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TV Review: Designated Survivor (Season 2, Episode 15)


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This was a pleasure to watch as a self-contained episode, but pained a little in the season’s broader scope.

‘Summit’ sees Kirkman mediating negotiations between East and West Hun Chiu, clearly stand-ins for South and North Korea without the name-dropping. It might feel a little like a cop-out, but it’s not Designated Survivor’s responsibility to put out cutting political commentary. So for now, the insinuations will have to do.

Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 15

Both countries are feuding and obstinate, and Kim threatened war if he does not return to his country with a deal he deems acceptable to his people. Double dealings and misleads ensue, not necessarily from the parties you’d expect. Kim’s role in this instalment was useful in drawing parallels between him and Kirkman, highlighting the latter’s dictatorial tendencies.

Sure, Kirkman would neither use nukes to keep a country in line, nor would he orchestrate the murder of his own family members, but it’s become increasingly clear that when it suits him, Tom is more than willing to go over people’s heads and make decisions single-handedly. These aren’t the qualities of the leader of the supposed Free World.

What fundamentally underlined this was when Kirkman pretended to screw Dr. Frost over by exploiting her company and drawing up a contract on her behalf and without her consent. It was great to see him and Frost work together (the two have crackling chemistry leftover from 24), but the fact it the deceit was so believable speaks to how controversial Tom’s actions have been recently.

Emily displayed similar tendencies, a look we’d not yet seen on her. She was carrying out a witch hunt to find the mole, requiring declarations of loyalty from all staff, and asking Chuck to break the law in obtaining a journalist’s phone records. It makes viewers question the quality of her character, if this is what she’s capable of when not under supervision. Let’s hope this issue is addressed in further episodes, and not merely treated as a fluke.

Speaking of, her and Seth’s relationship is finally over (again – but thank God) after only just have gotten back together last week. This season’s got a soft spot for the back and forth trope, between this relationship and Damian’s moral nature; it’s doing a poor job of keeping things interesting. It’s repetitive, drives nothing forward and makes viewers less and less invested in the eventual outcome.

It turned out former President Cornelius Moss had been the leak. The storyline played it as though these leaks had been an important concern of the White House for a couple of months, but the issue is that this season already has a mountainous number of side plots, and the leak in the White House had gotten lost among them. Therefore it didn’t feel like a big reveal since the build up was only really in this episode alone.

The fact that the writers are trying to convince the audience that Moss is the villain (once again) falls flat, at a moment when Tom’s qualities as a protagonist are in question. His intentions are good, but so are Moss’, and thus it’s difficult to feel the anger Tom feels at what he views as a betrayal.

And to the final twist of the hour: it turns out there is a dirty bomb located somewhere in the United States, but intelligence doesn’t seem to know where. Things keep going downhill for the Kirkman presidency. Maybe they’ll manage to link it back to the hacker plot and make that of moderate interest again.

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

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