The West Wing

Season 7 Episode 16

Election Day (Part 1)

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Apr 02, 2006 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (16)

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out of 10
143 votes
  • One of the most important episodes of the season lapses into moments of soap opera.

    Perhaps it is because I am watching the season on dvd and already know the outcome of the election, that I was more annoyed by the soap opera elements of this episode than excited by the actual storyline. So Josh and Donna get together. Not really a surprise but I find the timing rather strained. (Or is organising a campaign such an aphrodisiac?) Plus, on a show like The West Wing I don't need to see bed scenes when there are more important things happening. (The Will-Kate relationship is handled more subtly, the 'West Wing way'.)

    The actual frenzy of the incoming results was done well, but my other gripe with the episode is the lack of ... West Wing. Only a few short scenes with the inhabitants of the White House?
  • This episode had all the characteristics that I loved in the early episodes.

    The West Wing, in the beginning, had a knack for taking real world and pressing issues and merging them effortlessly with the multi-layered personalities of a neurotic staff. This episode was no different, an election which was anybody's game, the death of the beloved Leo character, and the tension of Josh, just below the surface and threatening to bubble out. While I, like many people, mainly watched the West Wing just to watch the emotions between Josh and Donna, I was not disappointed to see them come to a head and be dealt in typical Josh and Donna style. With irreverence and humor.
  • Election Day arrives and Oh my good God did I just see what I think I saw........

    Living in England and therefore getting episodes several months after they air in the US, I try my hardest to avoid as many spoilers as I can, so that I’m constantly surprised by what is going to happen. I’ve even been known to chase friends away carrying the TV Times as I’ve screamed “I don’t want to know, I don’t want to know!!” and then showered them with four letter words and fist fulls of pot pouri that my mother brought me, as they clearly ignore me.

    Oh my giddy Aunt am I glad I managed to keep the narrative of this episode quiet.

    Oh the whole I thought this was brilliant episode. It was funny and more importantly the tension and helplessness of the Election Day seemed to seep from the television screen. And it featured another Josh “explosion” which reminded me very much of my favourite episode ever Noel. He is so confident and controlled all the time; it’s nice to see his frailties from time to time.

    Needless to say the whole Josh and Donna thing took me completely by surprise. I believe my mouth dropped open so much the cat nearly climbed in. But importantly I think it was handled well. As was the end. A tremendous episode. This is why I love this show.
  • The first part of a 2 parter that really needs to be viewed as a whole. Strangely paced and way way way to full of people having sex...

    There are some great things in this episode. The scene where Josh goes nuts and then Donna comforts him outside is great. The bits with Charlie (where did he go?) and CJ are also great. The rest of the episode just didn't feel like a West Wing ep to me.

    In terms of the overall story arc for the entire season, this is one of the most crucial episodes ever made for the show. And yet it seems so full of little bits of sexual innuendo and school yard sex jokes that are more suited to an episode of Gilmore Girls than this prestigious piece of TV drama.

    I'm sure the second part will erase the memories but first viewing still hurts.

    The end: sad but inevitable. RIP John Spencer.
  • A pivotal episode for the election of a new President of the United States.

    This episode greatly details the opening hours of the election. Josh is definitely stressed out about the possible outcome of the election. The episode shows the drama during election day and the tighteness of the election. It is sad that Leo died and it creates a crisis for the Santos campaign. It will be interesting to see what happens with the election after the death of Leo. This episode definitely setup a great finish for "Election Day-Part II."

    The actoring was tremedolous by showing the drama of the situation. Their actoring was convincable and really good. I am finally glad that Josh and Donna hooked up because that tension has been building for atleast the past 4 years.

    I look forward to finding out the results of the election between Matthew Santos and Arnold Vinick.
  • It's Election Day, and Josh's loosing it.

    It began in a hotel bar on the Monday night/early Tuesday morning of Election Day. In a bit reminding us of the team chemistry from two weeks ago, the Santos staffers joke around, and then head off to bed - in pairs. Eventually, leaving Josh and Donna to their own devises. After a brief conversation about campaign hook-ups, in which Josh learned Donna hadn’t participated in one, the two head up stairs to make millions sigh in relief - it’s finally happened.

    Over the next five acts, Josh tries to figure out what the hook-up means, checks out the state of the ballroom for the evenings event, gives a poor, but physically comedic, non-thank you thank you speech from atop a rolly chair, and worries over the exit polling data. With the uncertainty about Donna and the pressures of election day mounting, Josh looses it in the bull pen - having a nutty thats reminicent of “Noel”. Shortly after that, Annabeth finds Leo collapsed in his suite.

