Netflix gave Designated Survivor a second chance and similarly, the American people are giving Tom Kirkman another one.
Before ABC pulled the plug on the Kiefer Sutherland fronted drama, President Kirkman decided to go against all odds and run for re-election.
I know Netflix dumped all episodes in one fell swoop, but I’ll be reviewing them individually for old time’s sake.
At the kickstart of Designated Survivor Season 3, Kirkman’s misstep during his State of the Union speech almost cost him his upcoming bid.
The nation assumed he was unhinged and though yelling at the American public may not have been the best approach, Kirkman has never pretended to be something he’s not.
The state of America was crumbling and the only way to get anyone to listen was to cause a scene.
As Emily Rhodes said: it was refreshing.
Kirkman, who is running as an Independent, against his former-friend-turned-nemesis, Moss, quickly learned that his unconventional campaigning tactics would be his secret to success.
His vice president Eleanor Darby also resigned and decided to run against Kirkman as President. Because of her decision, his infrastructure bill didn’t garner enough votes to pass.
There wasn’t much to rely on in terms of data or research for an Independent candidate. And the numbers weren’t there either. Independent’s never had a chance of winning, yet Kirkman struck a chord with numerous voters who wanted, nay, needed a change.
They wanted someone to listen and hell, Kirkman wanted to listen.
Kirkman was uncertain of his own capabilities and gathered his old team for a dinner at the White House where he polled them on his odds of winning.
In true fashion, Emily was the beacon of hope that reframed the election in Kirkman’s mind.
“Why are you running,” she asked him.
At that moment, Kirkman knew he had a shot at winning if he followed his heart and approached it not for himself but for the American people.
By the end of the hour, Kirkman figured out his motive for running, found a uniting platform and hired his campaign manager.
Lorraine Zimmer was a spit-fire and though she initially seemed like a good addition to Kirkman’s unconventional team, I’m not so sure she has his best interests at heart.
Considering Zimmer once served on Moss’ team, I think she may have accepted to position simply to undermine Kirkman and help Moss get elected.
In order for Kirman’s campaign to succeed, he also needed to put the gang back together.
At the beginning of the episode, Emily had removed herself from DC politics and moved home to Florida to take care of her cancer-stricken mother.
Mars Harper replaced her as Kirkman’s Chief of Staff, and though he was damn good at his job, there was always something missing.
Seth, who scored a promotion to White House Communications Director by the end of the hour, lured Emily back to DC explaining that she was the missing key to Kirkman’s success.
Sure enough, when Kirkman saw her he admitted that he needed her back on his team as his moral compass.
Aaron Shore continued to be the eye-candy of the White House, but for all of you shipping his relationship with Emily, it doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards for them.
Shore is now dating Isabel, who I initially thought was his sister (you have to admit, they do look alike), an employee of the White House who really connects him to his Latino side.
While Shore’s romance with Isabel is new to us it’s seemingly been going strong as he just asked her to move in with him.
Although, his reaction to her “thinking about it” didn’t seem too promising.
While Netflix doesn’t ignore the previous narrative of Designated Survivor, it does a great job of wrapping up storylines and moving them ahead without lugging around the baggage.
Hannah Wells’ storyline was so complicated, it did her more harm than good.
Getting dismissed from the FBI closed a chapter for Wells and opened up her new opportunity: a gig with the CIA.
Truthfully, they’d be stupid to pass on a woman so skilled in her craft.
Wells is an absolute ninja and can handle whatever comes her way.
And it seems like that’s going to be bioterrorism; where is Dianne Lewis, CIA director, sending Wells on her next assignment?
And how will her storyline remain connected to President Kirkman?
There’s plenty of new additions to Designated Survivor that will undoubtedly strengthen an already strong cast and ensure enough there’s enough political drama to round out the season.
Dontae Evans, a black and openly gay man, is hired onto the team by Seth after introducing Kirkman’s team to the power of social media and generating a hashtag that successfully redefined his platform.
In addition to Evans, we also briefly met Mars’ wife, Lynn Harper, a woman suffering from opioid addiction.
Free from network constraints, Netflix now has the ability to elevate a series that reaches a broad spectrum of people and touch upon topics that were formerly taboo.
We’re looking forward to seeing what the streaming giant does with a show that never lived up to its full potential.
Also, Penny no longer wants to be referred to as Little P, and it’s heartbreaking because she’s grown up right before our eyes!
What did you think of the Designated Survivor premiere?
Is it a better fit for Netflix?
