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Designated Survivor One Year In Designated Survivor One Year In

Designated Survivor

Designated Survivor – One Year In (2×01)

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It’s been one year since Tom Kirkman has been thrust into the role of President of the United States and much has changed, for the better.

Kirkman himself survived an assassination attempt, saved arts education, uncovered that the Capitol bombing was a mass conspiracy from within, saw his Vice President – who was in on said conspiracy – get killed, and rebuilt the Capitol Building. And yes, it cost a lot.

So yes, a lot has changed and some stuff has stayed the same, like his approval from the people he’s selflessly serving.

It’s no secret that Kirkman is the least liked President, which is shocking because if these fake people knew that someone like Trump could become President, they would literally be thanking Tom at every bend and turn.

Also new is the addition of team-member Lyor Boone to the White House staff, per Emily’s recommendation.

Lyor is an old colleauge of hers and well, his eccentric personality comes off a little too brash at first. But he proves his worth as Kirkman’s Political Director. How did he not have one up until this point?

One year in and things aren’t getting any easier. In fact, Kirkman’s dealing with yet another crisis: Ukrainian terrorists hijacked a plane in Chicago. Among the 168 hostage are 68 Americans, including one of Kirkman’s best friends, whom he had a falling out with.

One of the things Designated Survivor is trying to do differently is to add more emphasis on character storylines. Since Kirkman has a friend on-board, we’re immediately more concerned about the outcome. It becomes more personal. And taking the emphasis off the complicated plots allows viewers to follow along easier and not get too lost in the clutter.

Emily and Aaron take on the Ukrainian and Russian ambassadors but both are sworn enemies and not exactly eager to get involved. That is until Kirkman realizes that the Russian’s actually paid Ukrainian to hijack the plane in order to have an excuse for war. When he addresses them and pulls out his perfect Russian (thanks, First Lady), they call off the plan.

Starting off the season with a focus on Russia is an interesting choice to me because it seems like the best way to reveal that Alex is somehow the mole behind this whole government conspiracy. Don’t tell me you guys didn’t think of it since the beginning? And since her character is being written off so she could go star in some other show, this would be the perfect opportunity to make the First Lady actually a Russian Foreign Terrorist.

The terrorists back off and the passengers disembark, well, everyone except for Kirkman’s best friend. As a doctor who was with him in the Peace Corps, he stayed behind to take care of an elderly passenger. As luck would have it, a spark on the runway caused the plane to blow up. So despite Kirkman saving most on the plane, he didn’t as he put it, bring everyone home.

Tom uses the events of the day to motivate his White House staff, who have been feeling weighed down by the pressures of the “failing” administration. Most importantly, Seth, who was so burned out, he was actually looking at getting another job! Emily set him straight though, demanding that he make a decision by the end of the day because his wavering stance was a threat to the President. He decided to stay because really, there is no one better to stand up there in front of the press and defend the President. Seth, despite feeling like he’s been bringing everyone down, is a true Kirkman supporter and believes in him.

Hannah Wells is still on the hunt for Patrick Lloyd, the brains behind the Capitol bombing… or so we think. Remember, I still think Alex Kirkman is up to no good! We find Wells in Amsterdam, drunk and falling asleep at the bar. A patron takes advantage of the situation, taking her to his home where she proceeds to knock him out and steal a USB drive that leads her to the locations of the dark web. Chuck advises her to get back up but you know Hannah, always independent and stuff.

Upon arrival, she is ambushed by the bar dude who turns out to be M16. Honestly, how did an M16 agent get tricked by a woman pretending to be drunk? That’s like the easiest trick in the book!

Damian Rennett, that’s his name, admits he’s been tracking Lloyd for a few weeks and knew who Hannah was when he spotted her at the bar. They decide to team up, following Lloyd’s trail but unfortunately, he’s always one step ahead of them. This part of the episode got a little confusing, mainly because they were just going from high-tech warehouse to high-tech warehouse but eventually Lloyd ended up arriving in D.C. Is he planning another bombing? Why would he go back to the scene of the crime unless he’s planning something else or banking on them thinking that he’d never be “that dumb.”

What did you think of the season 2 premiere? Is Lyor a good addition to the team? Are Aaron and Emily still into each other? Will Kirkman ever gain the trust and respect of the American people that he truly deserves?!

 

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Designated Survivor

Designated Survivor – Run (2×22)

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Designated Survivor Run

And just like that, Designated Survivor took its final bow.

It didn’t feel like a series finale and that lends itself to the fact that the writers didn’t know they were about to be yanked off air.

