Designated Survivor: The Interrogation – Bad Timing (Review)


Perhaps it is the timing of real world events that makes this episode of Designated Survivor so unpalatable. “The Interrogation” follows a triple plot line. A planeload of Syrian refugees are trapped on the Florida tarmac after the governor of that state refuses to let them disembark. A terrorist is questioned about the bombing that put Kirkman in the hot seat and the new president is put on the spot by all the state governors.

It has already been pointed out by at least one critic that Kirkman’s being an “independent” reeks of Hollywood machinations. The show, after an interesting open, seems to be floundering a bit.

Kirkman is having a crisis of faith while dealing with two governors who want him to justify why he should be president. Would this really happen? The answer is, it might but not as cleanly orchestrated as it occurs in this episode.

Designated Survivor may be dealing with an extreme situation but in the real world, the country is reeling from an election that could well be as traumatic as this series premise means to be.

So perhaps state governor’s would question the designated survivor’s legitimacy and right to hold the office of president. In reality the person given that position is usually in the political doghouse, so to speak, someone who is on the way out, for whatever reason.

But if this years election has taught us anything it is that politics is a madhouse. This country’s new president elect is a reality TV star no more qualified to run the country than I am.

The United States government, before this election spent eight years in a stalemate because one party could not and would not cooperate with a black democratic president.  How on earth could they manage to see eye to eye long enough to deal with a president foisted  upon them by means of a huge tragedy.

Designated Survivor started out with an interesting premise. Kiefer Sutherland is spot on as President Kirkman, a man outside the circle of trust when the president and his cabinet were blown to bits by terrorists.

However, when watching this latest episode of the series it was more interesting to spot who the new cast members were. Melanie Scrofano from Wynonna Earp appeared in The Interrogation as member of the press, which was a pleasant surprise but not really what the episode was all about.

It may well be down to the sour taste of the election in the real world that made this series suddenly seem less entertaining.  This could just be a case of really bad timing but the plot line of immigration, in the show, mirrors a stance taken by the new president elect.

Trying to watch a show about politics and an American president that no one voted seemed… Off somehow. As nice as it is to see Kiefer Sutherland as an “everyman” sort of president, reminiscent of  a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington type,  the state of the US after the real world elections makes the show almost unbearable to watch.

Sutherland does very well in a show full of familiar faces like Maggie Q Natascha McElhone and Kal Penn but ultimately “The Interrogation” felt flat. Perhaps the episode or even the series should have been given a rest, a short hiatus, while the country calmed down after the recent election results. 

Nothing against the series or the splendid actors in it, but with things as they are right now in American politics, Designated Survivor may not last an entire season.

The series airs Wednesdays on ABC.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

One thought on “Designated Survivor: The Interrogation – Bad Timing (Review)”

  1. Y’done slipped off the curb into politics again, my friend. Hard not to do, considering the show’s premise. This episode needed either writers, a director, or both. The scene where he pouts and walks off and has to be coached by an underling to at least pretend to grow a set took him off my “protagonist” list. I get that he was handed the short straw and that nobody…except the perpetrators (that hasn’t come up yet) expected him to be hoisted to that position. As this show “sinks slowly in the west,” we’ll continue to watch for a bit. SOMEONE needs to put the TENSION into the plotline that the proposed VP may be some kind of sleeper agent. THEY’ve thus far failed to do so.


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"I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical."

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