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Recap / Designated Survivor S 1 E 20 Bombshell

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President Kirkman heads to Toronto with Secretary of State Cornelius Moss and Press Secretary Seth Wright to take part in a NATO summit and push for nuclear disarmament. Agent Wells continues to attempt to escape confinement, while Director Forstell, Agent Ritter and Chuck Russink continue searching for her and trying to track down The Mole within the White House.


Tropes in this episode:

  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: By the end of the episode, the conspirators have planted a van filled with explosives in the parking garage of the Hoover Building — the headquarters of the FBI.
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  • Anger Born of Worry: Forstell gets enraged at a Coast Guard technician in Delaware who heard a distress call from Agent Wells on the freighter but did not realize she was a missing FBI agent until the next day, by which time the ship could be anywhere.
  • California Doubling: Averted. The NATO summit is hosted in Toronto, where the series is itself filmed. A number of establishing shots make a point of showing the city's landmarks.
  • The Cavalry: Subverted. Forstell and a number of heavily armed FBI agents storm the freighter that Agent Wells was imprisoned on and arrest the crew at gunpoint, only to find her shipping container empty.
  • Cliffhanger: Yet another one, as Agent Wells awakens to find herself in a van full of explosives and is confronted by a number of armed agents in the parking garage of the FBI's headquarters in D.C. — just as a timer starts counting down to detonation.
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  • Cut Apart: While Forstell is storming the freighter where Wells was being held captive, Wells begins to wake up and seemingly find herself in one of the freighter's shipping containers. As Forstell and his agents come across the last container they haven't searched, Wells discovers stacks of explosives around her. Forstell's team prepares to detonate the sealed door of the container, implying that Wells is going to get a Death by Irony when they blow the container open, but when they do ... it's empty. It turns out that Wells is actually in a van in the underground parking garage of the FBI's Hoover Building.
  • Dead-Hand Shot: Of sorts. Lozano visits Wells in her shipping container aboard the freighter, and gives her Jason Atwood's ring as a measure of revenge after the death of Peter MacLeish, who Lozano saw as "family".note 
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  • Distress Call: After escaping her shipping container, Agent Wells manages to get one of these to the Coast Guard in Delaware, but the transmission is garbled and the Coast Guard doesn't know or realize enough to alert Forstell right away. Then Wells is promptly recaptured.
  • He Knows Too Much: Patrick Lloyd and Jay Whitaker realize this about Abe Leonard when the journalist links the False Flag Operation with Al-Sakar to Nestor Lozano by name in his story. They certainly fed him information, but it was never that accurate.
  • Instant Sedation: The tranquilizer used by the conspirators must be really potent to knock Wells out in seconds (again).
  • Internal Reveal: Abe Leonard publishes his story on the Capitol bombing, and Kirkman subsequently confirms the truth to both Alex and Secretary Moss.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Whitaker continues to be this, as he eludes Ritter and Russink to keep his allegiance to The Conspiracy a secret.
    • Lozano is able to depart the conspirators' freighter and plant a bomb in the FBI's Hoover Building before Forstell and his agents show up, board the ship, and arrest the crew.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Seth Wright continues to be this, although he trusts Kirkman that it is for good and worthwhile reasons.
  • Lost in Transmission: Agent Wells is able to get a Distress Call to the Coast Guard, but due to a garbled transmission, they initially think she is a ship rather than a missing FBI agent.
  • Me's a Crowd: Whitaker pulls this by "duplicating his digital fingerprint" in order to throw Ritter and Russink off of his trail. It works to some extent, but Russink did see the file-deletion procedure initially originating from the Cabinet briefing room, where Whitaker indeed was at the time, before making his escape right under Ritter's nose.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Lozano blames Wells for the death of MacLeish, even though it was MacLeish's wife that killed him.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Chuck Russink, when he realizes The Mole has duplicated his computer's signature throughout the West Wing.
    • Hannah Wells, when she awakens in a van full of explosives in the basement of the Hoover Building in D.C.
  • Spanner in the Works: Abe Leonard's story ends up being this for Kirkman's administration, thoroughly derailing the President's efforts at the NATO summit.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Whatever the conspirators' plans for the bomb in the Hoover Building, they did not stick around and are again at large in D.C.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Secretary Moss gives one of these to President Kirkman over keeping him Locked Out of the Loop on the Capitol bombing investigation. Kirkman quite reasonably replies by citing the paramount need for national security.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Lozano is pretty brutal in knocking out Wells as soon as he finds her aboard the freighter.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: For all Agent Wells' efforts in escaping her bonds aboard the freighter and putting out a Distress Call, she is promptly recaptured, thrown back into a shipping container, taunted over Atwood's death, sedated again, and finally left to awaken in a van full of explosives.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Lloyd tells Whitaker that, with the story published, Abe Leonard has "served his purpose".
  • Your Agent is in Another Castle: Forstell takes a small army of heavily armed FBI agents to storm the conspirators' freighter, only to find Agent Wells' shipping container empty; meanwhile, the conspirators have shut her in a van under the FBI's headquarters along with a large amount of explosives.

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