Designated Survivor s1 ep 21

*SPOILERS*

It’s season finale time and Agent Q is done waiting around, so she dispenses with last week’s big-ass cliffhanger in the most bad-ass fashion possible, saving everyone (including herself) with minimum fuss and maximum style. Hi-fives to Agent Q! As for Conspiracy Corps’ pesky attempt to frame her with schematics and anonymous calls and the like, the very relieved and absolutely outraged Reed Diamond’s got no time for that either. “Get these cuffs off her right now!” he orders anyone foolish enough to arrest his beloved Q for treason yet again. “She’s a suspect in a terrorist attack!” may have been an entirely understandable response in the circumstances, but “The hell she is! Let her go!” made me cheer and squee. Even if Qiamond is just a figment of my ardent shipper imagination.

Either way, having already done the “Agent Q is arrested and locked up as a criminal, but she’s actually a hero” thing earlier in the season, the show deserves credit for not wasting more than seconds on it this week. A quick call from the White House backing Reed Diamond up and, instead of heading to an interrogation room, he and Q are back at 1600 Penn having a confab with PJB and Moss about the Bad Billionaire problem. Reed Diamond’s come a long way but by-the-books habits die hard, so he’s still keen on playing things the slow, MacLeish way. As Moss points out somewhat brutally but inarguably, though, that didn’t exactly work out last time, so hurrah, it’s time for another FBI raid! Which the Bad Billionaire eludes very easily, much to everyone’s shock and surprise (and a very special “Dammit!” from Q herself) , although how they ever thought he could have missed the fleet of SUV’s roaring up his incredibly long driveway, I’m not sure.

The Bad Billionaire being in the wind is not the only problem though. Catalan’s on the loose again, with Mole Guy getting him into the Pentagon for phase whatever-it-is of Conspiracy Corps’ Evil plan. Agent Q’s having none of this either, though. The entire Pentagon staff may not be able to stop him, but this fool makes the rookie mistake of driving past the one woman who can and the fight is on! Although it’s a slightly disappointing one given that Q seems a little rusty – I guess she’s been through a lot over the past few episodes. After a somewhat prolonged tussle, she does eventually manage to send Catalan off to meet his maker, albeit not before he points out that it’s not over yet. Dun-dun-DUN.

Back on Pennsylvania Avenue, PJB is telling Abe Leonard exactly the same thing and strangely, given his usual attitude to the Administration, Abe Leonard is buying it, agreeing not to publish his big Jason Atwood scoop for now. Beyond “irritant for Seth,” I don’t think I really have a handle on Abe Leonard’s character, to be honest; I have a feeling the writers don’t either. But never mind that! While Leonard’s stepping back, Aaron’s stepping up; defending PJB on the talk show circuit, going on a special mission for him – I love Aaron. As does PJB, who’s bringing him back into the fold and making up a job for him whether he likes it or not. (SPOILER – he likes it a lot) YAY!

Not that we’re done with Conspiracy Corps quite yet. After a sweet but determinedly platonic Channah reunion – “Can I get you a…. hospital?” HEE! – king of the friendzone Chuck makes ABSOLUTELY SURE Q catches up on her emails and, whaddya know? As I’d hoped, poor old Jason did send her the goods on Mole Guy before leaving his camo hideout and heading to his doom, so Mole Guy’s caught, and YAY! Again! Time for PJB to fill his staff and the American people in on what’s been going on via a big TV-President-style speech with a symphony of patriotism and righteousness swelling in the background, and for everyone left to get their happy ending. Except poor Agent Q who’s lost both her boyfriend and her boss/best friend and, having saved the Republic (till next season), is finally allowed to take a rest and grieve. *wipes away tear*

And that’s that for a thoroughly entertaining first season. As we’ve all said, Designated Survivor is no West Wing and it’s too idealistic to be 24 either, but that’s no bad thing. This first run has been an incredibly fast, fun, bonkers ride, with a genuine, comforting decency at its heart. The initial focus on grating First Family storylines was a mistake – I note with foreboding that the season ends with the awful Alex and kids back to stay – but the political drama/conspiracy thriller balance worked well for the most part, and the rest of the characters and performances were great, with particular credit due to Kiefer Sutherland, Maggie Q, Kal Penn and Virginia Madsen for adding something very special to proceedings. I hope they’re all back for season two. I certainly plan to be.

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Designated Survivor s1 ep 20

*SPOILERS*

“Despite recent disruption to the world order, this is not the time to retreat into isolation or populism. This is the time to show that global co-operation can and will lead us to a safer future.”

