twtd: TWW: CJ in formal wear staring at the camera (The West Wing- CJ couch)
[personal profile] twtd posting in [community profile] thewestwing
Sorry this is late, folks. I got my days confused somehow and totally thought that yesterday was Thursday and today was Friday and clearly that is not at all true. Anyway, the episode transcript is here and the recap is under the cut:

Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc (or Everything I Know About Latin I Learned From The West Wing)

And we start the episode with Mandy and her BMW of destruction as she tries to run down Lloyd Russel. Personally, I never thought the car deserved that kind of treatment, but it is nicely indicative of Mandy's charge in without looking character. This opening scene really does nothing to further the plot other than to set up the fact that Mandy is now unemployed and to tell us that Llyod Russel is kinda a condescending jerk. Also, Mandy knows her opera

The score: Lloyd Russel: 1, Mandy: 0, the car: -1

And then we cut to Josh gloating, which he's really raised to an art form all it's own. Donna is not amused.

Josh: Victory is mine! Victory is mine! Great day in themorning people. Victory is mine!
Donna: Good morning, Josh.
Josh: I drink from the keg of glory, Donna. Bring me the finest muffins and bagels in all the land.

Which leads us to the main titles

And the main titles, as they often do, take us to a scene with an actual plot. The Ryder Cup team (that would be the US's Ryder Cup team, they never mention if they've invited the Europeans) has turned down an invitation to the White House because Bartlet made a bad joke about golfers. It isn't really important beyond the bad press, but it is indicative of Bartlet's inability to tell a funny joke or something like that. Long story short, he made a bad joke about Texas and then he lost the election in Texas and clearly it was the joke that did it. Hence, our Latin lesson for the day:

Bartlet: After it, therefore because of it. It means one thing follows the other, therefore it was caused by the other, but it's not always true. In fact, it's hardly ever true. We did not lose Texas because of the hat joke. Do you know when we lost Texas?
C.J.: When you learned to speak Latin?
Bartlet: Go figure.

Okay, well, I thought that scene had some sort of importance to the plot, but I guess I was wrong because we move on to Leo talking to Morris Tolliver and asking him to be Bartlet's permanent physician. Morris, of course, says yes, but that he can't start until he gets back from Amman, Jordan.

And we move back to Mandy and her inability to keep a job. Daisey, I would like to point out, is really the first resident of Mandyville, not Mandy, as she effectively disappears after this episode, so really, I think it should be called Daisyville.

In short, Mandy lost their only client (the aforementioned Lloyd Russel) and things don't look good.

Coincidentally, the White House happens to need a media consultant (thanks to the golf joke) and Josh doesn't care who it is as long as it isn't Mandy. He gets Toby behind him on this idea.

CJ has to go to a press briefing, where she finds out that Hoynes said something stupid. She deflects with golf jokes.

End Act One
*****

Act two starts with some strong hinting between Sam and Josh that there's some tension between Hoynes and Leo and they really don't want Leo dealing with the Hoynes situation because if he does, the size of both their egos in one room would set off an explosion big enough to attract the attention of the entire press corps. I might have paraphrased a little.

And then Sam tells Josh he slept with a prostitute.

Josh... takes that news surprisingly well, but he tells Sam not to see her again and that he has to tell Toby.

And we follow Josh out of his office as he tells CJ, who is really not happy with the Vice President, that she needs to handle him and to keep it off Leo's desk. You would think that Josh would realize that the more he doesn't want something to happen, the more likely it is that just that thing is going to happen. Amazingly, I don't feel that bad for him.

CJ talks to the VP and totally gets blown off. It isn't her finest moment. Though really, note to Hoynes: never cross CJ. It'll come back to bite you in the ass in a few seasons.

From there, we move on to a cute bonding scene between Morris and the President. There are baby pictures involved, and possibly the threat of a coup. It's adorable.

End Act Two
*****

Act three starts with Josh asking CJ if she handled the Hoynes thing and she tells him that she did, even though she kinda didn't.

Then we move on to Mandy and Daisey getting drunk and Mandy listing all of her accomplishments.

