TV Review: Designated Survivor 1×02 “The First Day”

DESIGNATED SURVIVOR - ""The First Day" - Hours after the attack on the Capitol, President Kirkman steps into his role as Commander-in-Chief in the midst of chaos and confusion. Facing dangerous new challenges and adversaries, Kirman struggles to hold a country together that is on the brink of falling apart. Virginia Madsen guest stars on the highly anticipated ABC series "Designated Survivor," WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT). (ABC/Ben Mark Holzberg) NATASCHA MCELHONE, KIEFER SUTHERLAND

DESIGNATED SURVIVOR – “”The First Day” – (ABC/Ben Mark Holzberg)

Welcome back to my weekly coverage of Designated Survivor. To catch up on previous coverage click here.

The forward momentum for this new drama has caught on. I am incredibly impressed with the growth I am seeing in the characters, particularly, and naturally, with Tom Kirkman. It still hasn’t been 24 hours since he was sworn in as President, and yet we see him try to approach his new position with dignity and respect. He hasn’t settled in yet, it is still too fresh, but he is trying to do his best in the worst of situations. In a sense that could be the theme of this show and it would make sense as well if the show is trying to present a commentary on our real world political setup.

The connections to real world scenarios were seen more in the events taking place in Michigan where local police were rounding up and arresting individuals among the Muslim community in Dearborn. Fear was driving their decisions as we so often see now. This was also shown in the scenes with Seth Wright as Washington police stopped him because he looks foreign. In Seth’s instance, it was important to see the two examples, the first with the aggressive and fearful cop, and the second near the end of the episode with the cop at the vigil showing compassion. The show cheated a bit in its presentation at the vigil by playing on our expectations that Wright would be targeted wrongfully again.

The Dearborn events were more prevalent however, as it was revealed early on in the episode that the Michigan governor was ordering local police to bring in and question minority citizens. This was also the first time we see individuals residing outside of Washington resist to the change in order. The governor does not accept Tom Kirkman as his president and even insulted him by not calling him by his new title. This response was inevitable especially since we have already seen the general resist Tom’s leadership, and also since the speech delivered at the end of the premiere was said to do little towards inspiring the the nation to rally together.

DESIGNATED SURVIVOR - ""The First Day" - Hours after the attack on the Capitol, President Kirkman steps into his role as Commander-in-Chief in the midst of chaos and confusion. Facing dangerous new challenges and adversaries, Kirman struggles to hold a country together that is on the brink of falling apart. Virginia Madsen guest stars on the highly anticipated ABC series "Designated Survivor," WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT). (ABC/John Medland) MAGGIE Q

DESIGNATED SURVIVOR – “”The First Day” –  (ABC/John Medland)

Once again though, Kiefer Sutherland shined as the lead. He is able to showcase both Kirkman’s inexperience and his strength of will simultaneously. I remembered thinking that Tom Kirkman is already a better Presidential candidate than the current nominees because he is dedicated to doing things the right way. He was most impressive in the situation room after the FBI identified who attacked the capitol building through the study of the defunct bomb found in the wreckage. Kirkman asked how accurate the reports on the bomb were, he was told 75%, and after the General implored again for action, to declare who was responsible for the attack based on the report, Kirkman stood up to him and declared the intelligence unactionable until the FBI was 100% certain. Debates on whether or not this is the right play can be tossed to the side, Kirkman’s decision is admirable. While he continues to show his inexperience, he is not letting his limits define him. He is not running into any choices or over compensating for his pitfalls. He is being patient and regarding each item that comes up with the attention and thought it deserves. If only all Politicians thought like that.

Maggie Q’s side story hit with a huge stall this week unfortunately. All she could do was implore her boss to consider this alternate theory that maybe the defunct bomb was placed intentionally to throw the investigation off the scent of the real perpetrators. He rightfully suggested she prove her theory and yet she didn’t go out right away to do that. I realize that there is only so much screen time for each episode, but when you waste screen time on two conversations about needing to prove a theory, it can get a little frustrating.

Overall though, this episode went a long way in continuing the momentum created by the premiere. The characters continue to pull me into their struggles, and I’m fascinated with how Kirkman is fidgeting into his new role. He is testing things out, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and most importantly he is asking for different opinions and making his decisions after giving time to thinking about them. While everyone is counting him out, I’m counting him in and that is going to keep me coming back each week to see how he can continue to adjust.

Episode Rating: 8/10

Grant is an aspiring entertainment journalist, internet personality, and novelist hailing from Windsor, Ontario, Canada. While he completes his degree to accomplish those dreams, you can find him singing Karaoke with friends or tucked away in a corner writing his next masterpiece. You can contact him on Twitter (@grantjonsson) or by email at: grant@theyoungfolks.com