Monday, March 13, 2006

The Dam Bursts

A West Wing Word

Well the final stretch of The West Wing begins with an episode titled 'The Cold'. Now I have once again been fooled by the false forshadowing as it isn't Santos who gets 'The Cold' in this episode, but rather Senator Vinick who comes down with this title at a particularly inopportune moment. The episode begins with a number of Santos staffers up at five in the morning to get the first post-nuclear crises poll numbers off the internet. The whole gang goes crazy with joy when they discover that The New York Times puts both candidates tied at 44%, the first time Santos hasn't been trailing Vinick in the whole campaign. When the excited Donna goes to tell Josh the news he gets real excited and the two kiss, thus breaking the sexual tension that has been going on between the characters since the series started.

While things are ecstatic at Santos/McGarry land they are the exact opposite at Vinick/Sullivan headquarters where the candidate is in his first real trouble since the primaries. The Senators less then stellar handling of the 'California Nuclear crises' caused a far number of their supporters to ditch, fortunately most of these went into the undecided category rather then aligning with the Santos camp. While the Vinick staff has pretty uniformly decided that it would be a good idea for the Senator to take a couple days swing through the south to shore up the conservative vote, there is some dispute of what to do after that. Bruno and Sheila would like to stick to a modified version of their '50 State Plan' and hold the center hoping to recapture their lost supporters. However a faction headed by Ray Sullivan and the RNC chair want to give up on the moderates and have Vinick focus on 'values issues' to try and get the Republican base out in mass. The RNC chair even brings by a new strategist presumably with the hopes of replacing the liberal Bruno Gianelli (Ron Silver) with a figure more acceptable to evangelicals and cultural conservatives. Vinicks campaign manager Sheila Brooks (Patricia Richardson), believes it would be of value to bring the new girl on the team and that someone on the staff has to take the blame for not having properly courted the parties base now that they really need them..Sheila decides that since she is the most visible face of the Vinick staff that it should her not Bruno who takes the wrap and thusly gives the Senator a letter of resignation, one which he only reluctatnly accepts.

Meanwhile the Santos/McGarry camp is feeling so emboldened that they are preparing for a campaign run through Vinicks home state of California. Josh decides to rename the 'Santos Education Plan' and other such programs as the '21st Century Education Plan' ect., so as to reemphasie Matt as the visionary candidate who "foresaw the dangers of nuclear power", while Arnie Vinick remained mired in the failed policy's of the past. Everyone gets even more excited when they learn that Vinick has got a cold and Bono would like to have lunch with the Congressman. Things don't stay quite this happy however when the President calls both candidates back to Washington to brief them on the increasingly serious Kazick situation.

With the legitimacy of the recent Kazick elections called into question both Chinese and Russian troops have entered the country, fortunately for now they are 600 miles away from each other. Knowing that if the Russians and Chinese come head to head inside the oil rich country World War III could very well start, President Bartlet is forced to take desperate measures. It is decided that the United States will send in a peace-keeping force to enforce a buffer and no-fly zone between the opposing armies in a kind of a Korea meets mid 90's Iraq sort of situation. The long term plan being to get both nations armies to return to their home countries and to establish a peaceful democratic regime in Kazakstan, and all without NATO or UN help. It is this likely possibility that the President has called the candidates to Washington to discuss, as one of them will inherit the mess. Committing US troops so late in the game is a tough call for President Bartlet, who himself was non-to-pleased to inherit a small-scale military commitment in the Philippines from outgoing President Lassiter back at the begining of his administration (read: the Clinton inherited Bush commitment to Somalia of 92'). So while Bartlet is greatly worryed that he is getting the country involved in another Vietnam, the candidates are concerned about how 'Bartlets war' will change the dynamic of the campaign with only three weeks to go before election day. To top it all off we learn in this episode that Kate and Will are now sleeping together.

Important Note: Rob Lowe who played the character Sam Seaborn on seasons 1-4 will be returning to the show for a two episode guest spot at the end of the season. Last we left Sam he was headed for certain defeat in a special congressional election in Orange County against long-time Republican representative Chuck Webb. In the episode in which Jed gives Will Sams job, the President says that should Sam lose the election he could return to work for the administration in the White House Counsels office. Exactly what happened to Sam has yet to be established, though the possibility he has been working in the White House all this time 'just not shown on camera' seems unlikely given the tone of the preview that confirms Sams return to the show. Sam is one of a number of old character who will be returning to the program in the coming weeks.


Post a Comment

<< Home