Will the streaming giant give the cast storylines that play to their strengths?
Does Kirkman have another traitor in his midst with Lorraine?
Designated Survivor – #slipperyslope & #privacyplease (3×02 and 3×03)
Campaigning for President is hard work.
Campaigning for President while simultaneously filling the role of the current President is even more daunting.
It requires double duty, yet Kirkman and his team rise to the occasion in more than one instance.
Lorraine is in charge of getting a platform that will push Kirkman, an independent, to the front of the race.
It proves challenging because unlike Moss, her former client, Kirkman isn’t willing to stoop low in order to advance.
He wants to be the guy that America votes for the right reasons, which automatically makes him the right choice in my book.
But optics are everything in a Presidential race.
And in an America where people have openly admitted to not voting because no candidate represents them, their beliefs, or causes that are important to them, it’s harder to convince the public to see that greatness.
It becomes increasingly difficult when Kirkman’s campaign is overshadowed by scandals that arise out of nowhere.
In Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 2, Kirkman tackles the situation of child brides following an unfortunate meeting with a donor from Saudi Arabia who brings along his 14-year-old wife for a photo op.
Kirkman is disturbed considering the young woman is roughly Penny’s age, and he could never imagine selling his daughter into marriage.
Despite Lorraine’s advice not to speak openly about child marriage, Kirkman decides he cannot just stand by idly.
A representative for Saudi Arabia comes for a sit down with the President and it’s immediately the strongest scene in the episode.
The scene could have been one-sided with Kirkman asserting himself as an American, talking down their archaic beliefs, and taunting America as the better and progressive country.
But instead, the female representative turned the tables and listed off some of America’s flaws: slavery is the foundation, high incarceration rate, and guns.
She also unearthed homegrown issues including laws with grey areas that allow for children to get married pending parental consent.
It’s great when a series can turn the table on its own people and show that sometimes, you have to start with issues in your own backyard.
The fact that Kirkman, and his team, weren’t aware of such laws or that it was common practice in many states speaks to the ignorance of the American people. We’re blissfully unaware about what’s happening on our own turf yet quick to point fingers and condemn others.
Despite his outrage, Kirkman was forced to table a law prohibiting marriage before 18 simply because it didn’t suit his campaign.
Emily was initially upset because she knew deep down that it was the right thing to do and something she was passionate about, yet she understood that Kirkman wouldn’t be able to invoke change if he lost the Presidency.
Emily’s heart is in the right place, which is why she’s Kirkman’s moral compass. She’s idealistic, but sometimes that idealism gets in the way.
Lorraine understands that there’s a strategy when it comes to politics. They’re trying to get every single voter possible and bringing up issues that are controversial can turn those voters away.
As she put it, Kirkman trying to push this legislation would get him nothing, but cost him everything.
Sometimes, to win, you have to take the L.
Emily’s choice to move to the campaign has a few pros mainly that she’ll be close enough to Lorraine to keep her in check.
Emily isn’t the only one who doesn’t trust her and for good reason. Lorraine may be advising Kirkman, but it’s still unclear if she’s actually on his team.
It’ll also benefit Emily to be exposed to a different side of the political game.
After being promoted to Campaign Speaker, Emily mentioned that she had to “toughen” up.
Who would have thought that toughen up would mean to expose Moss’ Alzheimer’s gene when the President explicitly said not to?
Even Lorraine didn’t stoop that low.
Kirkman’s strategy of when they go low, we go high is noble — No one wants a President that’s a bully.
Yet, it was important for the public to know about Moss’ condition even if Kirkman didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news or violate any privacy laws.
The second issue that worked against the President came at the expense of his trans-sister-in-law.
And while it wasn’t fair to out Sasha, who chose to live a life outside of the public eye, but helped establish Kirkman’s beliefs.
Republicans tend to swing towards conservative and anti-gay, Democrats are liberal and thus pretty accepting of the LGBTQ community.
But an independent? Where would he stand?
When Sasha made headline news it was a lose-lose situation for Kirkman.
The public condemned him for hiding his trans family member out of embarrassment without ever considering he was honoring her privacy.
The only way to get the bullying and death threats to stop was for Sasha to make them.
Sasha’s introduction came just as little Penny, who isn’t so little anymore, got her period.
Seeing two men that deal with issues on a national and nuclear level get so bent out of shape over a period was downright hilarious.
It’s a good thing Sasha handled the whole “you’re becoming a woman talk” for Kirkman.
The show is finally acknowledging the impact millennials have on politics.
