Designated Survivor Review: Enemies All Around

Designated Survivor

No more Mr. Nice President. Designated Survivor, now President of the United States, Tom Kirkman was abruptly thrust into the most powerful position on Earth with no manual. Because he was so ill-prepared, everyone’s been waiting for Kirkman to fail. Others expect it with so much certainty that they take the rule book and throw it out the window, defying the presidency with brutal disregard. You can only push nice guys so far before they push back, which is exactly what happened on this week’s Designated Survivor.

In the middle of a crisis, perception is everything. If anything the White House has to be all about perception now more than ever because it is currently a mess. The de facto Press Secretary is unbelievably inept at calming reporters, never mind his own sweat glands. Aaron orders Seth to fix the situation since he seems to be the only one eloquently able to form sentences in the White House. Seth helps the current Press Secretary work up some nerve, which immediately fizzles out. Seth has to take over the Press Room himself. Aaron offers him the job permanently, but comes at it from a political, ‘it would be good to have the face of a second generation Muslim-American’, perspective which leaves a bad impression on Seth. President Kirkman has to talk to Seth himself to get him to accept. Yes there are political reasons why Seth is good at the job, but no one would be offering it to him if he wasn’t fully capable as a writer and a compassionate, rational citizen.

As much as the President has to get used to being the President, the First Lady has to get used to being the First Lady. Alex Kirkman has loved her job as an immigration attorney, but has had to leave that behind given recent events. When a former client calls her in a panic about to be deported, Alex steps back into her former job. Rather, she uses her position as First Lady to the advantage of her former job. Doing so requires help from Congresswoman Hookstraten, who is foaming at the mouth these days to be let in on classified intelligence. Since she can’t get that, she settles for helping the First Lady’s client stay in the country, provided a favor is returned some time in the future.

Governor Royce is pushing his luck by violating the President’s orders. He reinforces the state’s curfew, reserves his right to randomly arrest Muslims, and calls out the President as a fraud. Emily heads to Michigan to try to smooth things over diplomatically, and Aaron is actually worried about her safety. He’s not that off the mark since Emily is surrounded by Michigan police the second she lands. They won’t allow her to leave, and Royce publicly denounces any loyalty to the presidency. Kirkman has no choice but to declare a State of Emergency and call in the National Guard. If he doesn’t shut down this kind of rebellion now, it will create a disastrous domino effect. It gets worse when not even Michigan’s Guard will follow Kirkman’s orders. Emily’s not ready to give up so easily. She asks the leaders of the Islamic protest to come to the airport, face-to-face with the Governor, and all the cameras he invited. Any violence will result in Royce being remembered as the man who incited violence after America’s worst terrorist attack. He agrees to a sit down with the President to save face. Emily does a good job on the plane ride convincing the Governor that Kirkman is a fair-minded man. She has no idea that her speech was pointless since the Governor is arrested once he lands in Washington D.C. Though Emily thinks this move was cruel and uncharacteristic of the man she knows, Aaron helps her to understand that her boss now has to make very difficult choices he would never have previously considered. Desperate times and all.


General Cochrane is practically beaming when they get intelligence on where Nassar, the terrorist they think blew up the Capitol, is hiding. Kirkman is not comfortable bombing the place if the American agent who gave them the intel is still in it. Despite having some time for their agent to make contact, Cochrane goes against Kirkman’s orders. By this time Kirkman has had enough. The world needs a strong leader, so he’s going to give them one. First step is to fire Cochrane. Kirkman has enough to  deal with without having his orders directly violated. Unfortunately when he finds out their agent was in fact killed, Kirkman has no alternative left to stop him from starting a war.

Agent Wells has her suspicions that Congressman Macleish didn’t survived the Capitol attack by accident. He survived because he wasn’t in his seat seconds before the bomb went off. The only reason he wasn’t was because he was answering a call from his frantic wife who couldn’t find their daughter in the mall. The situation resolved itself, but not before the Capitol blew up. Alex has to make peace with the fact that she can’t find a homeland conspirator to blame for the death of her love. Believing that her clouded judgement is a liability, she asks to be reassigned to another task force. No sooner does she put in for the transfer than she receives a mysterious phone call. The woman on the other line hints that Macleish is hiding something, ominously asking Wells to “Find Room 105”.

Do you think it was time for Kirkman to take a stance, or did he go too far?

Designated Survivor Season 1 Episode 4 Review: "The Enemy"


Designated Survivor‘s man at the top isn’t taking any more defiance as he faces two coups this week.

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