[Editor's Note: Spoilers ahead for season one of Designated Survivor.]
ABC's recently renewed freshman political drama, Designated Survivor, wrapped up its first season Wednesday night, with several of its loose strings tied up in a relatively neat bow. Nestor Lozano is finally dead (for real this time); Homeland Security adviser Jay Whitaker has been outed as the White House traitor; and the world now knows that Patrick Lloyd was behind the bombing at the Capitol.
Still, while many of the first season's plot lines have been resolved, Tom Kirkman is not out of the woods just yet. Before Agent Wells kills Lozano, in a nicely choreographed fight, he hacks into the Pentagon and transfers Department of Defense secrets to Patrick Lloyd. So, while Lloyd is on the run, he has a near-unlimited supply of cash and access to some of the DOD's most sensitive secrets. Suffice it to say, he remains extremely dangerous as the series heads into its second season.
The plot for Designated Survivor's second season is still pretty unclear, but it is likely that, at least initially, it will focus on the White House's attempts to capture Lloyd and contain any secrets that he may disclose. This is probably the correct direction for Designated Survivor to take. The series has been at its best when focusing on the the conspiracy surrounding the Capitol bombing. It is that conspiracy that made the show unique.
It appears that the writers are setting up Lloyd to be the series' primary antagonist going forward. But there is still a lot we do not know about the character. Sure, he is a billionaire right-wing extremist, but outside of that he has been largely left unexplored. Hopefully, the second season of Designated Survivor will flesh the character out a bit more, while also explaining exactly what he intends to do with the recently acquired classified secrets.
While Designated Survivor has excelled at creating a highly compelling government conspiracy, with the first season now behind us, it has become clear that the domestic terror cell's plan was, well, unclear. What exactly is it that Lloyd, Whitaker and Lozano were planning? Has that plan been at all derailed? Are there other players involved? These are just a few of the questions that will hopefully be answered in season two.
Though mostly conjecture, to potentially answer one of those questions, it does seem that there are likely at least a few more players involved in the conspiracy. Lloyd is seen near the end of the finale exiting his vehicle in a mysterious location, presumably out of the country. While not certain, it would not be surprising if it turns out that Lloyd is working for someone else, perhaps even another government like Russia.
The White House
While the conspiracy behind the Capitol bombing was easily the most interesting element of Designated Survivor's first season, that is not to say that the exploration of the difficulty of governing the free world was not an important element of the show. Unlike many prior government or White House-oriented series, Designated Survivor has the added intrigue of chronicling the day-to-day activities of an extremely inexperienced president.
Season two needs to keep this going. The best narratives require real conflict, and outside of the conspiracy, the series' greatest conflict comes from the opposition to this inexperienced, unelected president. The series has been strong at highlighting Kirkman's perhaps unorthodox approach to governing, and it sounds like it will continue to flesh out the president's White House in season two.
TV Line is reporting that Kiefer Sutherland addressed the second season of the show at ABC's Upfronts presentation. According to Sutherland, the series will add "no less than three principal characters to round out the complexities of running the White House [and] allow us to delve more deeply into the lives of our main characters."
About those main characters
To its credit, Designated Survivor has largely avoided placing unnecessary focus on the personal lives of its main characters. And this has kept the show running smoothly. To an extent, though, the series may have gone too far. We know a little bit about Seth, Emily and Aaron, but certainly could learn more. And as the most important characters — aside from the president — in the White House, it would be nice to see a bit of what makes them tick.
For instance, will there be a rekindling of that almost-relationship between Aaron and Emily? Hopefully. Now that they will once again be working in the White House together, some romantic tension between the two would definitely add some lighthearted fun to the second season.
All in all, Designated Survivor is a strong and relevant network drama with no shortage of captivating storylines. While there is definitely room to improve, the series has set itself up for yet another exciting season this fall.