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TV Review: Designated Survivor (Season 2, Episode 7)


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“NATO is coming apart, my son is being sued, my mentor is a potential murder suspect, and my mother-in-law is being grilled by the FBI. And I’m just sitting here watching the world burn.”

The season so far has been defined by its attempts to cram as many storylines per episode as physically possible, and this week is no exception. Though it certainly makes for an exhilarating hour, one still steps away with a lingering feeling of dissatisfaction.

Old plots are redressed whilst new ones are hastily thrown in and made clumsily relevant. Whilst definitely made exciting with action and political drama, it seems Designated Survivor is falling into a rut, and is undeniably missing the freshness it brought with season one.

As a standalone, it was a good episode, but long-term sub plots were clumsily brought together, often with lethargic conclusions. The Thorne murder for instance, had the potential to feed into a larger, bigger conspiracy that could transcend national borders and make for a fascinating and dynamic story. The direction the show takes is vastly different, and disappointing.

Secretary Moss, far from being involved in a coverup of Charlotte Thorne’s murder, had been having an affair with the British diplomat. Far from exposing a thrilling conspiration, Hannah and Damian discover that Charlotte’s assistant had killed her because, being in love with Charlotte, she was jealous of her relationship with Moss. It was not the inspired narrative hoped for, and it can’t be helped to feel the conclusion wasted a great opportunity.

The conflict with the Turkish President is also very similar to prior conflicts faced by Kirkman’s team, and therefore lacks some of the impact that was no doubt intended. It was indisputably wonderful to finally see President Kirkman play the political game with such success, as he promises a civil war in Turkey if President Turan does not cease his actions against the US and NATO. It’s a relief that the showrunners are still allowing character development for Kirkman, even as the show has been driven mostly by action than by people.

It was also a wise decision to allow the President to let off some of the steam that had been building up in the last few weeks, as he repeatedly expresses frustration at having his “hand tied” by external circumstances.

One of the weaker aspects of ‘Family Ties’ was Leo’s involvement. The fact it was his first appearance this season was a sure tip-off that his storyline would tie into the rest of the episode’s. To discover that the altercation between him and a protestor was set up by the Turkish President in order to put pressure on Kirkman was an outrageous coincidence that simply failed. The episode could easily have done away with the entire storyline and produced a more believable and contained instalment.

With the closure of this week’s crisis however, comes the revelation that Forstall has subpoenaed the First Lady, following Eva’s interview. Finally, the First Family has come to the realisation that they are being set up by unknown forces yielding a lot of power in the political landscape. It’s still unknown how Natascha McElhone will exit the series, but it’s highly likely it will relate to this latest development, which can only mean its outcome will be disastrous.

This subplot may not be as gripping as last season’s Capitol bombing conspiracy, but it will be interesting to see where the writers take it, and will hopefully bring back some of the intrigue Designated Survivor has been craving.

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

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