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The West Wing: Tomorrow (series finale)

by Bob Sassone, posted May 14th 2006 9:10PM
West Wing(S07E22) Was anyone else struck by the differences between the pilot episode of The West Wing (shown tonight before the finale) and the episodes from the past couple of years, including this one? Such a different vibe. So much energy and passion and great writing (not to mention inspirational music and romanticism) in the pilot, compared to the last couple of years of so-so writing, dark camera work, bad changes in characters (although this season was a comeback). I would have rather have seen a retrospective, but it was interesting to see how the show began and how it will end.

The series finale got so many things right and also a few things wrong. Let's talk about them.

The bad: I understand that you have to show the Matthew Santos end of the story. He's the new President and it's Inauguration Day. But I thought that this last episode had juuuuuuust a touch more Santos than we needed. Not too much, but just a littlte. I would have rather have seen this last episode of the series be all about the Bartlets, Josh, Donna, Sam, Toby, C.J., Will, Margaret, and Leo. (I wonder if they knew this was the last ep of the series when they filmed it - I'm pretty sure they did.) No Richard Schiff in this final episode, though I guess having President Bartlet sign his pardon was a nice way to bookend his entire story even if Schiff wasn't in the finale). And I'm baffled as to why there wasn't one scene between Sam and Bartlet. I would have loved to have seen that. And what a huge waste of Rob Lowe in this episode! They truly should have had one last scene with all the old characters together in one room.

The good: Mallory's talk with C.J. (finally they address the Sam/Mallory issue!), the flak jacket (nice throwback to an earlier episode), the banter between Josh/C.J. and Bartlet/Debbie, the car talk between Santos and Bartlet, C.J. mentioning that Danny was waiting for her in L.A., Bartlet giving Charlie his personal copy of the Constitution that his father had given him, the Aaron Sorkin cameo (!), Debbie giving advice to the new Presidential secretary, Steve coming in one last time to say goodbye to C.J. (I did NOT see that coming), the return of Larry and Ed, Donna seeing her new office, the montage of one administration ending and one beginning, the real "feel" that this administration was ending and a new one is beginning. This was one of the best directed and written episodes of the past three years. (Side note: does anyone else think that Sorkin had a hand in writing this episode?)

Oh, and Leo's gift to Bartlet. Sure, I guessed what was in it the second I saw the package, but could you have wished for a more orgasmically satisfying ending? Beautiful.

I have to admit, that while I truly think it's time for this show to go, I honestly got a little choked up at several times in this episode. This show meant a lot to me, and I think that the first four years of the show were the greatest that have ever graced the small screen. This was a really great way to end the series.

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Jonathan Rainey

Hi there all,

In Ireland we are only at "Election Day" & the series to buy is not available til next Christmas.

Anyone with DVDs of WW Season 7 interested in selling them, contact me at info@me06.com. I LOVE WW.

Sorry to see ya'll go!

May 27 2006 at 3:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dee Cowan

Having just returned from overseas last night, I could not go to bed without viewing the final episode of West Wing. No West Wing finale could have been enough for me - as I viewed the final 60 minutes of this series I felt as though I was losing a cherished friend. Though indeed the writing lagged for a couple of years, this final season completely recaptured my attention and emotions. I faithfully viewed each episode and always found myself wanting more. The truth is - the ending wasn't good enough for us who love the show because we didn't want to see it end.
In critique, I agree with the afore mentioned comments regarding too much focus on the new administration and not enough on the old. (Toby's face should be placed on milk cartons!) I would have greatly preferred a two hour finale which focused more on interaction and closure between original cast members. However, at the end of the episode the real closure issue for me is my acceptance that the series is truly over.
Thank you, "West Wing," and goodnight.
Diedra Cowan

May 26 2006 at 9:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dan Chichian

Leigh, the Will & Grace finale was an hour retro and an hour show, but you are right in that it was insulting. Would it have killed NBC to double the West Wing finale? I like Law & Order but they did not need back to back finales or at least put them on another night. With double the time we could have been given Toby, more Sam interaction with the core cast, at least part of the inauguration speech and yes even Will taking that last pasting from the reporters in the press room when he announced the pardons.

May 24 2006 at 4:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Now, I think the Toby thing needs a little more confusion. I am going on the premise that Toby is being completely honest with everyone, Toby is an honerable man and that he is also one who would take one for the team. That being said, he was not the source for the leak but is taking the fall. Not for the President, not for CJ, not for Leo, not for his brother, not for his ex-wife congresswoman Wyatt.

My conclusion leads me to Senator Ricky Rafferty who the reporter that wrote the leak (Greg Brock) figured out that the White House was secretly backing a candidate who eventually was Toby. Watch Drought Conditions again, the only piece I need is that the Senator would need to be aware of the Military Shuttle and I can't say definitively that she would. I do believe the Senator and Toby had a relationship that Toby never wants to be made public but that he still does have feelings for the Senator.

