Since we’re down to ten eps this season, Designated Survivor is not wasting any time getting on with things: a whole six months have gone by since episode 1 and it’s “infrastructure week.” Yay? Not really, since this seems, much as in real life, to involve a lot of announcing that “It’s infrastructure week!”, but not much else that’s got to do with infrastructure at all. I mean, okay, there’s a Bill, which Emily – in her new official role of Soul of the President (SOTUS) – has apparently been running point on, while dressing like she’s at brunch in the Hamptons. And there’s an “app” – I was rolling my eyes pretty heavily at that point – which Dontae has been working on while accidentally solving voter apathy. Or something. But still, “infrastructure week,” again as in real life, is wholly overshadowed by other, more news-tastic problems, the big one turning out to be not the Norway/ Russia/ US “game of geopolitical chicken” which Aaron sorts, nor the cheeseater/termite problem which Mars is on, but PJB himself getting photographed with a visiting Saudi donor and his child bride. Oops. Exactly nobody’s interested in Emily’s roads and bridges after that, except perhaps Aaron and Isabel but we’ll come to that in a moment.
Bafflingly, noone in the White House except Aaron’s girlfriend seems to realise that child marriage is in fact legal and objectionable across most of the US as well. (Yes, I know, there are different rules in different places about when you become an adult and there are requirements for various kinds of approval etc but still.) I mean, I don’t work in the White House but I knew, just from watching Chicago Med of all things, that it was at least legal in some states. You’d think folk in the pretend US government might have a bit more of a clue than me or folk in a pretend US hospital, but there’s a really weird few minutes when it looks like they’re not going to realise it and they’re just going to argue with the Saudis instead. (Those were an interesting few minutes on the Cregg couch.) Credit where it’s due, though: the conversation/fight between PJB and the female Saudi lawyer the embassy sends to yell at him/ educate him on the various laws of the country he’s the President of is a bizarre, stupid scene and not the way I’d have chosen to point out the inconsistency of POTUS’s position, but at least the show does in fact point it out. And it doesn’t offer easy solutions either, with, for once, PJB going with political expedience rather than his conscience (or SOTUS). Dude really wants to win this election.
Although I’m not entirely sure he’s going about it the right way since, six months after Lorraine was hired as campaign manager, he’s still third in the polls and neither he nor SOTUS really trusts her. Why she’s still campaign manager at all, then, is not entirely clear. She does have a splendid idea (which she may or may not have borrowed from a fan fic I read a while back) which might just turn things around though: World’s Sexiest Politician candidate Aaron for VP! This is a tremendous plan because (a) Aaron is killing it this week – preventing wars, keeping on-message with infrastructure, getting photographed running with his shirt off etc – and (b) it means that he and Emily will be spending plenty more time together since she’s leaving the White House to work on the campaign too. WELL. Last week, I was wondering about PJBemily but this week it’s all Emron back on, baby. Sort of. I mean, there are two major clues. One: Isabel thinks Emily hates her because of Emily’s (EXTREMELY truncated) romantic history with Aaron, rather than because Isabel is really annoying. And two: while everyone else is having the time of their lives teasing/ bullying Aaron about his new sex symbol status, Emily is fretting about the poor boy’s feelings and how mean it is. As am I, and since I have a thing for Aaron too, this seems like incontrovertible evidence that Emron is at least a possibility again, which after the utter weirdness of season 2 acting like they’d never even met let alone anything else, is something of a turnaround. Seems like season 3 is going to pretend Semily never happened instead. Which I am absolutely fine with, thank you very much, season 3, carry on the good work.
In all seriousness, actually. I’m not pretending this was flawless top-tier television – for a start, the angstathon with Mrs Mars adds nothing except yet more characters, and the surgical excision of poor Maggie Q from the rest of the principal cast gets more obvious and inexplicable by the episode. I wouldn’t be surprised if she films her “Q vs the Bioterror” show scenes in a different country from the principal cast, since parent show Designated Survivor has removed any and all reason they might have had to interact with any of them. All that said, though, I really enjoyed this episode. It was fast, interesting and, for the first time in ages, a genuinely good watch. Thumbs-up!