Monday, 1 October 2012

S02E03: The Midterms

While the episode is called The Midterms we actually pick things up 12 weeks before. I can't recall off the top of my head if there's any other episode which covers such a long period of time but I don't think so.

The fast pace allows us to deal with subjects in a single episode which would normally be spread over several, and that has some advantages. For instance, the Tom Jordan subplot wouldn't normally make it into the show, because quite frankly it doesn't warrant a multiple episode arc - it's just not important enough. However, it is interesting, though I'm not entirely sure the reasoning is sound given various revelations about pretty much every presidential nominee for the last 20 years.

We also get to see some of the emotional aftermath of the shooting. We see it between Zoe and Charlie (who seem to have a somewhat strained relationship) and particularly in Toby, who seems to be going off on a crusade against hate groups.

Of course, the best thing about compressing 12 weeks worth of events into a single episode is that we get Josh's entire recuperation out of the way in a single week. Yay!

By far the most remembered part of this episode is the confrontation between Bartlet and the Christian talk show host. Lauded as it is, I have problems with it on several levels. First off, I just don't buy the fact that she'd be stupid enough to fail to stand for the President (people get briefed on appropriate behaviour before they meet PotUS, don't they?). Secondly, they don't even make her a good bigot - if you're going to condemn homosexuality then use the New Testament reference so you can't get tagged for the stuff Bartlet quotes from the Old Testament (you also then get a chance to say that the Old Testament laws were abolished when Christ came, further cementing your Christian credentials). Thirdly, Sorkin didn't even come up with it, he just nabbed it from an email that was doing the rounds. Finally, it just doesn't seem very presidential. He's the leader of the free world - isn't it beneath him to comment on stuff like this? He just comes off as petty and small (and I think that's why they had to have her sitting down - she had to appear obnoxious in every possible way to stop anyone from feeling sorry for her).

Random observations:

Gail's bowl has a ballot box with a vote going into it, which should be self-explanatory given the episode title.

Someone should really make a gif of Josh repeatedly smacking his head off the bed.

The bit with the tech support guy seems completely tagged on, almost like the running time was a bit short and they needed to fill another couple of minutes of air time.

Episode grade: B

So what did you all think?

Spoilers for the future follow.

When I said Josh's recuperation was dealt with entirely in this episode I was talking about his physical recovery obviously. Noel will reveal how his emotional state is far more fragile than Zoe's, Charlie's or Toby's.


  1. Since Amazon Prime now has the West Wing, I have been watching it constantly. Since the beginning of September I have watched the series twice. Anywho, I found this site posted on Reddit and saw there weren't too many comments. I don't know what you are looking for... political concepts and themes? acting?

    Since I have already went through twice, I decided to just pick up from here... First I agree that the scene where the woman is sitting is very good. I love when he says to Toby, "And that's how I beat him."

    Another great part is at the end when they are all sitting outside on the steps at Josh's. I love the scenes where the actors play more themselves than their actual characters. Josh's pajamas are also quite funny (and makes several other appearances.

    -Bartlett for America-

    1. I meant to add... I look forward to next week and I hope you continue this blog