‘Designated Survivor’ 2×05 Review: Pay it Forward

Sometimes I think that maybe, in another Earth (Earth 19, or something, help me out here The Flash), one where Hillary Clinton is President of the United States, I could watch a show like Designated Survivor with a TV reviewer sensitivity and that’s it, worry about plot points and character interactions and what the show is doing in comparison to last season.

We, sadly, don’t live in that world, though hey, if Barry wants to take us, I think we’d all be up for the change, and since we don’t, I have to look at this show with the eyes of someone who, even when he messes up, really, really wishes Tom Kirkman were President of the United States.

Spoiler Alert: I really, really wish Tom Kirkman were President of the United States.

Take this episode, for example. The Kirkman White House was in high alert because the President used the word suckers in a private conversation, as a jest, to refer to the American people and a politically savvy and disloyal senator leaked that information. If we lived in a world where Donald Trump wasn’t the President and hadn’t used 7454 words worse than that one to refer to everyone from the American people to scientists, women in general, members of the military, families of fallen heroes, everyone in the world, among others, then this might actually seem like a tragedy to us.

But we do live in that world and since we do, I find that this episode was just another reminder, not just of what things could be, but what they should be. What we should aspire to be – all of us, really. Tom Kirkman, at times, seems like the kind of guy who should not be President because, more often than not, he refuses to play the game. He refuses to do the easy thing.

And yet, that means he’s also the guy who usually does the right thing. And isn’t that what we want in a President, even a fictional one? We don’t want the smartest guy – we never have, the President can afford to surround himself with smart people, after all. We want the most honest guy, the kindest one, the one who will do the right thing.

Cheers to the people in this alternate universe, cause they him. We’re only watching him on TV, and we’d kinda run through a wall for him too, Emily. We really would.



Someone should do me a solid and ask President Obama if life in the White House is really as quotable as this show makes it seem. Even Mike was delivering the life lessons this episode, and, of course, at this point we can do a Tom Kirkman Best Quotes book. It’d be an inspirational book. The subheading can be: How to Be A Good Person In All Circumstances.

Because, honestly, if you didn’t just think, for a second there, in the middle of the episode, that he should just use whatever they had on Republican Idiot (I know his name, I’m just refusing to use it out of principle), then you’re a better person than me and probably don’t need the book as much.

I need it, though, I really do.

Often times, when watching this show, or TV in general, or the news, we get caught up in the idea of who’s smarter, who can play the other, who can have the final word. Smart is our ultimate goal, and I understand why. Smart people, in general, get ahead. Smart people get what they want.

But, isn’t it refreshing that Tom Kirkman seems to be here to teach us that the ultimate goal shouldn’t be to be the smartest person in the room, but the kindest? That not all problems can be solved by trying to win every battle, and that, sometimes, you can let others ‘win’ and still get what you want?

I know, I’m as shocked as you, not by the general idea, but by the fact that, five episodes into Season 2, this show still refuses to turn Tom Kirkman into a run of the mill politician.

Maybe, though, maybe that is why we keep watching. Maybe Kirkman gives us hope – and the world of a President who says way worse than sucker approximately five times a day – isn’t hope the best thing TV can give us?

Hope. It feels good, doesn’t it?

Other things to note:

  • Every time someone runs alone in the woods, bad things happen. It’s like a rule of TV/movies.
  • This is just an excuse to bring Damian back, right?
  • “Government exists to help people who cannot help themselves.” “That’s not government, that’s charity.”
  • I kinda ship Chuck and Damian, what can I say? THERE’S ALL THIS HOSTILITY!
  • Did I say fuck that republican senator? Double fuck him.
  • “I don’t like scruples, they’re impractical.” I keep trying not to agree with Lyor, but here I am. Liking him.
  • “Seth, do your things with words.”
  • The chemistry between Hannah and Damian is negative twenty five. They kissed and I just wanted the scene to end. Please do not go there, kthanx.
  • I know I asked for a ship, but respectfully, I just want to say: NOT THIS ONE. NOT THIS ONE.
  • You think I felt bad for that republican idiot at the end of this tale? The answer is no. Triple fuck him.
  • Kirkman is way too nice and yeah, I know I just discussed why that’s a good thing, but that doesn’t mean this idiot deserves it.
  • Also, for real now, where is Leo? Is he alive?

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

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