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TV Review: Designated Survivor (Season 2, Episode 12)


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On this week’s Designated Survivor, the White House deals with its latest crisis, the hacking of the International Space Station, of the American rocket intended to bring water to the astronauts in space, and subsequently of Russian rockets.

The United States and Russia work together to save their astronauts, as Kirkman also enlists the help of Dr. Andrea Frost, treating audiences to a 24 reunion. Kim Raver will be sticking around, though in what capacity beyond their space technology expert remains to be seen.

Of course, last episode was left on the revelation that Damian Rennett was still alive and had decided to pay a visit to the woman who’d tried to kill him. ‘The Final Frontier’ picks things right back up, as he tries to convince Hannah that he has time-sensitive information her government would find valuable.  

It seems the writers have decided to further extend the whole “can we trust Damian?” debate that had already gone on for too long by the time he went over the side of the bridge. Bringing back Damian was neither intriguing nor exciting, and yet it looks like he’ll be sticking around.

Revelations about his double dealings and his motivations fall flat and lack narrative value, because as an audience we’ve lost interest in his character, and not just because he’s been gone from our screens for a few weeks.

The same can be said about the Icarus namedropping. Unless it ties in to new and exciting conspiracies, we’ve seen enough of the Icarus investigation already, without having it being brought up once again.

Something the last couple of episodes have done extremely well however, including ‘The Final Frontier’, has been to add new layers to Tom Kirkman’s character. He’s the easiest man to love; he’s a kind, moral and empathetic man who can be counted on to always make the ‘right’ decision.

The downside to having such a decent man be a show’s protagonist is that it also makes him extremely predictable, and therefore a little boring. He will always do the right thing, and therefore no outcome to crises the show faces is all that surprising to audiences.

Thankfully for the future of Designated Survivor, it looks like the showrunners are about to give their President some complexity. First with his threatening of his wife’s killer last week, and now with his firing of Vice President Cornelius Moss after he went behind his back to broker a deal with the Russian ambassador.

Of course, we still see the old Tom in his interactions with his closest staff and with Penny, especially. The latter is handled especially beautifully; we see Penny act out some of her grief as she gets into fights at school in attempts to defend classmates who were being bullied. Scenes between her and her father are how we see how Tom handles his trauma away from the spotlight, yet still with the pressures to keep it together for his family. It also allows for Alex’s sudden death to land emotionally with viewers.

This was a crisis like any other, but with the added flair of connecting to this half-season’s new conspiracy. This week also redressed a recurring issue of the show, which is that it tries to pack too many plotlines into 40 minutes; it effectively streamlined its narrative and kept the pace well. And though Damian returning may be incredibly frustrating, especially when it means benching Aaron Shore, the episode allowed for character development and for another exiting addition to the supporting cast. ‘The Final Frontier’ bodes well for what’s to come in later weeks.

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

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