Previously: MacLeish was either really bad or really good at being evil.
Samantha: I take full responsibility for getting us behind on this show. Between the December blues and life, this fell to the bottom of my list. The good news is that there are no new episodes until March so we have time to play catch up! Also, the still of this episode on the ABC app is Leo looking as whiny as Conor from Angel.
Dani: That alone would have derailed my motivation.
Marines: I already watched this episode but that description makes me wish I could unwatch it.
Samantha: The previouslies remind us that Nassar was murdered by a traitor army guy, Leo might not be Tom’s, MacLeish is shady as fuck, and a sketchy lady has Atwood’s son.
The episode begins with Nassar’s body being given Janazah, the Islamic funeral prayer. A dude in American Army fatigues films it and narrates helpfully. They then load the body into a waiting helicopter.
White House. Seth gives a briefing about the elections to rebuild the House. A reporter asks about a recent flu outbreak that seems resistant to treatment. Oh man. This better not go down that route. I am seriously terrified it’s all going to end via an illness. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is both my favorite and most dangerous book. (M: Keep reading this recap, but after that, go read Station Eleven please.)
Just as Seth is wrapping up his briefing, a pesky reporter asks if Nassar is dead. The press corp breaks into lots of talking and Seth looks pissed/worried. Porried. We briefly cut to where Aaron and Emily are watching it unfold on TV. After hearing the sources, Seth confirms the news but goes on to say that this is a matter of National Security and he can’t comment further. This doesn’t stop the reporters who want to know if Nassar died due to excessive torture. Seth denies this because this President doesn’t do that.
Dani: That seemed like a huge mental leap, tbh. I mean … Nassar was the mastermind of the bombing, as far as they know. Why would the press instantly assume he was being not just tortured, but tortured to death? Are they just trying to condition us to a Trump presidency?
Samantha: Aaron and Emily burst into the Oval where Tom is shutting off the TV. He tells them that’s he’s totally chill with this development because this is what they agreed on doing if it came up. Aaron is worried because the press suspects torture and won’t accept a simple “nope” in this instance. It could compromise his integrity and put a halt to the elections… for some unknown reason? Wow does this show weirdly love to downplay its own premise. Aaron continues that Atwood will be here this afternoon.
FBI. Hannah is looking at photos and info on the dude who probably killed Nassar, the one that was undercover at the Army base, in case you forgot like I did. Another guy pops into her office with a bear claw. I know we’ve seen him before but I do not know his name. He comments on her wearing the same clothes as yesterday (rude, even if you did bring food) and asks about the photos. She blows off his questions and asks about Atwood, because he hasn’t logged in yet. Bear Claw guy says that no one knows where he is, just as he walks in. Here’s this gif for fun:
Mari: I mean, keep reading this recap, but afterward, you could watch some Veronica Mars, too.
Samantha: In Atwood’s office, Hannah asks about his son who was missing. Atwood hella forced laughs and says that he was at a friend’s house. Hannah tells him that she called him 10 times last night and Atwood suspiciously shrugs and very fake laughs some more. Hannah must pick up on some of it, I hope, and tells him she’s always here when he needs her. His phone rings and he stares at it like it’s a bomb. The signs are all there Hannah. He even tells her that he can’t answer it until she gives him some privacy. She starts to leave and he tells her to look into the totally random Weddle case. After she’s gone, he answers and tells the lady that he set up the meeting with the President. She thanks him for not telling anyone and remarks that Luke appreciates it too. Atwood demands to speak to his son but no dice. Does his wife know what’s going on? Does she just think her son has been straight missing overnight? Hannah asks Bearclaw to get her everything on the Weddle case.
White House. Kimble is complaining to the President that as half of Congress she shouldn’t have had to find out that Nassar was dead via twitter, I guess. (D: #TrumpConditioning.) (M: “People think I killed a special snowflake. FAKE NEWS. Sad!”) (S: This is so spot on, I’m traumatized.) Maybe if you weren’t such a disappointment, Kimble. Tom apologizes and urges Kimble to not let this overshadow the elections. She promises to do everything she can, leaves, and Aaron busts in with an emergency.
It turns out that flu strain in Kansas City wasn’t a flu, it’s Ricin. Which makes this bioterrorism.
Conference Room. The CDC tell Tom that there’s no discernible link between the 12 Ricin victims at this time. They don’t even know how it was transferred to the victims or a motive.