Sam finishes a draft of a speech he's writing and it 'stretching his legs' afterwards. This is mainly a cover where he can run into Toby and tell Toby that he slept with a prostitute. Toby doesn't take the news as well as Josh did:

Toby: You accidentally slept with a prostitute?
Sam: Call girl.
Toby: Accidentally?
Sam: Yes.
Toby: I don't understand. Did you trip over something?

And then Josh pulls them into a meeting with Leo to discuss the new media consultant. Who ends up being Mandy, just like we knew it would be the second Josh said he wanted anyone but her. And CJ tells Leo the thing with Hoynes is taken care of. Leo, of course, is not going to let it go.

In the next scene, we learn that Mrs. Landingham steals steaks. This is not really important, but I love that scene anyway.

Mandy and Daisy are sitting around, trying to think of new people they can work for when Josh shows up to save the day, and save it he does. Josh and Mandy bicker, and then he hires her.

Hoynes comes by Leo's office, because you knew that Leo wasn't really going to let that go, where Leo can reprimand him. It doesn't really go the way Leo expects it to though:

Leo: C.J. did not come running, John, she covered your ass, she's a good girl. And when she tells you something, I want you to consider it a directive from this office.
Hoynes: You want me to consider it a directive from this office?
Leo: Yes.
Hoynes: Well, let me consult Article Two of the Constitution, cause I'm not a hundred percent sure where this office gets the authority to direct me to the men's room!
Leo: You really want to do this now?

But Leo, as Leo does, totally ends up winning the fight, at least for now, and Hoynes leaves.

End Act Three
*****
The beginning of act four is probably one of my least favorite scenes ever in the course of the show. Sam shows up at a restaurant looking for Laurie and is generally a jackass until she agrees to come outside with him. I shall quote extensively:

Laurie: Why did you come and find me tonight?
Sam: What?
Laurie: Why did you call me four times, and then come and find me?
Sam: I just... to tell you that I had a pretty good day.
Laurie: I don't need saving, Sam.
Sam: Yeah, you do.
Laurie: Are you aware that I make more money than you do?
Sam: You and any kid with a decent paper route.
Laurie: And you understand that I wasn't abused as a child, that I like what I do?
Sam: Really?
Laurie: That it's putting me through law school?
Sam: I wouldn't knock yourself out in torts because there's no state law in this country that's gonna admit you with a solicitation bust on your record
Laurie: I don't plan on getting busted.
Sam: As opposed to the other people that do?
Laurie: Sam...
Sam: And I gotta tell you... I think you look terrific tonight.
Laurie: Thank you.
Sam: And I'm not just saying that because I want my coat back.
Laurie: You're gonna try and change me, arguing, asserting a position every time I turn around...
Sam: I'm a lawyer and a speechwriter. I argue for a living, and I'm sought after because I'm good at it.
Laurie: You humiliated me back there. And you scared me. You understand that?
Sam: Yeah.
Laurie: And?
Sam: I guess that's just the way it goes.
Laurie: Well, that's not good enough.
Sam: It's gonna have to be.
Laurie: Why?
Sam: 'Cause I've decided to become a good friend of yours.

Sam starts off as a self-righteous prick and it pretty much devolves from there. Laurie tells Sam that humiliated and scared her and Sam's only response it "that's the way it goes." When Laurie tells him that isn't going to work for her, probably because most women don't like hanging around with men who scare them, Sam's response is, "It's gonna have to be...[because he's] decided to become a good friend of [hers]." And then she lets him off of the hook because Sam's supposed to be a good guy and the audience is supposed to identify with him. The scene didn't bother me much when I was 17 and saw the show for the first time, but as I've gotten older, each time I rewatch the episode, it bothers me more and more. He takes a woman who, no matter how self-possessed she is, is in a vulnerable position and then he exploits it, and the audience is supposed to think that he's some sort of good guy because he's trying to "redeem" her. I have to say, this scene makes it really hard for me to like Sam now. And that's the end of my rant. Back to the recap:

