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TV Review: Designated Survivor (Season 2, Episode 18)

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‘Kirkman Agonistes’ was an amazing and captivating hour of television. Rolling off the end of the last episode, this week deals with the fallout of the psychiatrist’s tapes being leaked.

Kudos to Designated Survivor for using the 25th Amendment as a plot point; it’s not often that this show takes an opportunity to make a political comment, but the writers put this one to good use (Of course, contrary to the current political situation, we’re actually rooting for the person in office).

Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 18

With the hack and fallout as the focus, there’s no external crisis for Kirkman to deal with. As a result, the narrative is much tighter than usual, which contributes to an even tone and pace throughout the episode. Hopefully the rest of this season follows this pattern.

Within the first few minutes, doubts and suspicions about the senior staff’s loyalty to the administration are dismissed. It’s a relief, because it all would have been unnecessary drama given how well the audience has gotten to know each character.

However, that doesn’t mean betrayal isn’t on the table. Dr Andrea Frost is present this episode, assisting Kirkman and serving as his confidante throughout the ordeal. She is so likeable, so present for Kirkman and so understanding of his situation that it really does shock when it’s revealed that she may be the hacker.

Of course this may be another red herring, but it seems like a highly plausible theory. She has the access, the brains, just not the motive. Whatever the outcome, the revelation was beautifully timed.

The tapes being leaked led to Vice President Darby and the rest of the cabinet voting Kirkman out of office. Darby is willing to give Kirkman a chance however, and holds off on signing the papers, allowing for him and the others to agree to a hearing.

After much anticipation and advertising, Michael J. Fox finally joins the cast, and his character Ethan West is one brought in by the cabinet to ‘prosecute’ in the hearing. It’s hard not to love him straight away, despite him being set up as the antagonist.

Meanwhile, while the past few weeks have seen Emily and Kirkman make questionable decisions, this time their moral compasses shone as they had throughout season one. Emily was ready to fall on her sword and admit to leaking the Moss story to the press, to save Kirkman from taking the blame for her actions.

Their relationship is what started Designated Survivor, and it’s great to see that shine again every so often. Likewise it was fantastic to see the whole team work as one, showing unity and rallying around the man they believe in, and scrambling to find a solution.

And while this is all happening in the White House, Hannah was the one out finding the clues that led to Frost. Her and Damian must have been getting close to something else however, because Damian is killed in a drive-by, saving Hannah’s life. It’s difficult to feel anything towards Damian’s death, given he’d already ‘died’ and come back, and given his on-off dynamic with Hannah was so exhausting.

More impactful than Damian’s death will be the impact it has on Hannah. After having lost Forstell, and now Damian, she’ll be more driven than ever to seek revenge on the hacker responsible for both deaths.

‘Kirkman Agonistes’ began a perfectly intriguing and exciting arch, one that is set to extend to the season’s end. If this episode was anything to go by, Designated Survivor is certainly looking up.

Designated Survivor is available to watch on Netflix, with new episodes arriving weekly. 

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