Mark Watches ‘The West Wing’: S07E01 – The Ticket

In the first episode of the seventh season of The West Wing, everything is rude and unfair. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The West Wing.

I’m hurting all over, holy shit.

Three Years Later

That is just… good fucking god, that is the cruelest thing this show has ever done to me. Ever. Three years in the future. AND THERE ARE SO MANY NEW STORYLINES AND HINTS TO WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED IN THE INTERIM, and I can’t. I CAN’T. C.J. lives in Santa Monica WITH DANNY CONCANNON and they have a child?!?!?!??! WHENSAD’;LKFGJA;LKA




OH MY GOD WILL IS A CONGRESSMAN. NO STOP IT I CAN’T I’M GOING TO PASS OUT. WHAT HAS CHARLIE BEEN DOING? WHAT ABOUT TOBY? Columbia??? Does Bartlet mean the country or the university??? CAN YOU IMAGINE TOBY AS ANGRY PROFESSOR because I can. AND KATE? A book?? ABOUT HER TIME IN THE WHITE HOUSE, RIGHT??? OH MY GOD, WHERE ARE LEO AND DONNA?????? Wait, if Leo isn’t there, is that because he’s in the car that arrives with the President??? IS THAT A HINT THAT SANTOS WON???? Does Josh running up to the President late mean it’s Santos? Like, that seems fairly likely.

OH MY GOD WHY WHY WHY WHY WOULD YOU START THIS EPISODE THAT WAY? Have you no respect for my well-being? THIS SHOW IS EVIL. But seriously, I love the choice to have a flash-forward open the season. God, INCREDIBLE. There’s only been one of those before, so it was a pleasant surprise.

The Leak

“The Ticket” splits its narrative in the present time between the ongoing crisis involving the internal leak of classified information and the Santos campaign. And the whole thing – while deeply and relentlessly uncomfortable – is so exciting to watch. I definitely thought that the campaign episodes in the second half of the last season were far more electrifying than the White House episodes, so it’s satisfying that the writers balance the two worlds so deftly in this premiere. But after watching all of this, I really don’t think C.J. leaked the information. Which disturbs me because if the suspicion of an internal leak is correct, that means either Toby or Kate leaked the information. AND I DON’T WANT TO THINK ABOUT THIS. Honestly, no good can come from this story because that means someone is going to go to prison over this, and I like all three of these characters. A LOT.

Watching Oliver Babish grill C.J. (after a long absence from the show WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO, BABISH) was increasingly painful, though, because he kept getting more and more specific. Yes, it was funny to watch how dedicated he was to not leaving C.J.’s office ever. (He even bought her lunch! How kind!) But the humor is perpetually full of dread; is Babish inching ever closer to accusing her of leaking classified information? Is he trying to prepare her for the inevitable? And once he does outright ask her about her relationship with Greg Brock – by cruelly bringing up her relationship with Danny in the past, for the record – it’s clear that this issue isn’t going anywhere. Based on the conversation Babish has with Bartlet, it’s also obvious this is going to end someone’s career. If the evidence Babish has points towards an internal leak as much as he thinks it’s going to, then the fact that he’s telling Bartlet to end the internal investigation is about the worst news I can imagine.

This isn’t going to end well.

The Campaign

There’s just so much fodder for storytelling set up in a single episode. As the Santos campaign now switches gears for the actual fight for the Presidency, it was fascinating to me to see the team get money, staff, and the sort of attention they’d been lacking during the primaries. It was obvious that with the weight of the entire Democratic party behind Santos, they had a lot more funding. And while the writers and the crew do an incredibly job conveying the chaotic nature of the Santos’s campaign headquarters, I was most interested by the ever-changing character dynamics present in this episode. We’ve got Josh in charge of the campaign, but obsessed with micro-managing, so much so that he is clearly running himself ragged. He has too much on his plate, and he refuses to delegate it to anyone else.

