A welfare bill, a murder, an assassination, and a play that never ends.
CJ is giving a joke-filled briefing. She tells the reporters that the President is leaving an hour later than expected at 5:00pm, because of an unavoidable delay. She apologizes to New Yorkers for the motorcade going through downtown Manhattan at 6:00pm. The President will be in his seat for the play for Catholic Charities at 7:30pm. One reporter asks about the "early" curtain call.
CJ – "The play is 19 hours long."
Not really, just five and a half hours. (It’s refreshing to see CJ enjoying herself at this briefing.) CJ says that the vote on the welfare bill is close. She doesn’t know if Jed will be meeting with Florida Governor Ritchie. Chris asks about who the meeting is with that is delaying the departure time.
CJ – "Good question." She looks at her notes. "Qumari Defense Minister, Abdul Shareef."
There is a meeting in the Situation Room that includes Leo and Admiral Fitzwallace. (How much do I love him?) Leo is unsure about the meeting with Shareef. His reason – Mallory names the lobsters in restaurants so he can’t eat them. Jed arrives. The military guys lay out the rules for an assassination. Fitz explains that the Posse Comitatus Act prevents the military from enforcing law. He also says that it can’t happen in the United States. (I guess to keep America "clean".) Jed also has to inform the "Gang of Eight" – the leaders of both parties in the House and Senate, and the chair people and ranking members of both intelligence agencies. Fitz gives Jed the plan. One of our operatives will fly the plane out of the U.S. It will experience engine trouble and land in Bermuda, where the assassination will take place.
Jed – "Okay. Well, surely this is the most absurd meeting I’ve ever sat in. And, friends, that’s saying something." (It’s absurd because you already know how to assassinate someone, Jed?)
They ask Jed to give Shareef a pen that has a recording device in it for the gift exchange. Hopefully, they’ll get something with it. Jed says to box it.
Josh and Amy are having breakfast in a restaurant (where Amy places the most ridiculous order I’ve ever heard. Who the hell orders burnt toast?). They are still arguing about the welfare bill and the marriage incentives. Josh says he’s going to win. Amy says he’s going to lose three votes. Josh tells Amy to back off this and he’ll help rebuild her group’s relationship with the White House. When she asks why, he tells her that she’s going to lose.
Charlie goes to the home of Mrs. DiLaguardia in the hopes of filling Mrs. Landingham’s position. Turns out she’s divorced now – her name is Debbie Fiderer. Charlie asks if it’s "Fiddler". (No such luck – that would have been funnier.) She has an excellent résumé, but she’s not interested. She’s an Alpaca Farmer now, after a stint as a gambler. Charlie tells her that he’s sending a car to pick her up for an interview in 90 minutes. He starts to leave.
Mrs. Fiderer – "I was fired from the White House, Charlie."
Charlie – "I know you were."
Simon arrives at the White House with his little brother (as in the Big Brother program) Anthony. Anthony tells Simon to be careful in New York because Simon is "slow-witted". (Well, that’s encouraging.) CJ comes along, wearing red and white (this will come up again), and arranges for Anthony to get a souvenir key chain for his mom. Simon sends Anthony away (apparently, if you have a visitor’s badge you can just wander around the West Wing unescorted) and follows CJ into her office. CJ tells Simon it’s not necessary for him to go to New York. He tells her that he’s not allowed to kiss or date a protectee. CJ doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He says that she tried to kiss him, she says she didn’t. (N’uh huh!) Simon says he’ll see her on the plane.
Jed is talking to Stanley Keyworth in a room with red and white roses. Jed’s telling him about the play in New York, The Wars Of The Roses. He says there will be a song in it that is one of his favorites. One line is, "And victorious in war shall be made glorious in peace". Jed says he’s been sleeping fine, but there is something on his mind that he can’t talk about. Stanley says he can talk about it. But, Jed says no. Stanley would be required by law to report him if Jed said that he was planning to commit a crime. Jed says they are done.
Toby and Sam are meeting with a Florida Republican congressman about the welfare bill. But this guy is really there to tell them that if they arrange for Jed and Ritchie to meet and enter the play together that he can give them 5 votes. Toby and Sam say no. (Why, oh why, do they always try to mess with Toby?)
Josh meets with the three votes that Amy said he would lose. He did. They are voting "no".
Shareef (with two bodyguards looking on) meets with Jed (who has Leo and Fitz looking on). A translator interprets their pleasantries. They have exchanged gifts. Jed gets an incense burner, Shareef gets the pen. Shareef congratulates Jed on the renewal of the lease on the Qumari air base.
Jed – "Yeah, I’m feeling particularly proud of that today." (Was that sarcasm?)
The meeting ends and Shareef extends his hand to shake Jed’s.
Jed – "Not in the Oval Office."
But, he tells the translator to say he has a rash on his hands. Sorry. Shareef leaves.
Toby summons Sam to his office by bouncing his rubber ball. Kevin Kahn has told the press that Ritchie is looking forward to meeting with Jed at the play. They decide to tell the press that Ritchie is mistaken; he’s not on the President’s schedule. Jed will be busy trying to pass the welfare vote that is being held up by the Florida delegation. Josh walks by and okays this, even though it means that they really have to win now.
