My God. Just watched the latest episode of West Wing (Series 7, Episode 5) and it is a stunning episode, Will go down as one of the all time great ones.
Even the sarky Television Without Pity reviewers have given it an A+.
There are major major spoilers in this episode, so if you are only watching the NZ screenings (which are around a year behind) then don’t read on.
Okay the background to this episode is that at the end of season six the space station got into trouble and it looked like the astronauts on board might die. Bartlett has to decide whether to launch the secret military space shuttle to save them.
The problem is, well doh, it is secret, and revealing they have one will set off an international furore. CJ especially advocates he sends it, but Bartlett resists. CJ talks about it to Toby as his brother is an astronaut and at one time also was in space and looked like he might die.
The existence of the secret military space shuttle is leaked to the New York Times. Bartlett orders a full investigation, with the focus on NASA. However as it goes on it looks like the leak came from the White House, and all clues point to CJ who knows the reporter who got the leak.
In Season 7 the inquiry goes on, and the White House Counsel informs CJ she is a suspect. Then at the end of Episode 4 Toby tells CJ that he leaked the information. She just stares at him.
This sets up Episode 7-5. The final few minutes are stunning acting. Basically CJ calls in the WH Counsel immediately, Toby’s office is sealed and he is questioned at length until his lawyer forces him to stop answering questions and makes him aware he is facing six years jail.
CJ and Oliver Babich inform Bartlett that Toby has confessed. Bartlett is astonished yet in his own words not totally surprised. He then asks to meet Toby, and below are some extracts from the conversation:
Bartlett: But the one thought that hits the hardest is that this was somehow inevitable. That you’ve always been heading for this sort of crash and burn as you believe you are morally superior to everyone
Toby: I don’t think I’m morally superior to everyone.
Jed: No. Just to me.
Toby can’t answer this, as it is plainly true.
Then Toby reaches into his suit pocket and pulls out his letter of resignation.
Bartlett: Rip it up. I can’t accept your resignation.
You think he may be relenting.
Bartlett: I have to fire you. For cause.
And then finally:
Bartlett: Toby? When you walk out of here, there’ll be people out there, perhaps a great many, who’ll think of you as a hero. I just don’t want you for a moment thinking I’ll be one of them.
A wonderfully well acted episode. One of those episodes there is no going back from. I can’t wait for next week’s to see how everyone reacts.