How is that for muddying the waters?

May 24 2006 at 1:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robert Petersen

The script writers seem to have made a mistake regarding inaugural day. U.S. Presidents were usually installed on March 4th until the second term of Franklin D. Roosevelt. See 20th Amendment to the Constitution.

The mistake seems to occur when the fictional president-elect, Santos, is talking with his wife about cold days in January.

May 24 2006 at 8:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Norm: I've really got to ask, what threads were left hanging that you want to see wrapped up? We know what happens to CJ, she married Danny. Will wins the election in Oregon. Charlie's in law school. Josh and Donna live happily ever after (well, we don't know that for sure, but they do in my head ;) ), Josh/Donna/Sam/Amy work for the new POTUS.

Do you really need a movie to tell you what happens in KahzakasTVSquad.comcommentsdonthavespellcheck-astan? I personally don't care. I wish they'd definatively answered who leaked Toby the info on the shuttle, but hey, I don't need a movie to tell me that.

As much as I liked Santos and friends, I don't need the show to go on for the sake of telling their story (Not that I wouldn't jump up and down and cheer if some iteration came back... I love to see myself on TV (I've been told I'm a bit like Josh... At least all of his 'bad' traits, that is).

May 21 2006 at 11:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A couple things...A reference was made to the Female Cheif Justice. They apparently couldn't get Glen Close to come back for that shot. Bartlet did name her the Chief Justice earlier in the shows run. I've read all the posts so far and have come to only one conclusion, NBC must be considering a series of "made for TV" follow-up specials in the Star Trek vein. Why else would so many loose ends and unanswered questions remain. These could be major sweeps type 2-hour specials run for the next several years. Any other thoughts?

May 21 2006 at 10:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
daphne hargrove

I too thought that Toby was protecting CJ. We were led for a while to think he was protecting his brother, but I think that was a facade, and the notion that he would not reveal his brother as the source because he didn't want to tarnish his (deceased) brother's name seemed a stretch. Just the kind of thing Toby, who kind of liked to get on high horses, would say in order to cover up for the fact that he was protecting a different person. When CJ found out about the secret shuttle, she seemed almost naive about the fact that she should not be talking about it, and, if I recall, she ran off to consult with Toby about it, without stopping to think whether he had the proper clearance to know. The real question seems to me to be why did Toby leak the information in the first place?

Regarding the final episode, I agree with the many who noticed that we did not hear Santos's inauguration speech; we should have heard at least a SNIPPET of it, to show that Santos is more than just a pretty face (and we have heard some of his campaign speeches, which were pretty good). Our not seeing the note from Bartlett seemed okay to me--it was a private thing. But yes, why was Bartlett so reluctant re Toby's pardon? I suppose leaking is the worst thing one can do, hard to forgive. Brings me back to asking why Toby did it in the first place, and why he was so absented from the last season?

I look forward to reading people's responses... Daphne

May 19 2006 at 6:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


I agree with you that it was pretty unrealistic, and to be honest, unneeded. They could have written Toby out without assasinating his character.

I do have to disagree with your first couple of points. Toby said point blank to the AG that his brother was not the leak. Based on the conviction he had during that conversation, I don't think he was lying (also eliminates CJ and Leo). But Bob, Babish was in the Oval with Bartlett went off on Toby. I went back and check when the episode with the AG aired. (http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com/story.cgi?show=4&story=8430&page=13&sort=&limit=25)

I don't know, Bob... I've got an opinion that Wells doesn't really know who the source was. There's hints that it was CJ (The whole 'hypothetical' conversation would have been enough for him to leak something), the President, and the brother seems to be the simplest, if the most boring, explanation.

May 19 2006 at 10:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Sassone

I think a lot of people are reading way, way, way too much into certain aspects of the Toby plot. Who he was covering up for, etc. I think it's pretty simple: he was covering up for his brother. There was no leak from C.J., no leak from Leo, and certainly no leak from the President. There is NO suggestion of that in any of the episodes, and I think we're trying to figure out what the writers had it mind, because we love the character of Toby so much there has to be SOME explanation. But I think it's pretty black and white, and the writers, for whatever reason, didn't write anything "deeper" into it. It was probably just a matter of Schiff wanting to leave the show (or the show getting rid of him for budget reasons) and they had him leak the shuttle information.

And as for Bartlett yelling at Toby for Babish's benefit, I'm pretty sure Bartlett and Toby were alone in the Oval office when that discussion took place. The reason why Bartlet had so much troubling signing the pardon in the finale is that he was torn between doing the right thing (Toby broke the law and had to face the consequences) and signing it for loyalty/friendship/etc. He finally chose the latter.

Personally, I think the entire Toby storyline was unrealistic and breathtakingly stupid. If they had to get rid of Toby, why not just have him quit for family reasons or to teach or whatever? In interviews, Schiff has disclosed he wasn't happy with the story AT ALL, and I agree.

May 18 2006 at 5:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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