Designated Survivor S01 E12 – Tighten your circle.

Previously: Tom was in the hospital and Hannah was ready to tell the truth.

The End of the Beginning

Samantha: The previouslies remind us that Tom was shot, MacLeish was President for a bit and made some sketchy decisions, and oh yeah, ATWOOD’S SON IS I GUESS STILL KIDNAPPED? Can I tangent about this for a bit? Why has no one reported this child missing? Why has no one else noticed that this child is missing and put two and two together? What the hell?

The episode picks up with Hannah FUCKING FINALLY telling Tom all the stuff she knows about Peter MacLeish. Tom has no problems believing this, which is relieving because I was worried we were going to spend the episode with Tom being all “I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THIS.” (M: I’m not often thankful to this show, but I’m feeling gratitude right now.) She fills him in on how she was attacked and it’s a nice refresher for me too. Tom is impressed that Hannah wasn’t fooled by Peter’s act. Yay Hannah.

White House. Seth walks up to Peter and says, “Mr. Vice President” and the urge to sing Hamilton lyrics rears up within me. (M: I get to see it in Chicago in FOUR DAYS! #gloat) (D: #jealous) Seth tells Peter that the President should be back in the White House by the end of the week and then wonders why Peter has a press conference scheduled. He blows off Seth’s request to take a look at the remarks and Seth gets Suspicious Face. At least, I hope.

Tom ad Hannah are still going over the details of the conspiracy, namely that the previous President’s Chief of Staff is still alive. Alex walks in and it gets awkward as Hannah refuses to talk about anything in front of her. Do It All and Also Be Suspicious Body Guard Mike backs Hannah’s call. He tells Tom to tighten his circle. I feel like I’m going to tell people to tighten their circle more often.

Marines: I love it. It also doubles as an Excuse For Any Occasion.

Dani: Yeah, I can just imagine the reaction I’ll get the next time I tell a guy I need to “tighten my circle.”

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Samantha: It has so many excellent uses!

Hannah requests reaching out to someone she trusts and they agree. I’m not sure why the person outside of code word clearance that she trusts is okay, but not the outside person Tom trusts. (D: I have a feeling it’s for reasons of utmost contrivance.) Tom wants to get MacLeish and 5 months ago I would have wondered why they can’t just fire him for obviously being so corrupt but sadly, I know better now. (D: *sobs*)

Jacket Flip.

The team at the White House wonder about the VP press conference and Emily makes dodgy eyes at Aaron.

Hannah goes to the person she trusts and HEY IT’S THE GUY FROM THE THINGS. I know him best as Dominic from Dollhouse but he’s Reed Diamond from lots of stuff. Hannah thinks that the President needs legal counsel that’s “beyond reproach.” He joins Team Get Petey.

Peter’s Press Conference. Tom and Alex are watching before Tom turns it off and says that he needs to go back to the White House. Alex tells Tom that Aaron made the call to the Pentagon and I only sorta remember this. They can’t trust anyone which means they can’t go talk to him about it.

Hannah is showing Dominic Diamond her evidence and he apologizes for doubting her. Uh. Wait. Has he been in an episode before this? Did I just embarrass myself?

Dani: Pretty sure this is Forstell, who was like FBI Internal Affairs and investigated Atwood and later Hannah when she went rogue. It’s not like he’s been in a ton of episodes, though.

Mari: If it makes you feel better, I’m pretty sure every time he’s been on my screen prior to this point I was CONVINCED he was evil. This is very confusing to me because I was sure we were all, including Hannah, on the same Dominic from Dollhouse can’t be trusted train. 

Dani: I’ve never watched Dollhouse, but I agree this guy gives off a very untrustworthy vibe.

Samantha: Ah, well.

He tells her that it will be hard to convict Peter, so they need even more evidence and realize Atwood might know something.

Prison. Hannah visits Atwood and somehow gets them to turn off cameras so its just them. Then Jason asks about how Luke, his son, is doing and she tells him that he’s still missing. Man, this is already the second time this episode I’ve completely forgotten plot details. But also it’s really weird that they never talked about this after the episode where Jason gets arrested, yeah? Or am I just a jumbled mess with this show? (M: As far from an authority, I really shouldn’t answer this.) (D: I think the writing is a jumbled mess, not you.) Jason can’t believe Luke is still missing and Hannah tries to get him to talk. This son storyline is so weird and isolated to me.

Hospital. Emily fills Tom in on Aaron and tells her that he will handle it.


Hookstraten meets with Aaron and tells him that she needs to see the President. Aaron is annoying and then agrees to try and schedule her. IDK even if he isn’t a baddie he bothers me.

