The West Wing

Season 7 Episode 12

Duck and Cover

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Jan 22, 2006 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

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out of 10
120 votes
  • this show will end in a hi note

    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 adventure
  • What can I say? I loved it!

    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.
  • 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 countr

    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.
  • Interesting contrast of plots.

    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 administ

    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.
  • A parade of agendas.

    This episode was like those anti-war parades that, from a distance, seem a monolith, but up-close are a consumme of agendas: "Free Tibet" next to "Stop The WTO" next to "Lesbians for the Metric System" next to "Fox News Lies." Where does one start?

    1. The disaster itself, which gives us J. K. Simmons as the totally connected, competent FEMA Head. Agenda: Bush sucks. Brown sucks hard.

    2. The location of the reactor. San Andreo? Hello? Is that slightly close to San Andreas (as in Fault) by accident? Agenda: Nuclear Power blows. NRC blows chunks.

    3. The politicization of a tragedy. Agenda: Republicans: don't get me started.

    4. The freeway evacuation, ala Rita (which I took part in, btw). Agenda: America is underprepared, so much so that our overreactions still aren't reactions enough.

    Occasionally, The West Wing will let the curtain drop and reveal its true intentions,and simply not give a crap, mimesis be damned. Such was the case in the disastrous final five minutes of the pilot, when Bartlet told off the religious right in a way in which a President would never speak ("Get your fat asses out of here"--no, really?). Such was also the case earlier this year, when Lawrence O'Donnell's obsessive attempt to write an apologia for the Kerry campaign led to two separate explanations for "I voted for it before I voted against it." And such was the case tonight, when the wish to give a kick in the butt to Bush over Katrina/Rita simply dictated the script from start to finish.

    That said, two things shone here. The first was the ongoing maturation of Josh. I can't state it enough; what was said of Churchill is true of Josh: "Poor judgment, wonderful instincts." Josh has made blunders aplenty, season after season, but it was his insight--to close down the campaign until Vinick said something--that may be the tipping point in the election. (I mean, we all know Santos will win, right?) The second was the demonstration of how external events, of how neither candidate is at fault, can turn history. I've become a bit of a nut on the subject of the 1900 Galveston hurricane, the once-in-a-thousand-year confluence of sea, rain, and wind, in which the Gulf of Mexico flowed fifteen blocks inland, turning the city into Atlantis. This happened in September of 1900. Had it happened in September of 2000--even given the seawall, even given sophisticated disaster relief--who would have won the 2000 presidential election? The governor of the affected state, or the Vice President who had been yammering for years about global warming?

    Was Vinick responsible for the accident? Of course not. Will he suffer for it? Of course he will. Politics ain't beanbag.

    Am I the only one bored to catatonia with the Russia/China thing?

    Was anyone surprised that this, now we know, is the last season?
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