Designated Survivor Review: #FakeNews

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Politics are icky. 

No one plays fair; it's never about what's best for the people, and everything is controversial. 

Keeping with the theme of cramming every imaginable hot-button issue into a 10-episode season, Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5 and Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 6 delved deeper into the pesky racial and identity politics, the death of real journalism, the opioid crisis, illegal immigration, healthcare, and assisted suicide.

Kirkman Reflects  - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5

It also addressed breaking the stigma of HIV, gentrification and the deprivation of services to urban neighborhoods, and the disproportionate sentencing of brown people.

Also, there was transgender discrimination, annoying white people calling the police like they're calling the manager, and of course there are biohacking neo-nazis who intend to wipe out all people of color with a genetically engineered flu.

Related: Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 3 & 4 Review: #TheGreatLatinoHope

Do you have all of that? Those are just some of the current event social issues which have wiggled their way into the storylines.

We haven't touched upon the personal arcs such as the accusations that Kirkman killed his wife, Emily's dying mother, Aaron and Isabel's complicated relationship, Mars' infidelity and marital/addiction woes, and Aaron and Emily banging.

Emily Helps Campaign - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 3

Oh, wait, and Lorraine is every bit as shady and destructive as Emily feared, and Seth is still benched, and did I mention those Nazis?


The rumors about Kirman being the person behind his wife's death or the implications of her being a Russian spy were horrific. Sweet Penny was pouring through articles and pictures, and no child should have to see images of her mother's dead body plastered on the front of tabloids.

They're saying that I had my wife murdered! That Alex was a Russian spy!


It was barbaric and inhumane, and it's politics at it's absolute worst. It's such an underhanded tactic to utilize. We were led to believe Moss was the one behind it; he's no stranger to being underhanded and had done things before, but it turns out Lorraine is the one who orchestrated all of it.

She wanted Kirkman to come across more sympathetic, and she succeeded. Lorraine is diabolical and has no shame. I cannot envision her having anything that resembles a conscience. She's in it to win it, and she's shown how far she's willing to go.

Lorraine Plots - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5

Kirkman was livid when she prepped Aaron and Emily to attack him during their mock debate in preparation for his. It's something to be said about her tactics since she does manage to bring out the best in him.

However, I can't make sense of her motivations. Sometimes she comes across genuine in helping, but other times, she comes across as if she's trying to sandbag him. Lorraine remains a mystery, but she's fascinating nonetheless.

When they poke you must pivot!


How could she put Penny through something like that?

It did bring out the best side of him during his debate. He shamed Moss for not denouncing the awful things spread by media, and he came out as the man above ugly politics.

Related: Designated Survivor Season 3 Episodes 1 & 2 Review: Edgier than Ever! 

Kirkman's rousing speeches and diatribes always inspire, and it's the series at its best every time. It's working out for him, but there is a give and take to how the election is playing out for him.

The Debate  - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5

He's winning over demographics he needs, but one decision can alienate others. He's catching hell for his role as a centrist; by not coming out hard one way or another, it can make him more polarizing than ever.

His decision to support Isabel's pardon list, which included a Latino radical whose exercise of free speech sparked riots and deaths, was controversial; however, the medical case involving Mateo the Guatemalan boy in need of a kidney transplant was the most polarizing.

Ladies and gentlemen, politics do not have to be this dirty and on election day you have the power to prove it.


They used legal loopholes to provide this undocumented child with the medical aid he needed. Aaron worked a miracle using the fame and the public's endearment for Mateo to pay for his surgery, but healthcare for the uninsured is a beast that cannot be tamed.

The dollar signs add up, and Mateo's care was long-term. They pulled off a hell of a lot allowing this kid to get the transplant he needed at the hospital, and paying for it, but they couldn't make a case for Mateo and his family staying in the country.

Aaron Inspires - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 4

They faced risks heading back to Guatemala with drugs which might get stolen from them, and issues they may face by cartels, but Kirkman's hands were tied. He couldn't risk giving off the impression anyone can enter the US and get the type of healthcare and services poor citizens of the country can't access.

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It was heartbreaking and had a similar feel to the Elian Gonzalez case for some reason, but his rational solution to this problem had the Left angry he deported a sick kid and the Right angry he used so many resources on Mateo in the first place.

It's the type of thing used against him as an Independent because of the belief no one can ever know where he stands, and all sides win and lose at the same time, so it washes out.

This isn't journalism! I am so disgusted. President Kirkman is disgusted. Are you happy? You got your answers. We're disgusted with every single one of you.


It was a case Aaron was reluctant to get sucked into since he remains putting up a fight against being the token Latino on Kirkman's campaign. He grew attached to Mateo, and he had quite the emotional outburst when he found out Mateo was getting deported.

