Last week’s Designated Survivor was jam-packed with storylines, but the latest installment focuses instead on one obstacle over the course of the episode—taking out the terrorist, Nassar. Tom’s had so many people breathing down his neck about what to do as president, and he finally gets the chance to give the people some hope and faith in his administration by either capturing or killing the terrorist leader responsible for the Capitol bombing. While “The Mission” may not have felt nearly as fast-paced as previous episodes, it opened a couple doors to mysteries and obstacles down the road.
Ever since we first met Kimble, we’ve known she’s an up-and-coming archrival for Tom. While it’s obvious her long-term motivation is to become president, it’s hard to figure out what she’s currently up to. She constantly questions Tom on his decisions, and when Tom meets with her and MacLeish to discuss attacking Nassar’s compound, she responds with polite aggression. She’s ready to turn her back and point the finger at him at a moment’s notice. The time for friendly chitchat is over. The gloves are halfway off between them and it’s only a matter of time until their knuckles are fully bare and it’s all-out political warfare.
Aaron offers the role of Speaker of the House to MacLeish on Tom’s behalf. Surprisingly, MacLeish refuses. Who on Earth turns down a career-changing role of power within the U.S. government? Apparently MacLeish. He says he never wanted that power. He would rather serve the president as best he can any other way. MacLeish is still a shady character, and as the episode later shows, he’s not fully off the hook yet for possible involvement in the bombing. MacLeish proved himself to be a man of mystery in this episode. He comes off as a well-intentioned public servant, but is he that, or is he a snake in the garden?
The Navy SEALs attack Nassar’s compound with orders to bring him back dead or alive. The SEALs’ chopper gets shot down and crash-lands, but they’re able to proceed with the mission. They succeed in capturing Nassar alive, but at the cost of their team leader, WHO sacrifices his life to save civilian children being held hostage. Tom second guesses himself as to whether he made the right call, regretting that there was any loss of American life. One of the SEALs tells Tom that none of them doubted his decision. This might be the first person outside of Tom’s family to sincerely say Tom’s decisions as president are not being viewed with skepticism.
Hannah discovers what makes room 105 so unique. Not only was the room a secret, but it was built with reinforced steel to make it a bomb shelter within the Capitol Building. All the people who constructed it have died of “natural causes.” So without a doubt, MacLeish has some sort of involvement with the terrorist organization, Al Sicar. Hannah’s boss warns her that she can’t tell this to anyone. More people, likely American people, were involved in the attack, and they are powerful enough not only to keep themselves hidden, but also to erase any evidence of their existence.
In a random turn of events toward the end of the episode, it’s revealed that Leo may be the son of an ex of Alex’s who is now in prison. Alex doesn’t say if this is so, but she doesn’t say no. Which raises the question: Is Leo aware that Tom may not be his father? Is Tom? It would be ridiculous if he isn’t, but then again, this is an ABC show—soapy drama is their thing. Designated Survivor has done a great job so far keeping the subplots entertaining, but this is potentially crossing the line. It’s only the fifth episode, though, so there’s plenty more story to be told. With any luck it could turn out to be a subplot worthy of our attention throughout the rest of the season.