?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
ww_renaissance
sunclouds33
ww_renaissance
sunclouds33
This is a great solid episode that really eases us more into the plot for the finale.





The gang is back from the Russian/US summit in Helsinki. We have some dialogue that seem to be Aaron Sorkin proving that “moose” is a very funny word and can make any line of dialogue ten times funnier just for being there.




GINGER
Whad'ya bring me?

SAM
I brought you a collector's plate of a moose racing through the woods.

GINGER
I love moose.

SAM
I know how you do. Bonnie? You get a hat with a moose on it.

BONNIE
You like a good hotel gift shop, don't you?

SAM
I do.

Sam is the opposite of smooth. Telling your assistants that you just their stuff at the gift shop? Tacky! Sam’s lack of smoothness will be a plot point later.

GINGER
What do they eat in Helsinki?

SAM
They eat moose.

GINGER
You ate a moose?

SAM
No, I don't like eating things where the cartoon character can talk, and you know, hatch a plan.

Porky Pig. Daffy Duck. Foghorn Leghorn. Just some characters from the Loony Tunes canon that I’m sure Sam eats their representative species.

Sam is getting mail and giving feminista viewers some attitude.

SAM
What's this?

GINGER
I don't know. It's marked "personal."

SAM
You don't know who sent it?

GINGER
There's no return address.

SAM
Think it's porn?

GINGER
I don't know.

SAM
Cause I'm pretty tired, but if it's porn, I mean, really good porn... By the way, if my innocent joking's making you uncomfortable in any way...

GINGER
No, I'm hoping it's porn.

Oh, Aaron….Why can’t you just reduce the amount of sexual come-ons in the workplace? Why must you turn it into its own meta-joke in your ‘verse?




Speaking on flirtation in the workplace, CJ and Simon are bickering. Although, the lion’s share of the bickering is coming from CJ’s end.

C.J.
NO! You understand? I'm driving myself home. You want to follow me in a chase car, that's fine. But you have been annoying me for six days. You annoyed me here for three days then you annoyed me in Finland. You're quiet, you're polite, and you're, you're there. You're always there, I can't shake you. You followed me to Scandinavia and back.

SIMON
Well, that's-

C.J.
Don't give me the "aw shucks" answer, "Well that's my job, ma'am." And don't call "ma'am," don't call me "ma'am," don't call me "Ms. Cregg." This isn't a western.

SIMON
I'm required to call you "ma'am" or "Ms. Cregg." There are rules and regulations.

C.J.
Okay, okay, secret agent man, here's my rules and regulations. I'm getting in my baby blue '65 Mustang convertible and I'm gonna feel the wind in my hair and any place else I want. You can look at my taillights.

SIMON
I think I'm not allowed to do that either.

LOL. Of course, CJ drives an antique convertible. Whether it’s goldfish, grasshoppers, the Jackal or convertibles, this show does a brilliant job of giving her some strange idiosyncrasy and having it work perfectly for her character.

Anyway, CJ knows that the Secret Service has game and practical skillz so she undermines her storm-out by coming back.

C.J.
There's no way you're letting me walk out the door, so what is it we're doing?

SIMON
I'm sorry?

C.J.
What's your plan for me?

SIMON
I don't have a plan.

C.J.
Are you gonna let me drive myself home?

SIMON
No. I've got your spark plug. Is that what you meant?

C.J.
You've got my spark plug?

SIMON
And your battery. Fuel pump, starter relay, timing belt, the ignition fuse. And well also the engine, I guess.

C.J.
Did you leave me anything?

SIMON
Wiper fluid. You can clean your windshield. No, actually, you need the battery.



Sam interrupts this little lovefest and shows CJ what came in his mail. It’s not porn but instead a heck of an anti-Bartlet spot. I tried finding the clip on Youtube but I couldn’t. Transcribing it doesn’t do it justice- you need to see the grayed out Bartlet and hear the music of doom to understand how understand creepy and kind of scary this ad is. However, I’m sure that everyone reading this post remembers the ad well.



Beautiful people.

Credits



More Beautiful People.

Donna and Josh flirt.

DONNA
My man!

JOSH
Yes.

DONNA
You came back to me.

JOSH
Just like I promised.

DONNA
I missed you.

JOSH
When did you find you missed me the most?

DONNA
The nights.

JOSH
Of course.

Josh gave Donna smoked moose meat in a fancy box. Donna is really not pleased. Josh hurries off to a meeting with Sam, Toby, CJ and Bruno to discuss the anti-Bartlet ad.



BRUNO
If I wanted to sink the Bartlet campaign, this is exactly the ad I'd run.

TOBY
In May?

BRUNO
No. But I would show it to the other side to let them know what happens if they hit me first. Every campaign has one in the drawer.

C.J.
We didn't.

SAM AND TOBY
Yes, we did.

Grrrr!!! I have no words. Sam and Toby are on my list. (That is the Sorkin List of Negativity: See Crackpots and These Women, The Disaster Show, Isaac and Ishmael). I suppose if this ad ended up on the news (as this episode proves is entirely likely), Campaign Spokesperson CJ was supposed to find out about it by seeing it on the television? This just smacks of a clubby, "If CJ knows our secrets, that makes it less special for the rest of us." Unprofessional, sexist asshatery.

