Mark Watches ‘The West Wing’: S07E04 – Mr. Frost

In the fourth episode of the seventh season of The West Wing, I can’t do this. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The West Wing.

“I got a lawyer – I did it.”


There are a lot of important plot developments in “Mr. Frost,” and never before have I ever wanted to completely ignore what is certainly a fantastic episode of The West Wing in order to talk about one thing. I really want to, and I’m going to briefly address some other points before I actually do this. Because of very important reasons.

I do think the balance presented here between the campaign and the White House is one of the best ones so far, and it was nice to see Charlie and Bartlet and Annabeth and Leo and all these characters again. This is a doozy of a story aside from the leak reveal, y’all. We’ve got the sudden (but strangely believable???) development between Leo and Annabeth. We’ve got Bartlet’s incredible portrayal of a man wrecked with guilt and sadness over the murder of Chairman Farad, who was a HUGE part of Bartlet’s growth in the previous season. There’s Walter Skinner grilling Margaret in the Senate Committee investigation, which made me want to binge re-watch The X-Files. (That’s happening a lot lately, isn’t it? I blame Supernatural, which is something I do a lot lately as well.) THERE’S MR. FROST’S WEIRD CONSPIRACY THEORY THAT IS QUICKLY BECOMING NOT A CONSPIRACY THEORY AT ALL. What’s with that??? No, don’t tell me.

And then there’s Matt Santos, bastion of all that is good and right in the universe. He is a force to be reckoned with in this episode, particularly when he takes a gaffe and MAKES IT INTO THE BEST THING EVER. After dismissing a question about intelligent design and causing a media furor, we witness him doing something that should have backfired: He takes on a difficult, controversial question, one that’s certain to anger or alienate a large group of voters, and he doesn’t do any of the above. Holy shit, and it’s so brilliant to watch because it’s basically the same technique Vinick’s team used against him in the previous episode. He goes on the offensive, he’s genuine, he’s real, and then the media rushes to ask Vinick his take on it all, and VINICK ISN’T READY FOR IT.

Oh god. It’s so great.


But I really don’t want to discuss any of this. I want to talk about Toby Ziegler.

I was drawn to him as a character because he toys with misanthropic ideas, but the truth is that he deeply cares about humanity. Over the past six seasons, he’s struggled with what his own party has done, what his own President believes in, and he was vital in the shift in Bartlet’s second campaign for President. His curmudgeonly behavior is one of my favorite things about The West Wing! I think that Toby is an iconic character for American television, and certainly for this show. I associate my memory of his character with The West Wing most times I think about it.

And I bring this up because while there’s evidence that supports that a character like Toby would do something this, I’m still worried. I’m worried because there is no way out of this for him. The flashforward at the beginning of the season is a glimpse of hope, sure. He’s at Columbia University. (Right? I’m still sticking to that reading versus the country of Colombia.) But he can’t escape from the hearings. He can’t escape from prison, can he??? Oh my god, he has two children, y’all, and… okay, they haven’t been mentioned in a long time, but he’s going to be sent to prison.

The media will have a field day tearing him apart. Josh is going to despise him, I know it. Santos will have to distance himself from Toby. And what other ramifications is this going to have? Will the Republicans use this to ruin Bartlet’s final months in office? Will Santos ever be able to overcome this? DID BARTLET KNOW THE WHOLE FUCKING TIME THAT TOBY WAS THE LEAKER BECAUSE WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT CONVERSATION??? UM, THAT WHOLE SCENE IMPLIED THAT BARTLET KNEW, RIGHT? RIGHT??? WHAT THE FUCK.

The truth is that I’m worried that until the finale, I might not see much of Toby ever again. It’s sad. I’m sad. And yeah, there’s a part of me that understands why Toby did this, at least in terms of the writing. Haven’t we seen Toby fight for what he believes in plenty of times before this? Haven’t we seen him take risks to be a moral person? Despite all of this, I’m still going to feel awful about this reveal because I know that in the end, Toby is on his way out.

Someone take it back. TAKE IT BACK, PLEASE.

The video for “Mr. Frost” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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