Mrs. Fiderer shows up for her interview with Jed, after taking a couple of pills to calm her nerves. She gets her own name wrong, calling herself Fiddler. (Well, I’m impressed.) When Jed asks about why she left the White House she drops her water bottle and tells him that she was screwed and "doinked". (Yeah, I don’t know what that is exactly either.) Jed asks her to wait outside. He tells Charlie that this was a funny joke, except he knows it wasn’t a joke. Jed is annoyed. He says he’ll have personnel work on candidates. Charlie goes out and tells Mrs. F (I’m just really tired of typing her name.) that this was his fault for not prepping her. He says that the next interview will be better. She says, in disbelief, that there will be a second interview.
Charlie – "There’s going to be as many as it takes. We’re going to get this right." (Well, it can’t get much more wrong.)
Leo and Fitz meet with the Gang of Eight in the basement. (I think this is to point out to the audience the clandestine nature of the meeting.) They present the gang with an intelligence finding about Shareef.
Senator – "You’re killing Shareef."
Leo – "I don’t know."
One of the gang asks when the President will give the go ahead. Leo says that will happen at the last possible moment.
Leo – "Consider yourselves notified. Thank you. I have theatre tickets."
In New York, Ron Butterfield is briefing some of his agents about security outside the theatre. He sees Simon and calls him over. He tells Simon that he has a lead and may have news for him in a few minutes. Simon spots CJ coming outside and goes to her. He takes her by the arm and leads her around the corner. He’s mad because she came out without an agent.
Simon – "I have spent my adult life protecting people. You’re the first person that’s got me seriously thinking about switching sides."
CJ – "I’m sorry you feel that way. I think I’ve been a treat."
Simon – "Oh, yes you have. A little Easter treat just for me." (Isn’t it May?)
CJ – "You seem a little riled."
Simon – "The first day, you’ve acted like this was all my fault and that’s a pretty tough case to make."
CJ – "I don’t think any of this is your fault. And I appreciate everything you’ve done."
Simon – "I’ve gotta say, there are times when it seems like you like me."
CJ – " I do like you."
Simon – "Then you just walk off to stick it to me, and forget the personalities, it’s just stupid."
CJ – "I said I do like you."
Simon – "I meant the other way."
CJ – "So did I. I tried to kiss you."
Simon – "You said you didn’t."
CJ – "I was lying, you idiot."
Simon – "Alright. I’m switching sides now."
They argue a little more. Then Simon’s cell phone rings.
Simon – "They got him."
(Well, thanks so much. It’s not like I was hoping to find out who the stalker was and why he was stalking CJ.)
CJ thanks Simon with a kiss on the cheek. Then, they kiss for real. CJ is now free to do whatever she wants. She wants to have a drink with Simon. They agree to meet after the play. The motorcade pulls up.
CJ – "I have to go to work."
Simon is off to do the paperwork on the stalker. Jed enters the theatre.
The play starts. Jed, Leo, Toby, CJ, Margaret, and Carol are all in their seats. Sam gets off his cell phone and pulls Toby out. Ritchie has been at the Yankees game because that’s how ordinary Americans get their entertainment.
Toby – "I’ve been to 441 baseball games in Yankee Stadium. There’s not a single person there who’s ordinary."
Ritchie is going to come at intermission. That doesn’t sit well with Toby. Sam suggests they send the motorcade to Yankee Stadium to tie up traffic. Toby calls Josh at the White House to clear it with him. Toby asks how things are going and about Brenda. (You’ll find out who she is shortly. I found that annoying the first time around. I couldn’t figure out who they were talking about.) Josh says Brenda will be Chairman of the Platform Committee. Toby tells Josh that Amy is "incredibly employable". He ends the call. Donna stands in Josh’s doorway and tells him that he did all right. Josh says that he bought Amy’s boss. (Yeah, that’s Brenda.) Donna says that’s what he had to do this time. Josh says Amy will lose her job. He’s going home. He’s not staying for the vote; they’ll win by eight.
At intermission Sam and Toby are talking to the press. They announce that the welfare bill will pass. They get in a shot about Ritchie, who’s (surprise, surprise) stuck in traffic. They walk back inside.
Toby – "I love the theatre."
Sam – "I know what you mean."
After a photo op, Charlie tells Jed that he’s setting up another interview with Mrs. F. Jed asks what is going on with Charlie and that woman.
Charlie – "She hired me. That’s why she was fired." (And, I gotta ask, "why?")
Simon goes into a Korean grocery store to get a Milky Way and a rose. The store has buckets of red and white roses. The grocer says that they don’t have that, when clearly he does. Simon sees the empty cash register, shows his badge, and pulls his gun. He whirls around and aims it a robber in the first aisle. He ties the guy’s hands with his bowtie, after taking the guy’s gun. He calls for backup and heads toward the counter. Simon puts his gun away. When he’s almost at the front he tells the grocer that he really wants that Milky Way. Once he gets to the front of the store he turns. And sees a second robber, who shoots him three times in the chest. Simon falls to the ground. The robber runs from the store. As the horrified grocer starts to run out, everything goes into slow motion. Jeff Buckley’s version of "Hallelujah" starts to play. As the grocer runs out, he bumps into the buckets of roses and the fall to the ground, around Simon’s body. (What the hell?!?)