Yet, this is one of those times where I think Sorkin is being pointed in showing the unfair exclusion of CJ. It's quite well-written. Based on how she was treated in S1, it makes complete sense that they kept important information from her during the campaign and they were just lucky that it wasn't one of the times that it exploded publicly and CJ had to deal with handling it and being out of the loop and missing crucial information.



Great picture of Josh.

Sam presents his idea for dealing with the ad-- namely talk to a Ritchie campaign big wig named Kevin Kahn. Toby, Bruno, Josh and CJ say no but Sam persists with this obviously stupid idea. Yeah, Sam’s not going to be making it off my Sorkin List of Negativity in the near future.'

SAM
He's a friend of mine.

BRUNO
I don't care if he did your bris. I don't trust Kevin Kahn and I don't know what this is yet.

SAM
What is the danger? What is the danger, where is the danger in my sitting down with Kevin and saying someone sent this to us? If it's you, we've got our own in a drawer. If it's someone, you've got a mole and we don't want anything to do with it. How do we lose, in court, in public, in the voting booth?

BRUNO
There are only two things here. Either someone's trying to hurt us, or somebody's trying to help us. Just so you know.

CJ and Bruno have a nice little interlude.

BRUNO
How was Helsinki?

C.J.
Good. Good. I accidentally ate a moose.

How does one accidentally eat a moose? Did she trip over something?



Toby putting the charm on for the network news directors to discuss airing the Democratic National Convention.

Toby’s idea of an ice-breaker for network people?

TOBY
Listen, I've got an idea for a new kind of awards show, you should tell your entertainment divisions about this. At the moment the winner's name is called the four nominees who didn't win drop through a trap door right under their seats. Am I crazy, or is that not pretty good television?

Toby tries to suck up talking about how spinners will be available to answer questions, how they’ll get better skyboxes than the last convention and so on.

However the main speaker for the news directors has a bomb to drop.

MAN
We're thinking about cutting back on our coverage.

TOBY
You only covered two hours a night last time. How much more can you...?

MAN
We're talking about an hour.

TOBY
You can't do an hour a night, that's just...

MAN
See you don't understand. We're talking about an hour for each convention. We cover the acceptance speeches, that's it.



Jed reveals the location of the season finale while Leo shows him the way to the Sit Room.

LEO
They do all the Henrys?

BARTLET
They take all the Henrys. They do a thing, they call it War of the Roses. I'm told by those who saw it in London it's spectacular. Catholic charities bought out a Broadway theater. We're gonna go, we're gonna make some money.

LEO
Everything was fine except the part where we go.

BARTLET
You know why? Cause the Royal National Company's got all the King Henrys up there and I'm still number one at the box office.

LEO
I love my job when you're like this

Jed and Leo walk into the Sit Room.



FITZWALLACE
Mr. President, we have reason to believe there will be an attack on a US military installation sometime in the next 48 hours. We have a credible threat.

BARTLET
We just got done with Helsinki and the reactor.

I love Jed’s surprised expression there. It’s very meta- “We just had a national security incident last episode! Damn, it must be May sweeps.” Fitz has plans to protect American assets in the Middle East.



Toby is still with the news directors. He orders one of the directors to not eat the fruit on the table. It’s pretty disproportionately kick-ass for one line about a fruit basket.

TOBY
Look this is obviously a--do not eat the fruit--this is obviously a, a negotiating position for you, so what is it you need? You want us to vote a member of the Rules Committee out of the convention every night or something? The secretary should eat a jellyfish?

MAN
You know what sir, don't talk to me like I'm other people. The four of us are news directors and there isn't a day that one of us isn't begging the person we work for to let us for the love of Jesus Christ do the news. Is the Republican nominee Rob Ritchie? Yes. Is his running mate Jeff Hesten? Yes. And that question, as impossible as it may be to believe becomes even less suspenseful when talking about the Democratic ticket. And will there be anything of any force or consequence in the platform? No. Will there be a floor fight over it? What does it matter? And you're getting huffed because the four of us are questioning the wisdom of presenting a four-day infomercial, in primetime, under network news, simulcast? We'll show the acceptance speeches. And the balloons. The balloons aren't news but it's nice television.

Eh, networks only show crappy reruns or silly reality fare over the summer. I could do without the righteous indignation.

That all said, “The balloon aren’t news but it’s nice television” is one heck of way to snark at Toby, Bad Mass Mother Fucker Speechwriter in Charge. You’ve got guts, “Man”! Too bad, your guts will be handed to you at the end of the episode.




CJ comes into work the next day and informs Simon that she will be taking her niece shopping for a junior prom dress at lunch.

SIMON
Okay. Well, it's our first time out, this is exciting. We're not under the umbrella of the president's protection so there's a couple things I wanna tell you. In a populated place, a department store, I always walk ahead of you. I don't like more than five feet between us so if you ditch me cause my back is to you, that would be too much. Also it would give me no choice but to surround you with department store security before you made it to Men's Accessories. You're a very recognizable woman, if you're surrounded by security, frankly, people are gonna point and stare.

