Designated Survivor: The First Day
September 29, 2016 8:25 AM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Congress's designated survivor shows up, and she and Kirkman visit the remains of the Capitol. The Governor of Michigan decides to round up the Muslims, and to flip off the new President when he tries to stop it. The FBI finds an IED linked to Al-Sakar, "the latest offshoot of Al-Qaeda", but Agent Wells thinks it's too perfect.

"We got a survivor over here!"
posted by Etrigan (14 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
For some reason, the concept of an "undersecretary" doesn't seem to exist in this universe. Refilling the Cabinet is literally the least of Kirkman's worries.

Otherwise, I liked this episode, but it is definitely not being written from a political science perspective.
posted by Etrigan at 8:28 AM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Still finding it a little unsettled, although this was better than the pilot. It's too jumpy and some of the political stuff either doesn't make sense (see "undersecretary", above) or is just underdeveloped.

So, good things:

-I'm feeling like there's something definitely afoot with Kirkman's character being far more than what he appears; it was hinted at in the pilot and again tonight there were touches, like when he met with the FBI guy and understood the implications of the explosives used instantly, that make me think we're going to find out some more interesting background about "Phoenix". I mean, his codename was "Glasses", could there be a bigger hint that he's more than he appears on the surface? Also, the brief nod he gives Wells when he goes into the tent - was it just me, or did anyone else have a sense of acknowledgement between two people who know each other but not wanting to admit it in the present circumstance?

-Kimber Hookstraten introduces a wonderful new element of uncertainty into the show; she seems wonderful and helpful and maybe that's all it is, but that's nice.

-The scene with the two guys from the AG's office was amusing and well-played.

The not so great:

-Agent Wells and her theory. Like, I'm on board, Agent Wells, I do think that this isn't what it appears to be on the surface, but for the sake of the show, Hollywood, give her something more than a vague feeling to back that up. Because it undermines the character, who we are being told is competent, but is showing up to meetings with feelings and suppositions.

-Solution to the Michigan problem was too easy; beyond the scope of the attack, the country is in a constitutional crisis - let's explore that a little, let some of these story-lines breathe.

-The show dropped the anvils pretty hard on the kid in Michigan - the same age as the Kirkman's son, the constant repeating of the name by Ms. Kirkman, etc. Trust the audience to follow you, show.


I guess my overall complaint with the show is that, so far, it's lacking in subtlety. Everything is straight ahead, everyone seems earnest and forthright, and I'm wanting more than that, which is why I'm maybe overthinking hints that Kirkman is more than what he appears, and the same with Kimber. I mean, if the show is going for earnest, then I guess it is what it is, but I'm hoping for more on the subtlety and politicking front. Maybe if the show relaxes up on the pacing a bit - make each show cover one day since the attack - they can ease up on the rush to solutions and show us the struggle and the crisis for everyone.
posted by nubs at 9:24 AM on September 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


I was surprised they were willing to throw in a police brutality story line- Thin Blue Line Twitter was not pleased. I love anything that makes them mad, so points!

I guess my overall complaint with the show is that, so far, it's lacking in subtlety- agreed. Oh look, here's the designated survivor from Congress- she never smiles, so I guess she's evil. Same with the smarmy underling and evil general.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:26 AM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh look, here's the designated survivor from Congress- she never smiles, so I guess she's evil.

Yeah, I'm trying to decide if my reaction to Kimber is based on the non-smiling, brisk, business like approach to everything (hello, latent sexism) or if its just the fact that I associate Virginia Madsen with scheming, dangerous characters for whatever reason, probably her appearances on various crime procedurals over the years.
posted by nubs at 9:33 AM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


-I'm feeling like there's something definitely afoot with Kirkman's character being far more than what he appears;

I feel like they hand-waved that in the pilot when he stopped someone's explanation with "Yeah, I was paying attention in the Cabinet meetings, thanks."
posted by Etrigan at 9:41 AM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


The closest they seemed to want to get to "Rep. Hookstratten is evil" was that she googled him at the end of the episode, and this after the audience being told that she knows everyone who's everyone. I think she's reserved because she's not used to dealing with someone without knowing where all that person's strings are.
posted by Etrigan at 9:45 AM on September 29, 2016


I feel like they hand-waved that in the pilot when he stopped someone's explanation with "Yeah, I was paying attention in the Cabinet meetings, thanks."