We’re back in normal motion as Ron gets CJ out of her seat in the theatre. The lyrics to the song start. In the lobby, Ron tells CJ about Simon, though we only hear bits of the conversation. CJ just keeps backing away from Ron. She leaves the theatre and walks down the street crying. Crime scene photographers are taking pictures of Simon’s body. CJ continues walking down the street (away from Times Square, I think). She sits on a bench and wipes the tears from her face. She looks toward the sky. Ron arrives at the grocery store and kneels over Simon. (Allison Janney just rocks!)
Josh and Amy are still arguing about the bill. Amy says she’ll resign on Monday. As they continue to yell, the phone rings. Amy answers, and tells Josh that Simon Donavan has been shot and killed. Josh takes the phone.
Leo comes up to Jed, who is alone in a corridor of the theatre. They discuss the morals of the assassination of Shareef. Jed says that Qumar will find out they did it, and he will be running for re-election while fighting a war with Qumar. (Anybody remember CJ saying one day they’d be fighting a war with Qumar, way back in the season?) Jed also believes that this will make the U.S. join the league of "ordinary" nations. Leo disagrees.
Jed – "It’s just wrong. It’s absolutely wrong."
Leo tells Jed that he has to do it anyway.
Jed – "Why?"
Leo – "Because you won."
"Hallelujah" ends. With a minute left to make his decision, Jed says, "Take him." Leo opens his cell phone. (How secure can that be?)
Jed goes downstairs to smoke a cigarette. Ritchie has just arrived. They greet each other and sit down in a lounge area surrounded by (you guessed it) red and white roses. Jed tells Ritchie about Simon being killed.
Ritchie – "Crime. Boy… I don’t know."
(Seriously, I don’t think Dubya ever said anything this stupid.)
Jed says that they owe the country a great debate. When he ran the first time, he didn’t know anything about foreign affairs or the military. He made his staff teach him. He suggests that Ritchie could do the same. Ritchie asks how many ways Jed will find to call him dumb. (Quick, grab the thesaurus.)
Jed – "I wasn’t Rob. But, you’ve turned being unengaged into a Zen-like thing. And you shouldn’t enjoy it as much is all, And if it appears at times as if I don’t like you, that’s the only reason why."
Ritchie – "You’re what my friends call a ‘superior sumbitch’." (Who are his friends? The Ewells*?) You’re an academic elitist and a snob. You’re, uh, Hollywood, you’re weak, you’re liberal (ooh, that’s bad), and you can’t be trusted. And if it appears from time to time as if I don’t like you, well those are just a few of the many reasons why."(Nice.)
Music starts in the play and Bartlet says that they’re playing his song. As he’s going back in, he stops and looks at Ritchie.
Jed – "In the future, if you’re wondering… ‘Crime. Boy, I don’t know’ is when I decided to kick your ass."
Jed tosses the lighter to a Secret Service agent and heads upstairs to the play.
The musical number starts. We see actors gathering on stage singing, as well as camouflaged agents distributing guns in Bermuda. Jed watches "his song". A plane lands on a tiny airstrip. Shareef and his bodyguards disembark from the plane. The actors start waving red, white, and blue banners. Shareef and his guards are shot. One of the agents retrieves the pen from Shareef’s breast pocket and holds it up to an open cell phone. (Again, is this a secure connection?) In the Sit Room, Fitz opens his cell phone and listens. Leo, off to the side of the theatre seats in the President’s box, listens to his cell phone. Leo shuts his phone and meets Jed just off from the seats. Leo says something that we don’t hear. Leo leaves. Jed heads toward his seat, behind a curtain. We see his silhouette.
Actors – "And victorious in war shall be made glorious in peace."
* - The Ewells were the ignorant "redneck" family in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird – my favorite book.
There were parts of this episode I loved. There were parts of this episode I hated. I’m not even going to go into all the errors.
I’m not wild about the U.S. assassinating anybody. That Jed did it surprised me. And I hated the gratuitous death of Special Agent Sunshine. I wasn’t even a big fan of his. I couldn’t get past Mark Harmon playing Ted Bundy – not somebody I want protecting CJ. Simon’s little brother was an obvious attempt to impress upon the audience what a great guy Simon was. So, why kill him? And why was Lily Tomlin, an actress I love, such a freak? Mrs. Fiddler? Plus, there’s Amy.
That said, I loved the visual aspects. Both musical montages were stunning, and moving to watch. And, I liked the conflict of whether or not to go the assassination route. I like seeing the characters having to make difficult decisions. I have to say that Amy was redeemed a little for me at the end. I appreciated her reacting to Simon’s death.
Despite the fact that I had several problems with this episode, I will admit to finding it a very well done episode. And, I’ve watched it again just to watch it.
I’m looking forward to Season Four. Maybe we’ll find out something about CJ’s stalker. Though, I’m not holding my breath. JanneyFan