Donna tells Josh, "They're here." Hang on, because there's a whole lot of ShakyCam from here on out. I guess tripods got cut in the first round of budget talks. Haffley and his posse march in, all tough and silent and intense. They walk past Will in the hall. Josh and Donna come over to Will, and Josh asks, "They all here?" Will says they are. Donna looks concerned. She sticks close to Josh, but he firmly says, "Go. Go."
Donna goes into the meeting. VPOTUS is there, and he shakes Haffley's hand, asking, "Who'da thought?" Leo comes over and tells them that Jed will be right in after he finishes his meeting. Senator Royce quietly asks about Ashland. Leo says that's the meeting POTUS is in. Royce is surprised: "He's in the White House?" Leo: "Came straight from his adjustable bed. The man's a force of nature." That's our Chief Justice: Roy "Craftmatic" Ashland. Everybody's fairly orange in this scene, too, though not as much as before.
Jed arrives and stands opposite the Speaker as everyone takes his or her place around the table. For some reason, everyone remains standing. Stephen Culp sure looks good for his age. He's supposedly forty-eight, but he looks about two-thirds of that. It kind of detracts from my buying him as the Speaker. Royce says he wants to thank Jed, saying, "None of us think this is a perfect deal. No one likes to see the sausage made, including the guys who make it." Man. Donna's here -- Josh isn't. How weird is that, people? Big changes afoot, I tell you. Royce blathers on with some conciliatory yatter, and Jed thanks him for saying it: "I think I had to make that little speech the last time around. Or maybe the time before." Everyone chuckles politely as they finally plant their asses. Jed says that this is the third continuing resolution, the third time coming up short: "We gotta do better. The people aren't paying us to duck the hard choices. You want to run through the details, Angela?" She proposes a continuing resolution extending no later than January 3, to include a reduction by 1%. Before she can say any more, Haffley interrupts her to say that he knows they talked about a 1% cut: "It's going to have to be three [percent]." I don't understand the choice to have a handheld camera for a scene in which everybody's hardly moving. Angela says that nothing like that was even mentioned; Jed tells her, "Hold on." Haffley "apologizes" for not giving more notice, but says that they just came from their conference, and that there was significant opposition to only a 1% cut. Jed says, "'Only' 1%? We had a deal at 1%." Haffley: "But now my members have to go back to their districts for the holidays [and] explain why we kept the gravy train running with a rising deficit and an economy crying out for tax relief. It's an economic situation that calls out for action -- not status-quo spending. Now, 3% may sound painful, but it's only for two months. It'll show we're serious." The lights dim again, or maybe the camera fades right down and then comes back up. Maybe it's just supposed to be a really arty cut, but it doesn't work. Jed calmly asks, "What's next?" Haffley: "Sir?" Jed: "In two months...5%? Fifty [percent]? How many rounds do we go, Jeff? I'm just asking." Haffley replies, "There is no 'next,' sir. I mean, not to get too technical, but this government runs out of money at midnight, and my guys have gone home. This is it." ShakyCam closeup shots of Jed and Haffley. Jed thinks for a while and then says, "No." Haffley says, "There is no altering this offer, Mr. President." Jed stands up, which means that everyone else has to (although Haffley's the last to his feet), and says, "And I said, 'no.'" Haffley -- looking a wee bit intimidated -- says, "Let's be clear, sir. We cannot...we will not vote to keep on footing the bill. You will be held responsible for shutting down the federal government." Jed nods: "Then shut it down." Then I'm not sure what happens, because I got a concussion from the heavy-handed Law & Order sound effects that go "Clang! Clang! Boom!" I've pieced it together, though: Lighting by The X_Files. Camera work by NYPD Blue. Sound effects by Peddinghaus.