Designated Survivor: The Confession
October 7, 2016 5:06 AM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

A cyberattack hits the White House, leaving behind a video from the purported bombers.

Also, the First Lady finds out her son is dealing drugs, President Kirkman picks a Chief of Staff, and Agent Wells works to figure out how one Congressman, found in the rubble, survived the blast.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (11 comments total)
I came looking for this thread last night (catching up via DVR), and didn't find it. I felt like a Designated Survivor, left behind to watch this cheesy, over-the-top, terrible but gripping show all alone.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:07 AM on October 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

I feel like President Kirkman- I, too, am stuck with a job I don't want. My job is watching this show, which has gripped me despite being terrible.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:22 AM on October 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

As we were watching, I told me wife "If he doesn't fire Aaron after Aaron directly disobeyed him like that, I'm done with this show." Okay, I'll probably be back for one more week, but this series is killing me. So much good potential being squandered. I would have loved a sharp focused show about an overwhelmed president struggling to rise to the occasion as he faces a crippled government in the wake of a catastrophic terrorist attack. That is all the drama you need right there. You do not need:

1) a general itching for a coup
2) a disloyal chief of staff
3) teen son selling drugs
4) powerhungry congressperson who wants to be president
5) media questioning his suitability for the office because the previous president fired him

So much of that would never, ever happen in real life. We all remember how the country rallied around Bush after 9/11 and he was a guy who barely scraped into office after a contentions SCOTUS decision and ignored the intelligence briefings that might have stopped the attack. Can you imagine the sympathy for new President Kirkman, the only person we have left from the previous administration? The support would be huge. No way in hell would Elizabeth Vargas be questioning him aggressively in a national forum like that. It drives me nuts.

Here's the show I wish we had: Kirkman and the previous president were friendly--respected each other. The president leaned on him heavily for insight into HUD policy, because Kirkman is a genuis wonk in his field that knows everything. But he's a HUD guy with an academic background and not a politician. We seem him and the president before the attack in a moment of friendly banter. "This is brilliant, Tom--absolutely the right policy for our country. But you're selling it all wrong. Let's let the PR flaks take a look at it." "You know me, Mr. President--I'm an analyst, not a politician, and I never intend to be one." "You do remember what your job is, right, Tom?" "What can I say? I have a hard time saying no."

Then, boom, bang, his good friend the president is dead, so is everyone else, and Tom the wonk is ushered into the Oval Office, grieving his friends and stepping into a job he never imagined he would have. Everyone is doing their best to help him, everyone is treating him with the inherent respect the office carries, and there are two main sources of conflict: 1) Tom's internal conflict--can he do this job? 2) Who was behind the attack and how do we respond?

That's the show I wish we had, but this mess where you can't trust anyone and the country isn't behind him and he doesn't even get to speak at the former president's funeral is extremely frustrating.

Do you think the show's writers know that most US governors can make emergency appointments of senators in the event of a death and there would be a functioning Senate again about two weeks after the attack? Or is the show set on a parallel Earth where that isn't the case? If this is parallel universe science fiction that might explain a lot.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:54 AM on October 7, 2016 [11 favorites]

Poor President Kirkman is running the White House all by himself- when he missed family dinner, I thought, damn, they can't even give him an admin assistant, someone to manage his calendar? You'd think the whole world died, not just 1000 people in the Capital.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:00 AM on October 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also, I have a hard time believing that story about the previous President sneaking into his son's music recital; I would much prefer to find out that President Kirkman made that story up (even as far as searching out the program) to make the kid feel better.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:27 AM on October 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

You're right Pater Aletheias, the premise of this show is great but it has been criminally squandered. I'd much prefer to be watching your version.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:32 PM on October 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Pater Aletheias, You hit several nails on the head and I think the main reason I won't be coming back to this show is that it feels like a more bland version of Scandal. It's trying to inject Shonda Rhimes-esque story-lines but it is lacking in many ways. I had hopes that this would be more of a West-Wing meets House of Cards kind of television show. We're definitely not getting that. There's only so much time with regards to the television shows that I choose to watch, so I'm going to say goodbye to this one. Maybe if it finds its ways onto Netflix in a few months and I'm bored out of my mind.

For the rest of you, good luck, I hope you survive....
posted by Fizz at 4:03 PM on October 9, 2016

Also, I have a hard time believing that story about the previous President sneaking into his son's music recital; I would much prefer to find out that President Kirkman made that story up (even as far as searching out the program) to make the kid feel better.

We talked about that possibility in my house. We saw him lie very smoothly to the governor, I suspect he'd do it again. And although we know he "paid attention during Cabinet meetings" that was an awfully specific memory of some fatherly blathering most people wouldn't listen to that closely.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:11 PM on October 9, 2016

Yeah, I'm at least 50 percent hatewatching at this point, because the "How the government works" stuff is so incredibly stupid.

As noted by Pater Alethias, 45 states have provisions for the Governor to appoint new Senators. And Rep. Hookstratten is not "all of Congress" (even disregarding the new survivor) -- she's all of the House. She has no (official) input into appointments, because that's the Senate.

They nodded toward Treasury (and the Fed, wtf) having Deputies who were actually doing things, which means they have at least an idea of how things work, which makes it all the more infuriating. They're intentionally ignoring things just to ramp up tension (and, oddly, apparently to cheap out on casting).

What is it with TV and DC these days? BrainDead had the same problems, and it's not like the American public is collectively less interested in government since The West Wing was on.
posted by Etrigan at 4:06 AM on October 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

My parents roll their eyes at me when I complain about the fictional government on this show, pointing out that I watched zombie and vampire shows with no issue. My rant about internal consistency and suspension of disbelief fell on deaf ears. I wasn't expecting Aaron Sorkin here, but the show has already lost me because the writers don't display even a high school civics level of understanding of government. As others have correctly pointed out, there was already tons of drama to be mined from exploring how a government of appointees labors under the Constitution along with the tension of sourcing the terrorist attack. I am disappoint.
posted by xyzzy at 12:30 PM on October 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

...and it's not like the American public is collectively less interested in government since The West Wing was on.

If anything, the interest has grown. And we know that it is possible to be smart in how you present a government functioning in a television show. Look at House of Cards, it feels very authentic in presenting how governance operates and it does so without dumbing anything down for its audience.
posted by Fizz at 5:52 PM on October 11, 2016

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