West Wing (09-Oct-02): The Red Mass **Spoilers**

And don’t forget his history.

Man, I’m a moron.

…return from commercial to Donna and Josh. Josh is asking Donna how the seminar was. Donna yanks his chain for a moment by pretending to have been brain-washed. Then she tells Josh that it was just harmless pablum. Josh takes the book (titled: Connecting With Your Self) and flips through it. He identifies several platitudes as boiled down ideas from great thinkers (Kant, Plato, Frost). Goes on a rant about how we should expect our candidate to be able to understand the originals. Sound bite politics from sound bite philosophy (he calls it “fortune cookie”).

Next scene has Sam enter Leo’s office to discuss Horton Wild. They discuss districts which are hopeless cases and touch on how resources are scare and should be directed to the most useful areas. Leo is interrupted by a call about the debates. There will just be two debates. Then Leo asks Sam if he’d read about the Qumaris reopening the investigation into Shariff’s death. Says that Shariff was behind the plot to blow up the Golden Gate bridge. They touch on the trouble of resolving the issues in the Middle East. “What’s the answer… is it the American flag flying over Mekkah?” Then Leo says to Sam, “You’re one of the big minds of your generation, have you thought of anything yet?” Sam says no. Leo says “Neither have I. Neither has the President. He’s one of the big minds of his generation.” Sam thinks about it for a second and asks if we had anything to do with Shariff. Leo just looks down and shuffles the papers on his desk. After a moment Sam changes the subject.

Next Toby enters Leo’s office, followed by CJ, to complain about only getting two debates. Says that Ritchie got exactly what he wanted by dragging his feet. Leo says that’s what he was trying to do. Leo is called to the President’s office.

Leo enters the Oval office to find the President and Casper, the friendly FBI agent. Prez is elated about the great success on the standoff in Iowa. One bad guy is dead, another shot in the leg. Those are the only two casualties from the standoff. The boy is in stable condition at the hospital. POTUS offers Casper either of his daughter’s in marriage he’s so pleased. Then one of the FBI* guys gets a dispatch. A transport has gone missing somewhere in the Middle East. They think that Ben Youssef may have been on the transport. The coordinates when they lost the plain put it over the Lebanon. Leo looks struck and asks rhetorically, “How could I have not seen that coming?”

For reference to the real world, the 47th District of California is represented by Christopher Cox, a Republican, but starting with the next Congress, it will likely be represented by a Democrat, Loretta Sanchez.

Is the 47th district really Orange County? Did they do some gerrymandering to get a Dem in or is the some bizarro world twist?

Sam may be from New York, but that doesn’t mean he can’t run for office someplace else. If Sam leaves the White House in March (which is when I’ve heard that Rob Lowe is leaving) he could go anywhere and have almost two years to establish residency before a Congressional race. Various States have different residency rules, but I’m sure that 18 months would establish it in some states. I’ve figured Sorkin would have Sam leave to start gearing up for election to some office as soon as I heard that Lowe was leaving. Sam’s been anointed remember–Bartlett told him he’ll be a good president some day–but if Same doesn’t start holding elected office (or suddenly become a general), he’ll never become president. In Sorkin’s world, we still elect presidents, we don’t appoint them.

Open to the President and CJ watching football. Bartlet says that everybody says the hardest thing to do in sports is to hit a baseball, but a coach once told him that the hardest thing to do in sports is to go in at halftime of the Super Bowl and change the strategy that got you there. Sam comes in and the discussion moves to how a real debate should be run. With a moderator empowered to push the participants for real answers, in depth opportunities to respond, etc. CJ, suggests to Sam that she write and leak a memo saying that Ritchie is real an excellent debater. POTUS talks about a debate in ancient Rome over the death penalty. CJ suggests changing the format of the debate. Ritchie people will never go for it. Then they need to give Ritchie’s folks something that they want: just one debate. Bartlet tells CJ that if she can get Toby to sign off on it then he’ll do it.

Charlie comes by to tell the Prez that his car is ready. They walk down the outer corridor and discuss the constitutionality of the Red Mass. Bartlet says that, sure, it’s unconstitutional, but sometimes you just have to say, “big deal”, and do it anyway.

Assistant brings Charlie a note that Anthony (his mentee) dropped off. Charlie smiles and assistant asks why, is it a nice note? Charlie says it’s a note questioning his relations with his mother. Then why are you smiling? He wrote it on the back of the first amendment. Charlie walks out where he sees Josh and discusses the Mets. Just then Josh notices Amy sitting in an anteroom. He goes over to talk with her and asks if she can tell him what the Senator is thinking. Amy says that she really doesn’t know, but tells Josh that she told the Senator that he is a great person but she is going to vote for Bartlet. Explains that she’s always loved Bartlet and from a women’s rights standpoint it’s a no brainer. Then they share a moment with a balloon figure.

Cut to Red Mass. Scene with Sam and Leo talking. Sam brings up their earlier conversation regarding the Middle East. “You know, I’m not done yet, right?” meaning he’s not giving up on the tough issues.

Cut to CJ sitting outside the National Cathedral. Toby comes up to berate her about wanting a single debate. It’s crazy, what if Bartlet has an off day, what if he gets sick, what if Ritchie baits him, etc. CJ replies, then we lose, it’s more important to force a meaningful debate, you said so yourself. Toby tells CJ to clear 24 hours from the President’s schedule, they need to go away (to work on the debate… I assume the premise for the next episode). As CJ reenters the Cathedral she is caught by Susan Thomas, the other Sen. Stackhouse aide, who says the Senator needs a moment of the President’s time.

Cut to meeting with Stackhouse. Senator tells him a story about how easy it is to lose your bearings when flying in the clouds. Tells the President that he will endorse him in the morning but that he needs to keep his eyes on the horizon, maintain the focus on things that are important. Bartlet watches with thoughtful admiration as Stackhouse crosses the street. A Secret Service member asks the President if he’s ready to leave. He says no, and calls to CJ who is at the bottom of the steps with the Press Corps. He asks CJ if she can move the Press off of the Church grounds so that he can take questions on needle exchange (point being he feels he should honor Stackhouse’s intention to bring the hard questions into the national discussion). Fade to black…

Next week on the West Wing…

Thanks for the recap, ShibbOleth!

I was actually thinking I remembered Sam being from California, but I can’t remember the episode where they said that. I do remember one where he was working in New York in a flashback, but I don’t think he grew up there. And Josh definitely didn’t; he’s from Connecticut. Toby’s from Brooklyn, though.