If a candidate wants to win the popular vote, he has to reach the voters on their terms.
Dontae has taken the Kirkman campaign into the digital age, and it’s refreshing.
When airing Kirkman’s speech about infrastructure on the national channels wasn’t an option, Dontae suggested putting it on the web for free.
Kirkman didn’t just reach more people, he was trending everywhere and as accessible as your best friend.
I think he should win it solely for embracing millennials when other candidates don’t see the value in it.
With the show’s shift to Netflix, Designated Survivor isn’t constrained to as many boundaries.
The F-bombs are flying and for those of us who watched the show since its heyday, it’s slightly jarring, yet it makes things more believable.
I’m betting things at the White House, especially during a campaign trail, are a chaotic cluster eff at all times. Of course, they swear to blow off some steam!
The series has become more inclusive and representative of things like LGBTQ rights, lack of representation for minorities, and Aaron Shore even leads the narrative for the Latinos.
We’d all probably agree that Aaron was sorely underutilized throughout the first two seasons; it’s as if the writers never really knew what to do with him.
But all of that has changed once the series found its new home.
Much like the other characters, Aaron now has a personal life outside of the White House walls with Isabel.
Isabel’s Latino pride is a stark difference from Aaron, who has always tamed down his Latino roots even having changed his last name at some point also.
He always found a conflict between owning his heritage and fitting in in politics, which is something Isabel hasn’t had much of an issue with.
Yes, Isabel challenges Aaron, but it’s not in a good way. Her character is very “I’m right and you’re wrong” and leaves them in constant conflict and disagreements.
Since they are constantly arguing about something, it’s difficult to pick up on any chemistry.
Why be with someone if you don’t accept them for who they are?
Should Aaron own up to his heritage? Quite possibly, but she shouldn’t continuously push him because it’s been successful for her.
Lorraine, on the other hand, is going to push Aaron’s Hispanic heritage in a push for votes.
She also sees the NSA Director’s untapped potential and realizes he can also win over the millennials, the urban, and the 45% of non-voters who felt like they weren’t represented.
Lorraine even says, “if Kirman can get these people, he wins.”
It also helps he’s a looker!
It’s interesting to see a man get objectified instead of a woman for a change.
Much like women do on a daily basis, Aaron is now seeing what it means for someone to measure your worth by appearances and not by how capable you are of doing the job.
Will Aaron take the offer and join Kirkman’s ticket?
Hannah was fired from the FBI, scooped up by the CIA, did her time as an analyst, and then stumbled into a bioterrorism case that’s even left her Dr. Eli Mays scratching his head.
Remember that red cardinal Emily hit with her car while spending time in Florida with her mom? The birds died of a virus that was genetically engineered: smallpox.
Hannah and Eli were exposed at Eli’s friends’ lab, but thankfully got to a cure just in time!
They trace the virus to a hospital that affected plenty of patients and was seemingly brought in by a male nurse who has, you guessed it, dropped off the face of the planet.
A manmade virus created to wipe out the population seems like the kind of situation Hannah would get herself in. It’s just a shame that Chuck isn’t around for this!
It concerns me that Emily was in a state where the bird virus was present. Could this mean she’s in danger?
- Isabel tried hard to fit into the club and she finally found her angle by tackling high drug prices. She stood her own when going after Big Pharma’s outrageous price increases of drugs that easy to produce like insulin simply to turn a profit.
- Mars has been a welcome addition to the team. It’s almost as if he’s an older version of Lyor. His personal storyline deals with a wife who relapsed and blames his need for political gain for the decline of their loveless marriage. Though, it becomes harder to sympathize with him knowing that after he rightfully committed his wife, he went to seek comfort with his side chick!
- Seth is a father. It’s an unexpected storyline, but one that’s been rather enjoyable. Seth donated sperm during his college days to make some money and now, he’s the father of an 18-year-old! Surprise! They drink at bars together, so it seems like the start of a beautiful relationship.
So to sum it all up: Kirkman wants to play fair, but also knows it’s not always in his best interest to pursue any legislature that can divide his voters. Don’t underestimate either Lorraine or Emily. Aaron Shore can be Kirkman’s golden boy if he just gets over the whole “I’m only being considered cause I’m Latino” shpiel. And Seth is a dad!
Thoughts on the two episodes of Designated Survivor?
Keep following CraveYouTV for the remaining episode reviews!
Designated Survivor – Run (2×22)
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?
Designated Survivor – Bad Reception (2×20)
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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