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TV Review: Designated Survivor (Season 2, Episode 14)

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This week’s Designated Survivor puts a long-term issue to rest, the question of who will be Kirkman’s Vice President.

It’s strange to think that Kirkman still believed he didn’t need a vice president. One can understand a certain wariness after what happened with Peter MacLeish, but for him to go an entire year, and especially go through the death of his wife, whilst governing alone, defies common sense.

Therefore this week was all about establishing the candidates for the post, and the ultimate decision to appoint Washington DC Mayor, Ellenor Darby to the post, after she and Kirkman spent the hour tackling a crisis together.

She’s a woman who was willing to call the President out when she deemed it appropriate, at one point suggesting he was running the risk of appearing authoritarian, and acting like a dictator after he called in the National Guard on the DC metro area after looting broke out during the blackout.

It’s true that Kirkman has been particularly obstinate and reactive to challenges, especially since Alex’s death. It’s a different side to him that may well bring forth more interesting dynamics but, bringing a new character into the fold who can act as a counterbalance to this new side of his leadership, will be a welcome addition.

Speaking of new additions, Trey continues to be a breath of fresh air. He’s charismatic, sweet, and understanding, and he even has the contacts to unexpectedly help out his older brother. He’s a lighter counterpart to Tom, as Kirkman remains darkened by his mourning and the weight of responsibilities.

The resolution to this week’s crisis, a blackout engineered by the same hacker who’s so far infected the International Space Station and caused the prison video leak, is uneventful. Chuck figured out a cipher, and it was all resolved off-screen.

Yes, the crisis’ purpose was to unite Kirkman and his next VP, that much is obvious. However, considering the longer narrative arch surrounding this mysterious hacker, it would benefit the season as a whole to ensure the audience becomes invested in this thriller conspiracy plot.

Yet so far, it’s been at the back of every episode, making it hard to care about its eventual resolution. It’s almost as though this hacker has been used by the writers as a scapegoat for every crisis that’s come the White House’s way; it feels neither honest nor exciting, so here’s hoping they move this narrative to the front stage and invest more time into it.

Still of annoyance is Aaron’s extremely limited role. This week he fills the posts of Head of the NSA and Interim Chief of Staff, and still he has less screen time than Emily and Lyor combined, both of whom are just stuck in an elevator for close to the entirety of the hour.

He’s a fantastic actor and a fascinating character, and it’s about time the writers start giving him the credit he’s due. Especially when he occupies such crucial roles both in Kirkman’s inner circle and at the heart of the hacker investigation. Audiences demand more Aaron!

Equally as frustrating is how Hannah’s story arch consistently returns to Damian. While there’s a potential for the blackout to be brimming with mystery and suspense, attention is somehow steered right back to Damian, while contributing close to nothing to the plot’s advancement.

It was an overall enjoyable hour of television, but ‘In the Dark’ felt a little messy, particularly with moments involving the hacker investigation. The best thing about this instalment was the introduction of Kirkman’s new VP, an addition which holds great promise as Designated Survivor’s second season moves towards its end.

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

 




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