Designated Survivor Recap: A Traitor Among Us

Designated Survivor

The Blueprint
Season 1 Episode 9
Editor’s Rating 4 stars

Designated Survivor

The Blueprint
Season 1 Episode 9
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
Kiefer Sutherland as President Kirkman. Photo: Ian Watson/ABC

The episode begins with a man doing something clearly illegal in the stall of an office bathroom with files and a laptop and a microchip and a quarter. Then we watch him walk out of that office building, a government building. A few minutes later, we learn of a security breach.

The dude on the toilet just stole a ton of classified files. That’s bad, real bad, Michael Jackson. Back at the FBI, Malik Yoba’s office is being investigated — you know, since he fake confessed to killing Nassar. One of the investigators takes Maggie Q aside and begins to quasi-interrogate her, but Maggie doesn’t talk, preferring to keep trying to solve the puzzle on her own, BECAUSE SHE IS MADE OUT OF THE SAME DNA AS JACK BAUER.

Maggie tells one of the little hacker dudes to get Peter Macleish’s file and meet at her house in 20 minutes, which — considering midday traffic — must mean she doesn’t live too far. This is a detail that will never actually matter.

Back at the White House, we learn more about the breach. The guy put some information on WikiLeaks about members of the last cabinet, some of whom were involved in white-collar criminal activity, and all of whom died in the Capitol bombing. The wrinkle is that the only living member of that cabinet is POTUS, and information hasn’t been released about him yet, which seems clearly purposeful and worrisome.

At Maggie’s crib, she’s talking to hacker boi, telling him about Macleish and that it might get super real, so if he wants to get out, she understands. But he’s ride or die, which confirms that Maggie is Bauer and hacker boi is Chloe O’Brien.

As this show always does, every scene is another insane plot twist — and the next one is just splendid. Another WikiLeaks dump comes out, and it contains a negative comment about the very powerful guy runs the Senate Appropriations Committee. The comment: “Senator Hazelton is a lecherous old man, more accustomed to groping female staff than promoting them.”


No, it’s even better.

It doesn’t stop there, of course. The guy wants POTUS to fire her, immediately.

Emily apologizes to him, as does the president, but he doesn’t budge. He tells the Kirkman how powerful of a man he is and that she needs to be gone. Watching him talk, he gives off strong vibes of locker-room talk, so Emily probably was in the right. But she also doesn’t want to hurt the president’s administration and she offers her resignation, which surprises the Kirkman.

POTUS and the FBI investigator watch the video of Yoba’s prison confession, and it still isn’t sitting well with the president. Just then, the meeting is suddenly interrupted for another plot update, this being about the WikiLeaker. These are my favorite twists: When someone tells the president something and he squints and goes, “Sorry, I don’t understand.” He’s not doing it out of incompetence, but because these twists are just batshit insane and perfect.

They found the guy, but he’s on foreign soil … across the street from the White House … SEEKING ASYLUM AT THE VENEZUELAN EMBASSY. Look at this reaction when the president asks if they can go get him:

This show was made for me, and perhaps only me.

As with every episode, there’s a Parallel Scene of Beef and/or Interrogation (PSOBAOI) moment. While Macleish is asked about his war past during the confirmation hearing, Maggie and the hacker boi are grilling people in his old unit to describe the events of a specific day that Maggie thinks will answer more questions. Every person recounts the same story that Macleish says — but they do it almost too perfectly, almost like it was a script and they were prepped to do this — all ultimately describing him as a hero.

I will give these terrorists some credit: They are one step ahead, every single time. No terror stone unturned.

After that, Emily pressures Aaron to let her resign and he says no because she is too important and because she is too future-bae. Then Aaron runs off because he has a stroke of genius idea involving the WikiLeaker. He goes to the Venezuelan embassy, meets with the guy, and says he knows what he wants — five minutes with the president. The man tells Aaron that he’s right; this was the only way he knew how to get their attention. In a classic “hacking-for-good” tale, it seems as if the WikiLeaker has information that the administration should know for the greater good.

We leave this to find Maggie, who is still snooping around, and just had a major breakthrough. Talking to the wife of one of Macleish’s old Army guys she tells Maggie about his stash of things they sent back home after her husband died. Maggie asks if she can look through it and she finds a stack of photos, one of which has the whole Macleish crew — INCLUDING CATALAN, THE GUY WHO KILLED NASSAR.

