Toby falls prey to a practical joke by the rest of the staff, after which everyone but Leo takes off for the debate in San Diego. Sam makes a side trip to Newport Beach to explain to the ... See full summary »

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Storyline

Toby falls prey to a practical joke by the rest of the staff, after which everyone but Leo takes off for the debate in San Diego. Sam makes a side trip to Newport Beach to explain to the congressional campaign manager of the late Horton Wilde why the campaign has to fold even though Wilde is still on the ballot; what Sam doesn't expect is a stalwart named Will Bailey who, determined to keep the ideas of the campaign alive, continues to hold campaign events and do door-to-door canvassing. In San Diego, a nervous w.w. staff readies itself to spin for the president, but when Bartlet and Richie go head to head in a unique debate format, Bartlet tears Richie apart on states' rights, education, taxes, etc., by being precisely the intellectual snob everyone had accused him of being and using it to his own advantage. Back in DC, Leo and Jordon Kendall meet with the Qu'mari ambassador to the U.N., and Leo warns Qu'mar to back off its campaign to charge Israel with the assassination of Defense ... Written by meebly

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Drama

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TV-14
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30 October 2002 (USA)  »

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1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This episode marks the first appearance of Joshua Malina in the West Wing. He previously appeared in all episodes of Aaron Sorkin's Sports Night (1998). See more »

Goofs

When Senior Staffers are waiting outside the Oval Office in the beginning sequence, C.J. Cregg is shown with a clipboard that only has a $10 bill on the outside; however, when the camera pans back around to her and Toby points out the $10 bill, there is a piece of white paper underneath the bill which wasn't there originally. See more »

Quotes

Will Bailey: I thought he was going to have to fall all over himself trying to be genial.
Sam Seaborn: So did we, but then we were convinced by polling that he was going to be seen as arrogant no matter what performance he gave in the debate, and then that morning at 3:10 my phone rings and it's Toby Ziegler. And he says 'Don't you get it? It's a gift that they're irreversibly convinced that he's arrogant, because now he can be.' If your guy is seen that way you might as well knock some bodies down with it.
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Connections

References It's a Wonderful Life (1946) See more »

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Midnight Confession
Performed by The Grassroots
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The Beginning of the End
18 August 2016 | by (Old West Texas) – See all my reviews

Up to now, the show has been majestic! Oh, there are a few characters that come and go that are not that appealing to me (nor important to mention at this time), but most of the "occasionals" are great, too.

Well-written and compelling, this particular episode as the usual great 40-some-odd minutes of more than entertainment, but I always watch it with a little sadness.

This is the beginning of the "writing out" of Sam Seaborn. Yes, I know that Rob Lowe was ready to leave, and I think Aaron Sorkin invents a great way of doing it, but I also know that the show's decay begins as Lowe leaves. Maybe not because he leaves, but it also tells us that Sorkin's powerful influence on the show is leaving as well.

The first three seasons have been delightful. My personal favorite is season 2. But now, in season 4, we begin the dismantling of the most engaging, most powerful series on TV. There will still be a "West Wing" for three more seasons, but not like the one we have loved until now.

This one introduces Joshua Malina, which does a masterful job of making us immediately like Will Bailey, who is brilliant and full of integrity. He will continue to be until, for some reason, he jumps ship and begins to campaign for a lesser candidate who is not worthy of either that integrity or brilliance.

We know that the End is Near. I usually quit somewhere in season 5 and start over at the beginning, because watching season five and forward is like eating ribs: you get some meat here and there, but it's harder to find and a lot less satisfying.

I know a president can't serve more than two terms, that actors and writers and producers must move on as well, so I understand that. But when Sam goes to California to try to quash the campaign of a dead man, you know that great things won't last much longer.

This episode, by itself, is magnificent. But it's hard for a veteran "The West Wing" fan to watch it, because I know what's coming.


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