After the commercial break, the kids are being herded into the Mess which, with its tables, chairs, and whiteboard menu, will effectively serve as tonight's impromptu classroom. I really think that the show would have been a lot stronger had they rejected the idea of making it literally into a classroom (the show has enough tendencies toward pedantry without taking it to that extreme) and instead, had the primary staff members talking and arguing with each other while being locked down during a more severe crisis, like that during or following an actual attack. Or perhaps they could have been evacuated post-attack and several of them could have gone to one of their homes to be together, since the majority of them are single workaholics. I think one of these approaches would have been more effective and powerful. Anyway, Josh quietly asks Donna what's going on. She wonders how she should know. He asks her to call Leo's office and find out what's going on, and "more importantly, how long it's going to be going on for." As he starts to follow the students, Donna suggests that, since the kids are probably scared, he might try lightening up a bit. Josh wearily tells her he'll definitely give that a try. Donna, instead of calling Leo as instructed, follows him into the room.
Josh begins by explaining to the students that a crash means that there has been some kind of security breach, and that no one is allowed in or out of the building. He turns, sees Donna standing behind him, and asks her again to call Leo's office. She scurries off. It suddenly occurs to me that Margaret must be in a real state with all these crashes going on. We won't find out, since she doesn't appear in this episode. Josh turns back to the kids, trying to figure out what to say, and where to go with this. He wasn't prepared in the first place, and now the situation is more complicated. He says he figures they should use the time, and launches into a Civics lesson that might be a little elementary for kids who are supposedly very bright. He describes the White House as the "home of the President and the Executive Branch, the most powerful of the three branches of the federal government." One kid asks whether it isn't true that the framers made sure that the Executive Branch was the weakest of the three branches, as part of the severing of ties to the royalist model locating absolute power in one place. He adds, "I mean, isn't that why they made the Legislative Branch -- or People's Branch -- the most powerful?" Josh looks mock-displeased. He asks the kid's name; it's Billy Fernandez. Josh says, "Okay. I'll call you Fred. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing." Indeed. He continues, "I don't know how long we're all going to be here, but you just made my list." He says this with a wry smile. Billy smiles nervously. Josh then says, "Yes, I suppose technically, constitutionally, the Legislative Branch is the most powerful, but we get a motorcade, so back off." Kids smile politely. Having covered that, Josh says he assumes they know how a bill becomes a law (yeah, but I'd like to see Josh and Donna perform the Schoolhouse Rock song about it) so he wants to know what they want to talk about. Nobody speaks. Josh insists that the crash is nothing to worry about, that the crashes have been happening once a week lately. Everybody looks unconvinced. He pleads for someone to ask him something. One girl says, "So...what's the deal with everybody trying to kill you?" Josh: "Well...it's not everybody, and they're trying to kill you, too." Hey, way to be reassuring. She replies, "But mostly you." Josh says, "No...both of us the same." He tries to encourage other questions, saying they don't have to be about politics. He brings up college, since they're all college-bound. He claims to be "the guy who knows what you need to know." He tells a story about how he and his roommates got a fish registered for eighteen credits. Maybe that same fish graduated and became C.J.'s fish, Gail. Josh says the fish made the Dean's List; he adds that he and his roommates made a different Dean's List.