    Upon thinking about this episode, I was struck with how many visual and audio cues pointed back to “Noel”. From the firm placment of the glass on the table in the first act, to the loudness of the Foo Fighters in the ballroom, to Josh’s pained and frozen face while staring obsessively at the exit polls you could see him come unglued. I hope he doesn’t discinigrate any further next week as we begin to deal with Leo’s death.
  • Everything I have watched this show for rolled up into one episode. Painful to watch towards the end knowing what is coming, but worth every second though.

    This episode makes you scream "DAMN YOU NBC!" After a couple of slow seasons this show has finally found itself and would of been interesting for the next few years. A new cast of white house staffers along with a few old faces (CJ staying on to help out or *gasp* becoming VP. Josh becoming chief of staff with Will staying on as Communications director. YOu bring Toby and Sam back every once and a while with a visit from former President Bartlett and you have a great future. But hey we need to make room for "Heist" and "Conviction"

  • It's finally here. The long awaited and much anticipated episode with the death of Leo. With out a doubt, John spencer was one of the individuals that made this series great, and he will be sorely missed.

    There was some great stuff in this episode. I found it funny how Josh and Bruno were talking about the exact same thing, but no one on either side listened to them. Granted, Josh was a little more high strung than Bruno, but I guess it just goes to prove how evenly matched those two guys are. What I didn't like was all the hook ups that was obviously emphasized in this episode because of the Josh-Donna thing. Bleagh! Eventhought I knew that the ending was coming, it was still shocking to me when Annabeth found leo dead. R.I.P. John.
  • Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.

    This episode was funny. I swear. Several favorite parts:

    The beginning, of course. All the revelations of the campaign workers being paired off. Lou and that young dude, that was kind of funny. And I loved the way they showed Josh watching Donna leave the room, take a gulp of booze, and put the glass down-hard. And then...the intro! Love it.

    And of course, anything to do with Josh and Donna talking about a relationship, kissing, or--finally--having sex, It's what we've been waiting for for eight years now. Makes me very happy :-)

    Charlie (who we're all happy to have back) and his little remark: "You could consider world domination for your next career.

    And oh, my, god, why oh why did Annabeth have to be the one to find Leo? It was so horribly-yet beautifully-tragic I just can't stand it. She had grown so close to Leo. And in the previews for next week's episode, the way she said, "He died." Tragic. soooo tragic.

    but, overall, i loved the episode. even the tragedy. But especially what happened between Josh and Donna. I hope it lasts. I really do.
  • Rebirth

    The logical conclusion for the series is to send everyone, the old timers, off to new lives. They all need a new start on life, to get out of the rat race they\'ve been in for 7 years. They really need to be reborn.

    It\'s a bit corny, but don\'t we want Josh and Donna to end up together? Can it be done in the White House if Santos wins?

    Won\'t it be really unsatisfying to think about Josh, Donna, et. al. continuing in the West Wing but not being able to follow them? Far better the White House as we know it is turned over and the characters all exit to lives in which we won\'t miss them.

    Vinnick wins.
  • What happens when you have an ememble of talented, amazingly dedicated and action-orientated politicos have nothing to do but wait? And who says politics isn't sexy?

    The events of this episode demonstrate so clearly that the show is winding down and this is demonstrated in both campaigns and at the White House. At the White House, there is talk of what our favourite characters will do next as it is obvious that their time is running out. The election marks the firm closure that their years of public service are about to end and there is a great degree of uncertainty and uneasiness about this. Charlie (great to see him again), C.J., Kate (she voted for Vinnick!), and Will are not bitter about this but all demonstrate a reluctancy to accept this - no more so than C.J. who should seriously consider world domination as her next career move. I would have liked to see a few enhancements to the White House scenes, especially when Charlie mentioned that he wanted to continue working with C.J. I would have preferred the dialogue to be something more cheesy like Charlie stating he wants to continue working FOR C.J. and then C.J. corrects him and says she wants him to continue working WITH her. That is corny I know, but Charlie's been there for 8 (well 7, but who can count?) years and he should have left the West Wing and started running a fortune 500 company or something because he's that talented.

    Moving onto the Santos camp, Bruno is back to being Bruno. I laughed when he said "she's an almost Yale Grad." I like Bruno. I liked him in season 3 when he ran the Bartlett campaign and I really liked his 50 state dream. Eventhough he's not a republican he wants to win and he falls apart in this episode and freaks out over the exit polling data just like Josh. Josh and Bruno may be rivals in this but they are the same person.

