Designated Survivor season 3 finale review: A lie, an arrest, & an election

Designated SurvivorThe Designated Survivor season 3 finale should have been the happiest day of Tom Kirkman’s life. The same goes for Aaron Shore.

Yet, here’s where things go to hell in a handbasket. Just about every little thing that could possibly go wrong did, and it started with Kirkman realizing that former President Moss didn’t know about the racist and horrific bioweapon plots orchestrated by a staffer. Yet, he did nothing. He didn’t say a word about the truth and he let the American public go out and vote for him. He knew that the lies out there would let him win.

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The finale was framed in a fascinating way, with Kirkman appearing in some flashforwards the day of the election, questioning whether he did it the right way. You could sense the anxiety through the air as those who knew the truth wrestled with it. Take, for example, Emily Rhodes. She viewed Tom as a hero and through this, she couldn’t stand to look him in the eye.

Emily’s sense of moral equivalency was a fascinating storyline within the finale. This is a woman who leaked that President Moss had the Alzheimer gene earlier this season. Yet, the metaphorical rubber band snapped for her — maybe it had to do with having to help her mother die, or maybe it was Lorraine pushing the campaign too far into the abyss. She spoke with counsel, worked to potentially protect herself, and then put the wheels in motion to take Lorraine down from within. Lorraine was arrested in the closing minutes, right at the time of Kirkman’s victory speech.

The future of Emily with Tom is certainly To Be Determined, as is potentially the future of many different staffers within the campaign. What comes next for Tom depends on who says what — will someone admit that he knew before the votes were cast? This should be the thing that keeps him up late at night, and judging from what he says in therapy at the end of the episode, it almost certainly could.

As for where other stories end up…

The good news for Seth is that he seems to have a love connection! He asked his biological daughter’s mother to the celebration at the end of the episode, and he may actually be one of the few people ending this season in a less-than-heartbroken place. Ironically, the future of Kal Penn with this show is unclear given that he does have a new show coming to NBC.

Meanwhile, Isabel and Aaron are officially done, but now for the reasons you’d think. This doesn’t have so much to do with infidelity and instead, it’s tied more to the lack of respect she feels from him in terms of her career. Mars promoted her to Deputy Chief of Staff, so she’s going to have plenty on her place — especially since she’s also pregnant.

CarterMatt Verdict

There was a lot to enjoy and appreciate through Designated Survivor season 3, especially when you think about getting into the nitty-gritty of some of the different characters. This is, bar none, the strongest of the three seasons, especially when you consider all of the political jousting and the central question asked at the end: Was it all worth it? Kirkman gets what he fought so hard for, but now has to suffer living with a lie, dwelling in the idea that he is a tainted President who has the false respect of those he loves. There’s a secret buried within him that could eventually eat him alive, and maybe that is your starting-off point for season 4 alongside other things, including the status of Emily Rhodes, the future of Lynn as a Senate candidate, and whether or not we’re going to see the bulk of the White House staff back in action.

If you do want more Designated Survivor season 3 reviews…

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What did you think about the Designated Survivor season 3 finale, and the course of the story overall? Share in the comments. (Photo: Netflix.)

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