DESIGNATED SURVIVOR Review: “Commander-In-Chief”

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Designated Survivor

We are back this week with another chapter of the saga. Like last week’s episode, we have another episode that is heavy on plot and information and light on action. This is another “filler” episode, where we get a standalone narrative thread with the continuing mystery of the Capitol Hill bombing. Though the episode is light on action, at least some of the narrative threads regarding the main mystery moves things forward a bit. Let us dive into this week’s surprising new reveals.

The episode starts off right where we left off, with Aaron running into Charles Langdon (former White House Chief-of-Staff) at night in his neighborhood. Aaron is shocked to see Langdon alive because he, like the rest of the world, thought he had died in the Capitol Hill bombing. Still in shock, he follows Langdon into a nearby church for safe hiding. Agent Wells and her team are tailing them. They make their move and crash the church service (apparently nothing is sacred with the FBI), but Aaron is found alone and Langdon has run off.

DESIGNATED SURVIVOR - "Commander-in-Chief" - Turmoil in an African country forces President Kirkman to rely on an unlikely ally for help, as Hannah's investigation into the Capitol bombing takes an unexpected turn. Meanwhile, Emily settles into her new role as chief of staff while Aaron has to make a difficult choice, on ABC's "Designated Survivor," WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Ben Mark Holzberg) KIEFER SUTHERLAND

Since Agent Wells is still highly skeptical of Aaron, she decides to bring him in to question what information Langdon provided. Turns out that what Langdon wants is immunity in exchange for information. Wells takes the information to Kirkman, but he wants none of it. Wells tries to ease his fears by suggesting that this could be the only chance they have to gain vital information about the shadow group and the bombing. He gives his approval and Wells brings Langdon in. The information he provides is alarming, but sheds some important light on the case. Langdon feel in love with a woman at a party, who supposedly worked for a large contracting firm. She tricked him into providing her with inside information about highway contracts and renovations. Langdon didn’t think much of it and didn’t realize the deadly consequences that would eventually result in terrorism and the death of the sitting president. The guilt of his actions has been eating him away.

DESIGNATED SURVIVOR - "Commander-in-Chief" - Turmoil in an African country forces President Kirkman to rely on an unlikely ally for help, as Hannah's investigation into the Capitol bombing takes an unexpected turn. Meanwhile, Emily settles into her new role as chief of staff while Aaron has to make a difficult choice, on ABC's "Designated Survivor," WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Ben Mark Holzberg) ITALIA RICCI

The mysterious woman that Langdon met is named Claudine and apparently, doesn’t like pictures taken of her, which is a definite red flag. He happens to have a photo of her sleeping (creeper alert!). Immediately, Wells recognizes her as the woman responsible (who also loves to wear trench coats) for arranging the kidnapping and murder of Jason Atwood’s son. This intel brings us closer to uncovering the shadow group that has been causing all of the chaos since day one.

Kirkman comes in to meet Langdon and demands to reveal everything he knows about the bombing. These are the moments when Sutherland can slip into his Jack Bauer persona. The man wants answers and he will yell if necessary! Langdon divulges that on the day of the bombing, Claudine called him and blackmailed him (she had someone watching him from afar and would kill him, if needed) to call in the order to name Kirkman as the designated survivor for the night’s State of the Union address. Langdon, out of fear, jumped into his car to drive to the FBI and inform them off all of the madness. On the way, his car was creepily hacked into and caused the car to run off of a bridge and into the water. By the time he pulled himself to safety, it was too late and the bombing had hit the Capitol. Kirkman seems convinced, but still wonders why he was picked at designated survivor and why. Landgon is unsure, but thinks the reason may be that he was seen as the weakest cabinet secretary. Harsh words, but it wouldn’t be the first he would this in the episode. Poor guy can’t catch a break.