We're back in the White House with a title card bearing the time. Luckily, this font never shows up again, because it's pretty terrible. Everything else in this episode is really just a way to set up the characters, to give us some of the details of their personalities and relationships that there just wasn't room for in the pilot. The rest of the episode is really all about building up this moment, and through it, to the next episode. It sets up Bartlet's first story arc and let's Aaron Sorkin bring up what seems to be one of his favorite themes when dealing with people in power: What is the value of a proportional response? He talks about it in the next episode, he talks about it in The American President, he sort of deals with it indirectly in Charlie Wilson's War. If he ever manages to do that pundit show that gets mentioned every once and a while, it'll probably show up there too. He really likes taking about the appropriate use of force. It's also the first time that we directly deal with the Bartlet's discomfort in dealing with the military and in his role as Commander in Chief as a man who has never served in the armed forces.

The plane carrying Morris Tolliver to Jordan is shot down by the Syrians. Bartlet is briefed on the situation and will get a more in-depth briefing room after he calls Morris' wife to tell her the bad news. His final words to Leo are:

Bartlet: I am not frightened. I'm gonna blow them off the face of the earth with the fury of God's own thunder. Get the commanders.

Leo looks worried, because sometimes post hoc, ergo propter hoc isn't such a fallacy.

So, discussion questions:

1. This episode is faced paced in the traditional Aaron Sorkin kind of way, yet really, nothing much happens. We meander from character moment to character, never really finding an overarching plot until we get to the last five minutes. Was this effective? Does the change from the liner style of the pilot give people a chance to get caught up, or does it the defy expectations that the pilot set up so much that it throws you for a loop? Or does it do something else entirely?

2. Morris Tolliver: A rare case of male fridging? Why or why not?

3. Never mind what actually happens, in a fight, is your money on Hoynes or Leo?

4. And because I'm curious, how did other people read the scene at the end with Sam and Laurie?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-05-08 03:59 pm (UTC)
waldo: (WW: Wrongness)
From: [personal profile] waldo
"Did you trip over something?" is possibly one of the best lines in the entire series. I had a roommate when that first aired and it became our standard response whenever someone did something 'by accident only not really'.

As for the Laurie/Sam scene, yeah, I hated it a lot. 95% of the time I loved Sam and loved even more what was coming out of his mouth, but this scene was awful.

I'm going to FORCE you to be better than you are? Um... no. I realize they needed to set up the whole thing where this relationship bites Sam in the ass later... but the way it was done? No. Do not want.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-05-08 04:31 pm (UTC)
zillah975: Painting of my Night Elf, Tyrnathera Stormcaller (Default)
From: [personal profile] zillah975
Interestingly, it wasn't until reading your recap that I even thought about whether anything really happened. I guess for me The West Wing -- in particular, though ensemble shows tend this way for me -- is more about character than about plot to start with. And we got a certain amount of characterization in this ep, I thought, which makes even more sense since it's just the second ep of the series. The writers and viewers are still getting to know these people, so strong characterization is really vital.

For instance, the opening scene does show us Mandy's "charge in without looking character", but it also shows us that she's extremely passionate, driven, take-charge, outspoken, and determined. In short, it shows us just why Josh is so intimidated by her and by the idea of working with her, and probably also why he was drawn to her in the first place.

The Morris Tolliver thing does look like a case of male fridging. His presence in the episode did give us further Bartlett characterization -- all the "he likes you" stuff when Tolliver seems resistant to the idea that he should say yes, and their interactions in private, Bartlett wanting to see his photos and so on. But he wasn't around long enough to really be developed as his own character, and his death itself doesn't serve any other purpose than to give Bartlett a reason for his actions in the next episode. So, fridging? I think yes.

Hoynes vs. Leo, my money's on Leo.

And yeah, the scene between Sam and Laurie made me want to punch Sam in the face. I still like the character because I feel like that scene is kind of OOC for him, and a case of sloppy writing. But yes, it was absolutely out of line and I'm not pleased that the writers didn't let Laurie didn't call him on it. Because seriously, "It's okay that I'm being a creepy, manipulative, paternalistic asshole, because I am going to gift you with the blessing of my awesome friendship," whut?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-05-08 04:41 pm (UTC)
cleo: A purple and green baby dragon from deamon diary (Default)
From: [personal profile] cleo
1. I think that nothing happens in this ep doesn't bother me as much after the pilot. It serves as a pretty good introduction to character; if we're just tuning into the show, we're still figuring out who the hell these people are. Rewatching, I think that knowing them the way we do makes the plotlessness more apparent.