Secret Service Guy is taking Leo to school. They banter a bit before OF COURSE a slimy arrogant reporter guy pops up to yell questions about the paternity stuff at Leo. It seriously is gross to harass the minor children of any President. Don’t do it or you’re the worst. SSG threatens the reporter and Leo looks shocked in the background. But also, what did Tom and Wife think was going to happen? When he’s out in public? If not a reporter than one of his fellow students or Facebook. SSG tells Leo not to worry about every rumor. Leo’s mouth agrees but his eyes sure don’t.
The sketchy flip phone rings again and the kidnapper lady tells Atwood to go to his car. He refuses to until he hears from his son, so she puts him on. Atwood starts quizzing Luke about where they went for his birthday and what his favorite ride is. I can’t figure out why, since he already knows that he’s kidnapped. That’s stuff my dad does to make sure that I’m not kidnapped.
Dani: Seriously? I love your dad!
Samantha: I’ll let him know he’s Internet appreciated, with his code words and code questions
Mari: I thought it might be to verify his identity, but does he really think these people stole his kid and then picked another kid to impersonate his kid….? What’s happening?
Samantha: He hangs up and heads out of the building. Hannah sees him go.
Next shot is Atwood driving to an abandoned warehouse with Hannah following him, because Maggie Q will not be fooled. She gets inside just in time to see the elevator going up. She goes up to an even higher rooftop and watches the exchange between Atwood and the lady. I was so relieved she was smart enough to not just bust in on them. The lady gives Atwood some papers and tells him to do exactly what’s on them when he’s with the President. He has an hour. He gives her the “you won’t get away with this” line and then we cut to someone watching Hannah watching the meeting. (D: Was that Catalan? I can’t remember.) (M: #DesignatedAmnesia)
White House. Tom tells Alex that they think the attack was in response to them capturing Nassar. She wonders how people will feel safe enough to get out and vote. Leo suddenly walks in on them and how did he get there? Did the Secret Service bring him home in the middle of the school day without letting his parents know? Leo just straight asks if Tom is his real father. Tom and Alex are a mind boggling level of shocked that he’s asking them this. I’m really frustrated because HOW DID YOU THINK HE WOULDN’T HEAR THIS? Leo is all angry and stuff. Alex tries to start to explain but he cuts her off because explanations and conversations are for suckers. Tom gets out something about how they were getting married and he was theirs and it didn’t matter. Leo, predictably, storms out. I mean, yeah, he can be mad. But at least hear all the words first and then storm out, you know? Tom declares that he’s going to take a DNA test and his phone rings. He answers it all, “This better be an emergency” and uh, yeah, it probably is buddy. (M: Because it ALWAYS is. At least 3 every episode, bro.) The CDC has new info.
Oval. Aaron, Emily, and Seth tell Tom that all of the victims were poll workers for tomorrows election. It was on the equipment and now the election is in trouble. I’m bored.
After the commercial break Tom is trying to decide if he should cancel the elections. They only have 17 hours to figure out if all the voting equipment across the country is infected. They’re going to form a joint task force and tell the press it’s just precautionary. He holds Seth back and asks why a reporter was asking Leo about the Who’s Your Daddy story. Seth apologizes and vows to look into it.
Warehouse. As Hannah is leaving, her cellphone rings. It’s Bearclaw with information on the Weddle case. It turns out it’s a closed case about an agent who had a case against a local cartel until they kidnapped his daughter and he had to recant. Ah, I see you being clever Atwood. She runs to her car and tells Bearclaw to track Atwood’s phone. She fills him in on Nassar and what she thinks is going on and Bearclaw tells her that Atwood’s cell is currently untraceable. She tells him to hack his car navigation instead and they get a hit and see that he’s headed to the White House. Hannah screeches off.
White House. Seth grabs his beau, Lisa, and asks her why the Who’s Your Daddy story isn’t dead. She claims that she did kill it on her end but that doesn’t mean everyone did. Seth doesn’t believe her and leaves curtly.
Hannah arrives at the White House but she’s not on the list so they won’t let her in. This seems like the first good security measure I’ve seen on the show where the President stands out in the open the same night as a massive attack. Hannah calls Atwood and leaves him a message begging him to let her help. Atwood looks at the voice mail alert but doesn’t listen.