Sigh. President Jack Bauer, ladies and gentlemen, as usual talking a lot more sense than the real-life shower of lunatics and fascists about to drag us into the apocalypse, and momentarily depressing me as a result, but no time for Weltschmerz this week, we’ve got a recap to get through, and things are moving FAST. Except on the nuclear disarmament front, that is, where things are grinding to an ignominious halt, thanks to the ridiculous Abe Leonard finally publishing his “It wasn’t Al Sakar! Dun dun dun!” story.

While the First Mole Lady seizes the opportunity to try and get the classified goss again, Moss is apoplectic that PJB didn’t tell him first, Seth is confused but loyal, funny and frankly lovely about it (Seth is the BEST) and the French President is just rude, announcing to NATO that she’s taking PJB’s Kum-ba-ya plan (despite it being HER IDEA) off the table because she thinks he’s too gauche to deal with. (Not that he helps himself by drawling “Madame” at her in cringe-worthy fashion every chance he gets.) After a few weeks when PJB has seemed much more authoritative, it’s disappointing to see him slip back into brow-beaten, sad-sack mode; I half-expected the cardigan and glasses to come back out, and the five minute flirt with “Madame” didn’t really turn that around for me – I thought he was going to kiss her hand at one point, ew – but it seemed to work for her so maybe we will eventually get our nuclear disarmament in season 2 after all.

There’s still a lot of other season 1 business to get through between this and the finale, though. While PJB’s away, Emily and Aaron will… sadly, not play, but will see each other across a crowded restaurant, have a very nice hug, and tease me with talk of wanting to work together again and anything could happen and the like. (You guys, I WANT THEM TO GET TOGETHER SO BAD.) Since Aaron is quite obviously delighted to see her, and Emily is quite obviously ready to take a stiletto to his lunch partner’s face till she realises it’s his cousin rather than some Julie-come-lately muscling in on her man turf, is it too much to hope we might get a snog next week? Or do I have to wait till season 2 for that as well? Hurrumph.

From a metaphorical ship to a literal one, meantime: Agent Q is running about the USS Conspiracy Corp, whacking folk with the wrong end of an axe, presumably since any federal agent chopping folk’s heads off would have to deal with a tsunami of paperwork. Mid-thump and before Catalan cataches her again, she manages to get a distress call out to a very nice lady at the US Coast Guard who doesn’t quite understand the significance of it at first. La Guard gets there, though, bless her, and gets hold of Reed Diamond, who is now FRANTIC with worry for the missing Q and yelling at everyone about everything, bless him. Now, obviously, Unpopcult keeps a keen eye on the latest developments in employment law and does not endorse vociferation as an ideal management technique in real life. But on this show, at least, it does seem to get things done – and by “things,” I mean a huge, practically immediate FBI raid on the USS Conspiracy Corp, and a lot of authoritative shouting and shooting and deck-clearing which is very impressive and exciting indeed, even if it almost ends me when I think it’s about to accidentally end poor Agent Q. It’s a great fake-out, leading to an absolutely fantastic cliffhanger – how will Q get out of this fresh fix? Will Reed Diamond admit his feelings for her? Are Reed Diamond’s feelings all in my head? And does Mole Guy really have better hacker skillz than Chuck? I don’t know, but bring on the next ep, I’m excited to find out!

The Mentalist s5 ep 13

Jane and co investigate when three bodies, hidden since the late 1980’s, are discovered in a basement on an abandoned farm, and there’s a Homicide: Life on the Street reunion of sorts as Kyle Secor and Reed Diamond both make guest appearances, albeit not in the same scenes.

By itself, this week’s mystery could have been fairly non-descript (and the diner scene resolution annoyingly trite), but the episode was thankfully rendered significantly more interesting – and creepy, VERY creepy – by connections with Red John and Visualise, and the return of Diamond’s Haffner. Who turned out to be pretty damn creepy himself.

Weaving in a thread about Lisbon’s years of service, and just what or who (squee!) it is that keeps her at the CBI, “The Red Barn” was a decent episode with a handful of great, unnerving scenes and something highly disconcerting going on in the final seconds. If I was a little bit disappointed in it, it’s not because there was anything wrong with it, per se, just that, given the RJ element, I may have been expecting a little too much; the ep suffered in comparison to some of the past Red John eps which have knocked me sideways. Much as I love The Mentalist, the show is clearly running out of steam.