3. Leo. He'd know Hoynes would fight dirty, and he'd get around that.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-05-08 05:32 pm (UTC)
quinfirefrorefiddle: CJ leaning on a couch. (West Wing: CJ)
From: [personal profile] quinfirefrorefiddle
1. But they talk! And they walk! So really, lots of things happen, in an Aaron Sorkin kind of way.

2. Oh yes.

3. Leo. He may be older, but he spent a lot of time in the military (long enough to become a colonel) and he has a natural physicality to him that Hoynes lacks. Hoynes would go for a classic uppercut or something and leave himself open, and Leo would take full advantage. Also, I think Leo has really good reflexes.

4. This is not the first time we have seen Sam's ego make an appearance, and it won't be the last. I think (I hope) it was a conscious characterization decision to give him a serious flaw- remember, originally this was going to be The Rob Lowe Show. It just didn't work out that way.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-05-08 05:33 pm (UTC)
sibyllevance: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sibyllevance
I've never liked Sam. I know he has a huge following but I've never liked the character and here's an episode that reminds me of why. I would have liked a little more depth in the conversation, Laurie really challenging him but it didn't happen.

I like Mandy, I agree with [personal profile] zillah975 - she's very outspoken and driven and opinionated (she says so herself) and I can see why Josh would be attracted and threatened by her, she reminds me A LOT of Amy. I really love Amy, by the way.

I really liked the subtle introduction of Mrs Landigham in this episode - she's been shown in the pilot but only for a second, I appreciated her humour in this and I'm really happy they got around to developing her a bit more later on in the show.

Nothing much happens politically for sure but the dialogue makes up for it. I think this episode settles the tone of the show we got a glimpse of in the pilot.

CJ looking at Hoynes in this special awkward way was just weird and a pretty blatant hint at something we'll learn way after.

'I don't understand, did you trip over something?' best line ever, I'm always waiting for the opportunity to use it :p

(no subject)

Date: 2010-05-08 05:54 pm (UTC)
yvi: Kaylee half-smiling, looking very pretty (Default)
From: [personal profile] yvi
Mrs Landigham is awesome, isn't she? I need to make a picspam and "why she is so awesome" post someday, I think.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-05-08 05:53 pm (UTC)
yvi: (West Wing - CJ happy)
From: [personal profile] yvi
1. I actually liked that we got a bit more about the characters. I need the first few episodes to get 'warm' with the characters and this episode really helped.

3. Leo!

4. Gosh, I shouted at my TV the first time I saw that (today was the second time). Seriously, Sam? The poor woman? Then again, I live in a country where prostitution is *gasp* legal, so I might have a slightly different outlook anyway ;) Anyway, gah, Nice Guy Who Is Only Trying To Help The poor Woman Who Can't Help Herself.

Toby: I don't understand. Did you trip over something?

That's totally my favourite line from that episode.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-05-08 06:23 pm (UTC)
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] tree_and_leaf
Leo! I love him so much.

Sam, on the other hand is... kind of creepy, when he's not flailing.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-05-10 05:14 pm (UTC)
acrimonyastraea: Fang from Final Fantasy 13 (Fang)
From: [personal profile] acrimonyastraea
I hate Sam in every scene he has with Laurie. I also did not get the icky vibes when I was much younger and watching for the first time, but now I can see what a patronizing ass he's being. (I have a similar growing hate for Josh which I didn't have when I was young and less experienced in the ways of things). I don't especially care for him with Malory, either. But in scenes with Josh when they're writing I find him adorable.

I don't really think that a male character dying for the plot and motivation of another male character can be compared to fridging, which is a very particular misogynist trope. I think a later character death can be more easily compared to fridging, but I wouldn't ever call a male character death fridging. hm, on second thought, I would qualify that as a straight male character.

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