There it is — proof Macleish and Catalan know each other. Maggie is really good at her job. Unfortunately, in classic 24 fashion, her methods don’t always vibe with the rank and file. Also, her Male Chloe hacker boi partner just got locked out of his computer, which means they know something is up.

The WikiLeaker proves to be very helpful. The information he was holding back was on Mister Senate Appropriations Locker-Room Talk, which confirms that everything Emily said about him was true, including inappropriate behavior with an 18-year-old page. The president brings him in and he tries to be all nah and then promptly gets hit with the receipts in a blue folder, all while Emily stands in the room and watches. The president tells him to bounce — both out his office and maybe professionally in the name of retirement. It is wonderfully sassy. The White House inner circle is very ride or die for each other. I’m feeling it.

Maggie, being truly legendary this episode, meets back up with her sneaky source from the pinball bar to tells him about Macleish and Catalan. From there it gets even wilder: He found a report that had been purposefully buried by the Pentagon about what really happened with Macleish’s unit. They went on a straight-up rampage in a village after some of their men were killed. Awfully far from the Hollywood story they told.

This Aaron Rodgers–looking soon-to-be vice-president wasn’t a war hero — he was a war criminal. Wowza.

The WikiLeaker is brought to the White House to have a five-minute meeting with the president before he is escorted to prison. POTUS wants to know why he did it and the man says that he’s the only person he could trust, since he looked through all of the president’s emails and texts and saw him to be extremely ethical. He then tells the president that there’s a fake coin in his contraband bag that’s hiding a chip, which will reveal a lot worse shit that’s out there. Like Yoba, this WikiLeaker put his whole life on the line in a way that the president can’t figure out. But it’s clear there is some connection.

Oh, also: Earlier in the episode, Maggie called Lady Hookstraten and told her that she had something on Macleish and that she should postpone the hearings. This interested Hookstraten since she has a beef with Macleish, and when she communicated that wish to postpone, Aaron told the president, and then the president brought in Macleish. The president, still 100 percent on team Macleish, is convinced by his words that there’s no dirt on him. As Macleish walks out, however, he tells the president to keep an eye on Hannah Wells.

Allegedly, “Hannah Wells” is Maggie’s name on this show. Macleish floats the idea that perhaps Maggie is filling Hookstraten’s head with wild conspiracies.

Oh no, they’re definitely going to try and kill Maggie now.

We then see Maggie, racing to Hookstraten after she calls Hookstraten to say she found her evidence on Macleish. Looks as if she’ll be testifying in ten minutes. For some reason, I don’t think everything will go according to plan in those ten minutes.

As the episode begins to wrap up, we see Aaron and Emily having another late-night chat, but finally this one acknowledges their crush. It is very sweet — but then disaster strikes. As Emily turns her back to Aaron, smiling from ear to ear, Aaron calls her name.

“Emily, when you’re finished with work tonight,” he says with the tenor of a ‘50s leading man —

Are you serious, Time Warner Cable? You’re going to freeze right when my man is ABOUT TO SPIT THAT REAL LATE-NIGHT GAME?

I had to shut down everything. Damn near cut the electricity of the entire building. But finally, it returned.

“… dinner?”


This is turning into a really beautiful ending of an episode, until a car purposefully plows into Maggie’s car. Told you she wasn’t getting there in ten minutes.

And then the final scene: The president and Secret Service Black Mike are looking at the files on the WikiLeaker’s microchip. Nothing major — just classified, quadruple-top-secret Capitol renderings from three years ago, filled with building schematics that outline security vulnerabilities (including how the building would crumble WERE IT BOMBED) and files that were given to the terrorists from someone within the government. The attack was an inside job, and it had been planned for years. That’s when POTUS says, “There’s a traitor among us.”

Not going to lie: If I know there’s a traitor among us, I’m going to immediately suspect the one person who survived the bombing and is about to rise to the vice presidency, the person who warned POTUS about a woman who was then hit by a car five minutes later.

But that’s just me, a descendant of Maggie, who is a descendant of Jack Bauer, who is a descendant of Colombo.

Designated Survivor Recap: A Traitor Among Us