Designated Survivor s1 ep 4

For just a second, at the start of this episode, I genuinely expected to hear Kiefer Sutherland, in voiceover, saying “The following takes place between…”, because it’s a very 24-esque cold open: a man, seemingly in fear, runs up a flight of stairs, sends an email, then gets tased.

Once we know more about the email, it seems to be proof that everyone’s favourite made-up terrorist group, Al-Sakar (sp? – this is my third try, I think), was behind the attack on the Capitol; and, on top of that, it contains information about the whereabouts of its leader Majid Nassar, apparently on a compound in Algeria. So, General Cochrane asks President Kirkman eagerly, now can we start bombing, pls? Not so fast, says POTUS; the American agent who sent us this information has been captured and is also on the compound, and I’m not killing him. Nuh-uh, says Cochrane, he knew the risks; and, while POTUS’s attention is elsewhere he starts to prepare to attack anyway. Whereupon POTUS – finally – sacks him and appoints General Chernow (Mykelti Williamson, another 24 alum) in his stead.

Unfortunately Tom can’t sack his wife, who needs a solid relating to a former client, and gets it from Kimble Hookstraten, who makes such a huge meal of emphasising that FLOTUS now owes her one that we can expect the favour to be called in very soon. And a good week for Seth: I thought he might make it to Chief of Staff, but, although I was perhaps getting a little ahead of myself, he does become the President’s Press Secretary when the present incumbent – promoted way beyond his level of competence by the bomb – is ripped limb from limb by the press corps, although at least he didn’t promise a secret plan to fight inflation (Any excuse to use that clip. Any excuse. “Oh God…”).

The really, really, really good news this week, though, is that Governor Royce is back – obviously it’s terrible, because he’s a bad man, but Michael Gaston is a GREAT villain – and up to his old tricks. There’s going to be a civil rights march in Michigan, which Emily flies out to observe, with a view to deterring Royce from setting the dogs (or whatever) on the protesters. But when her plane lands, Royce’s stormtroopers refuse to let her leave the airport. You wanna play, bitch, thinks Kirkman; OK then. I’ll federalise the National Guard, send them in, and get them to escort Emily. Except that the Guard also refuses to acknowledge Kirkman’s authority, and instead makes it clear that it regards its Commander-in-Chief as being one John Royce, Governor of Michigan.

So Emily comes up with a neat plan which will allow everyone to save face, and thus gets Royce on the plane back to Washington for a sit-down with the President. What she doesn’t know, however, is that Kirkman has a little surprise waiting for Royce when he lands. It feels to Emily like a betrayal of trust: he’s “turning into a different person”, she grumbles to Aaron, as the two of them chat about the issues of the day, and tacitly ponder at which point to indicate an interest in seeing the other naked. Well, yes, Emily. He’s no longer Mr Secretary Kirkman of the Department of Housing and Development; he’s now President Jack Bauer.

It’s another insanely good episode. If the show has a weakness, it’s that the storyline featuring Agent Maggie Q’s investigation of the attack still feels a little undercooked: this week she looks into Congressman MacLeish, concludes that he had nothing to do with it, and is then pointed in his direction again when she’s the recipient of a phone call with one of those cryptic, late night, Deep Throaty morsels of information which really annoy me. Why couldn’t the caller just tell her what’s going on, rather than fire an unexplained room number at her? Because we’re only on episode 4, I suppose.

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5 thoughts on “Designated Survivor s1 ep 4

  1. Snoskred October 17, 2016 / 10:32 pm

    I’m just wondering if the episodes I am getting are somehow different to yours. 😉 I mean everything you said here happened, but my episodes are terribly written and performed quite badly compared to, well, everything else on the teevee. 🙂

    But I also was not a fan of 24 at all, and I guess this is kind of a similar style to that.

    4 episodes in and I am still feeling that this is Not Great, Bob! 😉 but I guess there isn’t much else on and I’ll stick with it for a bit longer..

    • Jed Bartlet October 18, 2016 / 10:22 pm

      I’m grading on a curve just a little: it doesn’t stand shoulder-to-shoulder with properly great TV, but it’s great entertainment (as I thought 24 was).

      The supporting cast maybe hasn’t established itself yet, but in my view Kiefer is a better and more subtle actor than he’s sometimes given credit for: he was great in Touch, which hardly anyone saw, and so far in this I’m enjoying his switch from confused and terrified newbie into President Bauer. (He was also good in 24, a show with a more complicated worldview than is sometimes attributed to it, but that’s for another day.)

  2. CJ Cregg October 22, 2016 / 12:09 am

    I thought this was great. I agree, Jed, Michael Gaston is a TREMENDOUS villain, and him going toe-to-toe with President Jack Bauer was just magic. I have a feeling that double-cross might well come back to bite PJB in the butt…. Anyway, the story’s quite bonkers, but wildly entertaining bonkers and I LOVE IT.

    I also love Seth and I thought that whole storyline with his promotion was really well-handled. Aaron was a bit clumsy with the “someone like you” but it was a point worth making, and I’m glad PJB eventually got Seth to take the job because he will be awesome at it.

    I note Aaron has also been re-tooled or maybe just gradually softened from the ruthless hard-ass he was in the pilot – he’s still a crafty operator, but he seems to be getting cuddlier by the week, bless him. His fretting over Emily’s safety this week was adorable. As was their chat at the end of the week. I am TOTALLY on board with the #Emron ship.

  3. Kay20 December 1, 2016 / 7:47 am

    Liking this more and more and agree with everything you said Jed including the kinda lackluster FBI side plot which just feels like Hannah being whiny. But I’m loving the President interacting with non family and his staff gets more interesting with each passing week.

    By the way- I was one of the few that watched and also enjoyed Touch.

    • Jed Bartlet December 2, 2016 / 7:16 pm

      Touch had its flaws, but I’ve seen much worse. And Kiefer was terrific in it.

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