Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Cold (TWW)

It has been exactly 49 days since the last episode of The West Wing aired. And let me just say the last 49 days of anticipation were worth it in just the few seconds of previews for the next episodes. Not only will Danny, the redheaded reporter that just could 't reign CJ in, Joey, the deaf, brilliant pollster, and Amy, oh Amy, the fiery feminist who knows Van Morrison better than I do, return for the final episodes of the greatest political drama ever written, Sam is returning! Yes, Sam Seaborn in all his glory. I can hardly wait.

Tonight's episode was more of the soap-opera type, the kind of episode we don't see all too often in this series. But to quote Donna, "It's bound to happen sometime." Will and Kate couldn't have made me laugh harder. The thing is, after 49 days I'd forgotten that there even was a "Will and Kate." They're cute, in a quirky, nerdy kind of way. Which, coming from me is really saying something. And Josh and Donna. They've always been "Josh and Donna," problem is no one ever told them. For those of you who actually watch The West Wing, you'll understand what I mean.

I love Alan Alda. I always have. But let's face it, he's going to lose. After the nuclear disaster, the cold, and what is soon to come, he's going down in flames. Can a cold really do that much damage to a campaign? Yes. Just ask Richard Nixon. Had it not been for his appearance, due to a cold, in the debates against Kennedy he most likely would have won in 1960. And what is soon to come? We all know Leo has to go. I highly doubt they filmed the entirety of the season before John Spencer's passing. Tonight I kept looking at Martin Sheen, wondering when President Bartlet got so old. It's only a show, fiction at its best, and I sit here worrying about how the President will take news that his most loyal friend has died of a heart attack, or whatever it is they write into the script.

"Why are we sitting here while the Democratic VP candidate is being ushered into the Oval Office?" Well, to answer your question Mr. Alda, because he's Leo McGarry, the trusted friend and loyal companion of the most powerful man in the world. As Leo was sitting there in that chair next to the President's desk, I couldn't help but remember that episode when Leo sat in that very place and told the President that the one place he wishes he could have been, the one thing he wishes he could have said, was in that cabinet room the night President Johnson decided to act following the Gulf of Tonkin incident, he would have asked Johnson not to do it. I spent a great deal of the episode reflecting on how much I loved the late John Spencer and how as Leo McGarry his is a prominent and irreplaceable role. I wonder if this weren't the last season of the show if I could continue to watch without Leo or if, like the final two seasons of The X-Files without David Duchovny's consistent presence, I would have stopped watching.

Tonight's episode was one of those wonderful examples of the writers reflecting current events and stating their political agenda. The idea of going into Kazakhstan, committing 150,000 troops, in a struggle for democracy that will take generations to establish, with no clear exit strategy sounds awfully familiar. Where is the positive in situating the United States on an oil field between two nuclear powers? Every so often I can't help but notice the similarities between the Bartlet administration and the Kennedy administration. This certainly could have a lot to do with Sheen's background portraying President Kennedy, but do you see the resemblance? President Bartlet hesitates to send troops into a battle we may not be able to win. President Kennedy feared sending American soldiers into Southeast Asia to fight a war we hadn't defined. And the relationship between Leo and the President is in my mind a mirror of the relationship between Jack and Bobby.

The final episodes of the show are going to be amazing. My predictions? Leo of course will die unexpectedly, Amy will return causing some sort of confusion for Josh who will ultimately realize the "Josh and Donna" concept, CJ in her talent and brilliance will reconnect with Danny, Toby will remind us of how important his passion was to the administration, the First Lady will return from where ever she has been, Sam will return to remind us all of why we fell in love with the show in the first place, and Santos will win the election.

In the end it won't be about who won or lost the election, but how we got to this remarkable end. It will be about a powerful friendship between two men, a dream that became a successful administration, and the lessons of history they taught us along the way.

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