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The West Wing

Season 6 Episode 7

A Change Is Gonna Come

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Dec 01, 2004 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
91 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Hoynes throws his hat in the presidential ring, and asks Josh to join his campaign; Jed's health begins to deteriorate; Toby and Kate head the protocol negotiations with the Chinese over the arrangements for the upcoming summit, which is jeopardized when Jed mistakenly accepts a Taiwanese flag at the National Prayer Breakfast; Bernard takes his new position as head of the Gifts Unit to heart as he gives Charlie a hard time about retrieving the flag so that it can be returned; Josh has his hands full with a pro-Taiwanese senator holding a hard line on recognizing their independence; Bob Russell crashes an Oval Office photo op with the governor of Pennsylvania, who's also another potential presidential candidate.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

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  • This is the best episode of season 6.

    This is the best episode of season 6.

    Season 6 is a strong season. Better than season 7, which had little Charlie, little Toby, and little education about issues the news media ignores.

    I've always viewed the West Wing as a series that deals with issues too often ignored. Here they talked about an important international hotspot, the Taiwan-China problem.

    We also got a preview of the campaign, which dominates the rest of the series. Baker gets introduced, Barlet has to emphasize that he's neutral, Hoynes gets into the race, Josh gets offered to manage Hoynes' campaign.

    Also, the Barlet MS starts to show more serious symptoms, which only worsen throughout the season.

    This episode's got it all. Not in the Sorkin kind of way. But in the new post-sorkin way. Season 5 is pitiful. Don't watch it. But Season 6 really established the new West Wing style, and with this episode it really works well.

    Also, this was a West Wing episode, not a campaign episode, which the later episodes, and season 7 become dominated by.

    Charlie's still here, Toby's still here (although he doesn't have one of his passionate Toby speeches), Leo returns finally.

    It's a great episode. Congrats to the director and writers.moreless
  • Buckle up, people, cos this is where the ride starts to get bumpy...

    When Aaron Sorkin left "The West Wing", I must say I was afraid. I thought no one could ever possibly follow his stunning writing. Wouldn't I always be comparing the new writers to Sorkin, always unfavourably? It's this season that has really convinced me otherwise, and this particular episode is a perfect example of why I've changed my mind.

    Firstly, there's the care taken with all the characters. Everyone has their moment, and everyone is perfectly characterised. There wasn't a second where I wondered what a character's motivation was, or considered their actions to be out of character. Even the building tension between the members of the White House team is in character. This isn't some kind of arbitrary 'let's pit Josh against Toby' whim, but an accurate reflection of how those characters would react in the given circumstances.

    The sparkling script. Lots of humour, but lots of drama too. There's not a dull moment as events unfold before our eyes. The emotions and underplayed reactions are always highlights to any West Wing script, and this one was no exception. Jed's admission to Abby at the honours event was beautifully played. It had been hinted at throughout the episode, though lightly enough that we were still in doubt, and then to make the truth plain at that moment, when they both have to keep neutral expressions was a master stroke.

    A corollary to this is the pacing of the episode. It started slow, with flashforwards (that we didn't actually know were flashforwards until the end - nice touch), then built up until we get to the climax, and what a climax! All the key revelatory scenes were played out under James Taylor's glorious rendition of Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come", thus underlining and emphasising the core message and emotion of the episode. Absolutely gorgeous.

    So, now I can't stop listening to that song, and I can't wait for next week. Long live the West Wing - undoubtedly one of the finest shows on television. Two huge thumbs up.moreless
  • Ch-Ch-Ch-Cha- Changes!

    It’s a battle, ladies and gentlemen. A world war, if you will. There are several fronts to this war. First, we have the battle of the blondes in which Donna, our heroine, has to fend off the new blondies who think they know better than just about everybody who has been faithfully working away in our White House for seven years now. Then there’s what I am calling the “dissention in the ranks” front where CJ must deal with the people who used to be her equals, but must remember that she’s Mrs. Boss Lady now. And then there’s the home front, in which I must duel with John Wells to make him stop tormenting me with his Josh and Donna storyline.

    In all seriousness, Wednesday’s episode was a solid one. I firmly believe that making good friends go up against one another is a great way to draw the audience in. We have to pick a side now, who will it be? Josh or Toby? (I’d go with Josh, but you can make your own call.) Another point in favor of this episode goes for the non-existence of Annabeth Schott. Her mousy voice is not good for ears and her know-it-all attitude bothers me just about as much as it bothers Toby. And is it just me or is Kate Harper’s likeability directly proportional to how much her bangs have grown out? I found her to be one of the team and an asset to her scenes, which is far reach from where I was with her when she first started telling people what to do from underneath her horrific hairstyle. Unfortunately, this know-it-all new girl role has been taken on by Annabeth, but I’m not going to worry about that just yet.

    The best part of this episode for me was the scene between Leo and CJ. It had that good ol’ patriotic, heart-felt, “I’ve done something” honorary tone that made us love this show to begin with and makes me all tingly. It reminded me of “I serve at the pleasure of the President.” Wow, good television. John Wells should really do more Leo/CJ scenes in my opinion. Put Allison Janney and John Spencer together and pow! TV magic. The new dynamic between the two is especially great now that they are more good friends and contemporaries than co-workers. Leo is not CJ’s boss anymore, he is her mentor.

    And now for the battle between myself and the show’s writers and producers. Hook them up already! They came so close to actually facing the issue of Josh and Donna while she was in the hospital, and then with some flirting upon her return to the states, but now they are rarely in the same shot. I love their story, but if they drag it out any longer, I’m going to have to start sending letters.

    I’m very excited for this week’s episode and although I was suspicious at first of the “Season of Change,” I’m finding that the West Wing wears change very well. I can’t wait to see who starts working for who and who Will will be mad at next.

    That’s all for me today. I hope you enjoyed my first review!

Ed O'Neill

Ed O'Neill

Eric Baker

Guest Star

Kathrin Lautner

Kathrin Lautner

Diane Mathers

Guest Star

Paxton Whitehead

Paxton Whitehead

Bernard Thatch

Guest Star

Tim Matheson

Tim Matheson

John Hoynes

Recurring Role

Gary Cole

Gary Cole

Bob Russell

Recurring Role

Lily Tomlin

Lily Tomlin

Debbie Fiderer

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Charlie: Bernard, this is Richard Squire.
      Richard: Hello.
      Bernard: And aren't you a frumpy little fellow...

    • Bartlet: I didn't see the flag. The green flag, I didn't see it. I couldn't tie my tie. I haven't been able to focus, or see out of my right eye since early yesterday morning.

    • Bernard: Did you pick out that tie, or is it government-issue?
      Charlie: My sister bought me this tie.
      Bernard: The things we put up with for family.

    • Josh: I'm going to need a converter for China, and I can't find my garment bag.
      Donna: I think baggage claim is in the next terminal over.
      Josh: You used to love it when I couldn't dress myself without you.
      Donna: I used to love peppermint ice cream, too, but now those little pieces of candy, they get stuck in your teeth in a way that I find irritating.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Music: Special Appearance by James Taylor, who sings Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come". This has not been released on CD, but is available in streaming audio on James Taylor's Official Website. Taylor also performs "A Wand'ring Minstrel I" from Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado". NiCole Robinson sings James Taylor's classic "Handy Man".