Maybe Kirkman's deal is that he's the only prepared person in Washington, then :)
posted by nubs at 10:03 AM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I seem to recall the Evil Kimber stuff showing up in the previews for next week because I also thought her googling was just a matter of getting to know who she was dealing with.

The scope of this show is just so massive, I don't know if they can pull it off. They focus on the macro, restarting the federal government, acceptance of his authority, and then zoom in to a kid getting beat to death by police. I expected to hear that civil authority was breaking down in many states. Isn't this the Libertarian dream scenario? Banks are closed? Wall St too probably, which means the economy just came to a screeching halt. The head FBI guy told his team to seek out their contacts and "spread money around", like where is this money coming from, does the FBI have a big vault filled with cash? I just think there's going to be a lot of these inconsistencies of tone and detail that are going to sink this show.

If Kirkman has a Jack Bauer-like secret past life, I dunno, that would be a big change from his current "housing for low-income families" persona and it would cheapen the premise of the show. He's not Everyman, he's Actionman.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:16 AM on September 29, 2016


The head FBI guy told his team to seek out their contacts and "spread money around", like where is this money coming from, does the FBI have a big vault filled with cash?

They kinda do. Law enforcement officials who deal with informants can draw cash for just that reason, so police departments and presumably FBI field offices have funds on hand.
posted by Etrigan at 11:32 AM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm still underwhelmed, which is disappointing because I love fictional presidents wedded to fictional disasters. Oh ID4, how you shaped me as a human. Unfortunately, the screenwriters appear to have little familiarity with politics OR disasters, their previous efforts apparently consisting of unlikely CIA dramas and, I kid you not, Dawson's Creek.

But I do appreciate the willingness to have Kirkman show some depth--he wants 100% certainty on terrorist identification but he'll just roll lies trippingly off his tongue to fix the governor who's really into setting up internment camps.

Kirkman's wife sort of confuses me as a character. She seems vaguely power hungry and this characteristic doesn't really mesh with "married to Secretary of HUD." He's never been elected to a thing as far as I can tell, so maybe it was the taste of the White House after his appointment to the Cabinet that sparked her faintly but definitely detectable ambition.

And, I mean, obviously Americans blew up the Capitol, right? Though I suppose a Russian or Chinese twist might make the show a bit more flavorful.
posted by xyzzy at 4:54 AM on October 1, 2016


I think the family part of the show is the most underdeveloped at this point; both the wife and the teenage son seem to be in roles where what they do at any given moment is dictated by plot rather than a sense of characterization.

I do think the show is headed for a domestic source, or at least some level of domestic involvement (because I can't see how anyone could get that much explosive into the Capitol building without inside help), for the incident. The trick with it - whoever it turns out to be - is making it plausible that whoever did it could pull it off.
posted by nubs at 12:58 PM on October 1, 2016


Wow when the FBI agent picked up the old burned framed picture of the Capitol from the flaming wreckage of the actual Capitol the world was united as one in rolling their eyes so hard they all got mild headaches.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:53 AM on October 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


"Sorry General you can't go in to the Cabinet Boardroom, the president is in there."
"Exactly right, I need to see him!"
"You can't, sir."
"But why not? This is important!"
"He's spinning."
"Oh. Ok then."
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:56 AM on October 3, 2016


I do think the show is headed for a domestic source

I figure it has to be a coup attempt. That general was all poised to Save The Day and figured that Acting President Kirkman would roll over.
posted by Etrigan at 9:58 AM on October 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


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