Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The West Wing - "A Proportional Response", Episode 3, Season 1

This episode follows the aftermath of the events in episode 2, where President Bartlett learns that his personal physician (a man he very much liked and the father of a 10 day old baby girl) was one of those killed in a strike against the Americans. Here Bartlett has to decide what sort of justice to dole out, hence the title of the episode. The back story to this involves the issue of Sam Seaborn and the call girl ramping up when CJ gets wind of it and is forced to defend Sam to a member of the press (a man called Danny, who becomes a recurring bit-part character from this point on). We are also introduced to Charlie Young, a young black man who has been picked out by both Debbie and Josh as suitable for the position of Aide to the President.

It is a great episode, where the theme of justice and proportional response is carried through. There is a lot of righteous anger in a superb turn from Martin Sheen, who manages to convey the sheer frustration of wanting to make a proper impact on the people who killed his friend, at the same time as carrying the nerves of never having been in the military yet being expected to be the Commander in Chief.

There were also some lovely and quite humorous scenes (which helped to break up the moments of high drama) between Josh and Charlie. The latter is labouring under the misapprehension that he is still being interviewed for a messenger post, and is perplexed by the new role he is offered.

Finally, I very much enjoyed the discussion between Josh and Leo, and then Leo and Admiral Fitzwallace about the cosmetics of having a black man working for the President and holding doors open for him and such. I appreciated the fact that Admiral Fitzwallace (also black) stated that as long as he was paid a good wage and treated with respect, then it shouldn't matter a damn who served the President.

My favourite quote this time came from Leo McGarry, when he is trying to emphasise the responsibility that the President holds as the leader of a super power in the event of retaliation:

"So, my friend, if you want to start using American military strength as the arm of the Lord, you can do that. We're the only superpower left. You can conquer the world, like Charlemagne! But you better be prepared to kill everyone. And you better start with me, because I will raise up an army against you and I will beat you!"

An episode that definitely increased the quality levels and so I give it four stars out of five.

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