There’s a lot of idealism and a lot of sentimentalism in this episode of Designated Survivor, titled “One Year In,” but then again, when is there not? From Emily’s statement to Seth, which I borrowed as a title, to the added significance that a figure such as Tom Kirkman has in a world like the one we live in today, it’s hard to watch this episode and not feel like – floundering or not, we’d all take this President and this White House, any day of the week.
But, alas, fiction remains fiction. Reality remains reality. But, at least for one hour every week, we can escape into the world of Tom Kirkman.
So, let’s get into the endearing, the absurd and the new tone the show is striving to hit in Season 2 as we discuss “One Year In”:
Isn’t it both refreshing and a tad absurd to look at the President – evens a fictional one – and basically feel like screaming at the TV that no one can possibly be so idealist? Tom Kirkman is basically this meme, and we sorta love him for it:
And though I specifically said when talking about the things we wanted for this season that I wanted to see him fail – and this episode has made him a bigger failure that I expected, even if he’s just failing at selling himself, the truth is, I just love Tom Kirkman too much for me to want this failure to be a constant, every-day thing.
So yes, it’s good that he played hardball with the Ambassadors and won. It’s also good that this wasn’t a complete win, and that he also lost something. It makes the story more meaningful, it gives the show depth. And I wanted that. I really, really did. It just turns out that I also want Tom Kirkman to save the day.
That’s what happens when you really like a character.
APPEARANCE IS REALITY
I don’t really like Leroy, but I didn’t realize how much we needed Leroy till he was already there, getting under my skin. Because he is right, these people, the ones in the White House, have been plugging holes and trying to weather crisis after crisis for so long that they might not be the best at one of the most important jobs any politician has to do: self-promotion.
Yes, Tom Kirkman is now the President, and he’s not floundering, but if he wants to be responsible for actual change, he’s got to be better at selling himself.
It should be easy – Kirkman is so nice, too nice, even, and everything worked out for him in Season 1. But it’s not, and that’s not just interesting, it’s exactly what the show needed to kick off season 2 in a way that makes us care. Good guy saves the day is a good story, yes, but good guy sometimes stumbles but still tries and, in the end, saves the day, is an even better story.
We don’t need Kirkman to be perfect. We just need him to be him. Designated Survivor already had that going for it – now they added the spice.
THE WEST WING MEETS MYSTERY THRILLER
The conspiracy was fun, and entertaining, but we cannot have a conspiracy every season – it’s just not sustainable. So, the show always had to shift, if it was going to survive, into something along the lines of the West Wing. But then again, the presence of Maggie Q (never take Maggie Q from us, please) means that this can’t be all political drama. So, what is this show trying to be?
Something along the lines Robert Ludlum’s West Wing – with Maggie Q in the Bourne-like badass role and the White House dealing with actual political stuff, the kind that we thought was sorta boring once upon a time, but that we appreciate all the more today.
Is that sustainable – the two parallel storylines intersecting only tangentially and the show mostly focused on how Tom Kirkman governs, instead of how he survives? Of course it is. All it takes is good writing. And – considering what this show delivered in Season 1, it deserves the benefit of the doubt.
Bring it, Designated Survivor. I’m ready.
Things you were also thinking:
- I missed seeing a knowledgeable, calm and Smart President. Even if he’s fictional, it’s great to have Tom Kirkman back.
- 7 BILLION DOLLARS? Dafuq.
- Idealist No. 1 and Idealist No 2 to start off the season with the right tone of – you guessed it, idealism!
- My uber feminism alert went haywire at Mr I-need-some-water’s whole attitude, and that was before they even went into see Kirkman. So yeah, I don’t like Leroy.
- Aaron, I missed you and your “We have a situation” face. You know what I didn’t miss? THAT HAIR GEL.
- Ceramic knives? I hope this is not giving anyone ideas.
- Every woman in the planet has been where Hannah was in her first scene – with a guy trying to take advantage of a situation, any situation.
- AND NO ONE DOING ANYTHING TO HELP HER.
- Fuck that bartender.
- Bro code should not apply when there’s a clearly intoxicated woman.
- And, no, I don’t care that she was faking it, or that he’s presumably a good guy. Point stands.
- I’m so glad Chuck is back. I just hope he gets to do something this year other than moon over Hannah, especially as it looks like he has competition in that regard.
- TOM, DON’T KEEP SECRETS. YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER.
- Also, Emily, Aaron, guy is transparent, come on….
- Aaron and Emily banter is all fine and good, but are we expected to believe they never discussed what could have been in six months of working together?
- Dear God, Seth. Shave. Please. I’m begging here.
- Also, even with the hostility, I’d still want Seth as Press Secretary every day of the week and twice on Sundays.
- Emily and Aaron are worried about the other third of their OT3, this is all I wanted from this season already.
- Yes, Leroy, we all think Aaron is pretty, but get a grip.
- My face at Emily telling Seth: “You matter to me” :
- This season doesn’t feel like it’s going to give me anxiety attacks as bad as last season.
- Famous last words, I know.
1.5/10. When are we gonna do something about the hair gel situation? Also, Seth looks like a hobo. I’m docking points for that. Even if the ladies were on point.
Sexual Tension Meter:
How come Emily and Aaron don’t look like they want to bang anymore? DID THEY ALREADY BANG AND WE MISSED IT?
Did you enjoy “One Year In”? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Designated Survivor airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on ABC.