Welcome back after a week off. So, what’s new you ask? Not much, only the craziest election results in the history of this nation! Now, I’m not hear to talk about real-life politics, but rather the fantasy kind on this week’s episode of DESIGNATED SURVIVOR. I am more than happy to dive into the conflicts of President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland), who somehow feels more presidential than the one we are living with now, but I digress. President Kirkman starts off the episode looking calm and presidential in snazzy tuxedo with his lovely wife and first lady on hand. He is holding a Governors Summit at the White House to schmooze with the nation’s governors in order to gain their support in rebuilding congress. For the most part, his charm appears to be working with most of them, but the one from Arizona appears to have an agenda (don’t all politicians have an agenda?). Kirkman decides to give a speech to the room, but is abruptly interrupted when gun shots are heard outside of the White House. Everyone quickly falls to the floor, appearing to be fine. Outside, Agent Ritter and the secret service go after the gunman, only to exchange in gunfire, where Ritter is shot to the ground, but still alive. The rest of the team is able to kill the gunman, who turns out to be a Chechen national linked to Al-Siqar. Kirkman can never have an easy day.
The attack ends up creating a refugee crisis in the country, when Governor Rivera of Miami decides a plane full of vetted Syrian refugees are not allowed to enter Miami, even though the plane has already landed on U.S. soil. Rivera feels that they could be terrorists who want to threaten our safety. Kirkman, as usual, takes a more measured logic and disagrees. Rivera refuses to cooperate and this creates a bit of tension. Hopefully, angry Jack Bauer rears his ugly head if their heated exchange gets to be too much. Alex Kirkman (Natascha McElhone), who we know is an immigration lawyer, helps to find a solution. The First Lady is finally given an interesting story-line that is integral to the main narrative, after being saddled with filler sub-plots in previous episodes.
Meanwhile, the governors assemble and ask to hold a mock hearing, where the President is interrogated about his qualifications for the job and if he can truly handle the pressures and difficult decisions that come with being the leader of the free world. This whole thing appears to be way more problematic than your typical job interview. Kirkman is overwhelmed with the level of questioning being thrown his way and starts to doubt his leadership skills. He quickly tells everyone that maybe their doubts are warranted and runs out of the room. His Chief of Staff Aaron and Press Secretary Seth both try to give him words of encouragement, that he is the right person to run this country. Their words are enough to boost Kirkman back into the room and provide an impassioned speech about being a strong leader and if they don’t back him up, then history will remember that. It appears to work because the governors decide to back him, but under one condition, that he ban immigration in all regards, which is in direct correlation to the Miami plane refugee crisis. Feeling pressured, Kirkman decides to comply with their condition, but Alex is upset with the agreement, since she views it as inhumane. This causes some tension between the happy couple, politics can do that.
At first, it appears Kirkman is complying with the governors to stay face, but he actually goes through with the immigration ban, but allows the plane full of refugees to be redirected and land in Canada. This is a surprising move because Kirkman is a man of noble principle and has made choices that appear to be the moral one. This decision goes against that by boldly siding with this immigration ban because it will keep the governors happy and by his side, which is critical in rebuilding congress. He is now acting more like a true politican because he is learning that sometimes you have to make a difficult choice in the moment, but that choice can lead to something better in the long run. He is looking at the bigger picture and that is the quality of a strong leader. It’s nice to see the writers giving Kirkman shades of grey because being President is all about the tough calls.
Meanwhile in FBI land, Agent Wells (Maggie Q) and Director Atwood (Malik Yoba) have Nassar in custody and decide to interrogate him. They both are fully aware that Congressman MacLeish, who was the lone survivor of the Capitol Hill attack, survived because of a secret bomb shelter, which makes him the prime suspect. Of course, things get complicated when Kirkman wants him to be his Vice President, which MacLeish gladly accepts and wants him to also be vetted by the FBI. Wells and Atwood know that Nassar and Al-Siqar are not responsible for the attack, so they want to know who he is covering for. After a round of good cop/bad cop, which involves threatening his family’s safety, Nassar confesses that someone set him up and that he went along with it becuase they shared the same hatred towards the U.S. He gives them the name Catalan, but Wells and Atwood can’t find anything in their database. They would question Nassar further, but they discover that he has died from an “apparent” suicide. Cue the surprise music!
We even haven’t even touched the Seth/female journalist love story yet, but it mainly involved them flirting until she drops a bomb of a question to Seth about the President’s son not actually being his. It was a solid epsiode overall, though it lacked some of the excitement of the previous episodes. I enjoyed the new dimensions being given to Kirkman and Alex was given her most interesting story-line to date. The plot moved forward in getting closer to the attacker, so hopefully we find out who Catalan is soon enough. Next week looks to be a strong episode, as we dive deeper into the MacLeish mystery, which is what we’ve all been waiting for. This a political world I am more than happy to get lost in, if anything to avoid the madness happening now. Until next week!
Season 1, Episode 6 (S01E06)
Designated Survivor airs Wednesdays at 10PM on ABC
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.
Cristian Barros | Contributor