C.J.
Anything else, Agent Sunshine?

SIMON
It's Special Agent Sunshine, but that couldn't matter less. At the risk of being ungentlemanly I can't carry bags, my hands always have to be free.

C.J.
Plus you're not my valet.

SIMON
Yeah but I'm still growing and I got my eyes on the prize.

Not as bad as talking about seeing her naked at the first meeting but still weird flirting for a Secret Service agent this early in their relationship.

Carol and CJ girl-talk a little about how CJ is trying to impress Simon and what that means.



A prim librarian-looking lady gives Josh the “what for”.

MARTHA
We have a record of your receiving a gift from the Finish office of protocol, some sauna cured meat.

JOSH
Moose meat.

MARTHA
Yeah, it showed up on E-Bay.

JOSH
What're you talking about?

MARTHA
Well you know that's a no-no right?



Donna and Margaret preside over a nice little meeting of the assistants to tell them that assistant salaries are coming out so they shouldn’t publicly complain about their low salaries because it reflects poorly on the entire White House. I love how bluntly Margaret speaks.

MARGARET
And a lot of us were thinking that instead of giving the press a reason to write a story we'd hold off on the bitching about how little we're paid for like a month so that we can deal with it the way it should be dealt with, which is with our bosses.

LULZ. Margaret saying “bitching” in a meeting with all of the White House assistants. I adore her.



Josh tells Donna the moose meat is on E-Bay. Donna says she gave the meat away to an intern and Josh yells at her to fire the intern.




Kevin Kahn called Sam so now Sam thinks that the fates endorse his stupid, rotten no-good plan to hand over the anti-Bartlet spot. Sam and Kevin Kahn arrange their lunch over the phone and there’s a hilarious bit of power-playing going on.

SAM
You couldn't have called at a better time. One o'clock at Old Ebbitts?

KAHN
Make it Charlie's at one.

In boxing matches, you can determine the strongest boxer based on the impact on their first punches. This phone call is the equivalent of the first punch and I think it’s clear to everyone that Kevin is much stronger than Sam.

I really am much harder on Sam here than I am on the other senior staffers’ for their S1-4 mistakes. Sam giving the tape to Kevin just isn’t the same as CJ being cornered after hours of angry, belligerent questions to make a one word mistake in “relieved” or Toby trying to make a silly bipartisan breakfast into something productive and getting played. Sam was warned by everyone to not give the tape to Kevin and even if he wasn’t, it was to quote Leo “a level of dumbness with no reward expected”.



Speaking of the devil, Leo walks into the Sit Room to meet Fitz. The target list was expanded to include American military installations on the Eastern seaboard, including forts very close to the White House.

Charlie and Bartlet talk about War of the Roses.

BARTLET
Let me ask you something.

CHARLIE
Yes.

BARTLET
If Shakespeare wrote a play about me, how many parts do you think it would be?




Leo comes in and delivers the bad news to Jed.

BARTLET
We're leaning on Arab Intelligence sources?

LEO
They're not what they used to be.

BARTLET
We're leaning on them?

LEO
Yes sir. We have to talk about the bunker.

BARTLET
I'm not going to the bunker.

LEO
Sir...

BARTLET
I'm not going to the bunker. It sends a terrible sign. I'm sitting in this room.

LEO
Ron and I have been through this.

BARTLET
You haven't been through it with me.

LEO
I'm trying to tell you if the time comes they're not going to give you a choice.

BARTLET
You're telling me that the Secret Service, you're telling me my own bodyguards are gonna escort me to the bunker?

LEO
Your feet may touch the ground a couple of times along the way but I doubt it.



On that note, it’s time for shopping. It’s a pretty cute bit between CJ and Hogan. Hogan, by the way, is played by Evan Rachel Wood who was on the brink of breaking out as a big star.




CJ labels herself the “cool aunt”. Hilariously, CJ turns what was supposed to be a shopping trip for Hogan into a shopping trip for CJ when she encounters a Vera Wang gown apparently designed for CJ’s very tall, slim self.



Meanwhile, Hogan makes small talk with Simon. When I say small talk, I mean Hogan asks Simon how he cases potential suspects and what would it take for him to brandish his weapon. It’s another nice understated gender equality moment. Yes, Hogan is shopping for a prom dress but she is a curious person who will ask a real secret service agent a ton of questions about using violence to protect people. It’s also a great moment when Hogan learns that Simon was at Rosslyn and gets a little emotional because her own aunt was almost killed then.



CJ comes out looking magnificent (of course) and she’s suspicious of the way Hogan and Simon were close and looked uncomfortable when CJ walked out. Her suspicions are exacerbated when Hogan is about to tell CJ about their conversation and Simon says that they’ll tell her another time. I read some criticism saying CJ was being impolite here but that’s completely misogynistic bullshit. While Simon wasn’t really doing anything wrong and there wasn’t plenty of evidence of Simon putting the moves on Hogan, there was enough for CJ to be concerned and urge her niece to cry out for help.



Bruno acts like he still hasn’t learned Margaret’s name but then gives her a gift. Bruno walked into Leo’s office to ask him some campaign related questions that seem important in general but incredibly unimportant in the scheme of the show.



