‘Designated Survivor’ Season 2 Episode 17 Recap and Review: Overkill

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Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 17 Recap

Kiefer Sutherland in ‘Designated Survivor’ season 2 episode 17 (ABC/Ian Watson)

“What part of unconditional do you not understand?” asks President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) to the Ambassador of Kunami as the war and missile strikes continue in season two episode 17 of ABC’s political thriller Designated Survivor.

As episode 17 titled “Overkill” begins, Kirkman addresses the nation about the missile strikes he’s ordered against Kunami, naming them as being responsible for the dirty bomb and murder of six federal agents.

Agent Hannah Wells (Maggie Q), Chuck Russink (Jake Epstein), and Aaron (Adan Canto) work together trying to figure out who the bomber was working with. While reviewing some surveillance video, they discover political advisor Greg Bowen is suspiciously close to where the bomb was planted. They bring him in and Wells warns if he doesn’t talk to her, he will be charged with murder and treason. As she starts to leave the room, Bowen admits he was working for the Emir of Kunami. In order to save his own skin, Bowen’s willing to make a deal and says he knows where the military opposition leader is hiding.

Seth (Kal Penn) deals with the press about the conflict, bringing them up to speed on what they need to know.

Kirkman authorizes the use of special forces to go into Kunami. Boone (Paulo Costanzo) is worried about how it will look to the public and press when they hear American Troops are in Kunami.


In Kunami, Wells is with a SEAL Team when they get ambushed. She and Sgt. Royce end up separated from the rest of the squad but manage to find the guide who’s supposed to take them to the hiding military leader. The hope is for Kirkman to open up a dialogue with the man and help him overthrow the Emir.

Back in the States, Aaron works with Chuck and Damian Rennett (Ben Lawson) to try to find the hack. Chuck tells Aaron in private he didn’t sign up to work with a traitor who almost got Wells killed. Aaron informs Chuck that Rennett is making good on his part to find the person behind the hack and the faster they do so, the better.

Kirkman and Emily (Italia Ricci) meet with the Ambassador of Kunami and the President makes it perfectly clear that the only thing he will accept from the Emir is his complete, unconditional surrender. Not long after the Ambassador leaves Aaron finds the President to inform him one of their missiles struck a hospital and there are civilian casualties. Kirkman heads over to the command center to learn there are 23 total civilian deaths and a little public backlash. Kirkman tells the generals to continue attacking – but no more hospitals.

Working together, Chuck and Rennett find a lead to the hack and pay her a visit. Chuck poses as a FBI agent and threatens to subpoena her if she doesn’t cooperate. She backs down and gives them the name Gamine.

Over in Kunami, the Arab guide stops to pray and Wells notices by what he uses that he’s actually with the Emir. She tells Sgt. Royce they’re being led into a trap. They confront the false guide who tries to attack Well but is shot dead. Wells uses the Arab guide’s phone to call Aaron and tell him what happened. Aaron tells Wells he wants to pull her out right away, but she refuses because they haven’t come all this way to return empty-handed.

Secret Service Agent Mike Ritter (LaMonica Garrett) tells the President that Boone’s new assistant, Trisha, has a brother in SEAL Team that’s in Kunami. Kirkman says he’ll talk to her when he can.

Aaron meets with the Ambassador of Kunami and learns the Emir is willing to abdicate, if he’s guaranteed safe passage and has access to all his bank accounts which the U.S. has frozen. Aaron says he’ll take the proposal to the President.

After hearing the proposal, Kirkman sits with Emily in the Oval Office and questions if he’s the right man to be making these life and death decisions. Emily reassures him that he is and he proves it just by asking the question. He tells her to reach out to the Ambassador, believing they might be able to come to terms and end the war.

Kirkman welcomes Trisha to the Oval Office and thanks her and her brother for their service. She tells the President her brother Royce re-enlisted because of him and that he always does what he needs to in order to keep America safe. Feeling righteous, Kirkman attends a press briefing being handled by Seth and tells him he would like to say a few words. He tells the press America is dedicated to bringing down the Emir who started this war by killing Americans on U.S. soil with his bomb. He asserts war isn’t noble but at times necessary to protect a way of life. After his brief words to the press, Emily and Boone agree Kirkman handled it perfectly.

In Kunami, Wells and Royce find the Arab allies and briefly talk to the military leader. When he steps out, she does a little snooping and finds correspondence that does not make any sense. She leaves with Royce to call the White House.

Kirkman meets with the ambassador of Kunami and reveals he’s now aware he set the bombing attack in motion to get the U.S. to attack Kunami and get the Emir to abdicate so he could take over. The correspondence Wells found confirmed it, along with a little digging by Aaron. The Ambassador is taken away by the authorities.

In the command room, Aaron tells the President the rest of the SEAL Team have resurfaced and found chemical weapons the Emir was going to use on his own people. This provides validation for the attack against the Emir and for sending in ground troops.

In the final scene, the White House staff is gearing down and happy the war with Kunami is at a close when Aaron and the rest get word of a new crisis. It seems the President’s private therapy sessions have been leaked by the mysterious hacker.

Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 17 Review:

Fast-paced, dramatic, and action-packed, episode 17 titled “Overkill” continues the political thriller series on its course of being suspenseful and intriguing. Kiefer Sutherland once again delivers a strong performance as Kirkman, a President determined to keep his country safe and not willing to bargain or negotiate with evil tyrants to achieve peace. He also displays Kirkman’s softer and more human side wonderfully in the scenes with Emily in which he questions if he really is the man for the job.

With Kirkman’s private therapy sessions now leaked to the public, it’s a guarantee that his political adversaries will use this to try to have him removed from office. Here’s hoping Kirkman is up for the fight.

GRADE: B

More on Designated Survivor:
Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 1 Recap
Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 2 Recap
Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 3 Recap
Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 4 Recap
Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 5 Recap
Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 6 Recap
Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 7 Recap
Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 9 Recap
Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 10 Recap
Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 11 Recap
Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 12 Recap
Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 16 Recap
Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 18 Recap
Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 20 Recap
Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 21 Recap
Designated Survivor Season 2 Episode 22 Recap




Kevin Finnerty

Kevin Finnerty

Professional film critic since 2003 and a member of the San Diego Film Critics Society. Host of “The Movie Guys” radio film review show from 2007 through 2013. Film and television critic for Showbizjunkies.com and a movie buff since 1973.
Kevin Finnerty
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