Tom and Atwood meet and head into the Oval. Tom asks for some answers and Atwood tells him that Nassar was killed with a poison that was mixed into his food. Tom wants to know who had access to his food and Atwood responds that he, Atwood, did. He confesses to poisoning the food and Tom is disbelieving. Atwood goes on that Nassar didn’t deserve to live and he did it for everyone who died in the attack. Tom looks shocked as Atwood goes on that he is unrepentant and toxicology will confirm his story. He tells Tom to press his panic button, which he does. Atwood is on his knees as the Secret Service comes in with their guns drawn. They usher Tom out of the room and arrest Atwood.
Samantha: I thought the same thing, Dani, and it was a little refreshing to be genuinely surprised.
Mari: I think it was super obvious that he was deadpanning his delivery and making sure to say certain things, but then, I don’t know how someone would commit to mass murder naturally sooooooo… never mind.
Samantha: We wonder about the important things here in Traumaland.
After the commercial break Aaron tells Tom that the test was positive for the poison Atwood said he used. He also says that there’s no way Jason could have known unless he did it. Uh-huh. That’s right. Not any other way at all, Aaron. Tom can’t believe it but Emily says that tragedy changes people. Because Tom is not as dumb as these two lightbulbs, he asks to meet with some of Jason’s friends and family. Aaron tells him the CDC needs to see him because they have a suspect.
Said suspect is Walter Lynch. They found Ricin production in his home and most of the locations where it was found are on his truck delivery routes. He also posted multiple anti-government things on social media. He was a member of the Liberty Defenders and urged other members to spread Ricin as well so they can’t declare the situation safe and contained. Ugh, don’t you guys think these people would have been Trump voters? (D: Depends. Did they target polling stations in districts where gerrymandering and Voter ID laws hadn’t yet managed to disenfranchise minority voters?) (M: Gotta cover all the bases.) They need at least 72 hours to check all the locations but the elections are tomorrow. They also get word that one of the original victims has died.
Press Room. Seth is meeting with Jared, the gross reporter who ambushed Leo. He’s all giddy about actually being in the White House instead of understanding, obviously, why he was called in. Seth tells him that if he ever does that to the President’s children again he’ll be banned for life. The guy annoyingly brushes it off as NBD and I just hate him so much. He says he will definitely kill the story because it wasn’t even his; Lisa gave him the tip. Seth seems shocked even though earlier I read his face as not believing her innocence so. Also, how did Lisa not think this would get back to Seth? Why is everyone so stupid? Jared asks to see the bowling alley, but Seth tells him to leave.
Hannah is running face imaging on the woman Atwood met with but doesn’t get any hits. The phone rings and it’s Aaron. He wants her to stop by the White House to have a discussion.
Oval. Tom is telling his staff that he wants to postpone the election. They argue with him, saying that there’s no guarantee there won’t just be an attack every time they try to host an election. Real question: is there anything stopping them from just postponing it the 72 hours it would take to clear all the locations or whatever? Tom is too scared about losing more innocent lives and is unmoved. His first press conference will be to announce the cancellation. Alex comes in and the staff leaves.
She has the results of the paternity test and tells him that Leo wants to talk to him alone. Tom tells Alex he’s afraid he’s going to lose Leo and they hug.
Tom sits with Leo and they look at the unopened envelope. Tom says that he doesn’t need a lab to tell him what he already knows, whatever it says won’t change anything for him. That’s why he never talked to him about it before. But he realizes now that he didn’t consider how it would matter to Leo and he’s sorry. He gives him the envelope and tells him it’s his choice and that he loves him. Leo leaves to do his homework on Anakin Skywalker, whiny brooder extraordinaire.
Leo leaves and Tom turns up the news, which is conveniently showing an interview with the daughter of the woman who died. The daughter talks about how important elections and voting were to her mother. Tom looks thoughtful.
Press Room. Tom arrives 45 minutes late, which feels about par for the Presidential course. Tom summarizes the Ricin storyline and then talks about the dedication to voting that the first victim, Mindy, had. Tom says that he just spoke with Mindy’s daughter and was convinced that they shouldn’t cancel the elections. He will go to the polls and hopes the country will follow his lead because they cannot live in fear.
Samantha: Oval Office. Tom briefs Kimble and Macleish on how Atwood confessed to killing Nassar. Kimble says that as soon as they have a Congress she can open up an independent investigation into it to assist the President’s. Peter looks panicked and says that the first act of the new Congress shouldn’t be this investigation because there’s totes other stuff to do. Uh. Congress can surely do more than one thing at a time, Sketchy McSkittish. Tom agrees with Kimble, thankfully.
