Designated Survivor Review: #staywoke

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Am I the only one scared crapless about CRISPR and how easily we can be victims of bioterrorism and some biological genocide?

Some of us more than others, of course. The beauty of  Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 7 and Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 8 was how it brought ongoing storylines happening outside of the White House to the White House and the campaign.

The bioterrorism arc was separate from the majority of the season for too long. For a bit, it may have gone over some of our heads, and it was like slogging through it impatiently waiting for the inevitable payoff.

Kirkman at his Desk - Tall - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 7

In addition to the bioterror arc, Mars opioid addiction arc dovetailed with the political campaign, and Aaron's ongoing battle with embracing his heritage, not to mention the Mariluz fiasco and Emily affair came to a head as well.

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The two installments felt like a culmination of everything leading up to those moments in preparation for the season's finale. As a result, they were two of the best installments of the season.

Kirkman Reflects  - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5

They were so fast-paced, exciting, and had me on the edge of my seat after a rough patch in the middle of the season.

An unexpected development I remain in denial about is the death of Hannah. I kept waiting for her to rise from the ashes. For so long, Hannah has been like the terminator --she's invincible, and it didn't seem like anything could take her down ever.

Maybe it's possible she survived the nerve agent of which she was infected and the brewery explosion, right? It wouldn't surprise me in the least bit if she somehow appeared in the final moments battered but alive.

Hannah is a Casualty  - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 7

It's Hannah Wells here!

It wasn't until Kirkman spoke at the CIA ceremony honoring her service that it hit me they didn't have a single scene nor conversation all season. Hannah has been separate from anything relating to the White House, and it's unfortunate.

Ave atque vale, Agent Wells. I salute you.


She didn't even live to see the takedown of Monberg come to fruition. In hindsight, Eli's observation about Hannah living for the chase foreshadowed her death. She died doing what she was great at though, didn't she?

Hannah Stakes Out  - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5

The hunt for Monberg, the South African apartheid supremacist who wanted to eradicate all those of a darker pigment was one of the most thrilling portions of the season. It brought about so many hard choices.

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Kirkman had valid reasons for not wanting to alert the public about the extent of the grand-scale terrorist attack they faced, and they didn't have enough information to do everything they hoped, but how could you not empathize or sympathize with Seth?

Hannah and Eli  - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 7

He was right; of everyone discussing the potential death of a significant portion of their population, he was the only one in the room who would be affected by it. He was the brownest man in the room, and it had to be frustrating hearing a collection of white and white-passing men decide to not warn the public about their potential demise.

It's freaking genocide! Seth proved, once again, how good he is when it counts. He has some of the best quotes and speeches often; he shines when he's put to use. Fortunately, he was utilized better and had a stronger presence in these installments.

Momberg's plan doesn't target anyone in this room except me. And from where I stand, I'm sorry, sir, I can't help but wonder if maybe it's easier taking a chance on someone's life when they don't look like you.


Kirkman was doing the best he could, and it didn't help anyone that everyone else wanted to play politics when he tried to divert a national security crisis.

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The governor of Texas was a world-class jackass for riling the people up and doing the opposite of what Kirkman advised. He proved why Kirkman wanted to keep people in the dark.

How deep Momberg's connection went to this election is the most disturbing point of them all. Momberg contacted Detweiler to tell him he handled Hannah.

Momberg - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 7

Detweiler is the commissioner in bed with the Moss, and FlagKind, the pharmaceutical company Mars is trying to take down. Also, Eli's endless supply of contacts has pointed out another connection.

While his scientist friend lost her life, she helped take Momberg down with her nanorobotics, but Davis is the one who identified Phil, Moss' campaign spokesperson, and the person who came to him in search of genocidal bioterror information.

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While I'm still side-eying Davis for not contacting any authority to let anyone know "hey, there's some Aryan pretty boy who works for a political official who lowkey wants to kill all the brown people," it's now direct confirmation Moss is in deep with bioterrorists and white supremacists.

Ten days before the election I'm busier than a whorehouse on nickel night. This better be good.


Moss has become quite the boogeyman, hasn't he? He's a full-blown, unscrupulous monster. The worst part about is it may not be enough to turn a frustratingly large and vocal portion of the country from backing him. Some of them may stand behind him more.

Also, before Momberg took his cyanide pill, he published his work on the dark web. A joint effort by all the agencies was enough to take it down, but some people have already downloaded it, and the information is out there.

Dianne  - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5

They didn't stop this threat so much as postponed it. A genocidal bioterror attack could happen at any point in the foreseeable future. To borrow from Seth during a positively amusing and authentic shooting the breeze with fellow POC moment with Isabel and Dontae, "we're screwed."

