Sunday, 6 May 2012
S01E05: The Crackpots and These Women
Yes, it's our first "Big block of cheese" episode. I have a soft spot for these, as very often I find myself being taught stuff and entertained at the same time - always good.
Our first crackpot is Ted from Scrubs. While not taking him seriously Sam's still left with a nagging doubt about the alledged UFO over the Pacific.
During the early stages of the episode there is clearly friction between Toby and Jed. While it manifests itself in small ways initially (the basketball game, the press conference prep), it really comes to the surface during the Oval Office meeting where they discuss the LA trip. "Nobody ever looks like Joe McCarthy, that's how they get in the door in the first place" is a line that never fails to give me chills, and yet again we see that Toby finds it incredibly hard to just shrug things off when he's really impassioned about them.
Ron Swanson (!!!) then makes a less than compelling case for a wolf highway to CJ. Is it wrong that when the troupe reveals Pluie's fate I just crack up at their earnestness? After all, what's $900 million between friends?
As if Toby wasn't fragile enough at this point in the episode, Mandy then drops the bombshell that he wasn't PotUS first choice for Communications Director. There's a silver lining to that cloud though, as it proves to be the catalyst for genuine reconciliation between him and the President.
If you don't love Josh by the end of this episode then you're dead inside. The whole plotline of his nuclear strike card is wonderfully done. As gradually we see the penny drop with him that neither Sam, nor Toby, nor CJ get one, then see his visit to his psychiatrist, we begin to realise what a soft centre the President's bulldog really has. The scene where Ave Maria is playing and he has the conversation with CJ reduces me to tears every... single... time. His speech about smallpox is unbelievably well written and acted, and the whole scene is capped off beautifully with his tension-breaking "Well you better hurry 'cause I'm the only one with one of these cards." Then he gives the card back. He really is very sweet sometimes.
Right toward the end we get what I feel is the only duff note in the episode, which is Jed and Leo's appraisal of the women in the room. It's one of those cloyingly sentimental scenes that Sorkin occasionally throws in when he forgets that he's writing the best series ever. However, as far as the rest of the episode it's like Mary Poppins - practically perfect in every way.
Oh the irony that possibly the most idealistic person in the room gets described as one of the "more jaded" staff members.
I think they said Larry Posner when they meant Michael Bay.
Episode grade: A+
So what did you all think?
Spoilers for the future follow.
This episode is only enhanced when watched knowing Josh's full backstory, and which Donna nails when she's talking to Amy in Commencement. Talking of which, I'd never picked up before on Sam's line that his relationship with his secretary was like Donna and Josh's. Oh no it isn't.