“We cannot live in fear. We will not live in fear. Thank you, and God bless America,” says President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) as he addresses the nation about voting after an act of terrorism has taken place at a polling station in ABC’s political thriller series, Designated Survivor.
As season one episode eight begins, Press Secretary Seth Wright (Kal Penn) is addressing the press and focusing on people getting out and voting during the upcoming election when he’s asked about a super flu in the Midwest. He replies that the CDC is handling it and then gets asked a question about whether the terrorist Nassar is dead. He confirms he is and that leads to a flood of questions from the press.
Kirkman meets with Senator Hookstraten (Virginia Madsen) who’s upset she has to hear about the death of the terrorist on the news instead of from the president. He apologizes and tells her he’ll keep her in the loop from now on and that the most important thing to do now is to move forward with the elections to create the new congress. She agrees to do what she can to make it happen, and the president is called away to yet another problem.
It turns out the flu in the Midwest is actually a bio-chemical terrorist attack at one of the polling stations. It’s clear whoever is behind this is targeting the election. Kirkman considers postponing the election but after talking to his staff, he decides to have Homeland Security and the FBI inspect the polling places instead.
Secret Service Agent Mike Ritter (LaMonica Garrett) is escorting Leo Kirkman (Tanner Buchanan) to school when a reporter approaches and asks Leo what he thinks about the rumor that Tom Kirkman isn’t really his dad. Mike chases off the headline-chasing media hound and tells Leo not to pay any attention to it. But Leo can’t shake it and decides to cut school to talk to his parents about what happened.
Leo confronts his parents and asks why the reporter asked him about his father. Both Tom and Alex (Natascha McElhone) fumble for answers, finally telling Leo the truth that Alex had broken up with her old boyfriend but there was an overlap. Tom never took the test to find out because as far as he was concerned, Leo is his son. Both shocked and upset (Leo has his dad up on a pedestal), Leo goes to his room to process what he’s just learned.
Kirkman finds Seth and asks why this story is still around after he promised him he’d kill it. Seth offers to find out what happened and confronts the young and attractive reporter, Lisa Jordan (Melanie Scrofano), who tells him her editor has a bone to pick with Kirkman and thinks it’s a good story.
Seth invites the reporter who approached Leo to the White House and tells him if he ever pulls anything like that again, he will be blacklisted. The reporter tells Seth that Lisa put him onto the story saying she couldn’t use it but still thought it was a story worth chasing. That means Seth’s crush basically played him.
Meanwhile, Agent Wells (Maggie Q) is looking for her boss and having no luck finding him when he finally shows up for work and heads right to his office. She follows him in and asks about his missing son and he lies, telling her he was at a friend’s house and everything is okay. His phone rings and he asks her to let him take it. After she’s out of the office, Jason Atwood (Malik Yoba) answers and the mysterious woman tells him to go to his car. He demands to talk to his son and finally she allows the boy to tell his dad he wants to go home. Atwood then follows directions, drives to the warehouse, and meets the kidnapper up on the roof.
The mystery woman hands Atwood a small piece of paper and demands he do exactly what it says. He tells her he can’t, but she reminds him that if he doesn’t his son will never go home. Unbeknownst to her boss or the kidnapper, Agent Wells followed Atwood and is taking pictures of the meeting from a rooftop across the way. As Wells watches Atwood and the mystery woman, she doesn’t notice that she’s being watched.
Wells follows Atwood as visits the president, but since she’s not on the list she can’t get in. Atwood walks into the Oval Office with the president who’s hoping that the Deputy Director has a real update for him this time and he claims he does. Atwood confesses to the murder of Nassar, giving the necessary details about the murder and saying that after he questioned him he knew he wasn’t going to get anything out of him so he killed him because someone that evil didn’t deserve to live. Kirkman is having a very hard time believing his confession, but Atwood won’t take it back and tells the president to press the button for the Secret Service. He does, and they arrive and take Atwood away. Kirkman isn’t convinced and tells Aaron (Adan Canto) to question Atwood’s co-workers and see if they noticed anything off about his behavior.
Tom and Alex sit down with Leo and Tom again tries to explain that the reason they never told him about the possibility that Tom might not be his father was because Tom believes he is. As far as Tom’s concerned, nothing will change that. Tom hands Leo the results of the blood test but it’s sealed. Tom tells Leo if he wants to know, it’s up to him. Tom adds, again, that as far as he’s concerned Leo is his son.
Word comes down that one of the volunteers at the poll attacked with toxin has died. To make matters even worse, they caught a suspect but they can’t determine if he acted alone. With the short amount of time before the election, they can’t guarantee all the polling stations are safe. Kirkman plans on canceling the election for the safety’s sake until he sees the daughter of the woman who died talking about her mom and how she believed it to be a true honor to volunteer at the polls to make sure every citizen has a voice. Tom decides to call her, and 45 minutes later he addresses the press and the nation confirming the election will go forward. President Kirkman reminds them they cannot live in fear.
On election day, the president heads to the polls and, unfortunately, it’s empty except for him, his wife, his security detail, and a few reporters. However, a few hours later he sees on the news that voters are coming out in droves because they saw the president voting and figured it had to be safe.
Meanwhile back at home, Leo reveals he couldn’t sleep all night and he doesn’t want the results in his room anymore. He hands them back to his mom and dad, and the test is still sealed. Leo then hugs Tom and says, “I know you’re my dad,” and returns to his room to study. When Tom has a minute alone, he looks at the test and smiles a little. Kirkman then finds Lisa the reporter and shows her the results. They prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Leo is his son and since she’s so interested in the truth, she should know. After he leaves, Seth – who set up the meeting for the president – calls Lisa out for using him and tells her from now on they’re strictly professional.
Wells meets with Aaron and is shocked to find out what her former boss confessed to. After getting over the initial shock, Wells doesn’t reveal anything that she and Atwood had discovered about Nassar and the Capital attack. Wells does this because just before going into the meeting, she received a text advising her to say nothing. Later, she has a friend trace the number and calls it to find it’s the mystery female who gave her a clue about the room. She tells the woman she wants to meet, but the woman says they’ll never have a face-to-face. She also tells Agent Wells to look into 11:14pm.
As the episode ends, MacLeish (Ashley Zukerman) meets with Kimball and informs her he won’t back a private investigation into what happened to Nassar. Kimball tells him he’s backing the wrong horse and if he has plans of trying to sit in the president’s chair after becoming VP, she’ll take him down along with Kirkman. As MacLeish leaves he’s approached by the mystery woman who was blackmailing Atwood. He asks her how many more people have to pay before this is over and she answers, “Just one.”
Designated Survivor Episode 8 Review:
Dramatic and suspenseful, episode eight titled “The Results” sees the beginning of the country’s government being put back together and the possible end of Atwood as he’s locked up for a crime he didn’t commit. It also moved forward the conspiracy to get MacLeish into the White House as the Commander in Chief. The writing was strong as was the episode’s pacing, balancing both the suspense of Atwood’s situation and the domestic issue for the Kirkman family. Both storylines wound up with unexpected results as Atwood confessed to killing Nassar, which no one saw coming, and the question of Tom being Leo’s biological father finally answered. Thankfully, the answer put an end for good to that soap opera-ish storyline.
With Agent Wells on her own against the conspiracy and MacLeish getting closer to being the VP, here’s hoping that Wells finally brings Kirkman into what’s really going on before it’s too late.