As Designated Survivor continues to cast around (unsuccessfully) for a new identity of its own, this is its most deliberately “West Wing”-like week yet, as the bulk of the episode focuses on – gulp – tricky US/Mexico trade negotiations rendered even trickier by a trucker blockade.
Once you start using phrases like “import tariffs” in a show I’m watching for the action fun, you’re going to lose my attention, but it’s a well-meaning story at least, trying as it does to inject empathy and reality into a topic too often hijacked in real life by racist, bigoted asshats you already know about so I’ll not waste any more words on them today.
If the mechanics of the trade deal leave me cold and it mostly comes down to PJB solving the problem by yelling at a guest star, yet again, at least it also gives Adan Canto’s Aaron a chance to speak Spanish, which I enjoyed, and reconnect with his family, which I’m less excited about. The family thing surprises me somewhat since I thought all of them, except his pushy cousin – yes, Aaron calling out her boss for using his cousin to get to him was obnoxious, but so was his cousin volunteering herself to be used in that manner, get over yourself Nadia – lived in Texas, and it did not look like dude had been on a plane. Perhaps I missed a line about them coming to visit. Anyway, reconnecting with family is nice, Aaron, and they looked very pleased to see you. Awww. You know who else you could reconnect with while we’re at it, though? Emily. Just a thought!
Meanwhile, secretly investigating possible corruption in the First Family means that Agent Q has found herself at “the epicentre of every crime in Reston” and increasingly under pressure from that one detective whose job is to investigate any crime with a Qonnection, so she decides to do a little reconnecting herself. Hello again Reed Diamond! “You and I go way back, John,” Q says, for all the world as if she hasn’t seen him in two decades as opposed to two episodes. “I didn’t know who else to turn to.”
At this point, I’m torn between the urge to shout “you could turn to the President!” and the hope, flickering briefly into life once again, that these two crazy, mixed-up, highly upstanding FBI agents might make a go of it together. Sigh. But Reed Diamond helps me re-focus on the matter at hand, suggesting that Q could and indeed should turn to PJB. “If it’s cancer, you tell the patient,” he points out, which is entirely helpful advice, I think. Even if Q doesn’t want to take it, presumably because PJB insists on defying stereotypes and seventies comedy routines by actually getting on quite well with his mother-in-law.
Thankfully, however, Reed Diamond’s helpfulness doesn’t end there, as he follows up with the suggestion of going to the White House Counsel instead, and what do you know? They just hired a nice, smiley one a couple of weeks ago! Handy, huh?
So more screentime for Kendra Daynes, then, as she and Q go and see FLOTUS together. That was never going to be fun, but becomes even less so when Mrs Bauer not only treats Q like she wasn’t almost wholly responsible for uncovering and bringing down a massive conspiracy which almost destroyed American democracy about five minutes ago – saving PJB’s life and Presidency in the process, let’s not forget – and therefore might just know what she’s talking about, but also has the audacity to be snippy about it. Why didn’t Q come to you with the real allegation at the start, Alex? Because a) nobody wants to tell the First Lady the First-Mother-in-Law might be a felon and b) this is always how you were going to react. You can get over yourself, too.
And perhaps apologise to Q since, obviously, it turns out she’s right. PJB can spin it as “a 30 year-old transgression your mum made in order to save her husband” all he likes, but let’s call a federal crime a federal crime, you guys. And now Reed Diamond is going all federal subpoena on the FMIL’s ass, both she and her daughter might find they actually miss Q’s more under-the-radar style.
Not that Q is happy about it, either. “You’re such a bastard, John,” she says, dashing my hopes of a happy Qending once again. She gets a “one-time pass” because she’s Q, but Reed Diamond sternly reminds her he is the Director of the FBI (is this a recent promotion? I thought he was head of their Internal Affairs section?) and one time is all she’s going to get, because some apparently highly significant evidence he can’t ignore – I know Reed Diamond says he doesn’t need to tell Q what it looks like, but it would really help me out if he did – has now popped into his lap too. After all, Agent Q isn’t the only person who has an obligation to investigate, is she? And I don’t mean the woman at the OMB and her stupid broken vase. Nor do I see anyone sorting this one out with dinner.