DESIGNATED SURVIVOR Review: “Equilibrium”

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This week’s Designated Survivor doubled down on bringing current hot button issues into its storyline, with a story that revolved around the Mexican border, Americans losing out to jobs moving to other countries, and… a broken vase?

Last week Hannah found the body of one, Eric Little, after following a trail left by Patrick Lloyd and discovering some heart transplant insurance papers that seem to implicate the First Lady in some form of bribery. Eva, Alex Kirkman’s mother, had apparently accepted a bribe to have her husband bumped up the heart transplant list. What that was, we’re not sure. But when we pick up this week, Hannah herself is being interrogated by a local detective about the Eric Little murder. Hannah’s not sweating him. “It’s about your pay grade,” she tells him. I mean, this is Agent Hannah Wells, pal. He lets her go.

After about six weeks of a trucker strike that has cost America ten billion dollars already, video emerges of a Mexican national barreling through the blockade truckers have formed at the Mexican border, hitting multiple protesters. The Mexican driver is shot and killed by border control. You can imagine the outrage and media frenzy that would accompany such an occurrence in real life, and it is accurately depicted here.

Turns out it is very ill timing for this to happen, as President Kirkman is trying to hammer out a trade agreement with Mexican ambassador Mr. Arronte. Mexico is one of America’s biggest trade partners, and so getting this right is crucial, yet Kirkman needs to take into consideration the American jobs being lost and moving to Mexico where companies can offer lower wages. When during a press conference it is revealed the Mexican driver was killed by an American gun, the hoopla intensifies.

Meanwhile, Hannah has to talk to the First Lady about her mother and see what she knows. When she does talk to Alex, positing that her mother committed a federal crime by having her husband illegally bumped up on a heart transplant list, Alex is appalled and offended. She dismisses it as nonsense at once, and as Hannah doesn’t REALLY have that much else to back it up, there’s not much she can do than leave it alone for now. But in an interesting turn, Alex mentions it to Eva, and Eva admits to it abruptly. Of course she did it. She did it to save her husband. It gave him fifteen more years of life, and she would do it again. Family first, right? Alex is amazed and frightened for what this means for her own family. Will her mother go to jail? And what does this mean for her husband’s presidency?

Aaron is sent by Kirkman to go talk to Mexican-American Seantor Flores to see if he can scrounge up her public support for his trade deal with Mexico, but when he gets there he is surprised to be met by his cousin Nadia, who just recently landed a new working for the Senator. Aaron is a little thrown. He eventually does get to talk to the Senator, and gets her to commit to supporting Kirkman, but he also warns her that sending out his cousin to meet with him was a low blow, and it won’t be opening any doors at the White House for her. Yikes.

The trade deal and border situation is amped up when trucker union representative Paul Zalesky goes on TV to tell everyone the President is more concerned with globalism than the American worker. Arronte obviously argues otherwise. Kirkman decides that perhaps the best way to get the two sides to come together is to have them meet the widow of the driver who was killed. Soon enough Ms. Mendez is there speaking with Arronte and Zalesky, and the President watches them shake hands civilly. He refuses to parade her in front of the new cameras, as he knows she is upset. He speaks with her about her husband Jose and she mentions how he was only hired for that trucking company three weeks. Light bulb.

Kirkman confront Mr. Arronte. HE was the one who hired Jose Mendez and ordered him to drive into the armed blocked to give him a leg up in trade negotiations. Kirkman tells him to go back to Mexico and speak to his President and tell him to take the trade deal, or be charged with manslaughter. Mr. Arronte has no choice. And with this negotiating chip, Kirkman is able to please Zalesky’s side as well, by asking his friend Dax to hold off on production of his new electric car models he plans to produce (which would ultimately take jobs from Americans).

In the end, Eva is subpoenaed by the FBI for her crime, and Hannah learns that there may be a connection to Eric Little in this case as well.

Oh, and throughout it all, there is a White House whodunit regarding a broken vase, which was given to Rutherford B. Hayes by the Chinese. At first it looks like it was Kirkman’s daughter, but turned out to be Paul Lyor who was rushing around to get more steps in on his Fitbit and knocked the vase over. Oy.

Overall it was a pretty “meh” hour. It held my attention, but I’m not sure what this show really is. I missed the entire first season, and coming in now it just feels like any old White House. Why are these stories unique to this series? Designated Survivor needs to make some bold moves soon.

TB-TV-Grade-B-

Season 2, Episode 4 (S02E04)
Designated Survivor airs Wednesdays at 10 PM on ABC

Read all of our reviews of Designated Survivor here. 
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Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulgulyas
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