Mari: I feel like “not sure if baddie or bothersome” describes 97% of the characters on this show.

Dani: A+. Also, he has bad-guy hair. 

Samantha: Dominic Diamond tells Hannah to stop letting her feelings get in the way and won’t let her personally look for Luke.

Hospital. Peter visits Tom and Tom fakes pleasantness like a pro.

Peter and Beth stand outside the White House and scheme about their loose ends.

Hospital. Tom contemplates all the anger he has inside directed at Peter, and Mike tells him he’s doing well and to be patient. I side eye Mike forever. (D: He definitely falls into the 97%)

Aaron visits Tom. This episode should have been called “A series of short visits at the President’s hospital bed.” Tom tells him that he had Emily look into his phone calls due to a request from the secret service that he re-vet his inner circle cause everything is cray. Not a bad lie, honestly. Aaron passes on Hookstraten’s message.

Hannah and Dominic I-Really-Need-To-Figure-Out-This-Characters-Name Diamond look into Peter’s military unit.

Cut to some really freaking cheesy music playing as Tom dreams about getting shot. He wakes up but it’s one of those fake out wakes up and he’s still in the nightmare. He wakes up for real and look! His children are at his bedside! Remember his children? Leo is fairly concerned and Penny gives him a picture she drew. I don’t know why but I kinda wish there were more family moments?

Mari: They led in strong with the family stuff in the pilot and then it was like lol bye now kids until the paternity thing, and then okay bye to that too. Things are moving fairly quickly in this series, but at the expense of these kind of temporarily dropped storylines and characters. 

Dani: I still think this show’s biggest problem is it doesn’t know whether it wants to be The West Wing or NCIS: Washington or maybe even Scandal, and in trying to be all three it just keeps giving us whiplash.

Samantha: White House. Aaron finds Emily emoting as she plays the piano.


Emily says she has to get back to work, and Aaron tells her “see you around” which feels odd because don’t you guys work closely together? So. Yeah, yeah you will.

Hannah heads into a motorcycle shop to talk to MacLeish’s military buddy. He goes from fairly friendly to kind of shaky and weird as she asks about inconsistencies in records. She leaves and the trap is set.

A doctor advises the President not to leave the hospital yet, but Tom insists. She leaves and Alex asks what’s going on but Tom can’t tell her. I feel an ongoing theme will be Alex getting cut out of Tom’s life and the deterioration of their marriage. Woot.

Mari: I’ll be pissed, for the record. 

Dani: I’m still secretly rooting for a surprise Alex/Aaron affair. We’re getting closer, I swear …

Samantha: Peter is heading home from an event. As he’s looking out the window he sees a spray painted white slash on a mailbox and the music gets tense. I have “A” flashbacks because what if he hadn’t been looking out the window? He could have easily been looking at his phone. He gets home and pulls a flip phone out of a secret compartment in his desk. He calls a person and a male voice tells him about Alvin getting visited by the FBI. The voice, who calls Peter “Captain,” says that Alvin is demanding to talk to Peter. Peter agrees to meet him.

Aaron tells Hookstraten that the President will see her when he can, which frustrates me and Hookstraten. She wants to know why they killed the gunman instead of taking him alive. She tells him that the President was even suspicious of MacLeish and asked her to keep an eye on him. Is this another thing that happened that I don’t remember? (M: Yep.)  I’m sorry friends, I’ll start paying better attention. Hookstraten threatens to call a Congressional hearing or press conference if he won’t see her. Aaron caves and tells her that MacLeish gave the order to kill.

Dani: I feel that Hookstraten’s entire role over the past several episodes is just demanding to be told stuff no one wants to tell her. This frustrates me, because I like Virginia Madsen as an actress, and it’s yet another example of the writers wasting good acting talent.

Samantha: Yeah, I am forever bitter about Hookstraten being wasted.

Mike tells Tom that they’ll start sneakily limiting Aaron’s access to national intelligence. He also tells him about the trap Hannah set.

Beth tells Peter that it’s stupid to go meet Alvin and expose himself. She reccomends having him killed, lol. This woman is so Lady Macbeth, I’m really kinda glad they actually named her Beth. Peter doesn’t want to because Alvin is one of his men, but Beth has already asked the spirits to “stop up th’ access and passage to remorse” in her (Shakespeare, 1.5.). She finally tells him that he can meet him, just this once.

Prison. Dominic Diamond, aka John Forstell thanks IMDb, tells Atwood they found out something about Luke. Cut to a woodsy area filled with cop cars and a coroner’s van. Oh god dammit. Did they kill this freaking kid? A car pulls up and Atwood busts out and starts running, finding his son’s dead body in the grass. He starts crying and what the fuuuuuuuuuuck show.

