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Designated Survivor - Equilibrium - Review

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Designated Survivor “Equilibrium” was written by the team of Paul Redford and Keith Eisner and was directed by Joe Lazarov, whose other directing credits include Gossip Girl, The Lying Game and Chasing Life, but who is also a co-exec producer on DS. Once again, the main plot could have been ripped from the headlines. I liked how both the main plot and the sub plots deal with balance.

The main political plot deals with the delicate balance that has to be maintained during trade negotiations – timely in light of the currant North American Free Trade Agreement currently being negotiated between Canada, the US and Mexico. In this case, Tom (Kiefer Sutherland) has only to deal with striking a two way balance after a frustrated trucker runs a blockade at the Mexican border and is shot and killed by an American bullet.

Once again the team goes into action to broker a deal to bring the blockade to an end and try to stabilize the increasingly volatile situation. Emily (Italia Ricci) meets with the Mexican Ambassador (Alejandro Ampudia) and Lyor (Paulo Costanzo) meets with the leader of the American Union (Aiden Devine). Is it just me or does Emily suddenly have the same color hair as Natascha McElhone? Seth (Kal Penn) tries to deal with the reporters with Aaron’s (Adan Canto) help, but the reporters are more interested in the fact that Aaron is Mexican-American – surely he must have strong feelings?

Tom decides they need to bring on a Spanish-American contingent to help with negotiations and assigns Aaron to talk Senator Flores (Alex Castillo). Aaron is surprised when his cousin Nadia (Mercedes de la Zerda) shows up, and here’s where the balance aspect of this subplot really starts to roll out. Nadia wants to honor her Mexican heritage by working for Senator Flores, whereas Aaron doesn’t want to even acknowledge his.

He makes a real fool of himself when he won’t negotiate seriously with Nadia and even more when he goes to complain to the Senator. He accuses her of using his cousin to influence him and through him the President. The Senator, however, insists that she wanted Nadia to work with her because she is very smart and dedicated – and she had no idea that Nadia was related to Aaron. By the end of the episode, Aaron goes to Nadia’s for a family function, apparently ready to be more at peace and embrace his own heritage. It felt a little on the nose – like Scrooge showing up for Christmas, but I’m interested to see where this goes and it’s a nice continuation of the balance we know that Aaron has been looking for.

Tom, as always, must balance what he’s willing to do for political expediency with his own moral compass. He is going to use the widow (Sofia Lama) of the slain trucker to unite the country, but when he sees how upset and nervous she is, he can’t bring himself to exploit her – and milk human tragedy for political gain.

We learn that Tom is friends with Daz Minter (Chris Butler) and that is a relationship that he’s willing to exploit. He invites Daz to the White House for dinner and then asks him to slow down the roll out of the automated auto plants he owns in the US and Mexico. It will save jobs for both sides of the disagreement and allow a deal to be brokered. Daz points out that he will lose millions of dollars, but Tom points out that Daz can afford it. He asks him to do it for his President, and Daz agrees.

In the other sub plot, we see the balance that has to be maintained in all political offices. Alex is furious with Hannah (Maggie Q) when she learns that she suspects Eva (Bonnie Bedelia) of having used bribery to get Alex’s father’s heart transplant. However, she has to eat crow when Eva tells her that she did it. It’s a powder keg waiting to explode all over Tom’s Presidency.

Hannah wants to try to protect the President, so she’s furious when Forstell (Reed Diamond) steps in and issues a subpoena for Eva. However, he explains that Little may have been involved in a lot more nefarious deals and after Lloyd’s hack they are obligated to investigate.

I liked how this balance thread – introduced in the title of the episode – weaves through the whole episode. I am also continuing to enjoy the topical nature of the plots. The less said about the plot of the Chinese vase, however, the better! The only part of that story that I did like was when Penny (Mckenna Grace) is accused, and we learn that she’s only broken her father’s watch. I wonder if it’s a subtle way for her to tell him that he’s not spending enough time with her? What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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