Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 18 Review: Kirkman Agonistes

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Everything is coming back to haunt Kirkman and some of his staff members on Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 18. In a move for which the series deserves kudos, the 25th Amendment was used as a plot point.

Michael J. Fox made his debut as Ethan West. I can already tell I'm going to love and loathe him all at once. 

Kirkman Meets Ethan West - Designated Survivor

It's tough when you want to be Kirkman's team, but you also understand those questioning him.  

Tom was back to being that sweet, genuine, kind-hearted man that we know and love best. He wasn't dabbling in that dictator behavior that has been on display for weeks. As a result, the mere thought of anyone coming for him and his presidency was enough to put anyone on edge. 

Therapy Gate was the gift that kept on giving. The press was having a field day with that one because there were apparently seven tapes of therapy notes, and Gamine was strategically dropping them like [insert musical artist of your choice] drops an album. 

Kirkman: How many other tapes are out there?
Doctor: Seven.
Kirkman: Seven? So this is only the beginning.

So, how secure is this therapist's computer? It's scary to think that this guy takes verbal notes on all of his patients, and a good hacker could gain access to it. Try taking notes by hand, I say!

It seemed that each tape that was released was progressively worse and exacerbated a  rough situation.  The entire White House was carrying on as though they were moments away from walking the plank 

My initial thought about this whole ordeal is that it's preposterous that leaks of the doctor's notes could make the entire country turn on Tom like this. 

Who in their right mind would think ill of a man who exercised and advocated for mental health and sought help when he needed it after the sudden death of his wife! 

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

The man's wife died, like, wouldn't you be concerned if he didn't see a therapist after that? 

It's a Catch 22. If Kirkman never saw a therapist, then people would wonder if he was mentally unstable. They would wonder if he was a ticking time bomb. Hell, they would probably speculate that he wasn't mourning his wife and start rumors that he was seeing someone on the side.

Related: Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 17 Review: Overkill

People would grow concerned that he wasn't grieving like a normal person.  They would question if he was relatable or human enough. 

Now, they find out that he did see a therapist, and he's in the same boat. It all boils down to the misconception that people only see therapists if something is wrong with them. 

At this rate, it should be mandatory that the POTUS see a therapist. You know, because it's the most stressful job in existence. No, really, make it mandatory. 

Tom Kirkman has given everything to this country, even his wife. And now he's been torn apart because he's self-aware enough to seek help. Judge him if you want to, history will judge you.


It's stunning that Kirkman was getting crucified for seeing a therapist when he was dropped into the presidency after a full-blown terrorist attack wiped out half the government. Let those who aren't displaying signs of PTSD throw the first stone. 

The best part about this latest debacle was how Kirkman was steadfast in his refusal to apologize for seeing someone. He knew the moment he apologized for seeking help; he would be perpetuating those same problematic and antiquated ideas about mental illness. 

Initially, it was ludicrous and frustrating that he would be deemed unfit by the masses based off of the notes that were leaked. Nothing that was mentioned in them supported the notion that he was mentally incapable of running the country. 

Everything there was perfectly normal, including the bits about Andrea. His wife died nearly a year ago, and he's enjoying the company and friendship of this new, smart woman who knows what it's like to lose a spouse. It's perfectly healthy and natural for him to feel some guilt about that. 


When you're protective of Kirkman and appalled at the implications about seeking the help of a mental health professional, Darby and the cabinet's actions are a massive betrayal. 

However, when you think about all of the things that have transpired since Alex's death, then there is some justification for their actions. I pointed out a great deal of it in nearly every review since then. 

Related: Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 16 Review: Fallout

Tom has come across as an autocrat. He has overstepped and abused his power. He has made questionable decisions. He screwed up big time with the drunk driver who killed Alex. 

He barely showed his face for a significant period of time after Alex died. The way he appointed Darby probably raised a few eyebrows. There have been whispers that some of the White House have doubted him, and leaks were happening long before the hacker business because of it. 

Kirkman: What's going on?
Emily: A coup, sir.

When he fired Moss, it was a complete and utter nightmare, and though the public may have thought it was on mutual terms. People talk. Tom declaring war on Kunami was the straw that broke the camel's back. 

They are not entirely unreasonable in this case when you think about it. 

I love Tom's confidence going into this hearing though. He feels like he has proven himself enough, and there shouldn't be any question if he's capable. I'm happy he didn't follow Lyor's advice. There is no way he should have to resign. 

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Ethan is the type of character who seems like a decent person doing his job, but you quickly realize he has ulterior motives. Right now, he loves the fact that he's in the limelight and that he will be the most relevant man in the world because of his role in this case. 

I'm so excited about Michael J. Fox's presence on the series. I cannot wait to see what else he brings to the table. 

Ethan West

I love Tom, but I cringed so much when he confided in Andrea. Sure enough, she's the shady one in the bunch. Ugh, not Dr. Frost! She has been so enjoyable, and it was nice to see Tom interacting with someone who understands him and appeared to be a genuine friend. 

I hate that his vulnerable words are about to come back to bite him in the butt!

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So, about this Damian development. I was all prepared to mention the absurdity of him being granted so much leeway while working with Hannah. We have been force-fed Damian, and I have struggled to find his presence necessary. 

Now, he's possibly dead (again). I can't say I feel anything. We've been down this road before, and he has outstayed his welcome. So his old Russian handler is behind this, right? Could it be the hacker? 

Stray Observations:

  • I'm very disappointed in Andrea Frost right now. I was rooting for her! I loved her leather jacket though. 
  • Penny is wise beyond her years, and I love it when she has moments with Kirkman. I feel like he could get his entire life together if he just talked out his problems with Penny.
  • Trey is underused. Why? For a moment, I thought he was the one leaking information about the shrink. That would have been interesting. 
  • Emily finally realizes how terrible her actions were, but I love that Kendra reminded her she isn't out of the woods yet. 
  • Chuck reminding Emily that he's more than the basement-dwelling tech geek and that he could get used in various ways was worthy of a fist pump. 
  • Trisha deserves a raise. 

Over to you, what's your first impression of Ethan West? Are the others wrong for arranging a hearing to determine if Kirkman is fit to be president? Is Damian really dead? Do you care? Hit the comments!

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

Kirkman Agonistes Review

Editor Rating: 3.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (8 Votes)

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You'll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on X.

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Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 18 Quotes

Kirkman: What's going on?
Emily: A coup, sir.

Kirkman: How many other tapes are out there?
Doctor: Seven.
Kirkman: Seven? So this is only the beginning.