West Wing
The Fall's Gonna Kill You

Episode Report Card
Deborah: B+ | 1 USERS: A+
But We've Got Surprise On Our Side, Right?

The staffer I'm calling Nicole shows FLOTUS into Babish's office. She says she hasn't been in his office since he started, and that it looks great. She's pacing nervously as she adds, "I haven't come in here because it seems that every time I do, there's a new White House Counsel. I think Leo keeps them in the basement, like those two ladies in Arsenic and Old Lace." She says that POTUS is very glad Babish is there, "particularly in this time of nonsense." Babish would like to ask her some questions. She nervously babbles about not being as experienced in this as the senior staff is, and that she's read about Daniel Webster and Benjamin Disraeli: "It seems the little experience I do have is with dead lawyers." Babish says, "Just out of curiosity, ma'am, how'd they die?" Abby replies, "If you're under the impression that you're the fifth White House Counsel instead of the first White House Counsel because of me, you're mistaken, Oliver." He wasn't under that impression; he just wants to get down to business. She knows he wants to ask her about Zoey's form. She says that it was just a form -- one of many forms -- it was left blank, and she signed it without reading it. Always a good policy. He asks whether anyone else was in the room when she signed it. She doesn't remember, of course; it was over a year ago. He asks whether POTUS was in the room. Hey, buddy, what part of "I don't remember" don't you understand? He points out that when he asks the President that question, he's going to tell the truth. Abby replies, "And I imagine that the President will also resent your implication that I didn't just do the same." She insists again that neither of them remember if Jed was in the room. She points out that Oliver has kids, and mentions some of the dozens of forms that always have to be signed. Oliver says, "Their mother usually signs them." Yeah, that's probably because your various ex-wives have primary custody of your children. Abby points out that there are a lot more forms when the kid's father is the governor of New Hampshire or the President of the United States. Oliver says he understands: "But a lawyer half my size, while cross-examining you during deposition, will say the following, he will say: 'Mrs. Bartlet, do you have an M.D. from Harvard?'" ["Well, he's right about the 'half [his] size' part, for sure." -- Wing Chun] Abby says yes to that and to the next five questions that Oliver fires at her: "'Are you board-certified in Internal Medicine? Are you board-certified in Thoracic Surgery? Are you an Adjunct Professor of Thoracic Surgery at Harvard Medical School? Are you on the staff of Boston Mercy Hospital and Columbia Presbyterian? Have you been practising medicine for twenty-six years?'" He then asks, "Do you not find it just a tad insulting that as the wife of President Jed Bartlet, you now get to be referred to as Mrs. Bartlet, instead of Dr. Bartlet, despite your numerous and significant achievements as a physician and surgeon?" Abby says, "You're damn right." Well, actually, Oliver continues the mock cross-examination: "Are you not able to recognize a standard medical history form when it is put in front of your face?" She protests, "I didn't read it! I didn't think it was important." Oliver: "'What else have you signed without thinking it was important? Prescriptions?" Abby: "No!" Oliver: "'Patient instructions?'" Abby: "No!" Oliver: "'So it was just this?'" Abby says that she's not a neurological expert, but that she knows MS in not hereditary, and that POTUS's condition has no relevance to Zoey's health. Oliver states that now she's changing her story: "Did you sign it because you were absent-minded or did you sign it because you knew best?" She replies, "I signed it because...I just signed it. It was a form. And I think making a big thing out of it is what makes it into a big thing!" Oliver: "Really." Abby: "And I'm not one hundred percent sure that that's not what you're going for." Oliver wonders why he'd want to do that; Abby points out that defending the President in such a high-profile case looks pretty good on a résumé. He replies, "Well, I've got a pretty good-looking résumé already, Mrs. Bartlet. And it's not a big thing because I say so, ma'am; it's a big thing. You're going to get all the questions I just asked you, and quite a few more. And then they're going to ask the President if he was in the room when you signed it. And that's when he's going to give everyone's favourite answer from a President who has just announced he has MS: 'I don't remember.'" He lets that sink into Abby for a moment, and then asks when they're going public. She's not sure; about a week, she thinks. She says they're still strategizing. Oliver figures there'll probably be a live interview on the networks. She agrees. He kind of spins out the potential scenario, citing the names of interviewers, the phrases the President might say: "'I regret that I concealed my condition from the public. I regret the appearance that I tried to deceive the voters in order to win an election.'" Abby thinks that's more or less how it will go. Oliver says, "And if we don't make it a big thing, they won't make it a big thing? Mrs. Bartlet, I'm not sure you have an appropriate appreciation for the size of what happens next." From the look on her face as we go to commercial, I'd say she's just starting to get it.

Back at the airport, Joey asks Josh when they're going public. Josh tells her it'll be in about a week. She wants to know how they're going to do it; Josh tells her it will probably be a live interview followed by a press conference: "Joey, we need you to put a poll in the field. You gotta come up with a model that gets us the answers we need without asking the questions we can't ask. You gotta come up with the model by yourself; you gotta break down the results by yourself. Not even the callers can understand the questions they're asking. And you gotta do it all in ninety-six hours. Is what I'm describing possible?" Joey nods, more with her eyes than her head. Joey suggests making the subject the governor of an industrial state, such as Michigan. Josh asks, "And you give him a degenerative illness?" Joey nods wisely. Josh mentions that before this is over, they'll probably all be called before the grand jury. Joey half-nods, half-shrugs. Josh says, "You can do this?" She replies, "No problem." Her flight is being called. Joey asks how the President is. Josh is putting something in his pocket as he responds, and his chin is down near his chest as he says, "He's fine." ["Good for her for asking. That's more than Toby did, the big goof." -- Wing Chun] Joey reaches across the table and gently lifts Josh's chin so that she can see his lips. Josh repeats, "He's fine. I'll tell him you asked." Joey still looks kind of sad as she gathers up her tickets: "Ninety-six hours?" Josh: "Yeah." She says, "I have to go to work now." She walks away; Josh takes the napkin they've been writing on and drowns it in his water glass.

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West Wing




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