Lisa catches up with Seth and he mads at her for breaking their deal. She worms that she technically didn’t lie. She dramatically tells him that this story represents the Presidents relationship with the truth and if she has to choose between the truth and him, the truth wins. I’m barely paraphrasing. (D: I’m barely not vomiting.) (M: Well, I made it all the way to barely vomiting.)
As Hannah walks into the White House she gets a text from an unknown number telling her to tell Aaron nothing. Aaron fills her in on Atwood’s confession and Hannah tells him there’s no way that is a thing. Aaron asks if anything unusual has happened with Atwood this week, Hannah says no because ugh.
She’s on the phone with Bearclaw, who’s name is apparently Chuck, asking him to trace the text. Blah blah blah he can’t get a location but he can get a phone number.
Residence. Leo watches the news and asks Mike why he’s letting Tom go to the polls when he’s supposed to protect him. Instead of really answering, Mike tells Leo about how his father calls him everyday to make sure that he’s safe. Leo tells him that he knows what he’s doing, trying to tell him how much Tom cares about him. Mike goes on that his dad taught him everything but he’s not his biological father. The paternity test only tells biology, not parenthood.
Tom and Alex get ready to go to the polls as the news tells us about heightened security measures. In the car, Tom tells Alex that he doesn’t know if Leo opened the results. Tom worries about what this Presidency will do to their family and Alex realizes that they can’t keep secrets while he’s the President.
At the polls Tom waves to the crowd and heads inside, where it’s basically empty. Nobody came out. Everyone is bummed.
Residence. Tom is feeling guilty that he couldn’t get the people to vote while Alex tries to comfort him. “A House that represents 10% of the country is no government at all,” Tom says and I feel like crying. Leo comes in and gives the envelope back to Tom, unopened. He doesn’t need to open it to know that Tom is his dad and they hug. Aw man, I had 2 Maury gifs all ready. (D: I love you.) Aaron comes in to get Tom.
Alone in the hallway Tom opens the envelope but we don’t get to see what it says.
On the news, it’s being reported that lots of people ended up voting because they saw the President voting. Everyone smiles at each other. Aaron tells Tom nothing has come out to dispel Atwood’s confession. Tom asks Seth to do something for him.
Tom meets with Lisa and tells her that he knows she’s been asking questions about the paternity. He hands her the DNA test and it shows that he *is* the father. Alright!
He tells her that it’s not much of a story anymore. She thanks him and he basically tells her it’s cool that she’s keeping them honest. Tom leaves and Seth tells her that they will only be working together from now on.
Dani: Ugh, I know Tom’s a good guy, but FFS. I really wanted to see him destroy Lisa here. Or at least give her a recommendation for a new acting coach.
Mari: SAME. At least guilt her for going after a child a little, damn.
Samantha: Thirded. It was deeply unsatisfying.
Hannah’s at the park talking to the person who told her to look into Room 105. They demand to know how she got this number and then tell her that they will never meet her in person. They repeat 11:14 p.m. a few times and tell her to look into it.
Peter shows up at Kimble’s office and I am hella nervous that he’s going to kill her? IDK? He tells her that if she goes forward with the investigation it will be without his support. She tells him that Tom won’t last and realizes that might be what Peter is counting on, assuming he gets the VP position. He vaguely denies and she tells him that she will take both of them down. DAMMIT KIMBLE.
Peter is walking outside when the woman who kidnapped Atwood’s son pops up and tells him that he’s late. She tells him to stay on top of any fallout and further investigation into Nassar’s murder. She tells him that he’s a heartbeat away, and he wonders how many more people have to be destroyed. She tells him just one. Thunder ominously booms in the background. HOLY HELL then crazy obnoxious dramatic thriller music plays over a closeup of the White House what on earth just happened. Who made that crazy ridiculous decision?
So. Is Atwood’s son okay…?
Mari: I don’t know but I just wanted to add that I’m mostly bored because everyone is so predictable. Lisa looked like a liar and she is one. Kimble looked shady and she is. Peter looked skittish and he’s awful. They are telegraphing so hard and seriously. IS Atwood’s son okay?
Samantha: Tune in next time to see if they remember this plot point!