Still, something about Tom Kirkman choosing re-election after everything that’s transpired was a fitting end.

When the series kicked off, he was thrust into the role against his own free will after being marked a Designated Survivor. At that time, the Capitol bombing storyline was intriguing, head-spinning and had much promise. Since then, the series has spiraled a bit out of control and frankly, so has Kirkman.

And right before his re-election bid announcement, it all came back full-circle as he remembered why he’s doing this, why he should fight and why he’s different than any other president.

Many of Kirkman’s “issues” stemmed from other folks in government not accepting that he has a new way of doing things that aren’t corrupt or politically motivated. He doesn’t have an agenda. He’s inherently good and he makes the choices that he thinks are best for the people and the republic.

It was always a double-edged sword because while we knew his intentions were good, he was painted in such a negative light; incompetent, angry, mentally unstable, etc.

Yet, through it all, Kirkman stayed true to himself and never withered in his beliefs and eventually, even dangerous men like Ethan West realized that they’d been fighting the wrong side.

It was a nice wrap up on Michael J. Fox’s storyline — to have him finally understand that this whole time, he’s been seeking the truth that was right in front of him.

It’s a testament to the belief that if you stay on the righteous path long enough, people will begin to notice. And Moss’ actions revealed him for who he really was; an opportunist.

This was a very promising cast though, unfortunately, many of them never had a chance to shine.

Aaron was the most obvious of them all — he had promise but he always just bopped around appearing for a few minutes here and there to seem authoritative.

Emily was another one of those characters. She was Kirkman’s most trusted advisor but she got lost in all of this. She lost her way and began making sloppy decisions that hurt the administration rather than help it. Her decision to step away from it all and “refocus” is compelling, however, given that this is the finale episode, we won’t ever get to see what that means in her world.

And with the revelation that she was doing shady dealings or leaking intel to Valeria Poriskova, she’s more intriguing than she’s ever been. Can you imagine if this whole time, she was putting on the good girl act but in reality, she was the mole? That would be quite a twist, one that I might not fully believe given how out-of-character it is, but again, we’ll never know.

Hannah has been the spitfire, bringing even the toughest of men to justice. In fact, for quite awhile, the whole FBI rested solely on her toned shoulders. And she was the only one who could predict how someone would react before it even happened.

In recent weeks following Damian’s death, she was on the path of revenge, hoping to kill Valeria for killing her boyfriend-turned-traitor in an attempt to assassinate her. However, her revenge mission turned into a rescue mission when she found out he had a daughter in England that she needed to protect.

Obviously, Damian’s daughter was going to be just as quick and cunning as he was, I don’t know why Hannah assumed otherwise. Of course, a man like that would have taught her how to fend for herself.

His daughter led them to a secret vault with a list of names which we’ll never really know more about.

To honor Damian’s wishes, Hannah preyed on Valeria and then, when she realized she couldn’t take her down on foreign soil, shot her point-blank. I kind of hoped that she would fall over a bridge and into the water because it would be quite a poetic tribute to Damian but alas, she just left her on there and then hopped on a plane with her new accidentally adopted “step-daughter.”

I would have loved to see how that relationship played out. Think she’d ever tell her that she actually hated her father by the end?

If you look back at how all of this played out, both the daughter and the Russian spy behaved in ways that made no sense. Not to mention they were tremendously underutilized.

If Valeria really was so dangerous, since being a Russian spy seems like a career only a monster can uphold, I think she’d put up more of a fight and go about it smarter.

We didn’t get to see Chuck again nor did we get to see Kirkman’s brother or get any headway on his relationship with Kendra nor did we get any moments with his sweetheart Penny.

Leo’s appearance was refreshingly human, reminding us of the simpler days when Kirkman’s family was a strong unit that relied on each other. Not that Leo was ever much of a focal point, but following Alex’s death, we saw the children less and less.

Even though Kirkman is the President, he’s still immensely proud of his son for getting into Stanford. And Leo’s dilemma of choosing a school because he doesn’t want to leave his dad is also touching.

Seth and Lyor finally acknowledged that they care about each other. Unfortunately, it took a near-death experience like a tsunami for them to realize it. Though the bromance has always been one of my favorite things about the show.

Also, I really hope ABC gets better with CGI because that tsunami-effect was painful to watch and not believable in the slightest. And how did it not affect the luxurious hotel that they were staying at whilst everything else was swept away?

Even the storyline fell was just done so that Kirkman must, as always, make a choice that’s right but unconstitutional and pisses a lot of people off. And he does, then he proves everyone wrong and is hailed as the hero… for now.

