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Designated Survivor - Summit - Review

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Designated Survivor “Summit” was written by Jessica Grasl and was directed by Chris Grismer. The episode is a thinly veiled analogy of the troubles with North and South Korea. The episode also sees the return of Kim Raver as Dr Andrea Frost who they are clearly grooming as a love interest for Tom (Kiefer Sutherland). No doubt they are relying on the tried and true chemistry they had on 24. It’s a little heavy-handed, but a lot less annoying than the Emily (Italia Ricci)/Seth (Kal Penn) plot.

As the episode opens, Tom is called to the situation room because East Hanchu (North Korea – in case there was any doubt) has launched a missile over West Hanchu. Tom is brokering a Summit between the two countries on this very day and orders that all the delegates meet at Camp David asap.

Emily is left at the White House to find the mole who is leaking information to the press – specifically, Simon Day (Morgan Kelly). As a quick aside, I really enjoyed Kelly on Killjoys, so I’m hoping he’ll have more to do in the coming episodes. Before Seth heads off to the Summit, Kendra (Zoe McLellan) calls him and Emily into her office to discuss their relationship declaration forms. They are for insurance so that Seth can’t sue for sexual harassment later. Emily is very uncomfortable with the intrusion into her privacy – which is ironic given her actions in tracking down the mole.

Hannah (Maggie Q), meanwhile, has been pulled off the hacker case to facilitate a defector from East Hanchu who Tom hopes will help with the Summit negotiations. Once again, as she meets with the handler, Chuck (Jake Epstein) warns her not to do something stupid – take out her Bluetooth – and she goes ahead and does it. The show is really still struggling to make this storyline relevant in every episode. It turns out that the defector is none other than Chairman Kim’s (Tom Choi) son, Joon (Daniel Jun).

At the Summit, Lyor (Paulo Costanzo) and Seth run into an old acquaintance and one-time associate of Lyor’s – Greg Bowen (Dan Jeannotte). At first, Seth is struck by how similar the two are – and how annoying. There is clearly a lot of bad history behind them. Bowen is working for Chairman Kim.

Aaron (Adan Canto) advises Tom to use Joon, but Lyor thinks it’s too dangerous. Meanwhile, Joon isn’t saying anything until they rescue his girlfriend, Jung-Min (Eileen Li) who he apparently left at the consulate when he ran! He tells Hannah that his father is unstable and clarifies that he’s begging, not demanding, that they save her. The parallels to Kim Jong-un (including the name) are pretty obvious, including having family members killed for disloyalty.

Tom has them bring in Dr Frost to help with the negotiations with her missile defense system. Aaron approves of changing the focus of the negotiations to mutual protection rather than mutual destruction. Tom introduces Andrea to President Han (Freda Foh Shen) and Chairman Kim. Han has met her, but Kim has not – because it’s against the law for him to meet with anyone from Apache Aerospace – or any other weapons company. Tom tells them that he’s lifting the law so that they can both acquire the defense system – but Chairman Kim will have to submit to inspections to insure East Hanchu has no nuclear weapons.

Tom and Andrea are both pleased with the deal – it’s a $14 billion contract for her! Aaron and Seth interrupt them with news that the deal has been leaked. Lyor insists that they have to claim it was an anonymous Camp David employee. Bowen runs into them and declares it a disaster. They are now closer to war than ever. Bowen sees himself as the same as Lyor, but Lyor insists that men stick with their leaders even when things look bad – something that Bowen didn’t do in the past.

Back at the White House, Kendra meets with Emily to caution her about her investigation into the mole, declaring it looks like a witch hunt. Emily sees Seth’s completed form and that he has described their relationship as “intermittent association.” She’s not happy – but she’s so hot and cold about what’s happening between them, she makes me dizzy! Kendra tries to tell her that it’s business language, not a Valentine – which she shouldn’t have to tell her!

Emily meets with Simon Day and he refuses to give up his source. Simon tells her that he doesn’t care what she does, but maybe her boss should try inspiring more loyalty. Emily then clearly crosses a line by asking Chuck to do an illegal phone dump on Simon. Chuck asks if she’s got a warrant and doesn’t look too happy about being ordered to do it anyway. Emily insists that it’s time sensitive to prevent a way and asks Chuck if the President can count on him. Why do I feel like this is definitely going to come back and bite her? It should! She’s indicating to Chuck that Tom sanctions this…

Aaron and Lyor break the situation down for Tom – and I really liked this scene. They tell him that President Han has to win an election and can’t be seen to be helping the enemy. Chairman Kim needs an enemy in order to keep his people focused on that instead of on the other issues in his country to maintain his position as a tyrant. Tom realizes that they have to sweeten the pot.