This scene is mainly there for Bruno to foreshadow what a disaster it would be if the anti-Bartlet spot of the episode aired on television and for the reveal that Bruno gave Margaret a gold name necklace that says, “Margaret”, proving that Bruno knows Margaret’s name and thinks that an elementary-school style naming necklace is appropriate for a grown-ass woman.







Kevin and Sam are having lunch. Kevin is laying it on thick and extending his octopus legs to trap Sam, the chosen prey.

KAHN
What do you think of the two of us having lunch or coffee once a month? We can be emissaries. We can maybe help keep things under control if it gets bad.

SAM
I think it's a good idea.

KAHN
What do you think about having your candidate to sign the Clean Campaign pledge?

SAM
My candidate's the President.

KAHN
Yes he is. I apologize. When was the last time we saw a genuine dialogue?

SAM
McKinley vs. Byrant.

KAHN
So what if instead of the Cross of Gold speech-

SAM
I'm sorry about the thing.

KAHN
What thing?

SAM
The open mike.

KAHN
I'm not talking about that.

SAM
I think you are.

KAHN
Sam, it was not that big a deal. Most of us laughed about it.

Some of this is preying on Sam’s idealism. Sam is the type to wax poetic about terrific dialogue circa McKinley vs. Byrant and want to run as genuine and good-spirited a campaign as possible. However, it’s still hopelessly naïve, particularly since everything about Ritchie indicates that he doesn’t have the cognitive skill for a genuine dialogue other than about athletic support mechanisms (sayeth Sam Seaborn two episodes ago).





Donna argues for the entrepreneurial moose-selling intern. Normally, I dislike Donna because I think most of her storylines involve either her being given unrealistic importance and power relative to her position or her being stupid or selfish and Sorkin dressing that up as cute and calling it a storyline. However, sometimes Donna is given a realistic storyline for her position and she acts through it with heart and grace. This is one of those times. She strikes an excellent balance between defending the intern and disciplining him. It’s very in character for Donna to have empathy for what it’s like for people who want to do public service but struggle to pay their bills at the same time but at the same time, demands ethics and loyalty even from people in a tight spot because they signed up to be in that tight stop. It’s wonderful.

DONNA
He's an intern, he makes nothing and he has to pay rent.

JOSH
He can't do it this way.

DONNA
And I'll make that clear to him but he shouldn't be fired. And you know why? 'Cause 20 years ago 75% of the people who graduated from the Kennedy School of Government took jobs in public service. Last year it was a third. We need these people.

JOSH
All right.

DONNA
When Martha... was it Martha?

JOSH
Yes.

DONNA
When Martha came to you and thought it was me you wouldn't give her my name right?

JOSH
Yes.

DONNA
So let me just...

JOSH
I said all right like five minutes ago.

DONNA
I was just underlining my point.

JOSH
Nicely done.

DONNA
Okay, I'm through.




Toby and Bruno are trying to figure out how to get the news directors to cover the convention adequately. I adore Toby/Bruno scenes. Two cantankerous, grumpy, brilliant, Jewish or Jewish seeming (Bruno’s name is Italian but all of his mannerisms scream Jewish) men solving problems and keeping it real. Love!

BRUNO
We could guarantee them a floor fight.

TOBY
Really?

BRUNO
A good one.

TOBY
For four nights?

BRUNO
Whatever.

TOBY
Okay.

BRUNO
You got a better idea?

TOBY
How about corporate sponsorship?

BRUNO
You think?

TOBY
Why are people footing the bill for this anyway?

BRUNO
The Nabisco Democratic National Convention?

TOBY
It's better than four nights of professional wrestling.

BRUNO
How much better?

TOBY
I don't know.

BRUNO
I wouldn't mind hitting some of the people. I can make it look real.

Bruno is the optimistic guy in the room.

BRUNO
He talks, and he wants to get these things off his chest, but in the end if we had Tiny Tim and Miss What's-her-name doing the roll call they would cover it like that. So, let's give them a little bit of--

TOBY
There's--

BRUNO
A little bit of what they want.

TOBY
Like what?

BRUNO
Me? I like animals that can do math.

LOL. Bruno has so many great lines but that one is quite memorable. Anyway, Bruno trips over the answer to the problem and Toby runs with it.

BRUNO
And I don't think it's possible that these four people got together and decided anything.

TOBY
Wait a second. How is it possible that these four people got together and decided something? I mean how is it possible that they got together and agreed?




Leo, Fitz and bunch of other high ranking men meet with Jed to report on the efforts to close in on the terrorists who have designs on the White House and to drop the name of Abdul Shareef as a man who they all thought would help and give them intelligence but isn’t helping them at all.

Fitzwallace and the advisers leave Leo alone with Jed. Jed grandstands a bit.

BARTLET
I'm not going to the bunker. There are going to be people who aren't going to the bunker, and when I get out I'm not going to be able to tell them what to do anymore and I like doing that. Let's get Abbey to New Hampshire but I'm not going to the bunker. And if you say I have to I'm walking across the alley with the Chief Justice and I'm handing John Hoynes my resignation. And as soon as he's sworn in I'm telling him to appoint me his Vice President because I'm not going to the bunker. If the agent's come, the agents come but tell Ron he'd better bring more than a couple of guys.

