One of the things I love with a politically charged drama like this is the way all the pieces slowly build toward the climax. When handled correctly, the pay-off can feel incredibly rewarding and deliver emotionally charged twists and turns that feel so much more powerful because of the strong foundation set before it. Designated Survivor: 60 Days is a drama that perfectly captures this in its latest episode as we fast approach the end-game of this Korean drama.
We begin with Han warning Park about his tumbling approval ratings, telling him his recklessness in pushing this bill could cost him the Presidency. While he deliberates over what to do next, Chan gleefully tells Mayor Kang about Park’s lack of political savvy to see through the Discrimination Act. With General Eun’s phone still bugged, Na-Kyung listens in to the General’s conversation as he discusses the VIP and plans for the future. Before she can follow him though, the handwriting analysis comes back and it turns out they misread the initial message on the wall. It doesn’t say Tae-Ik after all – it’s Tae-Il.
The time of the meeting arrives and Park takes his seat at the top of the table while the others look at him expectantly. After a long pause, Park decides to delay the bill until the next Administration, inciting shocked murmurs that resonate around the room. The allure of the Presidential candidacy seemingly just too much to turn away from. He immediately heads over to see the Movie Director to explain his actions, telling her he wants to win the election so he can then pass the bill properly. She rejects his statement, telling him her side of things before storming out in disappointment.
With some slick editing and nicely worked split-screen shots, Na breaks in to Kim’s Tailors to find evidence officially linking Oh to the bombers. Following the audio snippets, she manages to navigate her way into the depths of the office and deciphers the code to break into the vault. Once there she finds a phone and a series of documents linking Oh to the bombing. Unfortunately her radio silence prompts the others to rush in, where it appears she’s been kidnapped by the bombers.
We get our answer about Na sooner rather than later though as we cut back to find her tied up in a car, with a ticking bomb counting down. Gagged and bound, she kicks the windshield out and begins slicing her binds with the severed piece of glass. She breaks free, only to realize the car has been parked in the shopping centre with hundreds of people dotted around. Shocked, she drives the car to an abandoned rural area and straight into the lake, just in time as the car explodes and sends jets of water high in the air. As police rush to the scene, Na phones Park and tells him she has the evidence they’ve been looking for.
This prompts a chain reaction as Na hurries to ambush Oh and arrest him but instead finds he’s fled the scene and is nowhere to be found. As it turns out, all of this was a part of General Eun’s plan to betray Oh thanks to him refusing his initial offer. He presents a coup to capitalize on the chaos, managing to gain the VIP’s full support in his upcoming military-heavy plan.
In order to try and stop General Eun before he can make his move, Park calls on the allegiance of an old face – General Lee. He tells Lee about Eun and offers to reinstate him to his old position. After being humiliated twice by Park, he tells him he’s bound by honour and walks away from the offer presented, despite a passionate speech from Park.
The military operation is then pushed forward as General Eun learns that the Blue House have found out about their operation. As they hurry to put their plan into action, Oh is finally stopped by Na. However, Sang-Mo tells him he needs to remain a hero until the end and shoots Oh in the head before turning the gun on himself and firing. With both men seemingly dead, General Eun begins his operation as General Lee arrives. Instead of joining with Park though, he’s standing against him and alongside Eun as this two-headed dragon looks set to cause chaos across Korea.
With a dramatic finish and some shocking plot twists to chew over, 60 Days delivers one of its best episodes, serving as a welcome change from the methodically paced politics we’ve seen so much of. Seeing Oh’s death and the inevitable way the media will likely spin this into police brutality is an interesting and frightening thought while the two Generals teaming up to take down Park is equally as troubling too.
As we approach the final two episodes, I still can’t help but feel there must be some serious time jumps in store here for us to wrap everything up in a satisfying manner. It almost feels like there needs to be another 15 episodes or so just to deliver a well paced finish but perhaps that may be the route we’re going – setting things up for a second season.
There’s some interesting themes here too, beyond the manic action, including timely issues around equality, morality and politics that are nicely developed and explored, especially in these past two episodes. With next week’s finale looming ever nearer, the door is left wide open for where this may go next but for now, Designated Survivor: 60 Days ends things with an almighty bang and the door left wide open for the final two episodes.