Tom tells the two leaders that Apache Aerospace will lease them the system at a greatly reduced cost. I loved that the two worked together to play them. Andrea acts surprised and angry but both leaders are onboard – even after Tom declares that the West will pay for the East!

In the kitchen, Tom and Andrea share some ice cream and we learn that it was all a set up. This was a nice scene that clearly demonstrates that Sutherland and Raver still have that chemistry! Tom has sweetened the pot for Apache too by promising tax breaks and government contracts – which also insures that the two will continue to interact. Andrea compliments Tom on his decision-making, and he tells her that he misses teaching – he’s a better instructor. Andrea shares that her DEAD husband was a Classics Professor.

This time it’s Mike (LaMonica Garrett) who interrupts that the deal has once again gone up in flames. This time it’s because Kim has discovered his son is missing and he’s convinced that West Hanchu has him. Aaron and Lyor don’t want Tom to tell Kim that they have his son, but as a father, Tom refuses to lie and tells him. He sets up a call with Joon and his father. Kim declares his son a traitor.

Kim refuses to go ahead with the negotiations, declaring that Tom has lost his confidence. Lyor suggests that they bring in Moss (Geoff Pierson). Moss returns and tells Tom he’s there for his country, not for Tom. In his meeting with the two leaders, he tells them that his word is his bond and that he’s never lied to either of them. They agree. Moss then tells them that he personally vouches for Tom’s integrity.

Hannah finally gets important information out of Joon – Kim does have nuclear weapons! Tom goes to Han and Kim and declares the deal null and void because it was based on material disclosure and Kim lied. Chuck can’t find the location, and it’s Andrea who comes up with the proof they need. Tom delivers an ultimatum to Kim: comply or his country will see it as a declaration of war.

Lyor proves to be a terrible roommate – is anyone surprised? But Seth is a smart guy. Lyor is very happy to have beaten Bowen. But Bowen thinks that that is all the Lyor wanted. Seth sets Bowen straight. He tells him that the thought at first that Bowen and Lyor were very much alike, but he has come to realize that Bowen is an SOB and Lyor is a standup guy. Lyor didn’t take any opportunity to really bad-mouth Bowen when he easily could have. I loved Seth putting Bowen in his place and then not telling Lyor – we know who else is a standup guy, don’t we?

Andrea and Tom share a quick moment before she leaves. He tells her to call him Tom and she asks to speak candidly. Naturally, Tom encourages her to do so. She tells him that their country now has hope, but it’s still isolated and being isolated is not a good thing. It’s a really heavy-handed opening for the widow and widower not to be isolated from each other – but more importantly, it was also a comment on the current state of US politics.

Was anybody surprised to discover that the leak is Moss? Tom confronts him about Simon Day and tells Moss that it’s a felony to leak classified information. Moss says that President Han called him and he had to help her! Tom accuses Moss of extreme bitterness or a burning desire to remain relevant. Moss tells him that he’s a patriot and that Tom is afraid of Moss because he doesn’t agree with him. He maintains that all of Tom’s staff are yes-men.

Tom clarifies that he fired Moss because he was disloyal. If anything Moss has done proves to be illegal, Tom promises to hand it over to the Justice Department. Moss fires right back that if Tom comes for him, he’d better come hard because Moss knows how to fight (dirty!) and how to win.

I was mostly enjoying this episode until the last three scenes. I really didn’t need to have Moss come back. Next we have Emily once again put her foot in it. She tells Seth that she’s having a hard time letting her guard down for their relationship, and Seth maintains – rightly! – that that’s what a relationship is. He tells her that either she’s all in or they’re done. She can’t commit which is all the clarity that Seth needs. He walks away from the relationship – please, please, please don’t have Emily change her mind again this week! Finally, Hannah goes to Aaron who takes her to Tom. There’s a dirty bomb hidden somewhere in the US. Really? Didn’t we just do this???

Overall, I liked this episode. The acting, as always was terrific, but I’m still not sold on the ability of the show to carry a season-long arc, and the biggest weak spot is the intrigue plotline. It still feels like two shows pushed together to me. The show does a good job commentating on real world events. I understand that it wants to set itself apart from other shows like Madam Secretary and that the show’s premise relied on the international intrigue plotline, and yet… I’m also not thrilled with the direction they are taking Emily – honestly, her actions should have her brought before the Justice Department too! Is she on her way out? What did you think of the episode? Happy to see Kim Raver back? Moss? Are you tired of Emily’s failure to commit and serial dating her co-workers? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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