Designated Survivor S2 Ep3: Outbreak

Designated Survivor S2 Ep3: Outbreak

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The activities at the White House this day include Kendra’s first major assignment of mediation between affected stakeholders of what to do about a statue of a Confederate war general in Tennessee, he who is now deemed a racist – keeping the statue at its current prominent location which has an unexpected supporter – and the unveiling of a creature biologically named after Tom. Lyor finds the choice of creature offensive to his boss while Seth has to figure out a way to spin it positively to the public. These issues take a back seat when a public health crisis occurs, with a deadly avian flu outbreak in South Carroll Parish, Louisiana. First reports are that there is a forty percent fatality rate of those infected. Dr. Tammy Bruner with the CDC believes the outbreak will spread throughout the country in the matter of days if not contained despite the relatively isolated nature of South Carroll Parish. Dr. Bruner heads to the front line to deal with the outbreak. Although she reports back that there are no current pharmaceuticals to prevent the flu and that the development of a vaccine would take months, she believes there is an experimental drug developed for a different purpose by a pharmaceutical company owned by Carlton Mackie that may control the flu. Although Mackie is somewhat cooperative in his initial meeting with Tom, Tom learns that Mackie has different priorities, such as making money and ensuring the long term viability of his company, which, if he gets his way, would result in unnecessary immediate deaths in South Carroll Parish, a relatively poor and predominantly black community. The other goings-on in the White House this day could affect what happens between Tom and Mackie. Meanwhile, Chuck is trying to decrypt the file Lloyd sent to the cloud before the drone strike, while Hannah and Damian continue to follow up on the incident at the First Lady’s mother’s house. They know that Lloyd’s actions there were not by accident, he leaving a trail of bread crumbs to what he wants them to discover whatever it is.


I identified four main threads in this episode:

  1. Influenza outbreak
  2. Memorial statue of a political racist
  3. Hannah and the mother-in-law’s house/ Lloyd’s treasure hunt
  4. The turkey… sorry, frog


It was an interesting story thread, one that would later interweave with the second thread; one supporting the other. It was an interesting exploration of capitalism and I’m still not quite sure which side of the fence I sit on.

While I understand it was a time of crisis and that the pharmaceutical company should have an obligation to help. I can’t help but empathise with his detached outlook on the bigger picture. Yes, Tom’s declaration that he needs to consider the greater good is a solid argument, however I disagree that the town is the greater good when you consider the company’s thinking.

Using a drug not yet approved by the FDA would put the company at risk for the future, reverse engineering by other companies, certain bankruptcy and guaranteed blocks by the FDA would all lead to other antidotes and cures remaining undeveloped.

I felt uncomfortable with Tom’s tactic of publicising the company head a racist due to his inaction. Yes, it gets him what he wants, but I’m teaching my students about using a race card appropriately. Positive discrimination is not always a good thing; and I do believe that the company in questioned would have made the same decision regardless of the ethnicity of the town’s occupants.

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This was quite incredible and an example of not only positive discrimination, but white privilege as well. There is a mediation meeting being held about the movement of a monument of a Confederate war veteran. Many deem it a sign of long past racism within Tennessee and would prefer it to be moved from its prominent location.
However, Rev. Tramer Dale, played by the delightful Ron Canada objects to the monument’s move; to the disgust of many stakeholders in the room. Now, this is a topical discussion for me and I found it interesting reflection upon my opinion one the episode finished, because if someone had presented this to me without the Reverend’s input, I probably would have agreed to the move.

You see, being a white woman from Liverpool I have some understanding about the problems these people faced. Many streets in my home city are dedicated to those who took primary roles in the slave trade and prospered greatly as a result.

Being a contentious issue, there is often debate and discussion about the renaming of these roads.

I am ashamed of our history. I am ashamed at our heritage and I wanted them removed. I argued, at length, with my father about this exact thing. However, I now have to rescind. Mainly because Reverend is right; by doing so, you are white washing history. By keeping it there as a testament of the past, it ensures you don’t forget. Of course, I’m not going to tell my dad that.

American history is a little bit more convoluted, however and I can see why Tom is insisting on a compromise from Reverend Tramer and they discuss the virtue of absolutism; something I would be interesting in discussing with students in school.

My favourite moment comes from Reverend Tramer and Mike. When asked if he can lead a long time role model of his out of the White House, Tramer responds

“no, but you can walk with me.”

There is something affirming about being seen as an equal to people you regard highly. Such a touching moment which has its parralell conversation towards the end when Tom declares to Mike:

“It’s 2017, we should be talking about everything and anything but this.”

The strange thing, it’s true. In the last few months as a teacher and as a UK citizen I’ve been overwhelmed with the number of racist incidents that are happening on a daily basis. I don’t see colour, I don’t understand why people are treated in such abhorrent ways. I only hope the job I do is making a difference and is ensuring a better future for people.

Hannah is back to following the bread crumbs and it just feels a little lacklustre. The British lapdog is irritatingly inconsistent with his accent; appearing to speak in his native tongue more often than not. I didn’t catch why, but I’m very glad he’s bidding Hannah farewell by the end of the episode.

While I love Hannah, she’s needs something a little bit grittier to get her hands on in the next few episodes or it will lose me. This was my reason for getting into this show, and they’re neglecting it.


The frog! Yes, it was funny. I was ammused by newcomer Lyor’s response to the amphibian and his brash behaviour to the animal expert. Even funnier was that everyone agreed with him that the frog was not the best animal to be dedicated to the president.

Yet, I predicted where Tom would fall with this. I knew from the outset that upon seeing the new West Wing occupant, that he would love it.

The shame? That this was a mediocre replay of West Wing’s C.J and the turkeys and it leads me to a bigger concern; Designated Survivor appear to be using the West Wing play book, and that’s not okay with me.


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