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Things Fall Apart

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"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by Leo

Compared with the clear organization of the Republican Convention, the Democrats appear to be in disarray as the three candidates continue to battle for a clear Democratic Presidential nominee.  Bartlet asks Leo to take control and organize the Democratic Convention.  Meanwhile, the International Space Station has developed a leak and is losing oxygen which jeopardizes the lives of the three astronauts aboard, causing an examination of morality and mortality.

Summary Edit

Opening Edit

The Vice President, who is watching the Republican Convention, meets with Governor Baker to discuss the vice presidential spot on his ticket.  At the same time, in a bar, Will comes to meet with Josh for a similar discussion:  Russell is prepared to offer the spot to Santos.

At the White House, the Senior Staff are also watching the convention.

Josh rushes back to the Congressman's hotel room and tells Matt and Helen that Russell is prepared to offer the spot to Santos if they release their delegates to Russell.

Act I Edit

In the hotel room, Helen urges Matt to decline the offer, because they have all the momentum going into the convention and it lets Russell look like the front-runner.  Santos asks Josh what he thinks, who tells him that he would be the front runner for the nomination in four years.  They decide to think on it for a while.

In the Russell suite, the Vice President asks Will how it went.  Will tells him they are thinking about it.  They both turn to Donna to get some insight on Josh and what he may be telling the Congressman.  She hedges, because she's not really sure.  The conversation turns to how things went with Baker and they decide that if Santos turns them down, they will go with Baker.

At the White House, C.J. is telling Charlie to put together a response to all the "Bartlet-bashing" that took place the previous night at the Republican Convention.  Kate comes up to tell C.J. that a NASA administrator is waiting to speak to her:  there is a problem with the Space Station, which is losing oxygen.  C.J. gets a briefing on the Space Station and learns that they will run out of oxygen in about three weeks.  There is no rescue ready, because the shuttle cannot be readied in time (the civilian shuttle) and the designated escape capsule is not working.

In the Oval Office, the President is meeting with the head of the Democratic National Committee.  He is complaining to the President about the three candidates and the upcoming Democratic Convention.  The DNC Chair urges the President to step in.

In the Santos suite, the Congressman, Ronna, and Josh are discussing the day's events.  Josh wishes that he had thought to offer the VP slot to Russell first.  Ronna points out that maybe they wanted someone better.  They also discuss what John Hoynes may do in this scenario.  The phone rings:  it is Will checking in to see if Santos has made a decision yet.

C.J. tells the President about the situation on the Space Station and mentions that the NASA Administrator alluded to a non-civilian shuttle, but the President doesn't answer the question.  He tells C.J. that he wants constant updates.

Josh and Santos talk privately about the offer from Russell.  Santos is inclined to accept, and Josh also thinks he should, but part of both of them thinks they may still be able to pull this out.

Act II Edit

In the hotel bar, Josh is watching the Vice Presidential nominee, Governor Ray Sullivan give his acceptance speech.  Sullivan is drawing parallels to the ailing economy and the illnesses of President Bartlet.  Donna comes up behind Josh and the two of them go off to talk.  They talk about Russell's offer to Santos.  Donna tells Josh that she doesn't think Santos should take it, because Santos is too principled to be the "attack dog" for Russell.

At the White House, Zoey's bedroom door opens and Zoey checks the hallway.  Seeing no one there, she turns to Charlie and he leaves the room.  As the door closes, Charlie finds himself face to face with the President!  The two talk briefly about the awkward encounter and Charlie leaves.

The next morning, C.J. is getting an update on the oxygen leak on the Space Station in the Situation Room.  C.J. presses the Secretary of Defense on the existence of a military space shuttle.  Hutchinson (and Kate) hedge.  At the morning press gaggle, Annabeth is fielding questions, mostly about the oxygen leak and the Republican convention.  In the Oval Office, the President and Leo talk about the upcoming Democratic Convention.  The President tells Leo that he needs to fix it and sends him off to deal with the campaigns.

In her office, C.J. is watching a news report about the space station.  Toby comes to see C.J. and she asks him if his brother ever made mention of a military space shuttle.  In the Residence, the President comes to see Abbey, who has just returned from a trip.  He tells her that he caught Charlie sneaking out of Zoey's room last night.  Abbey is not surprised:  she is aware that the two of them are back together.  The President was not as up to speed.

Act III Edit

In the Roosevelt Room, Leo meets with Josh, Will, and Dylan Clark from the three campaigns.  Leo wants to know if there is a solution on the horizon, and if the Russell / Santos deal is going to happen.  Leo tells them they need to pick a convention chair and he gives them a list of names.  The three of them all begin to cross names off the list.  They continue to squabble over convention issues and Leo tells them to find a way to get along together.  Later, Leo calls Josh into his office and tells him that Santos should take the VP deal.

Charlie comes to see the President, at the President's request.  Charlie tells the President he wants to see more of Zoey and asks if he would have the President's blessing.  The President tells Charlie that he [the President] is not the family member that Charlie should be worried about.

