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Headscratchers / Designated Survivor

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    Timeline Issues and Inconsistencies 
  • Since the show acknowledges that it is set after the Brussels attack, isn't it strange that the President is giving the State of the Union address after March? Usually the address is given sometime in January.
    • Don't think they established what year it is on the show, so this is not much of an issue.
      • I think it's safe to say it's set in 2016 given the fact that it is mentioned that President Richmond was up for re-election, indicating that, not only was Richmond just finishing his first term, but that we are in an election year when this takes place.
      • Additionally, while the State of the Union is typically done in January, that is a contemporary gesture. The Constitution only states that the President must "from time to time" inform Congress as to the "State of the Union". There isn't even a limit to the number of times a President is allowed to present a "State of the Union" in any given year.
      • Or this is the 2024 election cycle, to avoid No Celebrities Were Harmed. There's also the chance that another attack on Brussels took place at a future date.
      • "The Enemy" sets the show at January 2016.
      • "The Results", though, said the Congressional elections were held on "Wednesday, February 7". That did not happen in 2016 (February 7 was a Sunday in 2016), and the next time it does is in 2018.
      • In "Outbreak", Kirkman says that it is 2017.
  • How exactly do the different presidencies add up? It's mentioned that both Reagan and Bush II were presidents, and we see a picture of Obama hanging on the wall in a scene. On the other hand, with president Richmond and former president Moss, we have to squeeze two additional presidents in a timeline that's already crowded enough as things are.
    • The best explanation, givem that the show is set in "2016", is an alternate timeline. Moss would have been President likely during GWB's second term in the real world, based on comments he made about nuclear disarmament.
    • So Bush II only served one term (2001-2005)? That would mean Moss would have been President from 2005-2013, then Richmond from 2013-2016.
    • In the episode(s) when Moss is introduced, characters mention how he left politics after one term with a 100% Adoration Rating. Accordingly, in the show's Alternate History, Moss was elected in 2008 and served from 2009 to 2013, while Richmond was elected in 2012 and served from 2013 until he was re-elected in 2016, started his new term in 2017, and was promptly killed in the Capitol bombing.
  • Cornelius Moss's service as a previous President raises some issues. First off, George W. Bush is mentioned in the show, and the show implies that Moss was elected after him, serving two terms (2008-2012, 2012-2016). However, Robert Richmond wouldn't have been President during the show's events, as Moss's second term wouldn't be up until 2017, and then Richmond would take office. The only way this adds up is if Bush only served one term (2000-2004) and then Moss served 2004-2008, 2008-2012.
    • And we see a picture of Obama hanging on the wall in a scene.
      • It's possible that Obama might have been elected earlier (and for a single term), or Moss' single term took the place of Bush's real-life second term.
    • In the episode(s) when Moss is introduced, characters mention how he left politics after one term with a 100% Adoration Rating. Accordingly, in the show's Alternate History, Moss was elected in 2008 and served from 2009 to 2013, while Richmond was elected in 2012 and served from 2013 until he was re-elected in 2016, started his new term in 2017, and was promptly killed in the Capitol bombing.
  • Why is Kirkman still President in Season 2? Setting aside the fact that there would be no show otherwise, the show is set in 2016, which is a presidential election year. Unless that was delayed due to the attack (which is entirely possible, but that particular point is never brought up even after the government is restored), there should be some sort of election for a new president.
    • According to Word of God, the show's premiere was set in early 2017, which at the time was 20 Minutes into the Future as far as the broadcast series was concerned. President Richmond had just started his second term, and was shaking up his administration and addressing Congress when the attack occurred. Thus, if in-universe time parallels real time as Season 2 has been doing, and the show survives beyond this (2017-2018) television season, then we should see midterm elections around the end of Season 2 or the start of Season 3, followed by the run-up to a presidential election (and probably Election Day itself) in Season 4.
    • This creates an issue though. Kirkman tells his Secret Service agent in episode 1 of Season 2 that the year is 2017, and that around a year has passed since the Capitol Bombing, which would put it in 2016.
      • Not necessarily. If the bombing occurred shortly after Richmond's second term began in January 2017, and then Kirkman is speaking to Ritter in December 2017 (or, stretching it, November), then the Word of God on the timing of the attack and Kirkman's statement of "around a year" still add up.
    • Going by dates (say, Wednesday February 7) that would make the timeline 2018, conflicting with the timeline established by the writers.
    • As of "Capacity", VP Darby notes that Kirkman has been President for twenty months. If the series is continuing to operate a few months ahead of real-time, then in-universe it should be summer or early fall 2018 and the attack did indeed occur around the start of 2017 and the beginning of a new presidential term of office. Which in turn means that mid-term elections must be coming to the show's Congress, after the widespread special elections that took place early in the first season.