    Over at the next President's camp, I mean Santo's camp, all the staffers are hooking up much to Josh's surprise. He's been to wrapped up in the campaign to even notice that Ronna has a hot girlfriend or that Lou is shagging the young guy. But Josh isn't to dense to get Donna's "lets go upstairs and do what we've both wanted to do for 8 years" hint and badda bing they've done it. Thankfully, neither brought their laptop to bed to check the news wires. But that lack of a computer combined with the awkwardness prompts Donna to get up, check the news and get coffee. Before they can go at it again the whole campaign is in Josh's room but Donna's biggest concern is where her panties are, that is a fair question Donna! Lets just all remember that Donna has a hard time keeping track of her underwear - just think back to season 3.

    And it seems the dead are the only ones with nerves of steal as Leo is known to be snoozing while everyone else is freaking out or hooking up. And this leads us to the time the election results start to come in building up to California being the on deciding State. Leo must surely be interested in watching the results come in and his sweetie goes to get him only to discover...

    I agree with the other reviewer who said that the killing Leo off once the election is all but over was the most feasible way to handle things. I just hate that Leo had to die alone in his hotel room. Leo's fell to so many drunken lows in hotel rooms (in Cuba or during the first Primaries) that I'd wish Leo died with more closure, surrounded Mallory and other who loved him. I hope Mallory comes back. Possible as the wife of the next VP-elect, Sam?

    Can't wait for next week.
  • It's hard not to love West Wing when the quality reaches these levels - and it's hard not to hate that the show is ending.

    This episode has everything that should appeal to WW-fans - election drama, partisan strategizing and what appears to be a very credible portrayal of what happens behind the scene on election day.

    The way that Donna and Josh came out of their shells a bit was tantalizing and intriguing, like taking off the restraints for the first time in 7 seasons. The dialogue was again top of the line, even if West Wing has gotten a tendency to move a lot of the character action into the characters awkward reactions instead of dealing with it through clever words and witty responses.

    The whole election day scenario was kept very open and the end was sufficiently dramatic to keep us on edge for the entire week. If this thing doesn't end with a Santos victory, I think most would be surprised - but it is still genuinely not clear what will happen, and the mere fact that we're at election day on episode 16 suggests that there is plenty left to come.

    A guess is that we'll see the end of election day in the next episode, but no winner until one of the last episodes - I am looking forward to this show's take on Florida 2000. :)
  • Superb episode - and the beginning of the end!

    Another brilliant episode, well written and well portrayed despite what the critics might say.

    Some may say that the exchanges between Donna and Josh are well written - but I challenge any of the critics to be overly witty after finally fulfilling a relationship that has been 8 years in the making. And Donna's heartfelt loyalty to Josh is wonderful to see, especially after his melt down.

    And while most of us knew of John Spencers untimely passing, the last scene was moving, and had my eyes welling with tears.

    All in all, a brilliant episode
  • The final turn begins

    Well, the time has finally come. The final leg of the final season has begun, and already there is a palpable tone of finality to it all. The writers did a nice job of making it seem like the end of a long struggle, tying the end of the series to the end of the election and its inevitable aftermath. As the characters try to figure out where things go from here, now that the dance is over, the audience feels the same decompression coming on.

    There was little doubt that the election itself wouldn’t be resolved until the second part of the episode, and anyone who thought that Leo’s death would be handled before the very end of the episode wasn’t paying much attention. The writers did the only thing they could to keep the election plot viable: wait until after the election is essentially over for his death to be discovered. I’m sure that the effect will factor into the West Coast, since the plot demands that California be the deciding factor in the election, but in essence, Leo’s death shouldn’t change the outcome.

    I’m more convinced than ever that Santos will win the election, sparking a final plot arc to find someone to step into Leo’s place as Vice President-Elect. And I’m still quite convinced that Sam Seaborn will be the one to step up to the plate. It would pay off a long-dangling plot thread from the Sorkin days, and it would be the kind of plot element necessary to intrigue Rob Lowe into coming back. Besides, Sam as VP and Josh as CoS? Wouldn’t that be the logical end for both characters, looking back at the very beginning of the series?

    Speaking of logical ends for characters, I have to say this regarding Josh and Donna: it’s about freakin’ time! I said it before, I’m not a shipper by any means, but this is one of those instances where it just felt right. And I like the fact that it happened when Josh needed it the most, whether his clueless self understood that or not. Throughout the episode, she was the only one able to cut through the noise.

    Of course, there are those who will complain that this episode was dominated by sex and relationships. That’s true, but I saw it more as pent-up and repressed emotions finally coming out, now that all the energy really has no place to go. The question is whether or not that outlet is positive or negative, and in that regard, there was a nice bit of variation.

