True to form, the Bartlet White House hit the ground running as they finish the last bit of their first term. There are many side-stories going on and several story lines get pushed on during these rather serious episodes.
In “Swiss Diplomacy,” President Bartlet finds himself smack in the middle of a situation that no world leader wants to be in. The Ayatollah of Iran’s son needs a lifesaving surgery that’s only available in the US. Of course, on a personal level, the president wants the boy to have the surgery. From a political standpoint, it’s a minefield that only gets more dangerous when it’s discovered that the only doctor available to do the surgery is Persian, and not a fan of the Ayatollah.
In “Arctic Radar,” we’ve got Donna angling for her Navy man, Sam is getting advice from the staff about his pending campaign, and CJ moves the press corps around in the press room. Josh also rocks the boat when he asks a temporary staffer to remove her Star Trek pin. The main story in this episode is in regards to a female Navy Officer, Commander Vickie Hilton, who’s facing discharge for not following an order… an order that was to stop an extramarital affair.
Sally J.: In “Swiss Diplomacy,” President Bartlet summons Dr. Bartlet (they are very accomplished, aren’t they?) to advise him on the Persian doctor situation. She’s shocked that he’s asked her about real-life foreign policy, and she advises him about a doctor’s obligation to treat the patient right in front of him. It’s a good exchange, right up to the moment the president leaves and says, “Go back to the sewing thing.” She almost corrects him, but instead shakes her head and the scene is over. What are your thoughts on that? I kind of wanted to slap the dear president.
Selena: The men older than fifty in this show really say a lot of stupid things to women, don’t they? I also imagine Abby spends a lot of time biting her tongue and shaking her head.
Sally J.: In “Arctic Radar,” your dear Toby is not the most welcoming figure to Will when he shows up with Sam’s encouragement. Do you think anyone could have taken Sam’s job any other way?
Selena: Whoever took the job was going to get hazed. As awesome as our Barlet White House may be, they’re not outsider-friendly. Toby is mad at Sam for leaving, and since Toby is fairly shitty at dealing with anger, poor Will walked into the West Wing with a target on his back. I have to give Will credit for rolling with things, I would have curled up under my desk and cried until I got fired.
Speaking of Will, were you able to warm up to him quickly? I was surprised at how quickly I took to him, since Sam is one of my first imaginary boyfriends.
Sally J.: I freaking loved Will from the get go. He’s cute, he’s honest, and he stood up to Toby, which all scored points in my book. I really, really like him through the series.
Selena: During Josh’s scenes with the Star Trek lady, we’re again reminded that Sorkin thinks Internet people (the women, at least) are muumuu wearing, Parliament smoking, obsessive weirdos. Even on rewatch, I was angry, because Josh’s initial interactions with her were pretty harsh. (It’s a pin! People who don’t watch Star Trek won’t even know what it means! She’s not dressed up as a Klingon!) What were your thoughts on the scene?
Sally J.: Josh is really harsh in those scenes, even the closing scene where he talks to her about fetishes. His reaction is completely inappropriate and unprovoked. In the show’s defense, when it was made, you did have to be a bit of geek to navigate the Internet. That said, a decade later, we’re dissecting a television show on the Internet. So maybe I’m not objective.