The West Wing

Season 7 Episode 12

Duck and Cover

0
Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Jan 22, 2006 on NBC
8.8
out of 10
User Rating
117 votes
6

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
Bartlet must deal with the possiblity of a nuclear explosion in California, Kate is keeping a careful watch on the election in Kazakhstan and China's response, Will is acting as the government's voice this week, and Josh is trying to keep his political version of Tourette's in check.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • this show will end in a hi note

    9.0
    this show does not look like is going down easy. the president is once again in controle and i hthink is because of the death of the co-star, that has change some of the plot for the whole show. In this episode they deliver multiple scenarios that keep all the staff members in high gear. I do think that the next 2 episodes will be very high in emotion and adventuremoreless
  • What can I say? I loved it!

    9.0
    While I’ll admit that the quality of the series has been somewhat variable since the fourth season (and yes, that includes the fourth season!), I can’t find much in this episode to fault. I had my attention from the very beginning, and I found the interplay of all three plot threads to be equally compelling. I’ve been waiting for this kind of moment since the beginning of the season, so it makes sense that it would happen now, at roughly the halfway point of the season.



    Taking an incident like this and making it the literal and metaphorical meltdown of the Vinick machine could have been overdone; certainly, some episodes in past seasons would have played it to the hilt. Instead, the president demonstrates much of his old fire while the two campaigns play a wonderful chess game. Each side is waiting out the other, as if playing a schoolyard game of chicken, and a part of me wished that it could go on for another hour.



    Perhaps the most important element to the episode is consistency. Vinick’s defense of nuclear power was firmly established in previous episodes, as well as his tendency to speak out of turn. Thus his downfall was crafted very well, allowing the character’s own personality and platform against him. Santos’ camp was completely consistent as well, with a minimum of preaching. Sure, there was no sign of the strain between Matt and Helen from a few episodes back, but this wasn’t the time or place.



    Of course, one of the strengths of the scenario, the fact that it threw an unexpected wrench into a campaign season that was effectively static, is the scenario’s main weakness. It’s an accident that just happens to be conveniently tied to Vinick, taking place at the most convenient moment possible for Santos, evening the odds. It doesn’t require anything special of Santos beyond restraint. For critics of the writers, who sometimes deify Santos, this is just another example of letting the character coast towards a victory.



    But it’s not as if the incident gives Santos a massive edge; it just takes away Vinick’s invincible lead. It makes it a fair fight, and as I said, something like this was completely predictable. That being the case, I couldn’t let that get in the way of the fun. It was one hell of a chess game, with both sides losing resolve over one pivotal night. Great drama, in my book.



    All of which would have been beside the point if the White House plot threads were somehow lacking. But the writers delivered on that element as well. Sheen was at his best in this episode; Bartlet hasn’t been in the spotlight that much in a long time. I was quite pleased, since in many respects, there was a resonance with the better Bartlet moments of the early seasons. This episode made it very clear that the winning candidate will never be Bartlet’s replacement, only his successor, and that made this one of the best episodes of the season for me.

    moreless
  • Finally, the show has comeback to what made this show great in the first four seasons. "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet." After weeks of life on the campagn trail, it appeared that the writers had all but forgotten about the people who are still running the countrmoreless

    8.7
    Finally, the show has comeback to what made this show great in the first four seasons. "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet." After weeks on the campagn trail, it appeared that the writers had all but forgotten about the people who are still running the country. While Bartlet is busy trying to avoid a nuclear catastrophy, Vinick finds that he is sitting on a ticking time bomb because he lobbyed for the very power plant that is threatening to meltdown. When Josh finds out, he and Bruno play a political game of Chicken. If the story breaks, it could skuttle Vinick's campagn.moreless
  • Interesting contrast of plots.

    5.0
    On the one hand, you have the standard NIMBY polemic (nuclear plant = nuclear bomb, radiation, accidents, etc.). Yet the continuing subplot (China and Russia fighting over oil) shows the need to get away from that. Typically, no solutions are offered, just a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing.



    On the upside, the press is depicted as acting more realistically (that is, like themselves), as agenda-driven hooligans.
  • With today's announcement that the West Wing is ending this season, I'm not surprised, but a little sad. Last night showed Bartlet doing what he does best: leading. And I'll miss that so much. But it's approrpriate that the show end with just one administmoreless

    8.1
    The Santos years (yes of COURSE Santos would have won!) would have always felt sort of tacked on, I think. John Spencer's death is just so hard to recover from, too. Anyway, about this ep: I liked the political swirl around the actual crisis. Vinick does the wrong thing by trying to do the right thing. Josh has the right instinct not to exploit this for political gain, but only for so long. I wonder what in the world we're going to do about Kazakhstan. Too Close To Call, indeed.moreless
Alan Alda

Alan Alda

Senator Arnold Vinick (Episodes 123-)

Allison Janney

Allison Janney

Claudia Jean "C.J." Cregg

Bradley Whitford

Bradley Whitford

Josh Lyman

Janel Moloney

Janel Moloney

Donna Moss (Episodes 23-, recurring previously)

Jimmy Smits

Jimmy Smits

Matthew Santos (Episodes 114-)

Joshua Malina

Joshua Malina

Will Bailey (Episodes 78-, recurring previously)

Emil Beheshti

Emil Beheshti

Reporter #1

Guest Star

Matt Corboy

Matt Corboy

Asst. HHS Sect. Blieden

Guest Star

Peggy Dunne

Peggy Dunne

D.O.E. Spokeswoman

Guest Star

Ron Silver

Ron Silver

Bruno Gianelli

Recurring Role

Teri Polo

Teri Polo

Helen Santos

Recurring Role

Timothy Davis-Reed

Timothy Davis-Reed

Mark

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Bartlet: (trying to figure out the nuclear plant accident) I thought a degree in economics was plenty for this job. My kingdom for a plumbing license.

    • Santos (to Josh): You were right four hours ago, and you're still right right now.

    • C.J.: Are you ready?
      Will: To fly into a massive cloud of radiation while the rest of the country is making hats out of tin foil?
      C.J.: It was a rhetorical question.

    • Vinick (who endorsed nuclear power during the debate): Every time they show that debate clip, it looks like I ran into that plant myself and spilled uranium on the floor!

    • (Trying to persuade the California governor to evacuate San Andreo)
      Bartlet: Better a few fender benders on the I-95 than a generation of babies with thyroid cancer.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Stockard Channing, Dulé Hill & Richard Schiff do not appear in this episode and are therefore uncredited.

    • Although credited, Kristin Chenoweth & John Spencer do not appear in this episode. Stockard Channing, Dulé Hill & Richard Schiff also do not appear and are therefore uncredited.

  • ALLUSIONS (2)

    • Episode Title: "Duck and Cover"

      "Duck and Cover" was a technique to (supposedly) avoid injury in a nuclear disaster. It was widely taught in the United States beginning in the 1950s. Countless schoolchildren were involved in drills where they would duck under their desks and cover their heads.

    • The China Syndrome

      This episode is eerily similar to the the plotline of the 1979 movie The China Syndrome starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas.

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