Contains MASSIVE SPOILERS.
Designated Survivor season 1 was an absolute blast. To watch an everyman be suddenly thrust into global politics, with access to nukes and everything in between was gripping. It often ended on the trademark ’24’ style cliff-hangers and Patrick Lloyd was a formidable villain. Kiefer Sutherland was superb as his usual sensitive but extremely forceful self, and he was supported by solid cast members who became very likeable characters to root for. I love American TV for this reason: the stakes are so enormously high it’s impossible not to keep watching.
And then I watched season 2. And I was hit by the biggest twist of all: the show had fallen off a cliff.
The ending of season 1 had us primed for Patrick Lloyd’s imminent release of thousands of classified Pentagon documents. The mind boggled at the sort of revelations, scenarios possible and I was ready for some more labyrinthine conspiracies. Then, in the first episode of season 2, Patrick Lloyd, the mastermind behind the capitol bombings, was bombed in his own bunker. Boom. The end.
Sure, it had shock value. But after such a great build up, where to next?
Season 2 slipped quickly into a turgid soap opera, throwing in new characters, office romances (always bad) and reducing Hannah Wells’ kick ass FBI agent into a bimbo sleeping with a smarmy UK secret agent. That irritated me the most as Maggie Q is a superb, elegant actress. The excellent Hookstraten character was also quietly forgotten about. The episodes started to clash louder and louder and as of episode 8, I’ve stopped watching. It’s become boring!
What went wrong? How was it possible?
Apparently there were several staff shake ups during production and it really shows. Also, perhaps the underlying hook of the show had already been achieved: Kirkman became too good at his job too quickly. In Season 2 he almost seems accustomed to it, so the tension of ‘can he make a good president?’ has all but evaporated. This along with the ignominious demise of Patrick Lloyd didn’t leave our characters with a lot of interesting stuff to do.
Fortunately, with a limited season 3 on Netflix in production, they can still fix it. The Patrick Lloyd boat may have already sailed, which is frustrating as there were literally endless scenarios possible: compromised sources, secret agents, Russians, terror plots- you name it. They could jack up the family problems even more, threatening Kirkman’s image as president far greater. Bring back Hookstraten’s frenemy relationship. That way, the awesome first season can finally go out on a high that its talented cast deserve.