Designated Survivor Recap: Inauguration Day

Designated Survivor

The Oath
Season 1 Episode 10
Editor’s Rating 4 stars

Designated Survivor

The Oath
Season 1 Episode 10
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
Kiefer Sutherland as President Kirkman. Photo: Ben Mark Holzberg/ABC

So I didn’t know this was the winter finale until the end of the episode. I saw that it was episode 10 and was like, “cool, episode 10.” But it was more than that.


Since this is the last episode for some time, it’s worth noting that this has been a surprisingly addictive season of television, one even more captivating when considering the current state of affairs in the office of the president-elect. No, it’s not 24, but there are moments when it gets damn near close, especially in the way it packs so much into each episode, keeping you captivated with something dramatic in every single scene. The White House is the perfect venue for that semi-stretch, too. Maybe it’s not always so hectic, but maybe it is.

To recap, Maggie Q got hit by a car in the last episode by someone who really didn’t want her to pass any information to Hookstraten. A guy tries to choke her out, but she gets away and flees the scene. Unfortunately, the guy sent to kill her did get the classified file on MacLeish that was sitting on the passenger seat. Next time, maybe throw it in the center console, Maggie.

Anyway, she’s bleeding heavily, finds safety on foot, and eventually ending up at her hacker boi’s house. This guy is basically Male Chloe.

The president, discovering at the end of the prior episode that the Capitol bombing was an inside job, brings in the guy who wrote the bombing schematics years earlier. (He’s not a suspect, though. This was meant to be a preventative measure.) What they need to know: Who else had access to the file? And could any of those people have passed the file off to the terrorists? Unfortunately, most of the people who had access were in the old cabinet, and died in the Capitol bombing. The only one who’s still alive? That trigger-happy general who POTUS fired weeks ago (or days, or episodes, I really don’t know).

President Bauer brings the general in, and wouldn’t you know it, he’s like, Oh yeah, so it got sent to me but I didn’t see it. It’s the weakest excuse known to man, but it works. He claims the file got reclassified, so he couldn’t open it or some other dog-eats-homework excuse. But when it got reclassified, who would know of such a thing? The general says it could only come from the White House, again from the former administration.

That is a very short list of people. Who from the last administration was be privy to such information, is still alive, and also works in the current administration? One of those people: AARON.

The president pulls Emily aside and tells her that he needs things dug up about everyone on the list, including Aaron. What the President doesn’t know: AARON AND EMILY HAVE BEEN KISSING.

Not only did they make out the night before, BUT MINUTES EARLIER HE ASKED HER OUT TO GO TO THE 9:30 CLUB FOR A DATE. This is terrible.

It gets even more awkward. After meeting with the president, Aaron finds Emily and she has to lie about what they were talking about. I’m going to be real bummed if Aaron’s bad. I was just starting to like him.

So POTUS is busy trying to string together all of these weird events happening at once. He calls in Hookstraten and asks her why she tried to delay the MacLeish vote, which prompts her to tell him about Maggie. The president remembers MacLeish bringing Maggie up, so now he asks Black Mike to find her — which is hard, because she’s patched up and off the grid. And she’s got her first lead: Male Chloe figured out a way to locate the place where the phone that’s been calling her with intel was purchased. So she’s on her way.

Maggie goes to the bodega and the worker shows her the tape she was looking for. On that tape, she sees a car. On that car, a license plate.

At the White House, Kal Penn continues his drama with the press pool journalist that burned him with the information about the First Family and paternity — okay, NOT IMPORTANT. We then go to Maggie at the house that has the car with the license plate. Of course she’s rolling solo and of course it’s an old creepy country shack. She sees a guy running, chases after him, and finally tracks him down and makes him turn around. It’s an old guy, Charles Langdon, the former White House Chief of staff. Most certainly not coincidentally, he’s the same person Emily stumbled on during her investigation about that Capitol bombing schematic.

Maggie mentions that everyone thinks he’s dead, and then Langdon — clearly shook — tells her to get out of here because she could have been followed. He starts says cryptic stuff, like, “It’s bigger than you think,” and “Don’t trust anyone,” and “Some say cucumbers taste better pickled,” and then a third person pops up and starts shooting at both of them. Maggie shoots this third person because she’s a descendant of Jack Bauer Our Lord, but while that’s happening, Langdon hops in his whip and drives away.

The guy Maggie shot is dead. The only problem? There was a witness. An older lady walking through the woods.

The lady snitches and calls the authorities and now everyone is looking for Maggie.

Back to the less-interesting plotlines. Aaron just figured out that Emily is up to something and suspects she’s lying to him. Also, the FBI has concluded that Malik Yoba killed Majid Nassar.




Before someone tries to assassinate the president, however, we see MacLeish, in his home, having second thoughts. He’s in real deep, but seems to be in a pickle of his own, as we learned the same bad people are pulling the strings in his life as well. His wife comes in and witnesses this moment of weakness and essentially tells him to get his shit together. She might be the real evil one — watch out for that.

Anyway, it’s about to go down, which we learn by seeing a sniper set up in a hotel near the Capitol. Maggie knows what the plan is, because she finds a hotel key in the pocket of the guy she shot. She races over to try and stop the assassination from happening, but she’s running out of time.

The festivities are about to begin and suddenly Emily gets a call. She finds out more about the schematic investigation. She learns something big. The call logs that would have made Langdon seem guilty (or at the very least sketchy) aren’t what they seem: He was on vacation at the time of the calls. The calls were coming from his office, but they were made by … AARON, HER BAE WHO IS SMILING RIGHT AT HER AND LOOKING AT HER AND MIGHT BE A REALLY, REALLY BAD GUY.

Even that has to wait, though, because this guy is about to shoot Kiefer Sutherland in the face. Maggie spots him, but the authorities also spot Maggie. She’s running toward him, the police are running towards her, and then … BANG.

Maggie, realizing she ran out of time, shot at the sniper right as the sniper fired toward the president. It was a misfire on part of the sniper, but he shot at the stage, and seemed to hit someone.

But who?



Designated Survivor Recap: Inauguration Day