Sven Frenzel / ABC

The Designated Survivor Hopes For A Vote Of Confidence

Bioterrorism threatens the election, kidnappers threaten FBI boss Jason Atwood, and questions about Leo's paternity would threaten Kirkman's relationship with his son, if he had one.

It's almost the first Election Day after the disaster at the Capitol, which is a refreshing reversal of events. Only one problem: some a-hole has gone and dusted a bunch of voting machines with ricin, as if low voter turnout weren't already a problem. Now, with less than 24 hours to go, President Kirkman has to decide whether to cancel the elections in the interest of public safety, or go ahead with them in the interest of democracy. This might be a more gripping dilemma if there were any kind of sign of anybody actually running for anything.

But FBI Agent Hannah Wells's boss, Jason Atwood, has more immediate problems. You may recall that his son had been kidnapped by persons involved in the Capitol bombing conspiracy, placing Atwood entirely at their mercy. It doesn't work out so well for him.

And in other non-news, here are the results of the DNA test to determine whether Tom is Leo's biological father. How do you make an uninteresting subplot more interesting? You stretch it out for as long as possible. Or at least that's the theory, apparently. In practice, it doesn't quite work out that way.

All things considered, it's a fairly easy day in the Kirkman White House with only three major crises occurring simultaneously. Time to see how everyone dealt with them, ranked in order from least to most effectively, in line-of-succession format.

  1. Secretary of Homeland Security
    Hey, Mike, nice job letting that reporter ambush Leo with that question about his paternity! I know you're in the farm league for now on account of having recently got shot, but you're going to stay there if you don't get back on your game. Nice speech to Leo later on about biology and fatherhood being two different things, but it was too little, too late.
  2. First Family
    While Alex's contributions to the situation mostly consist of fretting along with Tom, Leo finally comes around and decides that Tom's his dad regardless of what the genes say. Lucky, lucky Tom.
  3. White House Staff
    Seth must have figured he was pretty smooth, getting that reporter from the Chronicle to drop the presidential paternity story. Turns out she just passed it to a colleague at her paper, leading to a falling out between her and Seth that was a lot more interesting when it happened to C.J. and Danny. Meanwhile, Aaron and Emily are mostly stuck in their primary roles as the devil and angel on Kirkman's shoulders, like in a Tom & Jerry cartoon but with less nuance.
  4. President of the United States
    Nice move, getting the country to head out and vote by setting an example. Good thing actions speak louder than words, because the allegedly inspiring presidential address he delivered the night before was less Martin Sheen than Martin Matte Finish. Loosen up when you're behind the podium, Kiefer. That's supposed to be the fun part.
  5. Speaker of the House
    Kimble Hookstraten hasn't made much of a secret about her maneuvering against Kirkman, but now she's opening up a second front -- against Peter McLeish, the shady-ass sole survivor of the Capitol bombing who is now the entire shortlist for Vice President. I'd say I don't like Pete's chances, but it's not like Hookstraten has managed to do much damage to Kirkman up until now.
  6. Vice President
    It doesn't look like McLeish is much more of a willing participant in all this than Jason Atwood is. I mean, he's a little more willing, because the plan is presumably for Atwood to go to Gitmo and McLeish to go to the Oval Office. Which might explain why McLeish is playing his part a bit more convincingly. Too bad Hookstraten is onto him now. Or is it good? Does anyone care?
  7. Attorney General
    With Atwood's son in their clutches, the conspirators force Wells's boss to walk into the Oval Office and falsely confess to Kirkman that he, Atwood, was the one who killed Majid Nassar in jail. Tom doesn't entirely buy it, but he's got no choice other than to let Atwood surrender and allow an investigation to commence. Meanwhile, Wells has got no choice but to follow Atwood around after he shuts her out, picking hard at any loose thread she can find. She does get her anonymous tipster back on the phone, but the demi-clue she gets this time -- "11:14 PM" -- seems even more infuriatingly useless than the last one. My interpretation is that it's the time on any given Wednesday at which every viewer forgets everything that happened on that night's episode of Designated Survivor.
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