We know Seth’s a hero since he apparently survived by climbing on the roof after saving some woman’s grandchildren, as for his relationship status with Emily, that still remains a big mystery.

Designated Survivor started off being one thing and though the show lost its way on multiple occasions and found itself knee-deep in messy plotholes lined with political jargon, there was heart in it. There was heart in Kirkman’s actions, the teams dynamic and the situations affecting the American people.

Now, the good news is that Netflix is considering picking up the political drama so all is not lost. We may get the answers we’ve wanted all along.

However, if that does come to pass, let’s hope that they find a formula that simplifies and works, all while keeping the touch of magic. And hopefully, they utilize the cast properly because again, they all have the potential if they are given good material.

Thoughts on the finale? Do you want Netflix to renew the series?

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Designated Survivor

Designated Survivor – Bad Reception (2×20)

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Designated Survivor Bad Reception

Well, that’s a wrap on Dax on this week’s Designated Survivor.

Kirkman really needs to redefine what a best friend is if he thought that Dax was his. How many times have these two even chatted?

Dax was outed at the hacker in a surprising twist of events. I bet Andrea Frost is breathing a sigh of relief.

Remember when Kirkman fired Agent Wells because she publicly ambushed Frost? It was largely out of character for both Kirkman and Wells — he’d never fire someone without hearing their side of the story first and she’d never pull a stunt that stupid.

But given Kirkman’s recent firing spree —  likely inspired by Pres. Donald Trump — it seemed plausible.

Thankfully, it was all a ploy to convince Dax that the White House wasn’t onto him while the FBI raided his mansion for evidence linking him to the crime.

I’d say they were successful but I only know that because they actually told me that it was successful. Otherwise, I found Wells’ mission to be rather snooze-worthy.

Also, what was Dax’s motive for any of it? He was babbling on about how the government needed to give people a break or something. It was confusing and personally, I didn’t care; I wasn’t invested in the storyline enough.

With Agent Wells temporarily removed from the White House (or so we thought), Chuck was allowed to shine and even leave his dungeon. Chuck and Mike teamed up after Ambassador Dhawan was poisoned during a White House equinox celebration.

They were able to establish that the Ambassador was not poisoned while at the White House but that did nothing for the Prime Minister who refused to let go of an American kid studying abroad who was arrested after drawing graffiti on a building.

Twenty-years in prison for graffiti was a bit serious but this was more about getting leverage than the crime itself. Sadly, that’s the world we live in nowadays.

Kirkman really wanted to help release Jenkins but obviously giving into blackmail didn’t set a good precedent so the team looked for an alternative which was butchered by Ethan West (guest star Michael J. Fox).

There were plenty of moments where Kirkman wanted to kill West for sabotaging investigations but eventually, he found him useful and they were even able to negotiate the release of Jenkins whom West had some personal connection to. Did that part of the story matter? Not one bit.

See, that’s how I feel about a lot of storylines on Designated Survivor — they’re thrown in simply to exist.

That’s how I felt about Kendra’s dilemma with Steven Flannery. Before they could allow him to serve, they had to make sure he was legit and a brief search revealed a sexual discrimination lawsuit.

Kendra was so sure that Flannery was innocent, a good guy, but when a few more lawsuits came to light and she saw him getting a little too flirty with everyone in the White House, she decided to pull the plug on it.

She’s a smart woman so even though there was no concrete proof of it, sometimes a woman’s gut is enough. It was definitely different to see her just being a person, I feel like we don’t get that often.

Was the resolution weak for a storyline that could have touched up the #MeToo movement in a more proactive way? Of course, but again, this happens all too often in Designated Survivor. 

It seems like Agent Wells served the White House one last time before turning in her badge, against Aaron’s wishes, to go on a rogue hunt for Valeria. A quick check revealed that she was working with Dax and was responsible for shooting Damian (she was really aiming to kill her).

Will Wells get her revenge? Does Damian deserve revenge? Will we ever find out what he was going to ask/tell her on the bridge? Who will the White House turn to when they inevitably need the FBI?

After the hacker situation was put to rest, Kirkman finally caught up with Frost who revealed that she was moving to San Francisco so brace yourselves — the days of Kirkman flirting through his grief are temporarily over.

Before she left, she obviously had to make her move and her “we have a connection” speech left the door open for a relationship when enough time has passed since Alex’s death.

Thoughts on Designated Survivor? Is there a way for the show to better connect with the audience? Give us a reason to care because simply liking Kirkman is no longer enough.

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Designated Survivor

Designated Survivor – Capacity (2×19)

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Designated Survivor Capacity

Accountability is of utmost importance on Designated Survivor. 