Isabel has left an effect on him; she sparks something in him, especially regarding his racial identity and his new awareness and vocal stance on Latino issues. I couldn't help but chuckle when he heard Floridian Latinos were the ones most vocal about Mateo's deportation and instantly knew it was the Cuban demographic.

Smitten Isabel  - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5

While everyone treats it like it's one demographic, minor demographics within it differ. It's one reason being the Great Latino Hope is not an easy path for Aaron.

I have mixed feelings about his relationship with Isabel. On the one hand, I do enjoy how she broadens his horizons, and she has made him think about things he otherwise buried or ignored. However, she's overpowering with it, and it often feels like they clash way too much.

Everything is a battle for her. She's always got to be right. This is a huge moment in my life and she didn't show up for it. I don't think I can get over that.


I understood why Aaron was frustrated about Isabel's need to be right all the time or how everything about her goes back to her race and heritage all the time. It's exhausting.

Related: Netflix Has Canceled 37 Scripted Shows So Far 

He's right about everything being a fight with her, and she seems to like it, but I'm not sure Aaron can appreciate it regularly. She's passionate, and it's impressive and awe-inspiring, but it's also overwhelming, and she leaves no room for reality or the gray areas.

Isabel and Mars Team Up - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5

On the flip side, she didn't deserve the terrible things Aaron said to her about how her job was unimportant. Isabel is a spitfire, and she has worked her ass off to demand respect and get a seat at the table. The series has referenced how hard it's been for her breaking into the Boy's Club.

Aaron was at his worst when he suggested her job was unimportant, and he's the reason she's relevant. God, it was a terrible thing for him to say. I forgot how rigid and meanspirited Aaron can be at times.

Aaron: The only reason you even have a seat at the table right now is because I'm running for VP.
Isobel: This is so typical. You always think that your work is more important than mine.
Aaron: That's because it is!

He apologized to her later, but it seemed like he was apologizing for cheating on her with Emily without having to admit he did it. Emily and Aaron's hookup felt inevitable, and it also felt like a nod to the longtime 'shippers who never saw their 'ship take off the way it should've.

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I guess it's supposed to be a one and done, and it was comfort sex between an angry Aaron who was hurt Isabel didn't show up for him during the debate and Emily who was recovering from the news of her mom's sickness.

Crossing a Line  - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5

It sucks that Isabel has felt all this time Emily wasn't interacting with her or taking her seriously because of Aaron. The worst part about this is Lorraine found out when she caught Emily's walk of shame. She's not above using it if it suits her.

Right now, the public loves Aaronbel, and it's beneficial to the campaign if Aaron and Isabel remain together. I'm unconvinced they should, and Aaron's sweet moments of guilt don't erase the doubts he had about them.

It's only a matter of time before the truth about the hookup is revealed.

Can you just look at me, Isi, please. You're the most important person in my life. I don't want to lose you because I'm an asshole. What you did for Salcedo is right, and those things I said were wrong. You walk the talk, and that's something I struggle to do sometimes. But I love you for that more than you know. Isabel, please forgive me. Please.
I'm so sorry.


Unfortunately, the truth about Mariluz and her connection to Aaron is about to come out too. Her jumping into the truck didn't help him at all. Everyone is going to want to know who the woman was who joined him in his vehicle.

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All hell is going to break loose if the public finds out their potential Vice President played coyote once in his youth. Aaron had ample time to get ahead of this, but he didn't.

It's going to be a mess.

Mariluz  - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5

Meanwhile, Mars may affect the campaign if he plans to go after the man who provided the drugs which got his wife addicted. He laid down a threat, and he intends to follow through with it.

Lynn's overdose was a wakeup call. I expect Mars to double down on his suggestions to Kirkman about decriminalizing and then helping addicts to cut back on addiction.

I also expect him to call things off with Reena. I have no sympathy for Reena; she knew what she was getting into when she embarked on this relationship with a married man, and Mars told her and was upfront with her the entire time.

Reena: Are you ever going to leave your wife Mars?
Mars: Where did that come from?
Reena: I'm your mistress. It's in the handbook.

So what does she look like giving him an ultimatum or pressuring him to leave his wife?

Lynn was trying to be a better wife to Mars before she overdosed. You can argue Mars' inability to perform when she initiated sex may have been a breaking point which prompted her to take those pills. Mars feels guilty about that and going after his country club acquaintance is his way of atoning for his sins, for lack of a better term.

Lynn Overdoses - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5

Speaking of atoning, Designated Survivor dropped the ball on how they handled the situation with Dontae and Troy. They intended to make some statements and educate about what it means to be HIV positive in this day and age and wanted to dispel some of the negative sentiments and break the stigma.

I respect all of that, but they failed in using Dontae to self-righteously info dump on Troy when Troy was rightfully angry about Dontae's deceit.