    One thing that springs to mind is the comparison of Josh and Bruno. The two have been locking heads as the campaign managers since early in the game, and both of them were left crunching numbers after the exit polls. Josh wound up relieving some of the stress with Donna, which was the culmination of their relationship to date. There’s the promise of a new future for both, regardless of the election outcome. Bruno, on the other hand, chose what appears to be a more transitory solution. It feels like another way to show that Josh is the better man, and thus the one worthy of winning the struggle.

    Although the episode had a slower pace, I wasn’t left bored or distracted, because I love elections and the tension of waiting for the returns to come in. In this particular case, if these were real-world candidates, I’d be hard pressed to choose, so I’ll be happy either way. I still think Santos will win, if only because the entire season is designed for that outcome. But something tells me that the election outcome will hardly be the most important aspect of the next episode.
  • Huh? What happened to Donna's character?

    I missed more episodes than I caught this season. I've read the synopsis for each episode but I may be off base, here. Josh asked Donna if she's slept with any of the girls on the staff and she said "no" in a mysterious way, smiling the whole time. Josh followed her down the hall. The next day one of the female staffers gave Donna a quick kiss, as if she does it all the time. Am I to believe that Donna a.) is straight, tells Josh the truth, and is suddenly a different Donna who's so open and accepting that she has no problem with a lesbian kissing her in front of Josh; or b.) Donna's slept with the woman and then lied to Josh about it?

    Either way, it doesn't hold water with everything we know about the dignified and enigmatic Ms. Moss. What up?

    Anyway, Josh is either melting down because, a.) he has a phobia about success or b.) his dream girl is bi-sexual and lies to him. After tonight's meltdowns, he isn't qualified to lead an elementary school soccer team, let alone a White House staff.

    Prediction: Josh is VP.

  • And so, the episode we've all been waiting for. And yes, it delivers.

    Funny coincidence: while killing time waiting for "Election Day" to start, I was recalling graduate school for someone who had never known the importance we attached to every argument, the earth-shaking importance of endearing ourselves to every invited author who came through town, and, always hovering in our midst, the sex. It is an emotional perfect storm to feel overworked, underappreciated, and still involved in something bigger than oneself: in my case, teaching freshman comp to thirty-five students at a time. What happens in the aforesaid situation is a sense of self-romanticization in which sex becomes the logical outcome of a half-decent evening.

    This exhaustion/romance/sex matrix was what was on display throught tonight's episode, and by God, none too soon. So many of the characters we've seen these past seven seasons could best be described as thwarted: up to now, CJ never had sex with Danny, nor Josh with Donna, nor (I think) Sam with Ainsley. Toby fathered twins, Leo got it on with his lawyer--but really, the Rubicon was seriously crossed when Will Bailey started getting some nerd action earlier this season. But tonight was a kind of prom night crossed with commencement--and, full of themselves and the moment and the wish to continue it, everyone in the Santos campaign paired off, Josh and Donna most prominently.

    There are the big questions, and then the interesting questions. Big question: will Santos win? Answer: yes, of course. Alan Alda has been kept in the bullpen for the last two weeks, for one thing. Interesting question: what will become of Josh and Donna? Answer: who knows? Their thwarted passion has given way to the two of them having to find a kind of truth together. Now they have to find their own way.

    Big question: how will the election be resolved? Answer: some spin on the 2000/2004 elections. My best guess now: Vinick turns down the opportunity to pursue a court fight, in part because of the death of Leo McGarry.

    Two final thoughts. The discovery of Leo McGarry's body brought home once again how much I'll miss both his character and John Spencer the actor. Spencer was that rare actor who simply was never bad: along with M. Emmett Walsh, Steven Hill, and Harry Dean Stanton (along with few others) Spencer was a guarantee that, whatever the merits of a product, there would always be one good reason to watch.

    Finally, Josh. I'm worried. Josh clearly has spent his entire adult life preparing to be White House Chief of Staff. At least seven times, he has come close (sometimes perilously so) to the job: Hoynes's first campaign, the time the Bartlet staff considered dropping Hoynes for (among others) Leo during the re-election, Hoynes's resignation (and the thought of replacing him with Leo), Leo's heart attack, Hoynes's second campaign, Russell's campaign, and now Santos. Each time, something (or someone, such as CJ) has stood in the way. Now, his election-day emotional unraveling, combined with Leo now gone as his cheerleader, may stop him yet again. Does anyone think that President Santos might judge someone else (Lou, perhaps) to be more appropriate? Or is all this a red herring?

    Leo's death and the election will be the immediate triphammers. Toby will make a deal, Will's fate will be a footnote, Bartlet will write his memoirs, and CJ will get together with Danny and run General Electric. The big gut-punch will be Josh: his future with Donna, and--watch for it, gang--his future in the White House.