It’s what the whole episode, which found Kirkman at the center of a cabinet hearing to decide whether his Presidency would live another day, focused on.

One of Kirkman’s biggest flaws since he became President has been giving people the benefit of the doubt and being all too trusting.

At one point in the episode, he admits that Former Vice President Moss is probably the reason the Cabinet is doubting if he’s mentally fit as everyone he appointed were based on his recommendations; they are his people.

Kirkman believes in loyalty and expects it in return which is what Mr. West paints in a negative light. But really, isn’t that what leadership and trusting your subordinates is about? I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s a flaw, it’s a strength much like all the other things that came out about him during this hearing.

The Cabinet wanted to find a reason to get rid of Kirkman but all they did was prove, with solid facts, that he’s beyond worthy of holding the title.

He’s fair, he’s instinctual, he follows his gut, he trusts, he believes in doing what’s best and he won’t be intimidated to do what he doesn’t feel is right as seen by his refusal to sign a budget that wasn’t what they formerly agreed on. The budget crisis took a backseat to the hearings, however, it was still in character for Tom to let the government go into shutdown before he went against what he truly felt was right.

Since Kirkman blindly trusts people to a fault, he was adamant that Andrea Frost was not the presumed White House leaker.

Visibly, Hannah Wells was lacking in evidence that would link Frost to Gamine without a burden of proof. But given Wells’ track record, Kirkman should have at least entertained the idea that maybe, this brilliant and cunning woman could be ruthless in her own pursuits; maybe she befriended him for a reason. Maybe her niceness wasn’t altruistic, at all.

Much like Moss, Frost had to be undermining Kirkman’s administration because of all the intel West had at his disposal. She was forced to testify about private conversations, moments that Kirkman thought he was privately confiding in her. All to slander his name and make it seem like he’s unhinged and not fit to hold such a position.

And even after all of that, Kirkman still didn’t allow Kendra, Aaron and Hannah to go after Frost. I hope we’ll ping back to this revelation soon enough and Kirkman will realize that Agent Wells, who was fired for ambushing and defaming Frost, was actually onto something. Isn’t she always?

Yes, Wells was way out of line on multiple occasions mainly because she was hurt by Damian’s death. Regardless of whether he was a traitor or a double-agent, there were once real feelings there and she’s been forced to lose him a second time. And this time, he took a bullet for her!

It’s understandable she wants to punish whoever did this and prevent them from killing again but also, such a skilled Agent wouldn’t let personal emotions dictate her actions. It was extremely out of character, although, apparently necessary to show the effects of grief.

Given that Kirkman was granted a second chance at a job he never wanted, you would think he’d give Wells the benefit of the doubt here considering how admired she is and how much she’s done for the administration. I bet she won’t be out for too long before he realizes she’s the only one who can bring down Gamine and protect him. Why couldn’t he just put her on probation or something?

Other Thoughts

  • Emily finally remembered that she had a thing for Aaron back in the day and questioned him on whether or not he thought about her romantically. It was weird mainly because she’s supposed to be on the Seth train.
  • Which brings me to Seth — I don’t remember where these two stand anymore? Are they friends? Are they lovers?
  • Will Aaron and Hannah finally get together?
  • West tried to paint Kirkman in a negative light by bringing up his families mental illness, something deeply personal and also, something Kirkman wasn’t even aware of. Poor form. Mental illness is no joking matter and simply because someone in your family has bipolar, doesn’t automatically deem you incompetent.
  • In fact, if having human emotions and experiencing grief are two things a President isn’t allowed to be or do, why don’t we vet nominees more thoroughly?
  • West really tried to tell Kirkman that he was playing on both sides. Hey, I guess a good lawyer always does. But props to Kendra with the rebuttals.
  • Kirkman telling West that “he of all people should understand that being different isn’t a bad thing” was so inspiring. Own who you are and never let anyone tell you otherwise!

Thoughts on this week’s Designated Survivor? There has never been an episode that spoke more accurately to the nature of Kirkman’s episode then it was this one.

If only we were as lucky to have a President that took the time to reflect on his progress and champion the truth to a public desperately in need of it. A President who has flaws is exceedingly better than one who thinks he’s heaven sent.

There are many arguments why someone may not be fit for a Presidency but Kirkman has them beat with one — he cares more about the people then he does the position. If it were all to have come crashing down, which we knew was impossible cause then we’d have no show, Kirkman would be just fine with it.

In fact, simply coming to terms with being removed from the office showed the Cabinet that he was humbled enough to continue on and lead the republic in an honest way.

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