Saturday, 15 September 2012
S01E22: What Kind of Day Has It Been?
I like it when the pre-credits sequence poses questions, like this one does. What does the signal mean, and what did it mean before? What was it that Charlie showed PotUS? And what did Zoe's bodyguard see which spooked her so much?
Within minutes we can have a reasonable stab at the first question. There's a problem with the NASA mission Toby's brother is on, and given the phone call Sam took was for Toby, we can guess the signal meant things turn out well with that (my one nit-pick of the episode is that all the tension of things going wrong with the mission during the episode is lost because we already know it resolves successfully). Considering we also get the information that an F-117 is down in Iraq that gives us a pretty good idea what the signal was initially used for.
Truth be told I really don't care about the answer to the Charlie question, but even this early in the episode I was beginning to have a nasty feeling about the last one. When you hit the last episode of a season what you don't want is a cliffhanger, and what you really don't want is a massive cliffhanger. The pace things were going was making me think we'd get the latter.
When they cut back to the town hall meeting I remember looking at the clock and realising there was only five minutes left of the episode, and I knew my worst fears were about to be realised. The way they crank up the tension with the music and editing is brilliant, we just know it's going to end in tears. "Who's been hit, who's been hit?" are words which will be ever etched on my memory. If you caught the show for the first time years later be grateful that you didn't have the four and a half months of agonising wait to get that question answered - as well as the more important one - does anyone die?
What Kind of Day Has it Been was the title of the last episode of season one of Sorkin's other show that was running at this time, Sports Night. It was also the title of the last episode of season one of his show which followed this one, Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip. Anyone else here really disappointed that the last episode of season one of The Newsroom was called The Greater Fool?
Has there ever in recorded history been a cricket match between Scotland and Bermuda? My guess would be no.
The question Hoynes asks Josh about listening to him two years ago is a tantalising teaser for a future flashback episode.
Leo's dressing down of Josh is totally unexpected (or was to me at any rate) but really satisfying. I hadn't even considered how callous his comments to Hoynes were until Leo dropped the boom.
The little factoid about which way the eagle on the seal faces fascinated me - I really hope it's true. What I do know about the seal is that there's 13 of almost everything - 13 stripes, 13 clouds, 13 stars, 13 arrows, 13 leaves and 13 olives. All that pictures the original 13 states (there's also a ring of 50 stars around the edge of the seal representing the current number of states). Sad thing is, geek that I am I paused the DVD when it focussed on it and they're missing a star (one that should be just by the head of the eagle). Shame on you props department - you're normally great but you dropped the ball on this one.
Gail's bowl has a space shuttle in it, in reference to the NASA mission.
Richard Schiff's acting when he's talking with Jed in his office is magnificent, especially the way he conveys Toby's frailty.
Episode grade: A
So what did you all think?
Spoilers for the future follow.
We clearly see in this episode that it's a Secret Service agent who takes down CJ, not Sam. Bit of a continuity gaffe given the next episode.