    Leo's Bogus Adventure 
  • In this age of social media and smartphones, none of the kids at Leo's rave ever checked their phones and discovered the entire government has just been blown up until the cops arrived?
    • Maybe it was just that good of a rave; it's pretty much stated that Leo is passing out some fairly hard drugs. That is sure to come up at some point. Confirmed as of "The Confession"; Leo's sister found his stash and a huge wad of cash. The way this show is going, at some point this information is bound to get out to the press.

    So It's Treason Then, Guv'na? 
  • People are arguing that Royce's actions may not fit a very narrow technical definition of treason. However, isn't actively conspiring to secede and refuse the jurisdiction of a legally constituted higher authority effectively tantamount to treason (and could probably be deemed as such in a trial)? It's one thing if Royce had floated the issue and organized a popular referendum on the topic, then negotiated with whatever surviving tatters of the federal government still existed to conduct an orderly transfer of power. It's another to secretly orchestrate a secession without even consulting the populace on the matter.
    • No. Despite how much the word is thrown around, treason has a strict legal definition.
    • Inciting General Munoz to mutiny against the chain of command is yet another matter still. Whatever happens to Royce, Munoz could be executed for his actions (although more likely he's in for a very long stretch of confinement in a military prison).
  • Speaking of Governor Royce's actions — how come none of the other governors bring up the fact that he was detaining American citizens, and because of his actions, a kid was killed? Does anyone think that was maybe a bad idea? Or do they believe that the Japanese internment camps was a good idea?
    • It seems they were on the fence as far as Royce's actions went, and the Al-Sakar motivated attack on the White House was just enough to tip them over to caving to Royce-style xenophobia, egged on by the fact that the AZ governor saw an opportunity to get them lined up behind her so she could effectively dictate federal policy.

    The Conspiracy 
  • Revelations that are slowly being uncovered over the show seem to point to a conspiracy with an almost over-elaborate plan to seize control of the US government. Given that Richmond and his cabinet were no saints when it came to making a few bucks on the side, why not just bribe the right people in the executive and legislative branch to launch whatever covert agenda the as-yet-unknown cabal wants?
    • Out of universe answer: Because there probably wouldn't be a show. In universe answer: It's possible Richmond and his cabinet wouldn't play ball, and while the Conspiracy certainly had members in high ranking positions (namely MacLeish and possibly Aaron), they weren't anywhere near the positions they would need to be in order to make a difference (MacLeish was a Congressman and Aaron was Deputy Chief of Staff, respectively). Furthermore at least one cabinet member (Richmond's Chief of Staff) was aware that there was something going on. Better to wipe them all out at once to ensure that their people could be put into position with the least possible resistance (and potential witnesses). Not to mention that the ultimate goal seems to be the end of the United States as we know it (either by transforming it into a militaristic empire or the total destruction of its government). If that's the case, then it's not hard to imagine that no amount of money in the world would be enough to get the President and his whole cabinet to go along with the plan.
    • Also, Even Evil Has Standards. Richmond and his cabinet might have been corrupt and shiftless, but they might have reasonably baulked at what appears to basically be a conspiracy to undermine the entire government of the United States and replace it with some kind of junta.
  • How exactly did The Conspiracy manage to deliberately ram Agent Wells' car in "The Blueprint" with all the traffic? They were in an intersecting lane, so if Wells had gotten stuck anywhere else along the road they wouldn't have been able to intercept her unless on foot.
    • Maybe, for added Paranoia Fuel, they have enough people around to interrupt her at several places along the line. The one who rammed her was just the first one who was able to successfully take the opportunity.

