Do you remember last week, how Sam Seaborn came back, and Josh nearly went postal, and Josh and Donna went off on a romantic vacation? And you remember how we've been waiting to hear more about C.J. and Danny? And how we all want to know whether Toby's going to prison, or whether he's going to be pardoned, or what? Well, none of any of that gets resolved or addressed in the slightest degree this week. Instead, we get an episode devoted almost entirely to Arnie Vinick's post-election blues, Santos's difficulty in selecting a cabinet, and Helen freaking out over the changes in her life. We'll start with Helen -- she's forced to give up her idea of letting the kids continue to live in Houston for a while, when she realizes it will mean turning her entire block into an armed compound. Helen's also overwhelmed at the size of the White House domestic staff, and all of the decisions she's expected to make. Since the kids are now going to move to D.C. in January, she and Santos have to select a school for them. They are not pleased with the private schools they visit, and end up selecting a public school for the kids to attend. In even less relevant news, Vinick is depressed, and then decides that he'll run for President again in four years. Sheila and Bob try to talk him out of it, but he doesn't give up the idea, until Santos offers him the post of Secretary of State. Santos also almost offers him a job as Vice-President, but that was just a fake-out intended to help Santos get his real first choice, Governor Baker of Pennsylvania. I can't believe they wasted one of our last three episodes on this.
First a correction -- two recaps ago, when I put forward my theory about Ainsley Hayes working unseen in the White House all these years, I forgot that way back in Season 4 the show hired a replacement for her, clearly implying that she had left the White House. Thanks to the many, many readers who contacted me to point out the error.
Previously, Santos won the election. Which means that Arnie Vinick lost (for those who have trouble keeping up).
Crazy old man Vinick emerges from the front door of his rowhouse dressed in pajamas and a bathrobe. His newspapers are several steps down, so he shuffles down the steps and bends over to pick them up. A woman walking her dog goes strolling by, and he gives her a slightly dirty look.
Santos walks past the Treasury building to his motorcade waiting on 15th Street. There's a mob cheering his name -- do these people just hang out near the White House, waiting to run into him?
Vinick sits down in an easy chair in his living room, turns the TV on to some news channel, and starts to read the paper. (The main story, in a huge banner headline, is "Santos Still Undecided On Vice President." Slow news day, I guess.)
Cut back to Santos, meeting with some military types.
And now Vinick decides to get his butt in gear. He picks up the phone to call his office...and the call goes straight to voicemail. This apparently motivates him to get dressed, because the next thing we see is him walking down the nearly abandoned corridor of a Senate office building. He passes a guard, who does not ask him for his ID -- presumably because he hasn't changed his hairstyle recently.
Vinick enters his office, which is full of boxes in various stages of being packed. His blonde staffer Annie is there, and she seems surprised to see Vinick. He notes that it's still his office for another month, and then asks where Sheila is. It turns out that she's interviewing for a job with Royce, the Senate Majority Leader. Annie sounds a bit jealous when she tells him, "Seems every message I take now is a job offer for Sheila." Where's the rest of Vinick's staff? Did he fire them all already? Did they all decide to take their accumulated vacation time? Did they all quit to find something with more future? Hmmm, now that I think about it, the same questions might be asked of most of the show's regular cast, of whom we see neither hide nor hair in this episode. Vinick starts giving orders to his sole flunky about calls that he wants to make to various and sundry Republicans around the country. It takes a bit of goading for Annie to realize that he wants to make those calls right away.
Santos is giving a statement to the press, backed up by the generals we saw him meeting with earlier. I'm guessing he left the OEOB (via two-block walk to 15th Street) to come to a meeting at the Pentagon. Santos tells the press that he doesn't want to make any Cabinet announcements until he's got his V.P. selected. Ronna pulls a very subtle, silent bram, and Santos ends the press op.