Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 11 Review: Grief

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Grief is a difficult thing, but there is no rule book on how to juggle grieving while running a nation. 

On Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 11, Tom was attempting (and mostly failing) at it. It left some of his close friends in dangerous, life-threatening positions and most of his staff and colleagues frustrated. 

A Broken Man - Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 11

I have to give it to the show, this storyline may have been a bit of a curveball for the writers, but they're wholly invested in it. It may be the most promising arc in the sophomore season. 

It has been a full ten weeks since Alex's death. 

Imagine my surprise when it was revealed that it truly was an accident. Alex was t-boned by an irresponsible and reckless driver who was driving while texting. How mundane. 

For a show that's meant to be a political thriller, I was thoroughly anticipating her death to be part of a new conspiracy. 

On the one hand, it goes to show that no one, not even the First Lady, is exempt from freak accidents. She, nor anyone with her esteem, is impervious from dying like the average citizen. 

Rest Peacefully, Madame First Lady - Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 11

It's still ludicrous that with all the precautions taken with someone as important as the First Lady, that some random guy can surpass Secret Service escorts and hit her specific car head-on. Are we just supposed to suspend belief for the sake of the plot? 

That's one of those loose danglings that left Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 10 messy. 

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We found out via Tom petulantly snapping off during his therapy session and a few flashbacks what it was like at key moments after Alex's death. Tom had a difficult time relaying the news to his children. 

His moment with Penny was particularly gut-wrenching because she's so young. She's far too young to have lost a mom, especially in this devastating fashion while the entire world looks on. 

Kirkman: Mommy was in a terrible accident, and sometimes accidents are so bad that the people who are in them can't come home.
Penny: Mommy's not coming home?
Kirkman: No, sweetie. She's in heaven now.

Leo was difficult because he reacted with anger. He could barely make it through a hug with Tom before he was mentioning that his mother hated their new life in the White House. 

He displayed some resentment towards his father. I can see an angry, rebellious young man in the public eye lashing out a mile away. 

The funeral was a somber occasion, but Tom's therapist pointed out that Tom doesn't have closure. 

Alex doesn't have a tombstone. There wasn't a memorial. He has a nation watching him, so he can't allow himself to truly grieve. 

It came out in spurts. Tom listening to his final message from Alex over and over again was particularly melancholic. Then, of course, there was the whispering of his staff around him. 

Your Point?  - Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 11

In the ten weeks since Alex died, not very much had been done at the White House. The little that had been done was due to Emily and Lyor. Tom's desk with piled up with paperwork and meetings were pushed back. 

In their mind, he put his presidency on pause. 

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His grief is understandable, the man lost the love of his life, and that's not something one just gets over. Unfortunately, when there's a country to run, he had to pick up the reins and do something. 

It came across as terribly insensitive that Lyor and Seth were so aggravated, but it made sense. 

Senator Sanchez, if you do this long enough, you'll realize that you don't really know anyone.


When Tom did actively participate in being the Commander In Chief his grief affected the decisions he made. He was soft-balling everything because, in his mind, he wanted to protect as many people as possible. He didn't want to lose anyone else. 

In theory that sounds great, but he put more people in jeopardy by not making the right calls trying to protect everyone. That's precisely what happened with Aaron and Hannah. 

Hannah was placed on probation because of her actions. Damian's body was obviously never found, and her sexual history with him raised a few eyebrows. 

Somehow, she had to ride it out with Aaron. These two have been thrown together a few times this season, and it's a partnership that works. 

Aaron: I'm asking as a friend. You took out someone you cared for. Are you OK?
Hannah: I was OK the second I put a bullet in that son of a bitch.

At times, I wonder if it's another one of those romantic entanglements just waiting to happen, but for now, I'm enjoying their screentime together.

Hannah needs a partner, and Aaron, God bless him, needs something to do 90% of the time. 

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Why was the head of the NSA, very Special Agent Hannah, and a handful of dignitaries riding some crickety bus through the woods of Cuba? Who knows? It was supposed to be a delegation of some sort, but the entire thing felt forced and ludicrous.

Who sends dignitaries to a foreign country with no backup? Why is Aaron sent to half the places he's sent? What General in their right mind would send a low-flying black hawk to Cuba for recon and not expect it to get shot down? 

An Important Talk - Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 11

Nevermind. We'll just go with it. 

The rebels taking everyone hostage was intense-ish. We knew it would work out in the end, and the stand-off dragged on, but it gave us a lovely fight scene for Hannah. 

Aaron got to bust out his Spanish again which is sexy as hell, and he started a whole argument just to give Hannah more time to escape. 

Also, Hannah signaling Emily that Cross was in on the ransom by using the sign of the cross despite not being Catholic was a cool moment. But it was mostly a situation that showcased how off Kirkman's judgment is now. 

Confrontation - Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 11

He wanted to pay off the ransom despite the fact that the US doesn't negotiate. He didn't want to use a firm hand nor send in the military at first. He was holding back, and it was less than ideal. 

When he finally realized that his therapist was right, he made the right call though. It was one of those classic Kirkman moments where he started making demands and barking out orders. 

Emily and Lyor thought it was a sign that Kirkman is back, but it really was a sign that he may have moved to a new stage in his grief. 

He's angry, and anger is trickier to manage than sadness. Anger is dangerous, reckless, and a problem when you're the leader of the Free World under scrutiny all of the time. 

Emily: What the hell just happened?
Lyor: He made the hard decision but the right one. I think the president is back.
Emily: Hallelujah.

Kirkman speaking to the man that killed Alex started off well enough. It begins with him taking a necessary step in his grieving process under the advice of his therapist. 

Kirkman asking if the man was being taken care of and isolated from Gen Pop so he could avoid being hurt, that was classic Kirkman. 

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Kirkman expounding on why he wants the guy to be healthy as a horse, so he could live a long life where every excruciating moment he is forced to spend thinking about how he effed up the POTUS' life and all of that jazz, well, that was dark. 

If it stopped there, it would be no biggie, but we know it's going to get out, and Kirkman is going to look like a bitter, angry, vengeful dictator or something. 

Packing Up - Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 11

Kirkman will be dark, but there is a bright spot in the White House. Lyor's new assistant, Tricia, is smart, resourceful, determined and sweet.

 She knows how to put up with Lyor being Lyor all the while letting him know she's there for a reason.

Oops, how can I forget? Seth and Emily are having relationship issues. Shocker, I know. 

The exact reason I wasn't crazy about this pairing is what ended up happening. Emily is not into Seth the same way that he's into her.

It's not cool. It sucks. Let's move on. 

Now, this Damian development is more my speed. Honestly, how often will someone break into Hannah's apartment and she fails to notice it? She should move. 

We need to talk.

Damian [points a gun at Hannah]

Damian is back as expected, and he wants to talk to Hannah as expected. She did shoot him before he could get out whatever it was he planned on saying last time. 

It looks like we'll finally figure out what the guy has been up to. Awesome. 

How do you feel about Designated Survivor's return? Hit the comments below! 

Don't forget, you can watch Designated Survivor online anytime, right here at TV Fanatic. 

Grief Review

Editor Rating: 3.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (59 Votes)

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 11 Quotes

Hannah: What are they talking about?
Aaron: They're talking about killing us.

Aaron: I'm asking as a friend. You took out someone you cared for. Are you OK?
Hannah: I was OK the second I put a bullet in that son of a bitch.