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October 13, 2015

The West Wing: Election Day, Part II

by Bob Sassone, posted Apr 9th 2006 9:22PM
John Spencer(S07E17) This must have been the hardest episode for the cast to film. How do you even go about filming the onscreen death of a beloved character when the equally beloved castmate also died in real life?

NBC is fond of calling their comedies "Must See TV." But this was truly the one must see episode of any NBC show in quite a while. Leo dies, and the election goes down to the wire, all in one episode. Must see, but not handled as well as it could have been. Some good scenes with Josh, and some nice moments in the White House between Bartlett and C.J., but they really should have given Margaret more to do, get more of a reaction from her besides one shot of stoic tears.

And...no Toby?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I'm not sure I like the idea of the writers having Leo's death be part of the election story, and not happen either earlier or later than election day. (As Vinick said "I've known Leo McGarry for 20 years. Let's not use him as a step stool."  John Wells, are you listening?).  Maybe the next episode or two, after the election, we'll see an episode dedicated to the memory of Leo McGarry, his funeral, rememberances, maybe some flashbacks. This wasn't quite it. But it was certainly dramatic, on all fronts.

Vinick's team isn't quite sure what they should do with the news that Leo has died. Should they take advantage of it by making a speech before the California polls close, urging people not to vote for Santos? Vinick is against this, and Bruno is being uncharacteristically quiet.

Over on the Santos side, Lou is being almost as cold as some of Vinick's people.

Ohio and Maine and Iowa go to Vinick, while Santos wins his home state of Texas. Some great back and forth, up and down scenes here, but why is every state a 52% to 48% margin? Weird.

Josh and Donna go to Leo's hotel room. Nice shots of his belongings, and Josh tells Donna to make sure Mallory comes up to get his things. Josh blames himself for pushing Leo into the race. Donna says that nobody ever talked Leo into anything. He did it because he wanted to.

Vinick wants Santos' phone number to call him if and when California goes to the Democrat. But wait! The networks call California for Vinick! By 80,000 votes. Now it comes down to Oregon and Nevada. Josh wants all the lawyers on a plane, now (recount?). It's 266 Vinick to 260 for Santos. You need 270 to win.

Santos wins Oregon. It's all now down to Nevada. Vinick's team is talking lawsuits and recounts already, but Vinick says I'll either be a loser or a winner. But the team says that Santos will do it if he loses.

But...Santos wins! Vinick's team wants him to challenge the results, but Vinick will have none of it. He wants to call Santos and congratulate him.

Santos gives his speech. Josh writes "272" on the board at Santos HQ, looking at various photos of Leo on another board. Donna watches him as he whispers to Leo, "thanks Boss."

But who will Santos pick as his VP? Next week: Leo's funeral. (If Toby isn't in this episode, there's truly something wrong - not even a phone call from Toby?).

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I am so glad to see so much discussion going on! WHY is TWW going off the air? It is making Americans really THINK about politics and public service again. I am sorry that not enough people watch for NBC's desire, but they ought to realize that this show, even if "A loss leader," is a great leader of thought where TV fare is concerned... IMHO

April 19 2006 at 8:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think in the end, Vinick will be VP. Santos has been speaking so much of reuniting the country and of bipartisanship-- wouldn't this be the most unifying (if rather sentimental and unlikely) ending to The West Wing? It hasn't been as good a show since A. Sorkin left, but it is still a great show-- beautifully done, and with some understanding of Republican sentiment as well as Democratic ones (i.e. Ainsley Hayes, a remarkable character, for instance). In any case, I love Alan Alda, and he's been great as Vinick, who is a decent man-- and I would vote for a Santos/Vinick ticket if they ran for re-election in four years! And I'm a liberal Democrat!

April 19 2006 at 8:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Paulberrers: Bartlet, Josh, Charlie, Santos, Goodwin, and..... Who's that last guy?

Great spoilers are up for the next two episodes:


April 12 2006 at 2:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Toby can't call anyone in The White House or be near them. This will be a great sadness next week. Much like Schiff in real life (He was on the other coast doing a play) he can't grive with his friends. If Toby is there it will be unrealistic. But, the fact tha tt he'll want to go and can't. That's great conflict. He's not a paul bearer, that's barry goodwin.

April 11 2006 at 3:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Maybe Vinnick would be a good unity choice. Even if the Dems were pissed off, it could set off a whole crazy battle for the electoral college vote, Democrats might change their votes but so would some Republicans. Santos/Vinick vs. some last minute party-backed alternative.

April 11 2006 at 9:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark Rabinowitz

Just to clear one thikng up from the main post. Josh does not ask Donna to make sure Mallory comes up to get his things, he tells Donna that he's already called housekeeping to make sure that Mallory doesn't have to see all the paramedics' garbage.

On that note, I was disappointed that Allison Smith wasn't in the ep. as Mallory.

April 10 2006 at 11:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For anyone that thought Vinnick would win needs to wake up. Working on the assumption that Americans aren't a bunch of sick racists, there is no way a former mayor and 3 term congressman wins the Presidency. It's a democrat show for democrates. The only way they allowed a close election is with a moderate California Republican. (By the way, in real life, the most electable candidate is an experienced California Republican.) Back to the show, remember though, it is a show and the characters we love need to remain. That's how a Press Secratary becomes chief of staff, a college drop out (Donna) pressumably will become a press secratary and democrate campaign manager runs a rebublican's campaign. Between Santos, CJ, Donna, Bruno and the others, it almost make President Jack Ryan look appropriate. (re: Tom Clancy)

April 10 2006 at 4:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dave DiSisto

I would ask Rev. Jonathan if he is a member of the Christian Right. That is, a follower of Pat Robertson, Fred Phelps, and those who forced the federal government to get involved in the Schiavo case. If not, then he wasn't included in those I called a moron.

April 10 2006 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

next VP - Sam Seaborn.

April 10 2006 at 3:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't understand why anyone is asking about "waiting" until election day to reveal Leo's death: before John Spencer died in December, they had already filmed all the pre-election day episodes. "Election Day, Part I" was the first episode they filmed after Spencer died. If they wanted to wait until later, they'd have to deal with why the VP candidate, a major character in the show, was not around at all on election day.

(Granted, in Season 4, President Bartlet made his victory speech on election night with Hoynes nowhere to be found, but Hoynes is not the opening-credits character that Leo McGarry is.)

Next week's episode is apparently all about Leo. Counting that one (titled "Requiem"), there are six episodes left. I think they're all already in the can.

April 10 2006 at 1:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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