The most interesting thing about that quote is imagining a world where Hoynes is the President and Jed is the Vice President. I think Hoynes would be hilariously passive-aggressive and bitchy and act like he’s the top dog. Bartlet, who is used to being the top-dog, would throw tantrums every day if he was Hoynes’s VP. Could you imagine if Hoynes as President made fun of Bartlet in front of the entire cabinet as he did in Enemies. Or made Bartlet vote against both his conscience and self-interest as Bartlet tried to makes Hoynes do in 20 Hours in LA. Or told him to go to New Hampshire to scold his constituency about their culture even if Bartlet didn’t agree with the scolding? I’m not saying by any means that Hoynes is an angel or even that Bartlet’s treatment was out of bounds to control an opportunistic, ambitious vice president. I’m just saying that Bartlet would not relish the tables being turned in their relationship.



Donna deals with the intern. He's cute and charming-looking enough to buy a friendship maybe with a little flirting with Donna that would prompt her to give Josh's expensive gift to him. However, you can see the doucheiness lurking not too far below the surface.

BRUCE
I don't work here. Or more accurately, I don't get paid to work here.

DONNA
I don't care.

BRUCE
My landlord does. I file, copy, deliver, get coffee, get pizza, and I do it for free.

DONNA
That's exactly what you signed up for. In fact you had to jump through fourteen hoops to get the gig. Did anybody lie to you?

BRUCE
That doesn't matter.

DONNA
That's all that matters. You're like a college athlete justifying...This is what you signed up for. Now you're not going to be fired but you are going to be transferred out of the west wing and you're going to have to give me $210.

LOL, you know that Donna is being written as a stronger character in Sorkin-world if she tries to analogize this to an athletic situation, can’t finish the analogy and trails off. Sorkin Trope!

BRUCE
Why?

DONNA
Because I'm the one who got the thing off eBay.

BRUCE
It's covering a check I wrote already.

DONNA
I'm out $210 for free moose meat I didn't want in the first place?

BRUCE
Sorry.

DONNA
Go back to work.



A shot so pretty it became a part of the credits.



CJ tattles on Sam to Bruno. Although, is it tattling if every paper, wire story and network is telling the same tale?...



Toby puts down the hammer with the news network heads.

TOBY
Yeah. You broadcast all four nights of the convention.

MEDIA DIRECTOR 2
Why?

TOBY
'Cause the public owns the airwaves not you, and you have a legal obligation to the public.

MEDIA DIRECTOR 3
The public could care less about the nominating conventions. So why?

TOBY
You have an FCC public obligation.

Then Toby throws down his other legal axe.

TOBY
'Cause if you don't the Justice Department is going to investigate you for anti-trust violation.

MEDIA DIRECTOR 4
Anti-trust violation?

TOBY
A joint decision not to compete for the best convention programming.

MEDIA DIRECTOR 2
You're accusing us of conspiring not to show money losing programming?

TOBY
Not me so much as the Justice Department. 15 U.S.C. section 1. "Every contract combination
or conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce is declared to be illegal. Every person who
shall engage in any combination..."

MEDIA DIRECTOR 3
All right, we get it. We all have lawyers that we'll have to talk to.

TOBY
Yes, no. There isn't going to be a horse race to cover, either in New York or San Diego, but we gave you the air waves for free 70 years ago and 357 days a year you can say who's up and who's down, who won the West and who lost the South but what's wrong with 8 days, not every year but every 4 years, showing our leaders talking to us. Not a fraction of what they said but what they said. And then th-the balloons.

I adore how Richard Schiff says, “And then the-the balloons”. So cute! I’m not a lawyer but this does seem plausible to me. All lawyers, law students or legally astute lay persons can correct me in the comments if it’s not plausible.



Speaking of having your ass handed to you, this scene is intense. Bruno comes into Sam’s office and yells at him for giving Kevin Kahn the tape. This scene is very well-written and the transcript reflects that. However, transcribing the episode doesn’t do justice to Ron Silver’s delivery. What a brilliant actor! I think Rob Lowe is a terrific actor (on this show and he’s also hilarious in Parks and Recreation) but Ron Silver acts him off the screen here. No wonder TPTB on this show desperately wanted him back on this show the minute there was another election.

BRUNO
He leaked it to the press.

SAM
What?

BRUNO
Your lunch.

SAM
You're wrong.

BRUNO
He leaked it to the press. He's got you in favor of the pledge and you gave him the tape.

SAM
I didn't...

BRUNO
This is three, four-I don't know a dozen news cycles--where we're playing politics and losing. Let me be clear the pledge is their idea. Any move we make on it we lose, any move they make they win.

SAM
I agree this is bad... and I take full responsibility.

BRUNO
This isn't bad, Sam. Let me show you bad.




Bruno leads Sam into the bullpen and turns the multiple TVs to include all of the talking heads on all the news channels saying the same thing about the pledge and anti-Bartlet spot. Sorkin has used this device- the sameness of network news across all of the channels and the echo chamber that is created- a few times both here and on Studio 60. It’s very effective.

Bruno’s final kick to Sam’s prone body.

