Random Thoughts on Slow News Day
Written by Toniann
For me, the first fifty minutes of this episode worked okay. The last ten
tanked. I should probably say that upfront. I love Toby, and so an episode
focused on him is something I'm bound to enjoy on some level. And I did
(with some minor cringing) right through the resignation, right up until the
moment Josh, in a dramatic, heart-stopping, up-close shot, declared, "Roy
Turner," which was apparently supposed to knock my socks off. Also, I was
supposed to know who this guy was and why he'd make any difference in this
debacle, but never mind. But he did, and deals were brokered, and the
president made a huge momentous decision to give up his chance at a legacy
that meant the world to him, which we know meant the world to him because we
heard him say a few lines about in this episode. But in the end, good things
were done for the country, somehow, and that's all that mattered. Anyhow,
just thought I'd mention.
Where was Toby sleeping? Did he keep that huge monstrosity of a house he
bought for Andy? And it is really that light outside at 2:47 AM in DC? And
he must be in DC, I mean, *really* in it, because he got all the way to the
White House, in the building, and into the West Wing in 19 minutes
(timestamp - 3:06 AM). Of course, he may have been driving the Batmobile, I
I'll tell you one thing, now I'm all depressed about Social Security.
Here's where I admit to being kind of a doofus about something: I wouldn't
have understood the "third rail" analogy until a few months ago. I mean, I'm
usually in NYC once a year, at least, and I've ridden the subways there more
times than I can count. But it wasn't until the last trip and my friend and
I were talking about people who fall in the tracks and get hit (it happens)
and I said, I don't know why they can't just climb over to the other side,
and she said, "Well, the third rail's kind of scary." And I said, huh? Okay,
that was a long way to go on a personal anecdote to make my point, but I do
have one: it just sort of goes to show how different it is growing up in a
rural area, even if you move away later. I could tell you a lot about wild
turkeys, deer, and coyotes, though.
Getting back to the show, "Brainerd" is a great last name.
Did Josh get a haircut? Finally?
Speaking of Josh, though, I wasn't loving the heck out of him telling
Donna to go and spy on Toby for her. I mean, on almost anyone in the West
Wing, fine, I get it. But not CJ, Leo, Toby... and, honestly, just go and
find out yourself, don't ask her to do it. I dunno, what with this (and I'm
glad she backed off) and Donna working with Angela Blake a few episodes ago,
and the pardons, I can't help but wonder if something's not going to happen
with their working relationship. She's always been completely devoted to
being his assistant, but her actions lately make me wonder if we're being
set up for her to step away from Josh and spread her wings.
For the first time, by the way, Rina, the strangely mysterious and
charmingly attired intern turned assistant didn't annoy me. In fact, she was
sort of likable. Her bright naiveté may get a little wearing after awhile,
and she needs to not cry in the bullpen ("There's no crying in baseball!")
but for now, you know, she's okay. She watched Toby's back. That's
something. On the other hand, what the *heckfire* happened to Bonnie &
Ginger?!?! (I'm going to keep asking, even though I know there's no answer.
I'm stubborn that way.)
"Bob Russell's so boring, his Secret Service code name is 'Bob Russell'."
Okay, I cracked up at that. Also about being two doors down from the
International Date Line. Bingo Bob may be a dud, but Will's pretty funny.
Best moment of the show for me, though, was when CJ told the reporter she
was looking for a donor, and to close the door. Claudia Jean, you're my
hero. And she's also, as we've always known, the person in the West Wing
that Toby trusts the most. Though in a sense he had to confide in her, to
get her help with the press -- then again, he also "had" to confide in Josh
to keep him from throwing a big old monkey wrench in deal, but he still
chose not to. Anyhow, I really do enjoy Toby and CJ's friendship.
I also rather enjoyed our Argentine ambassador, Carlos Carrio. As did
Hey, were those little cabbages in her Gail's bowl?
This was a "light on Bartlet" episode, and it made me wonder if this was
the kind of thing Aaron Sorkin once very briefly envisioned for the show,
focusing on the staff and only occasionally bringing in the president. I
dare to say, though, it wouldn't have worked at all -- honestly, I didn't
entirely feel it worked even here. More to the point, though, we needed to
develop a history with the character, know his ins and outs, to understand
his interactions with the staff. When Bartlet said to Leo, "I wanted to
believe he could do it," we, as viewers, hear this coming from the man who
wanted to cure cancer in 10 years, and go to Mars, and who once told Toby
that without him he'd be in the tall grass. If Martin Sheen had spent the
past four years delivering a line or two every couple of episodes, the staff
would never be able to interact with him in a meaningful way.
Despite my disappointment with the ending, I did enjoy Toby's story arc,
much as I always do -- idealistic and defeatist all at once, he's the man
who knows how to win but for all of his life has cared more about the moral
victories than the political ones. He's like Humphrey Bogart, perpetually
letting the girl go at the end of the movie because it's the right thing to
do. Poor guy, Washington has got to be like hell on earth for him sometimes.
"We'll always have Paris."