Saturday , September 26 2020
West Wing's (and Aaron Sorkin's) seasonal finale. . .

“Babies Come With Hats!”

Say what you will about Aaron Sorkin, the guy sure is generous to the writers who’ll be following him. Ousted from creative control of The West Wing, Sorkin still managed to craft one of heck of a cliffhanger episode (even as you know he was arguing with network execs and struggling to hold onto the show).
Season finale, “Twenty Five,” opened with the president receiving word that his youngest daughter, Zoey, has been kidnapped after getting drugged with tampered ecstasy by her nogoodnik wastrel French (of course!) boyfriend. Whether this kidnapping was the work of Qumari (read: Iraqi) terrorists or a lone nutcase is unknown, though at least one faction of the Qumari underground shows no reluctance about taking credit for the crime. All we know for sure is that the ecstasy was laced with a cheap date rape drug, a federal agent was killed during the kidnapping – and that the military and intelligence community are in disagreement about the perpetrators of this heinous act.
As this is occurring, speechwriter Toby Ziegler’s (Richard Schiff) ex-wife is giving birth to twin brother & sister (improbably named Huck and Molly, the latter after the recently slain female agent). Both President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and first lady Abby (the irreplaceable Stockard Channing) are so distraught by the kidnapping that they’re both given ripe scenes of distressed parental hair-pulling. Recognizing that he’s too distracted to even hear half of what his advisors are trying to tell him, Bartlet invokes the 25th Amendment, which allows the Cabinet (Hey, what’s the Mayor of Sunnydale doing there?) and next in succession to replace the president if he shows signs of being unable to perform his duties.
One tiny problem: because Democratic Vice-President Hoynes resigned his office two eps ago, the next in succession is the Republican Speaker of the House, Glenallen Walken (John Goodman at his most uncuddly). To take on the role of temporary president, Walken has to first resign from office, and as soon as we hear that, we all start wondering how eager this guy will be to give up the role of Chief Executive once he tries it on for size.
Plenty o’ good stuff to ponder about over the summer, in other words. Will Goodman’s character become a series regular – the first strong ongoing conservative since Emily Procter exchanged her Coulter-wear for a C.S.I. lab coat – now that Sorkin has left the building? Is Zoey alive? Will revelation of the terrorists’ identity spark a war with a Middle Eastern country a la 24?
The comparisons with Fox’s ongoing serial series are definitely intriguing. On that series, after all, President Palmer also gave up his presidency according to the 25th Amendment. But where Bartlet’s resignation was brought on at his own instructions, Palmer’s resulted through labyrinthine political machinations on the part of political enemies within his own party. You’ve gotta wonder what it says when two different political series come up with the idea of an ousted president as a plot point – is it a nightmare scenario or a case of wishful thinking on the writers’ part?
Maybe a little of both?

About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.

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