‘Designated Survivor’ 2×04 Review: Who We Are

Remember when this show was about abstract politics and idealism and not about who we are as people? Yeah, I don’t either.

After a season of conceptual problems, a season mostly planned in a world where Donald Trump was not President of the United States, Designated Survivor has approached Season 2 the only way it could, if it wanted to be not just a political show, but a reference for its viewers: head on.

We dealt with the rising costs of prescription drugs and confederate statues already, and now, in the fourth episode of the season, the show tackles its thorniest subject yet – immigration, and it does it by giving a Mexican-American an actual voice.

Yeah, Aaron Shore is Mexican-American. The show had established this before, but they reiterate his background in this episode, and just in case you had any doubt, they have him speaking not just Spanish, but Spanish with a Mexican accent and Mexican slang.

It’s beautiful.

As a Latina, I’ve written a few times about how frustrating it is to watch TV, to go see movies and to have to listen to broken Spanish when the scenes I’m watching are supposed to be set in Mexico, Guatemala or Argentina. Moreover, it makes me want to shake people when I see a “Mexican” speaking with an Argentinian accent, or a Colombian one.


Yes, there is a difference. No, we’re not all the same. And the fact that Designated Survivor, though focused on Mexico, recognizes that is big.

And the fact that Aaron is painted as the guy who has, up to a point, lost touch with his roots is also big because it’s real. It happens, not to everyone, but it happens. Some things you never lose, but sometimes, you try so hard to fit in, to immerse yourself in the culture of the place you’re living in, that you can, without meaning to, end up pushing aside the things that make you, well ….you.

But what’s more important is not what he lost, or the sucky trade agreement that everyone worked hard to negotiate, but what Aaron gained. My love, for one, which I’m not going to say had been waning, but that had been severely dependent on superficial assessments the past few weeks, because Adan Canto had simply gotten nothing meaty to sink his teeth on.

Oh, and yes, family and reconnecting with his roots and all of those things that are clearly not as important as my favor, which the show, surprisingly, kept even while we dived deep into what I thought was going to be a long-lasting secret: The First Lady’s Mother and the business with her father’s transplant.

Look, I don’t know what other people’s reading on that is, but when Eva was all like yes, I did it and I don’t regret it I legit yelled GO YOU at the screen. Because let’s be honest, would you have acted differently if the life of your father was at stake? Or your husband? Hell no.


The interesting part is that, as much as I don’t blame her one bit, I know there are certain interesting ramifications coming from this, and I’m excited to see where it’s going, ESPECIALLY because it’s about time Hannah and John ended up on different sides of whatever this is.

Yeah, I might not want drama for the sake of drama, but I do want some drama. What can I say?

Things You Were Also Thinking:

  • “Above your pay grade” is the kind of excuse that, when you use it, sounds cool, and when you’re on the receiving end makes you want to strangle someone.
  • “If it’s cancer, you have to tell the patient.” ESPECIALLY IF THE PATIENT IS TOM KIRKMAN. Always tell Tom Kirkman things. That is the lesson of this show. You should have all learned it by now.
  • Emily’s whole “stuff breaks” attitude is what I strive to be.
  • Spoiler alert: I’m not.
  • There’s a scene on TV that features 3 women talking to each other and they’re not talking about men or their love lives. I wish that were more common than it is.
  • Also, it’s three women talking in a professional environment, three professional women in high-powered positions.
  • I’m okay. There’s just a little something in my eye.
  • Even a little bit of Aaron and Seth bonding is enough to put a smile on my face.
  • Aaron’s reaction to cousin Nadia is half political savvy, half the big primo/big brother kinda thing that we latinos do when we believe we know everything, and isn’t that just …refreshing? It’s not because she’s a woman. It’s because she’s his cousin.
  • WHERE IS LEO? WHERE IS HE? IS HE ALIVE? Do I need to institute a Leo Watch?
  • “If no one’s happy, then that’s the mark of a good deal.”
  • Lyor, go to dinner with the woman.
  • Every day I keep wondering if this is the episode where Tom Kirkman will have to make a decision that proves he’s not necessarily a bad guy, but that he’s not such a fundamentally good one.  That day has yet to come.
  • And I’m really, really glad about that.


Aaron, I love you so much in this episode that I’m not even gonna complain about your hair. Though, you should take a lesson or two from your family and let the curls go free. Just saying. Also, I’m warming up to the First Lady’s bangs.


-5/10. At this point I’d take ANYONE making eyes at each other. Throw me a bone here, please, Designated Survivor. Even MI6 guy would be acceptable at this point. I care about the politics, I do, but I also want to FEEL. Give me a couple to root for.


Designated Survivor airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on ABC.

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