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TV Review: Designated Survivor (Season 2, Episode 21)


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Designated Survivor’s penultimate episode ‘Target’, unfortunately disappoints. Not only is it anti-climactic, given it should be gearing up for the season finale, it’s also been announced that ABC is cancelling Designated Survivor; ‘Target’ is therefore by default set to be the penultimate episode of the entire show.

Having resolved the hacker conspiracy (for the most part) last episode, it was unclear where the remaining two episodes would be heading. Turns out, this hour was all over the place. If this season has proved anything, it’s that Designated Survivor is at its best when it tells tight storylines that feed into one another.

Aside from bringing back Moss’ arch about leaking classified intelligence to the press, and a little about Damian’s murder, there’s hardly anything about this episode which ties back to the main plots. As Moss continues to publicly undermine Kirkman, the White House staff suggest hiring a special prosecutor to bring him to justice.

Of course, who else would they bring in but Ethan West? It appears as though the writers are finding any excuse to squeeze in Michael J. Fox, even if those appearances feel forced. Of course he’s a fantastic energy on screen, but his storylines simply don’t feel organic.

The only issue that had potential lasting significance, was the question of Kirkman’s re-election. ‘Target’ sees him approached by both leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties, asking him to switch from Independent to their side ahead of the elections. Kirkman, being himself, refuses both offers, to find out later that the Republicans have offered Cornelius Moss the candidacy.

Meanwhile Hannah is off on her own quest, still on the hunt for Damian’s killer and now heading to London to protect Damian’s daughter. It’s unclear where this will lead, and there does not seem to be anything linking this arch to any White House narrative, which is a shame.

She’s sure to be brought back into the political intrigue however, for West has set his sights on her. It’s true that the way Hannah’s character operates has been ridiculous at times, serving pretty much every and any function conducive to driving the narrative.

It looks like the show will be addressing that however, as it turns out her methods and actions are catching up to her. Unfortunately with West involved, it’ll likely end up compromising Kirkman, too. All this right after everything he had to go through with the hearing procedures to determine whether he was fit to serve.

This episode is so disjointed and full, that the primary plot turns out to be one surrounding an old case Kendra worked years ago, with a vengeful family and a break-in to her home. Yes, it led to some development of Kendra’s character, and to some great exchanges between her and Emily, but beyond that the storyline seems inconsequential.

Instead of having these last two episodes build on something that’s been building throughout the season, more plots keep being thrown in. With too much happening, no sign of how it relates to the broader story, and no time to address anything properly, it looks like Designated Survivor might not end on the high that it deserves.

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

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