SAM
Oh, God.

BRUNO
It's on free media... everywhere, all day, all night, for free. You got played, Sam, and you forgot that all warfare is based on deception. One of these times, you guys are going to listen. Or you're going to find out what the crappy end of Inauguration Day feels like.




Sam goes out to give Kevin Kahn a piece of his mind the next night. I thought when I watched it the first time that Kevin would then leak Sam picking a fight with him in the rain. Kind of like how when Jerry Seinfeld tried to yell at Kathy Griffen for making fun of him in her act and then she used Jerry yelling at her in another stand-up comedy act.

SAM
I can't believe you did that. I can't believe you did that!

KAHN
Go to hell.

SAM
What happened to...?

KAHN
What happened with the open mic?

SAM
It was a mistake!

KAHN
Crap.

SAM
You said you laughed!

KAHN
You think I laughed?

SAM
You said...

KAHN
You think I laughed?!!

SAM
So that's what this is about? The open... that's what this is about!

KAHN
That was my candidate you made a punch line out of. Is it going to happen again? I think it will.

SAM
Yeah?

KAHN
Yeah.

SAM
I think it will too.



Meanwhile in bad-assery with bigger guns (not that I’m mocking Rob Lowe’s guns), Fitzwallace and Leo come into report that they found out that the ultimate target was the decommissioned Fort Point so that the Golden Gate Bridge could be brought down. I like Jed’s panicked reaction here much more than Leo’s blasé reaction.

BARTLET
This was on the west coast and we didn't know anything.

LEO
We knew enough.

BARTLET
I'm going to ask this again. Where the hell was Shareef?

Fitz takes this time to introduce “Shareef as Super-Villain”.

FITZWALLACE
We're not entirely ready to answer that sir.

BARTLET
What do you mean?

FITZWALLACE
Well, you know we've been getting a great deal of help from the Russians since Helsinki.

BARTLET
Yeah.

FITZWALLACE
And that they've continued to interrogate the Chechnyan who gave us a target alert in the first place.

BARTLET
Yeah.

FITZWALLACE
The prisoner says he worked with a Bahji operative in Grozny who reported...

BARTLET
To who?

FITZWALLACE
Abdul Shareef.

I love the Shareef storyline. I’ll put that out right now to see if the cat licks it up. It already starts being awesome right off the bat because Sorkin was able to tie in the Helsinki summit to give a realistic explanation of how the military could know more now than they did.



CJ asks again what Simon and Hogan were talking about at Barneys because despite all of my griping, the writing on this show is wonderful. Great follow-through.

SIMON
I was on Eagle's protection detail in Rosslyn.

C.J.
Oh. I didn't know that.

SIMON
No, it's just...

C.J.
Thank you.

SIMON
I'm sorry?

C.J.
I just said "thank you".

Nice bit with a new energy to their previous scenes.




Anyway, tip of the hat to the production people. Simon wades through emails with very appropriate press or political subject lines. Anyway it gets even creepier than just Simon reading CJ’s emails.

"The Vera Wang looked great on you. I'm glad you bought it. You should wear it in the next couple of days because you're going to be dead soon."

Simon slams his hand on his desk, furious that he missed the suspect. (Likely the weird guy in the coat. Or maybe another shopper. Or possibly *twist* Hogan! "That's another secret I'll never tell. You know you love me. Xoxo Aaron Sorkin".)

13 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
laurenba From: laurenba Date: February 27th, 2011 01:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I really like this ep and I loved your picspam, so thank you! I have 2 comments. First of all, it doesn't upset me in the least when the staff jokes "inappropriately" -- for instance, Sam and Ginger joking about porn. These people spend lots and lots of time together to the exclusion of most of their outside lives.. of course they're going to joke. and of course some of will be inappropriate. Personally, I think that it's pretty realistic.
Also, I love how in-character it is for Sam to make this particular mistake. and I love how Bruno calls him on it. Great writing and awesome acting from Ron Silver. One point I disagree with you on... I think that Bruno giving Margaret the necklace proves that, in fact, he knows her name now. It's his apology for not knowing it earlier. And, although it's not exactly my style, these name necklaces were very popular with actual grown women at the time thanks to the Sex in the City costume designers. So it's not really a snarky move; it's a nice one. At least, imo.
sunclouds33 From: sunclouds33 Date: February 27th, 2011 06:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much your comment.

First of all, it doesn't upset me in the least when the staff jokes "inappropriately" -- for instance, Sam and Ginger joking about porn. These people spend lots and lots of time together to the exclusion of most of their outside lives.. of course they're going to joke. and of course some of will be inappropriate. Personally, I think that it's pretty realistic.

Most of the time, it doesn't bother me either. It wouldn't bothered me except for Sam's line,"By the way, if my innocent joking's making you uncomfortable in any way..." It just feels like Sorkin heard all of the criticism so he unnatrually put that line in and it came off as condescending. If it was just the porn conversation alone, I probably wouldn't pay it any mind.

