Last week in the course of one of our epic email conversations (newsflash: Selena and I are O-L-D), I volunteered my services to help with The West Wing recaps. The West Wing holds a special place in my heart – it’s one of the few dramas that Mr. Sally J and I equally enjoyed, and it’s just a freakishly good show. I can’t even describe how good it is – so if you haven’t caved already, just go buy the boxed set already. If you don’t believe me, start with Season 1 and then ask for the next season for your birthday.
When I found out that my first episode to recap was “Lord John Marbury,” I literally clapped my hands. It’s been at least four years since I’ve watched season 1, but I remember the introduction of this character (see, that’s how good this show is). What I had forgotten were the events that led up to needing his services, and the other plot-lines in this episode.
“Lord John Marbury” opens with the news that India has invaded Pakistan. President Bartlet is called to the situation room, and finds out that 300,000 Indian troops have crossed the border, undetected by the CIA.
As the President briefs Leo, Josh, and Toby, CJ enters the room. The conversation stops, and she politely asks if she should come back later. Seeing this reminds me of the fine line these White House staffers walk, they are so close they are the closest thing each one has to family, yet there is a definite hierarchy. The conversation stops, Leo tells CJ to tell the press, “It’s a full lid,” and she says goodnight.
In the Press Room, a journalist asks about a tip he’s gotten from the Pentagon and CJ blows him off.
Meanwhile, Josh has been subpoenaed by a watchdog group interested in Leo’s past struggles. Sam encourages Josh to bring a lawyer, and Josh blows him off.
And Zoe flirts with Charlie!! Zoe flirts with Charlie! Zoe flirts with Charlie!
Another little subplot is Mandy pestering Sam to try and sway Josh and Toby into being OK with her working for a Republican.
Over lunch, Josh gets snotty during his deposition. The next day, Sam insists on going with him.
The next morning CJ learns that the tip on India was right. The tip was right, and she wasn’t told. She is livid. Toby, Josh and Sam feel guilty. As they should.
As President Bartlet and Leo learn more about the India-Pakistan crisis, the more worried they get. Because of their erratic past, intelligence can’t get a feel for how this invasion will end.
And this is where President Bartlet announces he’d like to bring in an India expert.
Bartlet: There’s an India expert I want to bring in.
>>President looks to his long-time friend, knowingly.<<
Bartlet: You guys are gonna love him.
Leo: He’s a lunatic.
Bartlet: He’s colorful.
Leo: He’s certifiable.
Bartlet: Lord John Marbury, former ambassador to New Dehli from the court of St. James.
Sam: Where do we find him?
Leo: A psychiatric institution.
Bartlet: He’s colorful, Leo.
Leo: You’re really going to let him loose in the White House, where’s there liquor and women?
Bartlet: We can hide the women, but the man deserves a drink.
Can you not WAIT to meet this guy? I mean, really? What’s funny is that he doesn’t actually come on the scene until there’s only 10 minutes left in the show.
Back to the other storylines: Toby wants to say something to CJ, Sam tells him to do so would be patronizing. Toby goes to see her anyway. She doesn’t let him off easy, and Toby then voices the concern that she’s too friendly to the press. She is pissed.
Charlie then asks the president if he’d be okay with him going at with Zoe. The president files that in the back of his brain and goes off the meet with the Chinese ambassador.
Before his meeting with the Indian ambassador, he discusses the possibility of Zoe dating Charlie with Leo. He insists he doesn’t have a race problem, rather, as he puts it, “My problem isn’t that she’s white and he’s black, it’s that she’s a girl and he’s not.”
The ambassador informs the president that China is ready to use whatever is necessary to keep the Indian troops at bay. The Pakistani ambassador then meets with the president, making it clear that his side isn’t budging.
Josh takes Sam with him to the second day of his deposition, and thankfully Sam is able to help Josh keep his nose clean. Claypool, however, manages to get a line a questioning in that does, in fact, lead to Sam postponing the deposition to avoid answering questions about Leo’s past.
As they walk out, Sam tells Claypool, “You’re a cheap hack, and if you come after Leo I’m going to bust you like a pinata.”
Then it’s time for Lord Marbury to make his grand entrance.
Click over to YouTube to watch this snippet. (Then go buy at least season 1, for reals). You just have to watch it to see the how he and Leo interact.
Toby tries one more time to appease CJ – she doesn’t give him an inch. “Either I’m a trusted member of the White House staff or I’m not.” She makes him apologize, and then asks for more details. They are summoned by Josh and Sam as they return from the deposition to gather the wagons around Leo.
Lord Marbury gives Leo and the president some more background on India and Pakistan, much to Leo’s chagrin.
Margaret then brings Leo into his office, where Josh tells Leo that word is going to get out. Sam, Toby, and CJ are also there – wouldn’t you want them to have your back?
The episode closes with the president giving Charlie his blessing to date Zoe. He reminds Charlie that she’s nineteen years old and that the 82nd Airborne works for him. He also gives Charlie a the warning that his life will now be made public, and that not everyone will be thrilled with the president’s daughter dating a black man. As Charlie exits, Leo tells the president that his story is going public. Lord Marbury ends the show by telling the president that he does believe that they can stop a war from starting within the next two weeks.
God, I love this show.
3 replies on “Ladyghosts of TV Past: The West Wing, Episode 1.11 “Lord John Marbury””
In high school my nerdy best friend who played Risk on a regular basis was a gigantic fan of this show, but I only realized its true greatness when catching it weekday mornings on Bravo years later.
Another benefit of watching The West Wing may well be the best education about the American government many folks are likely to get.
HA! All caps and spelled out O-L-D.
TWW was one of the first “grown-up” shows I watched as an adult. My love for it only gets stronger as time goes on.
This ep set up a lot of things, between Leo’s investigation and the ongoing battle between CJ and the rest of the Sr staff for what they tell her and what they don’t
Itty bitty baby Dule Hill! Oh, God, I forgot how young he was. Maybe because I was so young myself? This was, what, like 1999? HE IS SO ADORABLE I JUST WANT TO SQUISH HIM.