But y’all, watching Leo integrate into the campaign was INCREDIBLE. I could tell it was a challenge. How would Leo fit into this world as a candidate for the first time? He has decades of experience in policy-making, in helping a presidential candidate win, in working on the Hill… and yet, he’s not at all used to being in the public eye quite like this. He’s got Annabeth alongside him, which is about the most brilliant choice the writers have ever made ever because I LOVE WATCHING HER FUSS OVER LEO AND PROVE HIM WRONG EVERY FIVE MINUTES. And yeah, it is funny to watch these two interact, but I’m so fascinated by how Leo’s own character has been re-invented by this move. I struggled to properly define what happened in this episode during the video commission for “The Ticket,” and I do like the idea that there’s a power imbalance between Leo and everyone around him, particularly Santos. He’s used to being at the top, so to speak. I’ve never really thought of him as controlling or power-hungry, but when he suddenly has to deal with being further down than normal, he balks. He makes mistakes. He looks nervous. And I’ve never seen John Spencer portray Leo this way, and I love it. It’s why I came to adore season six so much. By putting these characters who had spent five years playing one role into a new world, we got to see how they changed. How they failed. How they triumphed. And it’s going to be so rewarding to see Leo figure out what it means to him to be the Vice President.

So, I think that “2162 Votes” very definitively established Santos as a presidential figure in terms of how he spoke and how he behaved, and it’s so wonderful to see him gain more confidence in this episode. It really does feel like this episode picked up where the season six finale left off, and gods, season seven is going to be RIDICULOUS. How does this all suddenly feel busier than ever before? Again, I have to credit Christopher Misiano and the other crew members for pulling this off, because a good deal of “The Ticket” feeling breathless while watching the chaos unfold around me. There’s just so much going on, and I’m enjoying the opportunity to see this campaign in such detail. Of course, with Santos at the helm, I have a marked interest in seeing him win. He’s just nine points behind Vinick, which is a lot less than anyone expected, and it invigorates him. I’m glad, then, that Leo and Santos finally got to sit down to talk to one another, not just because it was so awkward to think about the fact that they were running mates who had had like… one conversation. Ever.

But really, I’ve just been avoiding the most uncomfortable part of “The Ticket” this entire time. I like how this episode teases us with the idea of Donna Moss working for the Santos campaign, and then, just a few minutes later, our hearts are ground to dust and I can’t feel anything again. In hindsight, I think I should have known this would happen, and I should have known that Josh, perpetual manchild, wouldn’t have been able to deal with this respectfully. I understand why he thought it wouldn’t work to have Russell’s spokeswoman working for him, but I still think he was needlessly and ruthlessly cruel to Donna. That scene hurt, and I think Josh intended to be crass about it in order to cope with the immense wave of feelings that seeing Donna gave him. He was upset, and he lashed out, and it sucks so much because… shit, even Donna spelled it out for Josh. He’s not used to her being in a position of power, and that is absolutely true. He’s uncomfortable with the idea, and I’m so happy that Debora Cahn, who wrote this episode, put that in the script. It needed to be said. And then Josh demonstrated that Donna was right, and everything sucks, and YOU CRUSHED MY SHIP SO QUICKLY, HOLY SHIT.

Again, I get why it would be a disaster to hire Donna, I really do. They’d have to do so much work just to explain all the things she’s said, and the campaign has enough to do to counter all the negative press that Leo is getting. But I wish this was handled better on Josh’s end, namely because I have a remarkable attachment to this goddamn relationship. One that is NEVER ACTUALLY FULLY RECIPROCATED BEYOND ONE OF THESE TWO TELLING THE OTHER THAT THEY CARE AND THEN RUNNING AWAY OR BEING PUSHED AWAY. OH GOD. How? How did any of you deal with this for six years if you watched this in real time? It’s been one year for me, and I can’t do it. I CAN’T.

The video for “The Ticket” can be purchased here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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