I think that Bruno giving Margaret the necklace proves that, in fact, he knows her name now. It's his apology for not knowing it earlier

You know, that's what I meant to say. I didn't not mean to say Bruno doesn't know Margaret's name- I don't know how I mistyped that. Thank you so much! I corrected it in the picspam.

these name necklaces were very popular with actual grown women at the time thanks to the Sex in the City costume designers

I hear that. I remember SaTC being huge in dictating fashion then. My parents didn't let me watch the SaTC back when I was watching S3 of TWW when it first aired but my folks were fans and dropped some SaTC trends at the time.

I agree that Bruno's move as a nice one.
skywaterblue From: skywaterblue Date: February 27th, 2011 06:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I suppose if this ad ended up on the news (as this episode proves is entirely likely), Campaign Spokesperson CJ was supposed to find out about it by seeing it on the television? This just smacks of a clubby, "If CJ knows our secrets, that makes it less special for the rest of us." Unprofessional, sexist asshatery.

In reality, the Press Secretary is usually so far down the chain of command that CJ shouldn't even be in most of the scenes she's in. That's the big reason it's completely unbelievable that she might become Chief of Staff. Also, I dislike these scenes because while I have no doubt that sexism plays a role, I think CJ was always too quick to imply that as the cause when in actuality, it's a function of her job.

It isn't a policy position, and fairly traditionally, goes to newspaper reporters that the President considers 'fair' to him.

She does have some precedence in that Dee Dee Myers was on the Clinton campaign, but you'd have to look to the recently departed Robert Gibbs to find a Press Secretary who evidently had real policy power.
sunclouds33 From: sunclouds33 Date: February 27th, 2011 07:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for your comment.

In reality, the Press Secretary is usually so far down the chain of command that CJ shouldn't even be in most of the scenes she's in. That's the big reason it's completely unbelievable that she might become Chief of Staff. Also, I dislike these scenes because while I have no doubt that sexism plays a role, I think CJ was always too quick to imply that as the cause when in actuality, it's a function of her job.

It isn't a policy position, and fairly traditionally, goes to newspaper reporters that the President considers 'fair' to him.

She does have some precedence in that Dee Dee Myers was on the Clinton campaign, but you'd have to look to the recently departed Robert Gibbs to find a Press Secretary who evidently had real policy power.


I think this is a case of "Every administration reinvents itself". Press secretaries that had policy power include Dee Dee Myers and Robert Gibbs as you said but also Ari Fleischer, Tony Snow, Marlin Fitzwater, Pierre Salinger, etc. There have been Press Secretaries without much political power like Scott McClellan or Dana Perino but it's not an iron-clad rule that PS's have limited power and access.

In fact, I remember in George Stephanopolous's All Too Human (that Sorkin really used for this show), Stephanopolous describes how he was relieved from his role briefing the press after the first few months of the Clinton administration because the PR disasters and Stephanopolous said that he was incredibly because being the "briefer" or the "voice" gave you a set seat at the table because you had a specific role that required information.

The question becomes, "Is CJ a Scott McClellan or an Ari Fleischer/Robert Gibbs kind of press secretary?" and generally, I think the answer is clear that it's the latter. Her literal job title includes "Senior Counsel to the President". She is included in important meetings and called on to provide policy advice. She has a reason, within the show, to expect access and being informed just as much as say, Sam.

Although, this variable power is true for Josh/Toby/Sam/CJ. The national security team, the Cabinet members and the COS have institutional power. However, in reality, Josh would be competing with several Deputy Chiefs of Staffs for influence and control. Some Communications Directors have had tremendous influence like Karen Hughes and others have been irrelevant like Nicolle Wallace. I don't even know much about Deputy Communications Directors but given the competitive nature of the White House, I assume that most Communications Directors keep a much tighter leash on their access and ability to bring up ideas than Toby did with Sam.

Given how variable and non-conducive to television, real White House staffs are, I generally take the logic of the show as the main word. IMO, this logic is that Jed and Leo are the ultimate leadership partnership. Then, there's a quartet of Toby/Josh/CJ/Sam with Josh and Toby occupying a significant but not gigantic gulf of superiority above CJ and Sam. Sam had more influence in the first season and a half but CJ's power and influence grows steadily until she has more power (and certainly more independence) than Sam in S3 and then her power and influence continues to grow through S4-5 steadily until she's appointed COS. It does make sense to me within the logic of the show.

Also the funny thing is that CJ doesn't cry sexism much. Viewers do and it's in the subtext but she never said she was left out because she was a woman other than in A Proportional Response
skywaterblue From: skywaterblue Date: February 27th, 2011 07:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I'm not sure Dee Dee was that influential. Nor most of the W. Bush Press Secretaries named - Ari, yes, but that got them into big dog shit and so the successors were Fox News types.
sunclouds33 From: sunclouds33 Date: February 27th, 2011 07:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I think Dee Dee was influential- certainly during the campaign where she was also the inspiration for Daisy Green in Primary Colors. I think she had access and influence but she left after two years so she didn't let it grow. I think it's possible that Tony Snow had little power but Robert Gibbs, Ari Fleisher, Marlin Fitzwater and Pierre Salinger are all examples of press secretaries with influence and power.

