While Designated Survivor may not have had the kind of Netflix success that many were hoping for, the show was strong, even during its pilot.
While Designated Survivor may not have had the kind of Netflix success that many were hoping for, the show certainly had a few fascinating moments throughout the course of its three-year run.
That all began with the pilot which, alongside drawing in 10 million viewers, also gave us a pretty good idea of what the series was going to look like.
Kiefer Sutherland played a strong lead from the word ‘go,’ and as we came to learn more about Tom Kirkman in the first episode, we all found ourselves becoming more and more intrigued by this new world we’d entered into.
The Safe House
In the opening scene of the show, Tom Kirkman is shown relaxing in the ‘safe house’ which has been provided for him as the designated survivor. He’s sitting alongside his wife and spends a few moments talking to his daughter on the phone, making for a pretty calm sequence of events.
We all know the show is building to something big and they do a great job of heightening the tension at this moment, with everyone knowing that Kirkman’s life is truly about to change forever.
Prior to the attack on the Capitol Building, Tom Kirkman was nothing more than the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Earlier in the day, he was offered the role of Ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization by President Richmond, which was viewed as a way of firing him from his cabinet position.
The idea that Kirkman wasn’t even wanted by the previous POTUS added an intriguing element into the story as he tried to take on a job he wasn’t even remotely prepared for and, in many ways, probably didn’t even want.
Everything about the attack felt so real and that’s a testament to this show’s incredible execution of concept. From the TV cutting out to the security team rushing into the process of events that followed, this sense of fear and trepidation served as the perfect way to get this series off to a flying start.
Sutherland’s acting at this moment went a long way towards making this moment what it was, as the realization suddenly dawned on him that he was going to be the next President of the United States.
It’s always nice to have a familiar face by your side in any walk of life and that seemed particularly true for President Kirkman.
Emily Rhodes was his Chief of Staff prior to Tom even becoming POTUS, and she made sure to follow him into the fire. From the start, it was evident that Emily was an incredibly important part of this journey for Kirkman. While she also wasn’t prepared for her new role as Special Advisor, she was going to take everything in her stride, regardless.
As bizarre as it almost certainly does sound, the visual of the Capitol being in flames was one of the best things we’d seen on television for a long time, if only because of the insane authenticity it had.
When you factor in the rubble, the White House scenes, and the professional nature of the filming, this was immediately one of our favorite shows to watch and we’d only seen the pilot.
A good TV show can live or die based on whether or not it gets shot in a respectful, honest and believable manner. Designated Survivor was able to tick all of those boxes.
It Felt Fresh
A bizarre political storyline like one hadn’t really been touched on before and because of the unpredictability surrounding it, fans were immediately hooked on the premise.
It reminded us a lot of The Blacklist in the way it eventually played out, too, with the President having to solve a string of issues from episode to episode, slowly but surely finding his feet along the way.
The piece by piece nature of uncovering the true story gives the viewers a direction, and it’s a direction that captured the imagination of many.
The Reaction To Kirkman
From Seth to Aaron and beyond, nobody in their right mind could quite wrap their heads around the idea that Tom Kirkman was taking on the role of President of the United States.
“Who?” seemed to be the most popular response amongst many and it’s not all too difficult to understand why. He was positioned as a nobody within the cabinet and he was previously fired, and from that point on one of his main jobs was going to be addressing the nation and convincing them that he was up to the task.
Oath Of Office
The oath of office is an intimate moment and while millions around the globe have been able to see it for many President Elects in the past, it never gets old.
Everyone in the room when the oath is taken knows the gravity of the situation and knows that there are a whole lot of moving parts in play. The only previous occasion where this has become relevant is when an assassination takes place.
You don’t have to believe in the process to understand the magnitude of the event.
One of the most notable moments from the first episode comes when President Kirkman is informed that the Iranian Navy has decided to move a handful of destroyers to the Strait of Hormuz in the wake of the attack, with Kirkman deciding to go against the orders of General Harris by calling a meeting with him.
The President refused to back down, he refused to be intimidated and he made a clear statement that the United States was as strong as ever before.
That was a powerful moment, proving that Kirkman had a bit of steel.
One of the lingering questions at the end of the episode surrounded the attack on the Capitol and what was going to happen next.
Every pilot needs something that’ll keep viewers, and the network, coming back for more, and Designated Survivor had plenty of aces up their sleeves.
From Kirkman’s rise to finding out more about the attack to the public’s reaction to the tragedy of than 1,000 people being murdered, the sense of the unknown made sure that most of the first season and beyond had the potential to be can’t miss TV.