In the Oval Office, the President is being briefed on the space station leak.  The spacewalk was unsuccessful and they need to make a decision soon.  C.J. continues to press about the existence of a military rescue vehicle to help, and Hutchinson continues to dodge the question. 

Back at the Santos hotel, Josh tells Santos the White House wants Santos to take the deal.  Josh tells Santos that he's learned that they are also talking to Governor Baker and plan to go with him if Santos turns them down.  Josh realizes they would lose a number of delegates on the second ballot if that were to happen.  Josh tells Santos that he needs to meet with Russell and "find a way to say yes" to him.

Act IV Edit

Helen wakes to find that Matt is not in bed.  She finds him in the other room and they talk about the Russell deal.  She tells him to come to bed and think about it in the morning.  At the White House, C.J. talks to Leo about how the President could let the astronauts die rather than tell the world there is a military vehicle that could save them?

Santos and Josh come to see the Vice President.  Will and Donna greet them and Will goes to get the Vice President.  Russell and Santos go off to talk.  Russell talks at Santos about how he envisions Santos would serve as Russell's VP.  Santos realizes that he can't do it and leaves the meeting.  In the elevator, Santos asks Josh what he's thinking.

At the White House, the President and Leo are watching Arnie Vinick accept the Republican Presidential Nomination.  Bartlet tells Leo they need to start working right now to beat him.  The phone rings, the President answers, and, after he hangs up, he tells Leo is told that Josh is there to see him.  Leo comes down to meet with Josh, who tells Leo that Santos turned Russell down.  Leo tells Josh that he has to get Santos to change his mind and accept the offer.  Josh tells Leo that it's not going to happen.

Annabeth comes into Toby's office to tell him that Greg Brock is putting out a story about the existence of a military space shuttle that could be used to rescue the astronauts.  Toby is not surprised.  In her office, C.J. is sitting quietly watching the Republican convention.

Quotes Edit

Matthew Santos: Hey, it's getting real, isn't it?
Josh Lyman: Real as it gets.
Toby Ziegler: They're about as spontaneous as . . . I actually can't think of anything as unspontaneous as a Republican National Convention.
Leo McGarry: Four nights of Swiss-watch precision. We get a pie fight.
Josh Lyman: How'd you get so smart about this?
Donna Moss: I had a good teacher.
Josh Lyman: Thanks.
Donna Moss: [pause, while walking away] I meant Will.
Leo McGarry: Morning.
C.J. Cregg: What do you do when he's just wrong?
Leo McGarry: You remind yourself that he was the one got elected.
C.J. Cregg: We could rescue these astronauts.
Leo McGarry: He's got 295 million Americans to think about, not just these three.
C.J. Cregg: Only two are Americans.  Defense Secretary's made it clear if they offed the third, he'd be all for sending it.  Wouldn't that be a lovely affirmation of international cooperation in space?
Leo McGarry: We don't want Russia, China building space bombers of their own.
C.J. Cregg: Oh, they're gonna build them anyway if they assume we've got one.
Leo McGarry: Yeah. But if they know we've got one, they have to build it.
C.J. Cregg: This is Alice in Wonderland.
Leo McGarry: Yeah. Some days it is.

Trivia / Goofs Edit

  • One of the first people we see addressing the Republican Convention is Congressman Darren Gibson, who was instrumental in the investigation into Leo McGarry's drug problems and alcoholism (H.Con 172).
  • During the briefing in the situation room, Secretary of Defense Hutchinson explains to C.J. how Air Force Space Command maintains and operates the military communications and GPS satellites, but he incorrectly refers to it as Air Force Special Command.
  • Since the very first crew occupancy, the International Space Station has always kept at least one Soyuz spacecraft docked as a means to evacuate the station in case of emergency; there are often several supply vehicles at the station at any given time. The ISS crew shelters in the Soyuz craft whenever there is a detected threat of debris impact.
  • NASA, Russia, or ESA (the European equivalent of NASA) anticipate problems like this and would not leave a crew in place with no way to bring them home in an emergency. But even if that somehow happened, there would be a third option which no one in this episode considers. An unmanned craft could bring a supply of additional oxygen to the ISS on short notice. Supply missions with unmanned vehicles are routine, happening several times each year. This wouldn't fix the leak or bring the astronauts home, but it would buy time until there was a way to do one or the other of those things, while keeping the military's secret under wraps.
  • While there are shuttle-like military vehicles, it is highly improbable that a spacecraft of comparable size and capability to the Space Shuttle could have been developed and flown to the degree of secrecy described in the episode. In fact, many of the civilian Space Shuttle requirements were derived from military requirements and the Shuttle flew several military missions. The existence of the missions were impossible to keep secret, but the natures of the missions were classified.
  • Josh's "Outside of Minnesota" rider to Leo's observation that, though entertaining, people don't vote for "the loudmouth in the leotard" is a reference to one-time Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, a former wrestler and wrestling commentator elected to gubernatorial office in 1998.

Cast Edit

StarringEdit

Special Guest StarsEdit

Guest StarringEdit

Co-StarringEdit

ReferencesEdit

"The West Wing" Things Fall Apart (2005)