Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 1 Review: One Year In

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The Kirkman administration returns to business as usual on Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 1. One year removed from the events of last season, Kirkman's presidency seems to be at a stand still, with his popularity waning. 

In her new role as Chief of Staff, Emily Rhodes knows Kirkman needs to change his approach, or the president won't be able to push any legislation through. Her solution: a new political director by the name of Lyor Boone. 

New Blood - Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 1

Lyor is quirky, but quirky is good. Anyone who offers to pay for a pen with an egg sandwich and purposely buys 60 crates of goji kombucha just to get away from having to smell it in the White House is okay with me. 

Emily: Lyor, you can't control what I drink.
Lyor: Well, maybe not. But, I can make failure a virtue.

Just as the team is collectively fed up with Lyor's unusual tactics, Lyor proves that there is a method to his madness. Everything that comes out of the White House must be done with nuance. Every movement is a reflection of the president.

It's surprising that a group of people who work in Washington wouldn't already be aware of this. 

Maybe the Capitol bombing scared all the great political minds away, but shouldn't Kirkman already have a person like Lyor on his staff? Maybe this calls back to the fact that Kirkman was never a politician because he refuses to act like one, even after being in office for a year. 

Lyor is sure to be an asset the Kirkman team will need for the future. His unconventional methods at "observing" how the White House is run provided a good break from the seriousness of airplane hijacking.

The Team Gathers - Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 1

Speaking of hijacking, Kirkman's problem for the episode involved Russian and Ukrainian forces hell-bent on creating a war through a strategic hijacking.

As the Russian and Ukrainian ambassadors drug their heels at the thought of engaging in peace talks, it easily became clear that the two sides didn't care about starting World War III.

Kirkman's realization that his former best friend was on the plane didn't make matters any better. Leave it to Kirkman to still feel guilty years later for leaving a friend behind while he took a better job. 

Kirkman did manage to show how he has evolved during his time in office by threatening the Russians and the Ukrainians to solve the problem. Old Kirkman probably would have acted as a man worried for his friend. New Kirkman acted as a president worried for his citizens. 

Diplomatic channels worked out in the end, but Kirkman losing his friend to an oxygen tank explosion was a bit of a blow to the heart. I didn't even know oxygen tanks were allowed on airplanes. 

Kirkman's friend was helping a fellow passenger in distress, but couldn't he have done that in the terminal instead of staying on the plane? You'd think that authorities would force everyone off to sweep a recently hijacked aircraft. But then again, everyone surviving, in the end, wouldn't have been much fun for the story. 

Bank Documents - Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 1

Kirkman: Something's off with this. Both sides refuse to negotiate. Both sides refuse a third party intervention. The hijackers keep changing their demands, making it impossible for us to meet them, even if we wanted to, which they know we can't because we don't negotiate with terrorists.
UN Secretary General: It's like both sides want the situation to deteriorate.
Kirkman: Yes, it's exactly like that.

Seth deals with his own internal struggle. Anyone who takes a meeting for a new job elsewhere is obviously not happy in their current position. Seth's overall moodiness shone through as reporters bombarded him with questions about Patrick Lloyd. 

Although Seth's crankiness came from him being unhappy with his own performance at the podium, it's hard to imagine someone so savvy couldn't see that he was making matters worse for himself. Emily giving him an ultimatum was a bit insensitive as a friend, but it was the push he needed to do what was best for him. 

Emily seems to have found her voice as the head staffer in charge. She even managed to remind Aaron that even though he's a National Security Advisor, he essentially reports to her if he wants to get anything done.

Emily's new lady-boss attitude suits the role. She's evolving into the major player she hoped to be last season. 

There was one awkward moment of cringe for Emily though. When Seth was having his breakdown, she let it slip that she cares for him. The lingering pause between Seth and Emily could hint to some sort of romance between the two colleagues this season.

This president has survived an assassination attempt, the murder of his vice president, and an opposition, who can only seem to agree on the single proposition that he should be thrashed at every turn. And yet, the president has never wavered in his belief in the American dream, or in the fundamental belief in the goodness of the American people.

Seth

Meanwhile, Agent Wells is in Amsterdam chasing down leads in an effort to catch the Capitol bomber, Patrick Lloyd. While Lloyd is nowhere to be found, Wells does manage to get entangled with an MI6 agent, whom she previously believed was one of Lloyd's accomplices. 

The hunt for Patrick Lloyd served as a side note. As Wells and her new buddy search for any trace of the villain, Lloyd shows that he is always one step ahead of the crew.

As the episode was winding down, I was sure that we'd get to see Wells overseas for some time in the episodes to come. Lloyd's unexpected arrival in Washington, D.C. leads to the conclusion that she'll be back stateside soon.

One wonders if Wells will bring her British friend along with her stateside to work the case in the nation's capital.

Kirkman & staff - Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 1

It is imperative that we not become numb. The people that we serve, they have faces, families, hopes and dreams and stories.

Kirkman

Back at the White House, Kirkman showcases why he was the perfect man to be left as the designated survivor.

He handled the plane explosion with grace and poise, even though it was his friend who perished. His optimism is a consistent string throughout the show, but this glass-half-full attitude isn't wasted on cookie-cutter endings where everything ends up perfectly. 

Kirkman continues to struggle with the balance of being a political figure and a government servant. He wants his record to speak for itself, but people want a leader whom they can share a beer with, not one who can do their taxes. Hopefully, he'll continue to find his stride along the way. 

With news that a major character is leaving the show this season, it'll be interesting to see how the show and Kirkman's character will react to the change. 

  • What do you think about the new addition to the team? 
  • Will the show introduce a love triangle between Emily, Aaron and Seth? 
  • Is Wells' new partner a double agent for Lloyd?

If you've missed any of last season, you can still get up to speed by watching Designated Survivor online via TV Fanatic. 

One Year In Review

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Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 1 Quotes

This president has survived an assassination attempt, the murder of his vice president, and an opposition, who can only seem to agree on the single proposition that he should be thrashed at every turn. And yet, the president has never wavered in his belief in the American dream, or in the fundamental belief in the goodness of the American people.

Seth

It is imperative that we not become numb. The people that we serve, they have faces, families, hopes and dreams and stories.

Kirkman