Designated Survivor Review: You Can’t Escape Your Original Sin

Designated Survivor

Designated Survivor survived the loss of an entire government, a second Vice President (albeit a corrupt one), and now the First Lady. It’s caused a massive shift in the landscape, and the direction Designated Survivor will take in the back half of season 2. The country and the President’s own administration can agree that President Kirkman looks angry, sounds angry, and it’s getting worse, not better. That’s been a big tone of the last few episodes. Now it’s time for that tone to shift, and a family reunion just might do the trick.

Lyor has a tough week ahead of him. Optics are everything, including the very definition of his position in the White House. It is his job to figure a way out of this mess the leaked prison video has created. No one sees a grieving husband. All they see is a President who overstepped his boundaries to kick a man when he was already down. Lyor needs a counterbalance to the President’s actions. What better way than to save a tribe from losing what is left of their land? Here is what makes this proposal particularly testy. The President doesn’t have a choice but to help the tribe, because he is the one who created their problem in the first place. As a young architect, he advocated for a commercial property to be moved onto the tribe’s land, and now they will be evicted for a second time if he doesn’t intervene.

From that point on, Kirkman does everything he possibly can to work out a deal between the tribe and the old corporate firm. He tries everything he can think of, including trying to push through an executive order to make the small tribe recognized by the federal government. What Kirkman realizes is that his friend and former architectural partner never showed him the letter the tribe sent opposing the original deal. If he had seen that, Kirkman never would have signed off. But his now former friend is right. There is a direct link from this original sin to his appointment to this office. Okay, so there were way more twists and turns that could have derailed the outcome, but there is something to the power of the original sin. In the end, the President is able to save the tribe’s land using a nifty trick that involves a 200 year-old land deed. Nicely done.

In the meantime, Hannah and Aaron are scrambling to figure out how these hacks into federal systems keep happening. Last week, it was nearly killing astronauts from two different countries. This week, it is a blatant attempt to turn the country against the President. Hannah is stuck between a rock and a hard place. If she trusts Damian to help her with what little intelligence and influence he has left, she could compromise U.S. Intelligence (not to mention herself) and get nothing from Russia. If she turns him over, he’s dead. At least, that’s what she thinks at first. Using Damian as bait proves that the Russians are not, in fact, trying to kill him. This is the hacker’s goal. This also means that Damian knows more than he is saying.

Optics aside, the President has a right to be angry, and not just because of his struggles with the way people see him. He’s never been one to care about what people think of him. That is why he needed Lyor. (Lyor is so obsessive, he took over one of the tribe kid’s college application!) But there is one person who just gets under his skin, his brother Trey (guest star Breckin Meyer). No one but Emily even knew that Trey existed, but he quickly makes his presence known. The President never forgave his brother for leaving when their mother was ill, and the relationship hasn’t gotten better since. Trey says his brother doesn’t give him a chance, and Tom says Trey always runs. It’s hard to make any progress when you’re not willing to apologize, as Leo points out. As awful as losing his mother was, I get the feeling Leo is maturing faster now.

Inspired by his son, Tom Kirkman makes two overdue apologies. One to the people of the United States for his prison video, and one to Trey for not giving him a chance. It isn’t just Leo who brings the brothers together, it is Alex. She put Trey on the board of her foundation in the hopes that the brothers would reunite. She turned the tide between these two, as well as the show itself. For the first time in what seems like forever, hope has been infused back into the show.

Do you think this hope will stick around even with a dangerous hacker lying in wait?

Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 13 Review: "Original Sin"
4.5

Summary

This week on Designated Survivor, the President tries to restore the people’s faith in him while struggling with distrust in his own family.

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