Designated Survivor

Designated Survivor 1×02 – The First Day

"America is demanding action and I am giving you an enemy we can kill."

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I was sure Designated Survivor would flop after its promising pilot, so it’s definitely encouraging to see the show managing to stay afloat with such a high-concept premise.

The ramifications of the entire cabinet getting assassinated were explored in fascinating ways; the rogue Michigan governor provided a nice counterpoint to Tom’s level-headed thinking, and the discrimination against Arabs as a result was very timely and effective. I only hope these consequences carry on in subsequent episodes, because Tom’s solution (the Homeland Security lie) was a tad too simple for my taste. Nevertheless the storyline even allowed some thoughtful insight into Seth’s mindset as a minority working in Washington. It’s good to see that the conspiracy angle isn’t the show’s primary concern.

Keifer Sutherland continues to impress as an everyday man thrust into the most important job on Earth. After cementing himself as such an iconic badass on 24, it must be reiterated how incredible he is to successfully sell me on such an insecure character. Quite awesomely, he manages to tap into moments of aggression and confidence at key moments; I got goosebumps during his speech in the control room as he threatened to launch the missiles himself (once he gets more evidence). More of this please!

Quite predictably, the Nikita side of things with Maggie Q investigation the bombing is moving at a snail’s pace. I can already see her approaching the President herself and telling him about her theory as they work together (maybe she’ll even become his security detail in season two), so let’s hope the writers can accelerate the momentum here and give us a few unexpected twists in the process.

Presidential Bits

– The fact that Tom just casually walks out of his office as everyone starts screaming and fighting.

– Promising new character with the introduction of the “other” designated survivor, Congresswoman Kimble. Could there be romance sparks here? Or is she a secret antagonist? She’s far too perfect at the moment.

– Very human touch with Alex wondering if she should “smile” at the bomb site.

– The “hell of a day” line struck me as a reference to 24.

– The look on Tom’s face when he realizes his codename used to be “Glasses.”

– Empowering moment with Tom taking off his vest and addressing everyone. And then it all goes to hell in a bone-chilling sequence as the police brutality video starts making waves.

– I seriously rolled my eyes when Tom’s daughter watched the whole thing on TV because her brother had to take a phone call. How contrived was that? Unacceptable writers!

– The fact that Tom wants to call Danny Fayad’s parents… can you say aww?

– A bit too cheesy, but I ilked Seth bonding with the cop who unfairly questioned him.

– So there’s a survivor in the rubble. What are the odds it’s Hannah’s boyfriend/fiancé etc..?

Designated Digs

Tom: You don’t need to get up every time I walk into a room. I’m not the Queen.
Seth: No, sir. Virtually no resemblance

Emily: Sir, you should know that messages of support continue to pour in from heads of state around the world. We should go over which calls you want to return personally.
Tom: I would think all of them. How many calls are we talking about?
Emily: About 175, sir.
Tom: Maybe we should prioritize.

Alex: I look like the White House sofa.

Tom: Can you agree on anything?
Lawyer 1: Yes.
Lawyer 2:  (at the same time) Not really.
Tom: Great.

Tom: What happened this morning? What happened in Michigan?
Seth: What always happens. When people don’t know who their enemy is, they start with people who look like me.

Cop: You lose someone?
Seth: Yeah. I lost everyone.

Must Download Tunes
Save You by Turin Brakes

Conclusion
It’s not perfect, but it’s an entertaining enough follow-up that maintains the quality set forth by the pilot.

Nad Rating
B+

One comment

  1. Agreed, I found this to be surprisingly better than the pilot! I loved the racism angle and the resolution to the Michigan problem was way too anticlimactic. So glad this got picked up for a full season!

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