Between this development and the leak about Moss' collusion with FlagKind, Moss' campaign should be in shambles.

Lorraine had a big part in that. Lorraine is one of the bright spots of the season. Julia White has blown everyone out of the water during this season.

Seth: You guys have to swear not to repeat what I just said. If Harper finds out that I told you before the "we narrowly avoided genocide" presser tomorrow, he'll kill me. Like, murder me dead.
Isabel: Doesn't sound like he's the only one who wants you dead. Or us dead.
Seth: You might've had a chance. You're more of a coffee and two creams than either of us.
Isabel: Hey Puerto Ricans have a long history of being the targets of genocidal experiments. Read about it.
Dontae: I'm a black gay man. Pretty sure that trumps everything.
Seth: People think I'm a Muslim terrorist trying to do them harm. Going through airport security is a bitch.
Dontae: Like when I walk into a store and spend more than 15 seconds browsing?
Isabel: But guys, didn't you hear? This is what a post-racial society looks like.
Seth: We're all screwed.

Lorraine is underhanded, acerbic, and a spitfire among other things, but damn if she's not entertaining as all hell. Emily is onto her, and she has figured out Lorraine has a mole in the Moss camp, but at this rate, does it matter anymore?

Lorraine salivates at any chance to get ahead by any means necessary. It's ten days before the election, and she's not going to stop at this point. What's amusing is how she brings out similar vibes in those around her.

Lorraine Plots - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 5

Her scene with Seth cursing out the talking heads regarding Sasha was hilarious, and Mars has channeled her completely in his vendetta against FlagKind and Big Pharma.

The opioid storyline making its way into the White House with Mars leading the charge is long overdue. Although, once again, I have to express immense appreciation for the blunt Isabel for calling it how she sees it.

She's right; the country needs to address the crisis, and she's thrilled the Kirkman administration is diving into it. She knows Mars is personally invested after Lynn's overdose, but the issue isn't new.

Isabel: I'm glad someone is bringing companies like this down, but it's a little messed up don't you think?
Mars: Which part?
Isabel: People of color have been battling addiction for decades. All we get is the War on Drugs and a prison sentence. It isn't until white folks start dying that things change. No offense.
Mars: You're right. I like working with you, Isabel. You say what you mean, and you mean what you say. That is a good quality in this game don't lose it.

People only care now because of the plethora of white people affected by it now. As she said, people of color have been battling addiction for decades and due to the same causes of trusted sources giving them the drugs, and the only responses they received was a War on Drugs and imbalanced prison sentences.

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Isabel has shown all season she doesn't mince words, and she doesn't mind being a voice for disenfranchised parties. It mellowed out midseason, so it wasn't so overpowering, and it helps that Aaron has embraced his identity.

Hanging with Friends  - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 7

The leak about Aaron driving Mariluz across the border when he was 16-years-old nearly cost him and Kirkman the election and him and Emily their jobs. It didn't help matters that it came on the heels of Kirkman deporting Mateo and his family.

Once again, Aaron was forced to choose between politics and his people, or rather reconcile his heritage with his job. Aaron's arc regarding this has been intriguing as it's something many POC can relate to on some level or another even if they aren't in a high position.

By the time he addressed the nation on the issue, and he spoke about the immigrant's dream and Mariluz's contributions as a veteran and teacher, it was rewarding.

What am I supposed to say? "I'm sorry for bringing a contributing member of society into our country that's filled with natural-born, entitled assholes who take their citizenship and privilege for granted?"


He acknowledged and spoke of his father and the struggles he still faced as a legal immigrant. He spoke of the slurs, mistreatment, racism, and xenophobia. Aaron stepped into his identity fully and embraced it without reservations anymore, and the monte felt earned.

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It was a beautiful speech, and it was a big step for him, especially admitting he's proud to be a Rivera (rather than his assimilated name Shore). He went right back to trying to figure out if by doing that it was him giving a show or not.

Aaron Address the Nation  - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 7

I like that there is no concrete answer for him; there never is one. He's figuring things out slowly but surely, and there are no real answers here. It's something he'll continue to battle often no matter how comfortable he becomes in his skin.

Of course, Isabel praised the heck out of him during the speech, and it led to him confessing he slept with Emily. It's odd that Isabel is more endearing outside of her relationship with Aaron than she is within it, but damn if it wasn't crushing when her face crumbled upon finding out the truth.

