‘Designated Survivor’ Review: Overkill

I’m not exactly eating my words, not yet, but I have to admit this episode of Designated Survivor (and hopefully the rest of the Michael J. Fox arc) was pretty much exactly what I’ve been asking of the show – minus the ship no one wants, but we’ll go into that later.

We’ve talked ad nauseum about why perfect Tom Kirkman is boring, and yet, somehow, I didn’t think Designated Survivor was ready to take him here: to a place where he’d make the wrong decision, double down on it again and again and then leave his staff scrambling for a way to cover and make him look good.

Talk about overkill indeed.

Yes, as always, the show finds a solution that’s a little too neat and that somehow doesn’t lead to a huge crisis, but at least, beforehand, they have Kirkman show his worst side and, in a way, they show us how his best impulses can sometimes translate to bad things, especially because he’s still a man in mourning, he’s still a man having a hard time and having to, at the same time, do one of – if not the – most difficult job in the world.

And, they do all this, while exacerbating the civil war, of sorts, between Tom’s staff. On one side, we have Emily, the loyal soldier who always has her boss’s back, and on the other side we have ….everyone else, really.

This is infinitely interesting, not only because Emily has been making morally questionable decisions, but because it puts her – and the President – at odds with the people they’ve pretty much been on this journey on.

Now, if the show truly wants to hit a home run with this story-line, they will continue to explore, not the political aspects of the decisions Tom, and to a certain extent, Emily, have made, but the personal aspects of them. How does this affect Kirkman’s family, his brother, his kids? How does it affect his relationship with Seth, with Aaron, even with Lyor? Same goes for Emily. That’s the compelling part. That’s the thing we’re here for, not the politics and not Hannah saving everyone and kicking ass at stuff she’s not even supposed to know how to do.

Though, hey, if a character is going to be supremely good at everything, at least it’s the woman!

And, though I’ve been asking for romance, for a ship, what this show really doesn’t need, is to throw Kirkman and Andrea Frost into any kind of anything. He just lost his wife, the love of his life. I’m not ready for a ship there, and he really shouldn’t be ready for a ship there.

Five episodes left till the end of the season. Let’s hope they’re more like this hour than previous hours.

Other things to note: 

  • What exactly IS Hannah’s job? Anything and everything?
  • I’m so glad Sergeant Simms called her our on her BS time and time again, because she is not military and she really has no business being in the forefront of absolutely every mission.
  • And I say this as someone who loves Maggie Q.
  • When everyone around you is questioning you, maybe it’s time to take a step back, Tom.
  • Chuck is an underrated wonderful character.
  • Why is Damian still around and why do we trust him again?
  • No, seriously, Chuck is 100% on the money, why does he have to work with the traitor?
  • Though it was kinda funny seeing them work together, as much as it didn’t make sense for them to
  • I didn’t even know I needed Lyor/Aaron banter. Please be giving me more.
  • This show really needs to go back to having the Kirkman staff interact with each other in, you know, a friendly way. I loved it when Aaron/Seth/Emily seemed to be, you know, friends.

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

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