DESIGNATED SURVIVOR - "Commander-in-Chief" - Turmoil in an African country forces President Kirkman to rely on an unlikely ally for help, as Hannah's investigation into the Capitol bombing takes an unexpected turn. Meanwhile, Emily settles into her new role as chief of staff while Aaron has to make a difficult choice, on ABC's "Designated Survivor," WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Ben Mark Holzberg) GEOFF PIERSON, KIEFER SUTHERLAND

Moving on to the other relevant story of the week, the arrival of former President Moss, charming is way back to the White House to help Kirkman with the stress and obstacles of being the leader of the free world. Right away, Moss provides Kirkman with his honest opinion of his performance as current president, which is he is not doing all that well. Moss points out that Kirkman needs to lead and not be so reactive in the role.

Just in time to prove Moss wrong, an event is brought to Kirkman’s attention regarding a nasty civil war in the African nation of Naruba. There is a potential genocide brewing, so this is a time sensitive matter and strong leadership and aid are needed right away. He tells Emily that the State Department to do something quickly to help the victims.

Kirkman meets with his top security advisers and learns that matters are more complex than initially thought. One the reasons the Naruba situation isn’t being dealt with is because Russia vetoed the UN Security Council’s decision to get involved and stop the murdering of innocent people. America is back into a corner, but Kirkman wants to set up a covert drone operation to strike the militants in Naruba.

DESIGNATED SURVIVOR - "Commander-in-Chief" - Turmoil in an African country forces President Kirkman to rely on an unlikely ally for help, as Hannah's investigation into the Capitol bombing takes an unexpected turn. Meanwhile, Emily settles into her new role as chief of staff while Aaron has to make a difficult choice, on ABC's "Designated Survivor," WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Ben Mark Holzberg) KIEFER SUTHERLAND, GEOFF PIERSON

Kirkman is given an update that a group of American volunteers has been kidnapped by the same militants Kirkman was planning to strike. He is backed into another corner. He can either save the volunteers and risk the rest of the country being murdered or risk the volunteers to help the other population. Not an easy decision, but Moss recommends to do handle the more time sensitive issue and save the volunteers because he has to put his own people first. Kirkman, the outside and creative thinker that he is, comes up with an option to save the volunteers and delay the militants at the same time. After saving the volunteers, Kirkman orders forces to attack the city’s infrastructure, which will prevent the dangerous militants from moving into the main part of Naruba. This will buy him time until the genocide begins. Moss is impressed and pays Kirkman a much needed compliment (finally!). Kirkmam asks Moss to negotiate with the Russians as the new Secretary of State and Moss gladly accepts. Hopefully these can get along moving forward, but you never know on this show.

Another shift in the narrative occurs when Aaron decides to step down as Chief-of-Staff. Kirkman begs him to stay, but Aaron feels he has become damaged goods in the press and within the White House. Kirkman is sad to see him go, but allows him to resign and they part ways. Emily is also sad to see him go, but he tells her good luck and that she will thrive in the position. I hope these two can make out again soon, there has to be some romance somewhere on this show to release the stress of the chaos.

The episode ends with Agent Wells being named by Kirkman as lead investigator into the bombing conspiracy.  The title bump and new resources will make Wells unstoppable in taking down the bad guys.

This was another solid episode, despite being an unspectacular one. We didn’t quite get the action fireworks of some of the past few episodes. That being said, plenty of important new information about the bombing was revealed, which helped propel the narrative forward. More importantly, we need more Hookstraten. She was missing from the episode and her no-bull energy zaps momentum into any scene she is in. Plus, Virginia Madsen is great in the role. So I request more Hookstraten! See you next week!

TB-TV-Grade-B

Season 1, Episode 14 (S01E14)
Desginated Survivor airs Wednesdays at 10 PM on ABC

Read all of our reviews of Designated Survivor here. 
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In the crowded TV jungle, Cristian searches through the dense vines to find quality programming for all to enjoy.
Keep up with all of Cristian’s reviews here.

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