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TV Review: Designated Survivor (Season 2, Episode 16)


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‘Fallout’ picked up where ‘Summit’ had left off, with Kirkman discovering there was a dirty bomb hidden somewhere in the United States.

Finally, this allows Designated Survivor to go back to what made it such a popular show in its first season, returning from a soapy political drama to a political suspense thriller.

It’s all the better for it. As predicted, Kirkman immediately jumps on Kim and accuses him of being responsible for planting the bomb as a way of sabotaging the peace deal. What ensues from there are discussions, some techy spying, and Hannah doing all the legwork in hunting down the main suspect, as usual.

This episode really saw Kirkman and Emily sliding away from their ‘moral compass’ personas that had defined the first season. Bringing Andrea Frost into the fold was a great move on the part of the writers. As Moss stated last episode, Tom surrounds himself with ‘yes men’, who are essentially incapable of telling him when he is overstepping.

Andrea Frost may not be the answer to this, but her fresh perspective serves to highlight moments in which Tom oversteps and abuses his Presidential powers. She is wary of the government and reluctant to give them too much control over her technology, in this case a powerful tool called Lyra.

Where she underlines the importance of upholding people’s Constitutional privacy rights, Kirkman claims use of the Patriot Act ‘for the greater good’. This was one indicator that the White House’s actions were going down a dangerous path.

Emily acted similarly with regards to prosecuting Moss, hiding the truth from Kendra as to how she obtained his phone records, name-dropping the President as though it was justification for bypassing the law. When things weren’t going her way, Emily anonymously leaked the Moss investigation to Simon, a reporter who’s been sniffing around for some time.

Worse than that, she didn’t seem to think she did anything wrong. It’s a far cry from the Emily the audience was introduced to, and sets worrying precedents as to how far she may go in the future to get what she wants. Both her and Tom are straying into autocrat territory.

That was made abundantly clear when, after the detonated bomb killed John Forstell and five other FBI agents, and more information was uncovered, he declared war on Kunami despite his advisors’ warnings and without convening Congress. It’s a decision that will undoubtedly prove rash, since it’s easy to anticipate that the same hacker who sabotaged the space station will also prove responsible for framing Kunami.

The decoy plot and Forstell’s demise weren’t all that surprising, so what provided the excitement for this hour came from the character development in Kirkman and Emily. It’s all too predictable for a show’s protagonists to become more and more lovable as the season develops, but what if the protagonists gradually become antagonists?

How the rest of the season will develop will be fascinating. ‘Fallout’ was of a calibre not seen from Designated Survivor in a while, but if the writers keep to the thriller-esque genre which made the show so popular in the first place, as they have the past two weeks, viewers are in for a fantastic rest of the season.

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

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