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August 30, 2015

The West Wing: Institutional Memory

by Bob Sassone, posted May 7th 2006 9:22PM
Janney - The West Wing(S07E21) This was an odd episode. I mean, it's the next to last show, and we're supposed to believe that everyone is getting ready to leave the White House and they're packing up and they're thinking about new job offers. But at the beginning, even though C.J.'s office is filled with boxes and Will goes to see someone about a possible political job, it didn't "feel" right. Focusing on C.J. is fine, but focusing on Will and Kate? I just don't see it.

Then Andy walked into C.J.'s office and asked her to ask the President about pardoning Toby, and that's when the episode kicked into gear for me.

While C.J. is thinking about a serious job offer from billionaire Franklin Hollis (he'll hire her and give her $10 billion to attack any problem in the world) and considering Toby's pardon, Will goes to see someone about becoming more involved in the Democratic party, helping various candidates in various districts around the country. But Will seems a bit more interested in Oregon ...

Charlie brings C.J. the pardon list, and tells her Toby isn't on it. He hasn't even applied for a pardon.

Will talks to C.J.  about the Oregon 4th. She gives him several names of people who could run. C.J. goes to meet with Santos, who  asked to see her. Will meets with someone from Treasury about running in the Oregon 4th. But he doesn't want to do it.

Santos meets with C.J. He wants to hire her, Special Counsel to the President. Santos tells her that Arnold Vinick is going to be Secretary of State. Before she can answer, Santos has to leave for a meeting. He tells her that he wants her to call him later with her answer, and he won't take "no."

C.J. is still waiting for everyone's "transitional  memos." She's freaking out about it, but a lot of that is the fact that she still doesn't know what to do after she leaves the White House, and she's really considering Santos' offer. C.J. asks Kate if she should talk to the President about Toby, and she says that Toby compromised a Defense Department project and he should go to jail (another reason to dislike the Kate character). She asks C.J. if if she has spoken to Toby since all this  happened, and she says no.

Kate talks to Will about the Oregon 4th, and surprise (um, not really, saw this coming 3 miles away), she thinks he should run. Will doesn't think so, though it has crossed his mind too. Kate tells him to move.

Danny takes C.J. to lunch. She tells him about the offers from Hollis and Santos, and he's taken aback that she would consider staying at the White House. Wasn't she going to talk  to him about it? She says no, she doesn't think that they have that type of relationship (?). He tells her they're not 25 anymore, and there comes a point where you have to make a decision about having a relationship. C.J. tells him that she doesn't really see him in her future, whatever she does.


Santos comes to the White House to meet with C.J., and she snaps at Margaret about her schedule. They walk to the Situation Room and argue about the budget. She also wants to talk about a gas tax, and Santos says they should work together on it. But she still doesn't give him an answer about the job offer.

C.J. goes to see Toby and brings a bottle of wine. Can I tell you how much I loved this scene? I was practically orgasmic. There hasn't been a scene like this  on the West Wing in two years. It felt like old times, the playful banter back and forth, a little bit of arguing. And the scnee was exceptionally well written, staying true to the characters and really giving Richard Schiff something meaty to bite into. He doesn't want to talk to the President about a pardon, and he also tells her that Danny isn't some guy she picked up in a bar. She's known him for eight years, and maybe she should stop thinking about her career and pick him.

C.J. goes to see Danny (and this was a really nice scene too, with a great mix of the old C.J. and Danny banter and an undercurrent of "where's our relationship going, is this the end?"). She says that her job, her career is what she's good at. But he doesn't buy it. She shouldn't just forget about him because she's scared. So she agrees to try, and tells him about Hollis' offer. He says it sounds like fun. C.J. and Danny are finally talking seriously ...

Next week: the series finale!

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Has the Hollings character been done on the show before or are we just supposed to assume that hes a Steve Jobs/Bill Gates billionaire geek sendup? I've only really started watching this show again since right before the campaign started, but I don't recall hearing about him before.

May 08 2006 at 5:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

I'm torn about the decision to drop the retrospective. I don't have much patience for clip shows but at the same time it ties in to the whole way that NBC has treated "The West Wing" this year, starting with the move to Sunday night and culminating with having the final episode on the same night as the "Survivor" finale. I mean come on, this is one of the most honoured network dramas ever (how many Emmys - over 20 for sure) and NBC is treating it with only slightly more respect than "The E-Ring".

May 08 2006 at 3:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I always hate retrospective shows--they're so stupid. If you've watched the show, you know what happened and you dont need to see little clips of old episodes. The clips are always less satisfying because you want to see what happens after the clip they show, and you dont because its a clip show.

May 08 2006 at 1:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought the episode was excellent too, but not so muchg for the second-to-the-last episode in the series.

I was hoping for more, I guess, but it seems like the show is now coasting off into TV Heaven.

Can't wait for next week, and I am also wondering what happened to the retrospective show. NBC, once gain, is messing with its audience, not wonder the show died.

May 08 2006 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
le Sheppard

What happened to next week's hour long retrospective?
"May 14: NBC's "The West Wing" concludes its run with a two-hour farewell. The first hour is a clip-show retrospective. The second hour follows the show's Bartlet administration characters as they depart the White House, then the Santos-team move-in."
They replaced it with the first episode. Why? Anybody know...

May 08 2006 at 7:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The only disappointing thing about this episode is the lack of Josh (and Sam, actually..). It seems to me that with the series ready to end, we should really be seeing them help wrap up the show. I can understand the lack of Josh last week, being his vacation time.

All in all, still an extremely good episode. It is going to be a sad Sunday evening next week. This show has a lot of life left.

May 07 2006 at 11:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Does anyone else feel like Aaron Sorkin has had an invisible hand in the past few episodes. Tonight was one of the best episodes in years and it was emotionally-charged.

May 07 2006 at 10:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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