As seasoned tv-viewers will know, there is nothing more frustrating on a tv show than the people who know crucial things not telling the other people who need to know crucial things about the crucial things, while simultaneously sharing said crucial things with the people who really have no business knowing anything at all.
As if conscious that the first half of the season involved a little too much of that (don’t make me say it all again), Designated Survivor now seems determined to make up for it at warp-speed; suddenly, the right people are telling the other right people EVERYTHING, and, finally, somebody is telling the First Lady and President Jack Bauer himself that just because she’s a member of the First Family, none of it is any of her beeswax. (Yet another week when an unapologetically madcap tv drama shows an infinitely better grasp of ethical responsibility than the people currently in power in real life, then, but there we go.)
The bar is set early and high by Agent Q filling PJB in on the the past eleven episodes (come on in, new viewers, the water’s lovely!), and only stopping when Mrs B wanders in, all faux-innocence, with some brand new “look at me, being all shifty – maybe I’m the mole” incidental music accompanying her, to try and get some of the goss. PJB is keen to share, of course, but Agent Q and Agent Mike know better, and, for the first time all season, PJB realises that, saintly as she may or may not be, Alex is his wife not his National Security Adviser and zips it. If this turns into an excuse for a marital discord plot, rather than an “Alex is secretly evil” one, I will be most disappointed.
One traitor at a time, though. The Pres is ready to go the full Bauer on MacLeish – the latter’s “look at me and my All-American awesomeness” speech on live TV providing even more incentive to gut him like a fish – but there’s a little more work to be done first, so Agent Q reaches out to the one man she can trust to help; the man who turns out, somewhat surprisingly, to be Reed Diamond. This development caught me on the hop, since Reed Diamond usually plays (and indeed until this week was playing) the one man you can’t trust to help, but Agent Q’s sure he’s “beyond reproach” and full of “integrity” and – catching me on the hop again – the pair of them are suddenly not only working together but also flirting together to save the Republic, and whoa, that came out of nowhere, huh?
Not that it gets in the way of the work, oh no. “You can’t afford to have feelings,” Reed points out (“even though you clearly are having feelings” being my response) so, resisting the urge to pucker up for now, off they go to bring down MacLeish, and tie up the loose ends of the “Jason Atwood’s still in an orange jumpsuit” sub-plot, both of which turn out to be short but tragic work. Poor Luke. Janice from Stalker is RUTHLESS. And so is this show.
Macbeth MacLeish turning out to be even more of a fanatic than she seemed, then, the MacLeish story is over a lot more abruptly than I thought it would be, shocking me (and Agent Q) yet again. Wow. That was…. WOW. I feel like faster, closer back-up might have helped, but at least everything’s recorded this time – nobody wants to see Agent Jinx Q locked up for yet another assassination attempt (and a successful one, this time) she just happened to have a ringside seat for – and the by-now smitten Reed sees and hears it all. There’s hope for those two crazy kids, and very possibly the Republic, yet.
While one ship nudges out of port, however, another has run aground. PJB does try to smooth things over between Aaron and Emily, but since his attempts are accompanied with a warning that “he might still be a traitor, so maybe don’t snog him again just yet” (not a direct quote), and an instruction to Agent Mike to “discreetly” shut down the guy’s access to everything he needs to do his job, because of course he’s not going to notice a giant red “ACCESS DENIED” banner flashing across his screen, this doesn’t really fix things.
Poor, lovelorn Aaron copes with his heartbreak by apologising for stuff that isn’t his fault; poor, lovelorn Emily copes with her heartbreak by playing mournful airs on the piano (when did this piano show up?) and poor, FFS ENOUGH of this, CJ copes with her heartbreak by eating a large packet of Kettle Chips. Sigh. At least this gives Seth, my favourite character in the show, yet another chance to showcase his estimable counselling skills, but what with propping up Alex last week and Emily this week, is it not about time Seth got a plot of his own again, as opposed to “supporting the women of the Bauer Administration through times of heartache”? Maybe next time, I guess. Either way, this was a fantastic episode – thrilling, shocking and a whole lot of fun. Designated Survivor is awesome.