Review of Noel

Written by Rachel

Week after week, "The West Wing" is a pretty powerful show. This episode was particularly so. I've always been fond of Brad Whitford, but he really shines this week. His scenes with Adam Arkin are some of the best I've seen. It's been refreshing to see how the show has dealt with the aftermath of the assassination attempt. First we had Josh recover of a long period of time in "The Midterms" and now we find out that he isn't quite as recovered as we may have thought. Hopefully that story line will continue through out the season.

By framing the episode with Josh's therapy session it's a little hard to track all the different things going on in the White House. We have the pilot, the painting, the President's Christmas cards and the music. It's all going on all around us at a frenetic pace, but that only serves to help us feel Josh's anxiety. We see how his co-workers are reacting to him without actually hearing them talk in the back hallway behind him.

While it's a different perspective, I found it interesting to hear Josh describe what was going on in each meeting. He tells us that he's in meetings in the Oval Office to offer the political perspective. If I had thought about that, yeah, I might have come up with that, but I didn't necessarily know that before. We also see Leo and Josh relating on a very different level. Leo is clearly concerned with Josh, but he also knows what it's like to deal with a personal problem. He uses his experience with drug addiction to help Josh find his way back to good health.

For as much as we can see how concerned Tobey, Sam and CJ are, I was very glad that the credit was ultimately given to Donna. Again and again it is clear that their relationship is way beyond that of a boss and a staffer. She is clearly very clued into Josh and we see this here again.

The plot around the painting was interesting and gave us a great character role in Paxton Whitehead's portrayal of Bernard Thatch. Thatch's pretension and biting remarks are entertaining as well as watching him interact with CJ. I honestly think Alison Janney can hold her one with ANYONE!

As a nitpick, I will note that we already met a former therapist of Josh's. Strangely enough, his name was also Stanley. I've read couple of threads about Aaron Sorkin's name repetition, but this is pretty bad. Won't the poor boy get confused when he talks about his various sessions? It seemed like a lazy error.

A fine episode to go into the holiday break. Again we see that this ensemble is strong enough to break any of its members out at any time. Great show.

©2000 by Rachel Vagts. All rights reserved.

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