‘Lazarus’ Might Reveal Designated Survivor’s Evil Mastermind

Photo Credit: ABC

“Lazarus” Plot Summary:

Having learned that Nestor “Catalan” Lozano (George Tchortov) is still alive, Agent Wells (Maggie Q) investigates how he may have survived. Meanwhile, President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) discovers that his first choice for the vacant Vice Presidency is implicated in a potential controversy.

After months of anticipation and theorizing, we have finally learned the answer to Designated Survivor’s greatest mystery: what car company sponsors the show? What a shocking turn of events! In all seriousness, though, I’ve seen some pretty blatant cases of product placement before, but this episode’s Ford plug is so jarring that I actually thought the channel had cut to an abrupt commercial break. I’m glad that the most sophisticated technology available to an FBI agent with a direct assignment from the President is a remote starting car.

And while we now know which car company Hannah prefers, we still don’t really know who in the White House is leaking information to Abe Leonard (Rob Morrow) and others. Sure, we know that the source of the leaks is Homeland Security Advisor Jay Whitaker (Richard Waugh), but I barely remember this character. Last week’s promo advertised the reveal of the source’s identity as a shocking twist; in reality, Whitaker has only appeared in three or four forgettable scenes this entire season that didn’t establish him as anyone of note. Once again, Designated Survivor’s promos have created false expectations that undercut the events they’re teasing.

Thankfully, outside of the product placement and promos, “Lazarus” is another entertaining installment, even though Kirkman doesn’t have much to do. One development that actually shocked me this week was the apparent introduction of the conspiracy’s mastermind (or at least its bankroller). After all of the mystery and intrigue surrounding the group behind the Capitol bombing, Hannah’s encounter with Patrick Lloyd (Terry Serpico) is rather subdued and without fanfare. However, Serpico brings a cold arrogance to the character that highlights the sense that this villain is untouchable. It’s too soon to say if Lloyd is a worthy adversary to Hannah and Kirkman, but he appears to have potential.

Back in D.C., Kimble Hookstraten (Virginia Madsen) finds herself caught in a political quagmire at the worst possible moment. I haven’t mentioned Hookstraten much in my reviews, but she has gradually become one of my favorite characters on the show. Designated Survivor has introduced a number of strong women, but no one has reached the sheer formidableness of Hookstraten. While she’s shown her ferocity in the past, this episode first time we really see Hookstraten backed into a corner and fighting for her political life. As a result, Hookstraten’s vulnerable side is on display in a somewhat tragic matter right before her patented scrappiness returns full force. I will never say no to more Hookstraten and her put-downs, and “Lazarus” certainly delivers on that front.

Speaking of strong female characters, Hannah continues to make tremendous progress on her investigation. She’s been in tight spots before, but this episode features the first time since her car accident in the first half of the season that Hannah appears to be in true danger. As we approach the end of the season, I’m glad to see the series raising the stakes.

Considering how much I enjoyed “Lazarus,” I’m frustrated that questionable decisions by the network that overshadowed some strong writing this week. Even worse, these issues distracted me from the huge revelation that Jack Bowman (Mark Deklin) is actually Gaston; as seen in his office, he uses antlers in all of his decorating! We could be seeing the beginnings of a Once Upon a Time crossover. I’d consider that some major corporate synergy from the Disney-owned ABC. Hopefully next week’s episode won’t allow lazy sponsorship and deceptive commercials to undermine such groundbreaking goals again. And hopefully my sarcasm will be recognized.

RATING: 8 OUT OF 10

Josh Sarnecky is one of Pop Break's staff writers and covers Designated Survivor, Volton: Legendary Defender, and Stranger Things. His brother, Aaron, is the site’s TV Editor, but Josh is the family’s reigning Trivial Pursuit: Star Wars champion.