarus” introduced a new player who might be the boss of the terrorist group who attacked the Capitol. It also threw a wrench into Kirkman’s plans for a new Vice President and revealed the identity of the White House traitor which, to be honest, was a bit of a letdown. Instead of a major player, the leak is a character who has only been in three episodes.
The episode focused mainly on the FBI hunt for answers to who’s behind the terrorist group looking to strike again. And for once that was actually the strongest part of the episode, with the power-playing and the dirty politics being mostly a snore.
With Wells now in the hands of Lozano, can Forstell, Atwood, and President Kirkman rescue her before she goes missing permanently?