Designated Survivor Makes Filler Work in ‘One Hundred Days’

Photo Credit: ABC/Ben Mark Holzberg

“One Hundred Days” Plot Summary:

Following numerous tragedies and emergencies, President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) hits the reset button on his term by announcing several legislative and administrative initiatives.

Figures. I say that I’m burnt out by current politics and Designated Survivor airs one of its more political episodes while I’m subbing. That’s not too hard to believe. Designated Survivor is a cross between a thriller and a political drama. Designated Survivor debuted before Election Day though, so I was already invested in it.

I’ve made no secret that I enjoy Kiefer Sutherland’s work. He impresses me as Tom Kirkman. Most of us know Sutherland for playing a tough guy, so his ability to portray a non-confrontational character should be commended. Kirkman is endearing dork that can be a strong leader when push comes to shove.

Though I’m watching the show more for the main character and the conspiracies, Designated Survivor handles the issues rather well. I’d say the show resides somewhere center-left, though the politics isn’t about pledging loyalty to an ideology. It’s a means to a two ends, the first being character growth and the second being filler. Filler sounds bad, but I can guarantee you there are worse ways to pad out a season.

The biggest challenge for this week’s episode is somehow tackling an issue without getting too deep into it. It appears that, at least right now, Designated Survivor is less interested in finding solutions than creating dialogues. In my opinion, this is usually the best course of action when art addresses the issues. That’s not to say art can’t propose solutions, but it depends on the issue and its complexity. You have to remember that things are in service of the story first.

We should continue to at least discuss legislation like expanded background checks. I think most people are for them, though what most people truly want is hard to totally figure out, especially after this election. And the majority wanting something doesn’t make it automatically right. Maybe I should just be thankful that talking about this feels more organic to Designated Survivor than it does to Arrow.

Though it’s the B plot, “One Hundred Days” does further the conspiracy storyline, kind of. Similar to the way you have to feel for the mother who speaks at the town hall about losing her family, you got to feel for Jason (Malik Yoba), who lost his son to the villains. Besides a fake gas leak explosion, we learn that the bad guys are targeting more landmarks, or so it seems. Still, the show seriously needs to stop killing off conspirators. It’s becoming repetitive.

Despite that gripe, “One Hundred Days” balances politics, characters, and thrills surprisingly well, even if the majority of it is filler.


Aaron Sarnecky is The Pop Break’s Television Editor and covers Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., among other things. He is a TV/Film grad of Rowan University and the fraternal twin of staff writer Josh Sarnecky. He probably remembers that show you forgot existed.