In the sixteenth episode of the seventh season of The West Wing, election day arrives, and so do A LOT OF OTHER THINGS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The West Wing.
I AM SO OVERWHELMED BY THE VERY EXISTENCE OF THIS EPISODE.
LET THE SHIPPING BEGIN, because holy shit, this episode is beautifully heavy on relationships, romantic and sexual and everywhere in between. But it’s fitting, I think, since the night before the election is the first chance for these people to truly let go, which is an ongoing motif of “Election Day, Part I.” Even though they have an early meeting, they all realize that there’s not much to do on election day. Well, except Josh and Bruno, but I’ll get to that later. So why not finally be free? We watch as everyone pairs off – Edie with Lester, Otto (HILARIOUSLY) with Lou, RONNA WITH CINDY OH MY GOD IT’S SO WONDERFUL, and then
IT FINALLY HAPPENS
I HAVE WAITED OVER A HUNDRED EPISODES FOR THIS. I HAVE YEARNED FOR AGES. AND DONNA AND JOSH FINALLY ENDED UP IN BED WITH ONE ANOTHER AND IT’S SO PERFECT. Part of that perfection (at least in terms of how it was executed) lies in the fact that the writers don’t ignore the awkwardness at the core of Donna/Josh. I did not ever expect them to simply jump into a relationship and have everything be perfect. It can’t be! Look how much baggage and history they’ve got between them. LOOK AT ALL THE UNRESOLVED SEXUAL TENSION THAT HAS BUILT UP IN THE PAST SEVEN YEARS. As victorious and satisfying it was to watch them finally do the deed (WHICH IS EACH OTHER hell yeah), I also want them to be honest about how they feel towards one another and what sort of future they want. There’s a little bit of that here, and it’s so pleasing to watch. Josh insists that they don’t have to hide from the rest of the staff, which is a step in the right direction. And they don’t deliberately try to be sneaking about having sex again later in the episode when Edie and Ronna essentially catch them in the act. All of this is hopeful to me because… I JUST WANT THEM TO BE TOGETHER FOREVER.
It’s also fascinating to me that Josh and Donna finally have sex in the same episode where Josh ends up needing the most emotional support from Donna. This is an UNBEARABLE episode that made me think about sitting around the television, painstakingly watching coverage of both the 2008 and 2012 elections, which were so awful. That same tension is all over this episode, but is exacerbated by Josh and Bruno. Both of these characters are so used to being in control of everything in their lives that they start to freak out once they have to let go. Well, let’s be real with ourselves: Josh does freak out, and it’s a scary scene. If the last episode was about Santos’s brush with frustration and exhaustion, here’s Josh’s. He lashes out at the only thing he thinks he can control: the exit polls. And it’s a ludicrous idea, one that the rest of the staff is clearly opposed to. You cannot do anything to make sense of the numbers coming out of the exit polls, at least not on the day of the election. It’s a waiting game, and that’s it.
Which is why I found it super hilarious that Santos took the day to have sex with his wife and SLEEP. HE IS CLEARLY THINKING CORRECTLY. That’s actually a minor plot point, since Bram is flabbergasted by how calm Santos is on election day. But unlike Josh, Santos realizes that there’s nothing left to do. They did the work over the past year or so to get elected, and now it’s time for Santos to find out if it’ll all pay off. Things look promising, of course, and Santos is getting more electoral votes at the moment, but it’s impossible to call. That’s a big deal in and of itself, of course, since I wondered how Santos was ever going to catch up to Vinick’s lead. But HE’S DONE IT. The race is too close to call, which is so much better than what it used to be.
But then the thing happens.
It had to happen some time, and I imagine that the people running this show knew they’d have to address it, and address it soon. With John Spencer’s death in real life, The West Wing would have to have Leo McGarry die, and now we see how that happens. ON ELECTION DAY. JESUS CHRIST, IT’S TOO SAD. I have a lot of questions about how this is going to work, but they’re all sort of useless at the moment. Obviously, Santos will have to pick a replacement, but I’m more concerned with the immediate ramifications for this: If the news gets out that Leo died before polls close, will this affect Santos? How are they going to deal with this? Why on earth did fate allow these two episodes to be split up on my schedule? I HAVE TO WAIT A FULL WEEK TO SEE HOW THIS IS GOING TO BE RESOLVED. RUDE. SO RUDE.
I’m so nervous about the next episode, y’all.
The video for “Election Day, Part I” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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