With the Bush administration, their press secretaries' access issues cut both ways. Towards the end of Ari Fleischer's tenure, his known power became a problem as the administration was becoming so controversial and so embroiled in serious scandals. However basically from the beginning of the administration to mid to late-2002, he enjoyed unprecedented control and cowed journalists.

After Fleisher was so embroiled in the decisions leading up to Iraq and the Valerie Plaim unethicality, the Bush administration decided to replace him with a patsy in Scott McClellan. However, that presented problems on its own. People stopped taking Scott's statements seriously and IMO, Scott's big tell all book was him reacting against how little power, control and access he had compared to Ari, in light of his long relationship with Bush, in light of the heavy stuff that he had to defend from the podium, etc.
skywaterblue From: skywaterblue Date: February 27th, 2011 07:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Also, since I'm always feeling like a negative commentator: I too, really like the Shareef storyline. Too bad I feel like the dark crunchiness never really goes anywhere - Bartlet pays a personal price but never a political one.
sunclouds33 From: sunclouds33 Date: February 27th, 2011 07:20 am (UTC) (Link)
LOL, I'm totally fine with negative commentary. I hoped that these posts could be a platform for vigorous debates in the comments. I agree with your distinction that Bartlet paid a personal price but not a political one. I wonder if Sorkin stayed if he would have made bigger hay out of Bartlet's political price. Sorkin did make Danny's story on Shareef and Shareef-related drama at the Pentagon a big story in S4.

However, ultimately, I don't think that Sorkin would have politically punished Bartlet for this. To both his credit and his discredit, Sorkin was very into protecting his "heroes". That's why Bartlet's punishment for MS was so limited.
Nora Carrington From: Nora Carrington Date: June 3rd, 2013 12:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorkin mentions in the DVD commentary to the Commencement/25 episodes that it was his intention for Zoey to be kidnapped by home-grown extremists -- McNally's Muffler Shop guys.

Which would mean there would have been no tie-in between the kidnapping and Shariff. Whether that means Bartlet would have been let off the hook completely for the assassination is an unanswered (and unanswerable) question.
jean_c_pepper From: jean_c_pepper Date: February 27th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love that you're doing this and it made me pop the disk in and rewatch these episodes. I think within the context of the show, C J is shown as having enormous influence. And it doesn't suspend the disbelief-in my opinion. Bartlett does listen to her advice in Season 5 and this is largely the reason that she is given the COS job. She realizes that she works for the president and needs to protect him. Historically within the different administrations the lines of power develop differently. For example, the lack of additional deputy COS' and deputy communications directors. Also, there is no West Wing equivilent to the role Rahm Emanuel held in the Clinton White House(Assistant and Senior advisor to the president) unless you count Angela Blake in Season 5. Also, the whole meltdown where Will is both Communications director and press secretary(and similarly COS to the VP and chair of his campaign committee) is rather unbelieveable.
sunclouds33 From: sunclouds33 Date: February 27th, 2011 05:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much! I'm glad that these picspams are inspiring show!love. I agree with you on lines of power developing differently in administration. Another example is that for the last three administrations, the Vice President has been incredibly powerful. Both VPs here were discarded and had little influence on the president.

I don't mind some the lack of realism or the idiosyncrasies of the Bartlet administration unless it's so unrealistic that I'm taken out the show and can't see it as a White House.
laurenba From: laurenba Date: February 28th, 2011 05:50 am (UTC) (Link)
About why should CJ know about the "ad in the drawer" when Sam and Toby knew. I can only imagine that if they ever had to use it, she would have known. As campaign pressperson, there was no reason for her to have needed to know that they had made such an ad. I don't think it's a diss at all.

As far as why CJ got the COS job? Because the writers wanted Josh to take the show on the campaign trail that season. I absolutely believe that was as far as the writers got.
sunclouds33 From: sunclouds33 Date: February 28th, 2011 06:16 am (UTC) (Link)
bout why should CJ know about the "ad in the drawer" when Sam and Toby knew. I can only imagine that if they ever had to use it, she would have known. As campaign pressperson, there was no reason for her to have needed to know that they had made such an ad. I don't think it's a diss at all.

I still think it was a diss. The other people in her "quartet" in Sam, Toby and Josh knew. She could have also had to know how to defend the ad if it leaked. An incredibly destructive ad like that could backfired on the Bartlet campaign if it was aired instead of kept in a drawer and CJ should have known about it so she would be ready with spin if the public got a hold of it. Plus, I think that as someone who regularly gives media and political counsel that her voice should have heard as they were putting the ad together.

As far as why CJ got the COS job? Because the writers wanted Josh to take the show on the campaign trail that season. I absolutely believe that was as far as the writers got.

I'll agree to the extent that I don't think that being COS was CJ's long-term arc. I don't think Sorkin would have made her COS. I think the writers, as you say, wanted to take Josh on the campaign trail and I think they wanted new dramatic meat for CJ/AJ and they wanted to shake up the White House and give John Spencer, who was already suffering from health issues, a bit of a rest.

All of these dramatic issues contributed to the writers making CJ COS and even though it wasn't part of her arc and wouldn't be what I would predict for her through S1-5, the show ended up making it work for me and I think she ended up being the right choice, both dramatically and to be the right person to conclude the Bartlet administration.
13 comments or Leave a comment