Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 19 Review: Capacity

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Be still my heart, Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 19 was an hour that reminded me why we fell in love with this series in the first place.

It was a shockingly solid hour considering the series has spent the majority of the season coasting along.

While Kirkman being deemed fit by the hour's end was expected, the shocking five minutes at the end were not. 

The Investigation Begins - Designated Survivor

What I loved about the hearing to determine whether or not Kirkman should be removed from office was that if you separated emotion from it and strictly looked at the facts and those alone, there were reasons that supported the decision and others that did not. 

As mentioned before, Tom's decision to go to war with Kunami was misguided beyond belief. The way he confronted the civilian who killed his wife was enough to give people pause. Tom dragging on replacing the VP and appointing members in various positions didn't bode well for him either. 

Those were all reasons to build a case. Now, whether or not it was enough to support an argument is another story, but it was something to support the cabinet's concerns. 

I'm sorry, Mr. West. If the cabinet wants me out of the office they're going to have to do it the hard way.


On the other hand, everything that they used to besmirch Kirkman was troublesome. Ethan's focus on mental illness and specifically mental illness as a result of Tom's grief over his dead wife was appalling. Anyone with a heart would think so.

Related: Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 18 Review: Kirkman Agonistes

Not only did it tread too close to vilifying individuals who suffer from mental illness, but there is no precedent or way of calculating or determining what's acceptable and what isn't. 

How does one quantify grief? How does one determine how long someone should grieve and whether or not every decision they make is a direct result of it? Also, how do other human traits like self-doubt and insecurity factor into determining mental fitness? 

A president is still a person with human emotions that have to be factored in somehow, and it's completely unrealistic to expect a man who didn't run for or choose to be president to not have self-doubts about his actions. Given Kirkman's unique ascent to the office, there are too many other components that have to be evaluated when taking anything into consideration. 

West interrogates

The case was clear from the very beginning when Kirkman's therapist was on the stand. Tom is going through a natural grieving process, and while I'm the first to point out that he's made some hella sketchy decisions, nothing he has done thus far is enough to support him being impeached. Obviously, it's not that simple. 

We're in a golden age where society is starting to come around to mental health and self-care. It's less stigmatized than it used to be. People are open about their battles, and most people understand that individuals can still be functioning beings despite their struggles. 

Related: Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 17 Review: Overkill

When stress and anxiety are falling under the category of mental illness, it's more difficult to accuse anyone of being mentally ill to the point of unfit. In this instance, Kirkman was under attack for grieving. 

The turning point of the investigation may have been Trey's bombshell reveal. Not only did Kirkman's mother have a depressive episode, which is something alluded to when the brothers spoke after Trey's arrival, but Ethan revealed that Trey has a history of mental illness, too. 

Ethan: Mental Illness runs in your family.
Trey: No, being human does.

Tom had no idea that his brother is Bipolar and has been treated for BPD for a decade. Ethan's intention was to prove that mental illness ran in the family, but he came across as insensitive and intrusive with that revelation. After all, Trey wasn't the one on trial. 

I loved Trey in this hour. I still feel that he's grossly underused, but he was incredible during this installment. His protectiveness over Tom was particularly endearing. 

Emily's testimony was almost damaging because the truth about her illegal actions to protect Kirkman was almost revealed. Aaron's recounting Tom's choice to declare war on Kunami was damning.

It probably would have been much worse if Seth and Lyor took the stand. Seth is a wizard with words, but his brand of honesty while under oath could have left a serious impact, and Lyor is Lyor.


Moss took the cake though. As loathsome as it was that he wanted to throw Kirkman under a train, the way he handled Kendra's questioning was brilliant. He pointed out that Kendra didn't want him to admit he was fired otherwise it would confirm that Tom gave an entire press conference just to lie to the American people. 

That sly dog. 

Related: Killing Eve Season 1 Episode 3 Review: Don't I Know You 

You know who is also sly? Andrea. I still have my doubts about her involvement in this hacker plot, but it was frustrating that Kirkman shut Hannah down so quickly because Andrea is his friend. 

He has only known the woman personally all of two minutes, so he could ease up on that. He's not thinking with the big head here, and I need him to play it smarter. He has a blind spot when it comes to people close to him. 

A frosty threat

Hannah doesn't have the proof though. She is so caught up in her anger and hurt over losing people that she's not thinking rationally and clearly.

Right now, she's fixated on Andrea, but she hasn't gathered up enough information to support her claims. She's smarter than this. She knows that if she's going to take down a prominent billionaire let alone Kirkman's friend, she has to have proof. 

That stunt she pulled when she publicly accused Andrea of misdeeds was not smart at all. I cringed while it was happening. Andrea put the frost in Dr. Frost with her response. Yikes! 

Hannah's termination may be a misdirect, but Kirkman taking action against her for some of her choices is long overdue. She never gets any sort of reprimands for going rogue every other week. I can't lie, it feels good and more realistic that she actually face a consequence for a change. 

Tom: You can no longer serve in this administration.
Hannah: Mr. President ...
Tom: Agent Wells, you've been terminated effective immediately. Goodbye.

Of course, part me of wonders if this is Kirkman's way of freeing her up to investigate Frost on her own without ties to him and the White House. I mean, everyone and their mother knows that is what Hannah is going to do anyway. This way, he won't be implemented 

The congress members smelled blood in the water and were trying to play hardball. Typical, right? Lyor and Emily giving them the business was almost as good as Tom coming in and shutting their foolishness down by threatening to shut down the government and blame them for it. 

Related: Get Shout! Factory TV via Prime Video Channels For Cult Classic Films & TV that Shape Pop Culture Now!  

 Why is it that even in fictional governments US healthcare is an abominable system that screws over the middle and lower class? Not on Kirkman's watch! 

Emily was cool with Lyor, but she was awesome with Aaron. Again, this was a generous installment because the powers that be gave Aaron more than two lines and two minutes of screentime. 

Emily Reminisces

They also gave him a long overdue conversation with Emily. Yes, that's right, they finally talked about their relationship and their kiss last year. It may not have led to the result Aaron and Emily 'shippers wanted, but it was nice that Aaron said Emily's promotion needed to happen, and it wouldn't have worked out the same way if they were involved. 

Aaron thought about pursuing her, but in the end, he made the best decision for all of them. You know what? I respected that. I do wonder, however, what brought about the conversation. If Emily is happy with Seth then why did she need to broach the topic with Aaron? 

So, Designated Survivor Fanatics, how did you like this installment? Do you think Andrea is guilty? Will Hannah's termination last? Are you thrilled that Aaron got to shine? Hit the comments. 

If you need a refresher, you can watch Designated Survivor online here via TV Fanatic!

Capacity Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
  • 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (7 Votes)

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

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Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 19 Quotes

I'm sorry, about Damian. I don't know what to say.

Chuck [to Hannah]

Kirkman: So I'm going to have to sit there and watch them tear my life apart.
Kendra: No, you're going to sit there and watch us win.