Troy: I watched a lot of men die growing up in Mississippi. They all looked like me... they talked like me. They loved like me. And they ended up with AIDs. I swore that would never be me.
Dontae: I get that, but I told you I was undetectable.

The issue was Dontae did not tell Troy he was HIV positive before they had sex, period. Dontae's insecurities about being rejected and so on don't change his actions. Troy had a right to know that information before he chose to have sex with him, and he was right in saying Dontae removed the choice from him.

Then, on top of that, Dontae didn't apologize to Troy for misleading/omitting/ or what have Troy, he instead felt apologizing meant he was apologizing for being HIV positive, and honestly, that's bullshit.

Dontae  - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5

Yes, Troy sounded uninformed spouting off positions or whatever else to suggest he was less inclined to contract anything, but it didn't make him wrong about what Dontae did.

Somehow, Troy ended up coming across like the jackass, and Dontae was the wounded victim, and the way the scene played out had my head spinning.

At least the situation with Sasha felt authentic. How often do we see angry white ladies confronting and then calling the authorities on someone when they could've minded their business?

Woman: What are you doing in here?
Sasha: Washing my hands.
Woman [on phone]: Yes, I'm in the Capitol ladies room, and there's a man in here.
Jeanne: What's going on here?
Woman : Your friend is in the wrong restroom.
Jeanne: I beg your pardon?
Woman: Well didn't he tell you? He's a guy posing as a woman

If she didn't want to pee in the bathroom because of Sasha making her uncomfortable, she could've left. What did she think she gained from calling Capitol police on the president's sister-and-law?

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But back to Dontae, who bounced back from his heartbreak over Troy only to get mugged on his way to the White House. It was the perfect incident to get Kirkman's attention and make him pay attention to the poor, urban community near the White House.

Didn't Darby introduce him to the plight of urban neighborhoods and mostly black issues? Anyway, Aaron has been working overtime to get Kirkman the Latino vote, so it was only fair Kirkman solidified black voters and the Black Caucus.

Trans Rights - Tall - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5

Anyway, Dontae continues to serve a role Seth used to hold for Kirkman. However, Seth did get to shine in his scathing but honest attack against the fall of journalism.

It got him benched, but it was worth it. Everything he said about their focus on the salacious at the expense of the truth was accurate. It was a satisfying scene, which shows Kal Penn can still make you squeal in delight even when he's underused.

He also got a hug from Kirkman, so that was something noteworthy for him as well. I don't know what they're doing with Seth, but it's not enough.

Seth Goes Overboard - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5

He's doing a somewhat decent job serving as Emily's confidant during this trying time for her. Her mom has relocated to DC because of it being a place where assisted suicide is legal. Emily tried to fight against her mom and put her in a clinical trial, but Carrie is adamant about this.

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Emily is going to have to accept her mother's wishes and help her, and when it happens, it will be devastating.

Meanwhile, Hannah does not play well with others, and she has already managed to piss off the CIA too. She's too much of an FBI agent when she needs to be CIA and was like CIA when she worked as FBI.

Emily's Mom - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5

Eli is amusing; I could not stop laughing at his snarky quip about another bio lab. It's how I feel about most of this storyline.

She shot Crawford, the guy pretending to be a nurse who infected the women in Toronto and placed the flu in the vents of the apartment building in Florida.

He belonged to a white supremacist group, and their goal is to I don't know, the usual, rid the world of non-white people for a whiter and brighter future or something.

It was a justifiable use of deadly force. I repeatedly asked Crawford to put his weapon down. I guess Hitler worshiping white supremacists don't like taking orders from people of color


Hannah wasn't losing any sleep about shooting a neo-Nazi, but she forgot about how shooting American citizens on American soil is no longer in her job description.

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The FBI took over the case, but all for naught if they thought Hannah would let it go. She and Eli have done all the heavy-lifting and investigating, and the FBI didn't even have Crawford nor his group on their radar.

Hannah wanted to be at the sting when they raided the white supremacists compound, but it's a good thing she wasn't there.

Hannah Stakes Out  - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5

They assumed what they worked on would only affect racial minorities, but the latest bout of whatever flu they engineered cost them their lives. Unfortunately, it's still not over, according to Eli.

Are you still 'shipping Emily and Aaron, or do you love him with Isabel? On a scale of 1-10, how terrifying is the idea of biohacker white supremacists wiping out entire populations without anyone noticing? Will Kirkman win this election? Hit the comments below!

You can watch Designated Survivor online here via TV Fanatic!

#nothingpersonal Review

Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
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Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (2 Votes)

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

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Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5 Quotes

Emily: No one is irreplaceable.
Seth: You are.
Emily: please don't make me cry right now

They're saying that I had my wife murdered! That Alex was a Russian spy!