West Wing finale  

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The West Wing Series Finale

NBC, Sunday, May 15, 8PM

You should know

I’ve been watching The West Wing since about the second season, and own the first two seasons on DVD. Obviously, I’m going to talk about the episode, so if you haven’t seen it yet, and don’t want to be spoiled, you should walk away now.

I’ll wait.



It’s the last stages of the transition. Santos has to move in; Bartlett has to move out. Will Bartlett pardon Toby? (Yes) Is Charlie the son Bartlett never had? (Yes) Will CJ regret her choice to leave the White House? (No) Are Josh and Donna still together, and ready to be chiefs of staff? (Yes and yes) Did Sam show up? (Yes, for about 10 seconds) Was Leo fondly remembered? (Yes, and if you didn’t guess what the gift was, shame on you) Also, Aaron Sorkin showed up and Richard Schiff did not.


A tidy end, but not up to early-season standards.
I watched this episode with my parents, who have been watching off and on since season one. I asked them what they thought. Mom expected more, but couldn’t articulate what. Dad thought it “fizzled.” I have to concur.

As you can see from my micro-recap, it was largely predictable. That’s ok, because it means that it met most of the minimal requirements: return of Rob Lowe, poignant moments between Bartlett and Charlie, cute parallelism between the two First Couples, Josh and Donna naked in bed, tribute to Leo.

Still, the first episode of this season featured a nice “three years later” scene that revealed a few things that. In a perfect world, the episode would have followed up, maybe with another three-years-later scene. In the last few episodes, we saw Danny and CJ get together, and since Toby went to the ceremony in the flash-forward, it was pretty obvious he was going to be pardoned. Will got thrown into the Congress race we already knew he’d win. Still, we’ll never know why Toby did it, or if Will and Kate stayed together, or what exactly the deal is with Zoey and Charlie. Ok, fine, these are petty things compared to, say, the war that Bartlett set up for Santos (another bit of parallelism). But the show is about people running politics, so I want to see what happens to the people and the politics.

All in all, the predictability was a bit of a letdown, but any shockers would have been a lot worse. John Wells avoided the helicopters, for which I am grateful.

If you’re a loyal viewer, you’ve seen it. If you bailed out when Aaron Sorkin did, I’d recommend watching the finale, although you might be a bit lost. But if you’ve never cared about this show, this episode is not going to draw you in the way M*A*S*H might have in its day.

The rest of the Internet

The official West Wing website.
The unofficial continuity guide.
Television Without Pity. Their recap should say be up within a week and I'll add it here when it is.
Land of Lime comments on Barlett's reading choices in the finale.
Kelly at Byzantium's Shores liveblogged the episode.
Jeff at Minutiae gave a great review.
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