    Vice-President? What Vice-President? 
  • Have they just been operating without a Vice-President since MacLeish's death?
    • Pretty much. Or if Kirkman has appointed a new one, the writers clearly don't seem to care.
    • As of the latter half of Season 2, he finally has one in Ellenor Darby. And yes, Kirkman does acknowledge that the position has been vacant ever since MacLeish was killed.
    • This is actually plausible; technically speaking, under the twenty-fifth amendment as designated survivor Kirkman would technically become Acting President, not President. This may seem pedantic, but legally is an important distinction, as it raises question as to exactly what the nature of Kirkman's duties and powers actually are; does he just become President with full powers and responsibilities, like the VP would? Or is he supposed to just basically be a placeholder filling the office until emergency elections can be held, with only the powers and responsibilities necessary to fulfil that duty until he won a presidential election? Since, unlike a VP, no one actually voted Kirkman into any executive office, these questions would become particularly important, and in addition to rebuilding the House, Senate, Cabinet etc. there'd probably be a fairly lengthy period of time where surviving lawyers, politicians etc. thrashed out exactly what Kirkman was and wasn't able to do. So he probably wouldn't be able to just click his fingers and nominate a successor immediately.
  • So, Kirkland was a designated survivor. The unthinkable happens and he is forced to assume the duties of President. In the beginning, he is clearly out of his depth. Wouldn’t the prudent thing be to appoint a clearly qualified individual as Veep, then resign, thereby ensuring the country is in good hands?
    • Unprepared? Sure. Unqualified? Obviously not. Being the only surviving member of the current administration gives him the current experience with the government to carry on with more consistency and stability than any replacement would. Plus there was the not-so-minor issue of The Conspiracy evidently having people everywhere and not knowing who to trust as a Number Two (which MacLeish counted on exploiting to be The Starscream).
    • Kirkman basically pulling a Screw This, I'm Outta Here! move on the entire country isn't exactly going to be reassuring either; it's basically suggesting that the system and those within it aren't strong enough to withstand this kind of pressure and crisis. Kirkman swiftly nominating a VP and then stepping down also looks a bit constitutionally sketchy and risks the replacement being seen as lacking in legitimacy; two presidents in a row who no one had a chance to vote for is not a great look, democratically speaking, even if it's all on the up-and-up. There's already at least one state governor getting a bit inclined towards secession within the whole situation, and it would be fairly easy to spin the replacement president as being illegitimate, maybe even that a coup has taken place. Kirkman staying where he is, however, creates at least the impression of stability. In short, like it or lump it the responsibility's fallen on Kirkman's shoulders and he's gonna have to suck it up.
    • Also, as noted above the twenty-fifth amendment actually makes the Acting President's powers a bit murky with regards to what he can or can't do, and people would likely be treading carefully. Kirkman would probably be able to nominate a VP under the circumstances, given the extraordinary emergency nature of the situation, but there'd almost certainly be questions about whether he'd be able to immediately resign and transfer the powers of the office to this person since under the circumstances they'd also possibly end up being a sort of Acting VP (i.e. someone who was literally just there in case something happened to the Acting President and they needed another replacement). In fact, if Kirkman just wanted to parachute out of the job he'd probably be on safer legal ground arguing that emergency elections needed to be held as swiftly as possible to clear up any ambiguity and establish a legal successor to the office who had gained authority from the voters, and just not standing as a candidate.

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