Mari: I was not expecting this. Also, this doesn’t seem like a good move from the people who were blackmailing Atwood because what’s he got to lose now? 

Dani: I’m so confused. Did they seriously just release him from a maximum security federal prison because his son died? He confessed to murder. I think it takes more than saying “lol, J/K” for them to let you walk out.

Samantha: Emily goes into Seth’s office and requests a drink. She downs it and pours another. She whines about how she doesn’t understand this town anymore and yeah, that’s probably what happens when the entire government blows up. Seth talks about how he found out how shitty Washington is and got demoralized until he met Tom Kirkman. He tells her that she needs to stop being a perfectionist because things are not perfect here. He also tells her they are all just really sad. Could have fooled me. He then tells her to get home safely so something terrible will probably happen.

Dani: Haha, have you been watching Supernatural, Sam?

Samantha: My decade long journey with that show will stay with me forever.

At a police precinct a brunette woman, who I think is the sketchy lady who took Atwood’s son? (D: It is! Look at you remembering past characters and shit!) is claiming to be an attorney. She says that she’s Hannah Wells’s new attorney, hired by her family, and needs to see her. Wouldn’t a police station need verification from said family? (D: And wouldn’t they find it sketchy that an attorney was hired for someone already released, and that said attorney wouldn’t know that?)

Beth gets a text from the brunette lady that Hannah has been released. She rushes to the secret desk flip phone and calls the voice Peter was talking to earlier. She confirms that it was a woman who questioned Alvin and SEE?!?!?! SEE HANNAH?!?!?! You blew your whole ruse in less than 1 episode. Beth calls Peter but can’t reach him so she grabs her keys and takes off.

Arlington National Cemetery. Peter meets Alvin and the thunder booms ominously because there is something rotten in the state of Denmark. (I know, I know, different play but still fitting.) (D: The lady doth protest too much, methinks.)

Beth drives Fast and Furiously.

Alvin expresses his concern that someone is going to find out while Hannah watches from the shadows. Alvin says, “I still see all their faces, what we did.” Peter tries to reassure him as the FBI watches on screens. Peter asks Alvin if he can rely on him and Alvin quotes the Bible about the truth setting you free. Peter says that the government used them and so they used the government right back. He admits that he lied to Congress and Hannah moves in to arrest him for perjury. Where are the other agents? Do we really just have freaking Hannah out here???? For something this important???

As expected, Alvin jumps Hannah and Peter takes off. Now other agents come busting out of a van, who knows how far away. Hannah takes out Alvin. Then she corners (metaphorically as it’s a cemetery) Peter.



Samantha: Agents swarm the scene, but it’s too late.

Mari: Whaaat the effffff. This was just bad plans on bad plans what THE HELL. 

Dani: Seriously. Worst. Cops. Ever. (And that’s saying something here in Snark-land.) Also, where the hell is the VP’s secret service detail? He had like a battalion of armored vehicles with him earlier … 

Samantha: Ah I actually know the answer to this one! Mike and Tom decided that when Peter inevitably asked for a lighter Secret Service detail, which he did before coming out here, they would grant it so that he wouldn’t know they were on to him.

Tom is finally actually leaving the hospital. The hospital staff claps for him. Emily plays the piano. Atwood and his wife mourn their child. Aaron finds out that his access has been denied in the intelligence database (?). Mike meets Tom to update him and the doors literally shut on Alex.

Well. All that happened. I did not see the MacLeish deaths coming, which is cool. Feel very bummed about the probably unnecessary child murder. We already knew these people meant business. I think this was the mid season finale so we shall see what the rest of the season brings.



Next time on Designated Survivor – The game has changed and we’ve lost our best lead in S01 E13-Backfire.


Samantha (all posts)

I'm a 25 year old graduated English major I can often be found singing too loudly (poorly) in the car or spending some time (hours) on Tumblr. I am a lover of Harry Potter, the Spice Girls, and too many other things.

Marines (all posts)

I'm a 20-something south Floridan who loves the beach but cannot swim. Such is my life, full of small contradictions and little trivialities. My main life goals are never to take life too seriously, but to do everything I attempt seriously well. After that, my life goals devolve into things like not wearing pants and eating all of the Zebra Cakes in the world. THE WORLD.

Dani (all posts)

I’m a serial procrastinator with mild OCD, so instead of writing my next novel I’m probably counting the ice cubes in my drink to make sure it’s an even number. I am also low-key obsessed with Dutch painters, Norse mythology, and Canadian bacon.

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