Isabel: All these people, Lorraine, and the media they look at you and see how they can use you. But I see you. I see a piece of myself in you. I'm so fucking proud of you. I love you so much.
Aaron: Jesus, I'm such a fucking asshole.
Isabel: Hey you're putting way too much pressure on yourself.
Aaron: I slept with Emily. It was a mistake, and I hate myself for doing this. Believe me, I hate myself. But I have to take responsibility for this as well.

Regardless of if they're compatible or not, she loves Aaron, and she's been a support to him; she didn't deserve that. Kudos to Aaron for being honest with her, but I don't know if it did more damage than good.

I also hate he didn't give Emily a head's up either. They all work together, so when Isabel had words with Emily in the hallway of the White House, it was too much. It was no less awkward when Aaron and Emily arrived at the bar together while Isabel was there with Seth and Dontae.

Isabel  - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 3

Ugh, infidelity storylines are the bane of my existence and overdone. I'm not sure I have a horse in this race regarding how this should play out, but it's aggravating all-around. I feel for all of them, though, at least this time around, no one comes across as a "bad" person.

Aaron struggles a lot in his personal life, but he excels so much in his political life, so even with his Mariluz faux pas, he handles things well.

What the fuck is happening in the Situation Room?


He spearheaded the resolution to the Russian debacle, and that required some finesse. They easily could've ended up at war with Russian without a decent resolution.

The hack to divert the Russian aircraft with nukes from taking out Seattle was pretty damn cool, and it made me miss Chuck.

New VP - Tall - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 3

I understood why Lorraine wanted to share it with the public to show that the petty media quibbles are unimportant in comparison to the real work which needs to be done and Kirkman does.

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However, it was a national security issue, and she has to be willing to look at the bigger picture sometime. It does make you wonder what on Earth Kirkman has to do to convince people he's a viable candidate?

New and Improved - Tall - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 1

He restored the government system as they know it after everyone was wiped out in a separate attack. He rebuilt the Capitol and restored Congress. He put the country back on track, and all as someone who didn't volunteer to be president.

Shouldn't he be a shoo-in? Jeebus!

I'm pleased that Sasha is embracing her position to do some good. She also is helping Tom out. He's always open to diverse voices who can educate him on issues he doesn't understand, so he needs her as a spokesperson for transgender issues.

Seth: Son of a bitch, motherfucker, piece of shit cunt! Sorry.
Lorraine: I wouldn't change a word.

The press slamming Sasha in the media for the bathroom incident was beyond disgusting, and it was ridiculous how they used it against Kirkman.

It's understandable how Sasha wanted her privacy, but she did give up a great deal of that when she agreed to move into the White House and be part of Tom and Penny's lives.

Sasha  - Designated Survivor Season 3 Episode 3

Also, as insensitive as it may have sounded, Emily was right about Sasha. She has a voice, a platform, and privilege many in the trans community don't have. Shouldn't she have a responsibility to use it and well?

Dontae and Seth taking her to the group meeting, so she could hear fellow members of her community speak about their issues, insecurities, and pride are what she needed.

Since I've transitioned, I've been able to pass. I lived stealth. It's easier for me -- easier at least compared to other people.


Additional Notes:

  • Dontae and Troy made up. Troy came out of this more knowledgable at HIV, and he's taking PrEP. Dontae apologized, and he got to try Troy's cornbread. They are winning. 
  • Eli is wry and funny, and he has made his part more interesting. 
  • No, but really, is Hannah dead?! That's it?! It was a struggle to implement her in the season, but I hate this!  
  • Isabel and Seth have formed a sweet friendship, but will it stay that way? He invited her to sleep on his couch like middle-school girls at a sleepover, and I don't know, sometimes it seems like something else might happen there. 
  • Was that it regarding Seth's daughter? How do you guys feel about his storyline this season? 
  • I'm rooting for Mars and Lynn. She was touched when she found out he's going after a predatory drug company in her honor. 
  • Emily is trying to postpone her mother's death, but if she keeps avoiding it, Carrie may take matters into her hands without her.

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Over to you Designated Survivor Fanatics. Do you think Wells is dead? What was the most shocking development? Hit the comments below!

You can watch Designated Survivor online here via TV Fanatic. 

#identity/crisis Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

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 7 Quotes

What am I supposed to say? "I'm sorry for bringing a contributing member of society into our country that's filled with natural-born, entitled assholes who take their citizenship and privilege for granted?"


Tom: Emily.
Emily: Yes sir.
Tom: I need you to draft two statements. One if Aaron stays on the ticket, and one if he goes. While you're at it, draft your own resignation letter. I'll let you know if I need it later. Go.