The West Wing

Season 4 Episode 22

Commencement

2
Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM May 07, 2003 on NBC
9.2
out of 10
User Rating
123 votes
3

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
Bartlet finally tells the staff the truth about the death of Shareef; Danny agrees to hold off on the story after five alleged terrorists go missing; Andy goes into labor after once again refusing Toby's marriage proposal; Zoey is kidnapped from a nightclub on the night of her college graduation.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • zoey graduate college. tobey becomes a father and bookbag has been taken.

    10
    i think that this was a wonderful episode. i liked the way it was filmed and i really liked the song they had playing durning the end of it. it made me feel really bad for the president because he had told zoey that something like this could happen and she should take her protection seriously. i think that the boyfriend was a jerk for putting the date rape drug into her drink. he was the whole reason she was taken. it was unbelievable that they had tobey and andy have the twins on that day. i think that it was sad now every birthday they have to think about that day. overall it was a execllant show.moreless
  • Wow..

    9.0
    Season ending coming and they are really putting it to the maximum. You do not expect something like that on show like this.. it is not bad thing.. I mean.. but most of the time it is politics.. bad things but in paper.. but then happens something like that.. that's horrible... and on that day.. Josh and Charlie there.. the whole talk before.. and that french boy.. oh.. I am so sure he had something to do with it.



    And then the plain thing finally came out.. and Danny is going out with it.. that's not going to be good either..moreless
  • Aaron Sorkin's penultimate episode...

    8.5
    This review will come across more as a tribute to the man behind West Wing's creation. Aaron Sorkin would leave the series after Season 4's finale (Twenty Five). His exit was marked by fireworks for all of the characters and for the ensemble as a whole.



    In many ways, "Commencement" was a typical West Wing episode during the first four seasons. It was fast, furious, and humorous -- with several one-liners and stinging rhythmic dialogue sections. With time, however, the build-up of the episode reached a fever pitch, and a melodramatic feel took over. This led to the final ten minutes of the episode, which felt like contrived, melodramatic, pretentious action-spawning.



    With the assassination revelation on the brink and missing terrorists on the loose, an ominous tone overswept the episode, despite its somewhat humorous interludes (For example, Will and Bartlet's speech-making; Zoey and Charlie's banter; etc.). With time, the more dramatic storylines (Andy's final turn-down of Toby's proposal; Amy's guilt/regret for a position she had that conflicts with Josh; etc.) become more prevalent.



    But it's that final sequence -- that final ten minutes that anyone could have predicted but no one could have comprehended fully. "Bookbag is taken" are the words heard round the West Wing world. Zoey was kidnapped, a guard was murdered, and the parents need to be notified.



    I don't know -- the episode seemed "convenient" to me. "What's a clever way to say goodbye?" Aaron Sorkin may have thought. "Have the President somehow leave office without leaving office." Seems contrived and pretentious to me. But it still made for fairly effective television.



    Whatever the case, Aaron Sorkin is a master at his craft. He writes songs in dialogue. The words are like music, and the pace, so perfectly orchestrated again and again, is the rhythm. His dialogue is always fast-paced, even the slow parts, requiring strict attention. His words are crafty, concise, intelligent, and well-structured. No word is left unemphasized. Each word is important.



    With the West Wing, Aaron Sorkin combined his writing talent with a truly magnificent acting ensemble. What he created, which he has stated repeatedly was on the fly, was a most unique and treasured idea in television history. He created the political dramedy, the workplace drama with quick wit and engrossing storylines. There is no doubt that a TV show like The West Wing will never happen again.



    I've never appreciated Aaron Sorkin's departure. He was tired, yes, and his most recent episodes were nowhere near the brilliance of the early seasons of the show. But The West Wing suffered greatly following his departure -- the show never felt the same again. I've never fully regained the fandom of the show, even though Season 7 was certainly a step above Seasons 5 and 6 (I personally believe the only reason for that was because of the election and that this relative high would have died off quickly once the new presidency began). The show lost its touch and began to radically alter job positions, characterizations, etc. to emerge re-energized. Often shows are fine once one of its creators leaves the show (These shows are often ones where the creator is more of an overseer than a frequent writing contributor). However, shows like The West Wing were fully dependent on the Aaron Sorkin contribution, and this was regrettably obvious once he left the series. I fear the same fate for such shows as Gilmore Girls without the Palladinos (for example), and one can look to Commander-in-Chief for a stunning example of this fiasco in action.



    But I fully appreciate what he created. We have four seasons to treasure. We have a show that really has altered the power of the television ensemble. We have a show that made people get excited about politics, however unrealistic. We have a show with heart, intelligence, and a sense of humor. We have The West Wing, and we can only thank Aaron Sorkin for that.moreless
Taye Diggs

Taye Diggs

Wesley Davis

Guest Star

Arye Gross

Arye Gross

Obstetrician

Guest Star

John Antonini

John Antonini

Jamie Reed

Guest Star

Elisabeth Moss

Elisabeth Moss

Zoey Bartlet

Recurring Role

Timothy Busfield

Timothy Busfield

Danny Concannon

Recurring Role

Mary-Louise Parker

Mary-Louise Parker

Amy Gardner

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (4)

    • In this episode Zoey was kidnapped whilst going to the restroom in a club party. This scenario was depicted by President Bartlet when he was angry at Zoey in Season 1 in the episode Mr. Wilis of Ohio

    • The tie that Bartlet wears in this episode features the crest of the University of Notre Dame. Even as he is heading to deliver the commencement address at Georgetown, he still gives a subtle shoutout to his own alma mater.

    • Josh: Can I ask, how hard can it be to keep an eye on five Qumari religious fanatics in Schenectady?

      Qumar is a fictional country.

    • Leo: For a couple of years we've been keeping an eye on five possible Bahji sleepers in Central New York. And last night they disappeared. We lost them.

      The Bahji terrorist organization is fictional.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Danny: You want to comment on a wire report that says that the President lifted his gown and groped himself during the Invocation?
      C.J: Yeah, that was a troubing moment but he had to get his napkins.

    • Abbey: (admiring a pearl necklace that Bartlet just gave her) These are just gorgeous.
      Bartlet: You can eat them too, they're gumballs.

    • Bartlet: (to Zoey's Secret Service Agent) Before I forget, if something comes up, and you're faced with the choice of killing the boyfriend or not killing the boyfriend--kill the boyfriend.

  • NOTES (2)

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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