The West Wing

Season 6 Episode 18

La Palabra

0
Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Mar 09, 2005 on NBC
8.4
out of 10
User Rating
90 votes
1

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Santos is campaigning in California during the last few days before the all-important "Super Tuesday" primary elections, but he is out of money and he trails both Russell and Hoynes in the polls. When even "La Palabra", a Latino voters group, is all set to endorse Hoynes instead of Santos, Josh urges Santos to take a stand on the new bill that denies driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Meanwhile, Donna tries to figure out why Hoynes suddenly isn't campaigning in California, and advances her position in the Russell campaign by becoming the Vice President's official spokesperson.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • California keeps it rockin'

    7.5
    It has been confirmed- I have prophetic powers. When they played that untrustworthy promo for this week's West Wing episode, I said there is no way Santos has a scandal, it's got to be Hoynes. And lo and behold, I was right. Besides proving me right, this episode was enjoyable in so many ways. Josh and Santos practically switch places in their belief in the campaign, Donna shows how good she is at her job, and for the first time we had an issues-focused campaign episode.



    Santos won in California! Oh, I could not be happier if John Kerry himself had won. How incredibly smart to have Hoynes fall first because of devious travel plans and then a sex scandal. First of all, this makes sense in the context of The West Wing because Hoynes had to resign from the vice presidency because of sexual misconduct. And, as our own Bill Clinton has shown us, problems like that aren't likely to be isolated situations. So, good Hoynes is out of the way. Now we have the driver's license bill to deal with. Santos knows what he is doing, I tell you. This man knows politics better than we might think, and he still retains that idealism that makes us love him. He knows that if he is going to win this election he needs to be seen as the American candidate and not just the Latino-American candidate. But he still wants to stand up for what is right, so he drums up an clever plan with the California governor. Sometimes, it annoys me to no end that politicians don't answer the questions they are asked, but in this case it was exactly what Santos needed to do. Don't listen to the press, obsessed with polls and a local problem, and make your campaign about what you want it to be about. (Case in point, this quote from the episode: "All the questions will be about the driver's license bill." "But none of the answers.") Santos is just so ridiculously likable. I will hate to see Jed Bartlet go, but I couldn't have asked for a better replacement.



    Josh had an interesting change of heart this episode. As financial problems (they are broke) present themselves, he has to face facts about the likelihood of Santos winning the nomination. His persuasive powers have been evidenced by the fact that he has made Santos not only believe in himself, but believe more than Josh believes. But now Josh has to come clean with his opinion on their chances so Santos family won't end up in financial ruin for no reason. But no, Santos, with a touching story about his past, reveals that come hell or high water he will be in the Texas primary. And thank goodness, because he would have dropped out right before he had a chance at winning California. I feel a little bit sorry for Josh. His boss has proved him wrong time and time again. Josh is a self-confident guy, but all this failure might be chipping away at his ego. It almost seems as though, if Santos wins the nomination, Josh won't be able to take any credit. First the advertisement and last week's stem cell legislative scheme, then the advice about staying in the campaign, and finally the idea of going to the governor, which is arguably why he won California. I understand that Santos is politically savvy and morally upstanding, but its time for Josh to win some. Although Santos winning is Josh winning, and if nothing else, Josh saw the potential in Santos. But Josh is brilliant; even Hoynes once said that Bartlet only won because of Josh's work on the campaign, so I think we need to see more of that.



    There are so many smart people on this show, I wonder if the reason it doesn't have better ratings is because it makes the general public feel too inferior. This week, another brilliant political mind is in the making as Donna really shows everyone how intelligent she is, and how much she brings to the table. Ultimately, she wasn't successful because Santos won California, but she was most certainly on the right track. She also wasn't afraid to use her feminine charms to con the Hoynes staff member into giving away important information. If Russell (or even Santos, Josh would definitely hire her) were to win the election, I think she would definitely make a terrific Deputy Chief of Staff. She is really so much more than an assistant, and it is great to see her moving onward and upward. I agree with Cliff Calley, she has changed in a good way.



    OTHER THOUGHTS:

    - This episode had the most typical-West Wing feel of any other campaign episodes. They are finally getting the hang of fusing the two locations. This week, we had Josh seeking advice from Leo, and the last few weeks included all the characters back home in Washington.

    - What is Leo's position? He is obviously working in the White House because he was sitting at a White House desk when Josh called him. But he isn't Chief of Staff anymore, and he doesn't seem to have a particular function, so what is he doing there? I agree that he is needed, but for what exactly?

    - Helen and Matt Santos are a great couple. There are also definite threads of Abbey Bartlet in Helen Santos, especially when you consider the storyline of Santos' return to Congress next to Bartlet running for a second term. Not that I'm partial to Santos beating Vinick in the national election, but Teri Polo would make a great First Lady.

    - I miss Charlie. He had a minimal storyline in Drought Conditions, but his interaction with the President, and the quiet loyalty his character emitted were such a vital element to the show. He took the job with CJ, so he wouldn't have to leave the President, so I think he should see Jed more often.

    - The West Wing continues to make intelligent, practical arguments for issues where such arguments seem nonexistent in our media. Santos's reason for his opposition to the driver's license bill was another example.

    - Santos winning California is even bigger than we might realize at first. Josh and Leo once talked about the probability that Vinick would win California, destroying whatever Democrat runs in the electoral college. The fact that Californians favor Congressman Santos is a huge incentive for the DNC to nominate him.



    Written: 3/14/2005moreless
Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen

President Jed Bartlet

Dule Hill

Dule Hill

Charlie Young

Allison Janney

Allison Janney

Claudia Jean "C.J." Cregg

Richard Schiff

Richard Schiff

Toby Ziegler

John Spencer

John Spencer

Leo McGarry

Jimmy Smits

Jimmy Smits

Matthew Santos (Episodes 114-)

Ray Wise

Ray Wise

Governor Tillman

Guest Star

Castulo Guerra

Castulo Guerra

Ed Garcia

Guest Star

Michael Reilly Burke

Michael Reilly Burke

Bill Brewer

Guest Star

Gary Cole

Gary Cole

Bob Russell

Recurring Role

Teri Polo

Teri Polo

Helen Santos

Recurring Role

Tim Matheson

Tim Matheson

John Hoynes

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Air Force Two appears as two different planes in this episode. From the outside it appears as Air Force Two, but on the inside it is the same set the show uses while on Air Force One.

      The first shot we see is the actual Air Force Two, a C-32, which is a modified Boeing 757 (a single level plane). It is footage of the plane from outside while in the sky. It is quite obvious that it is Air Force Two because it is a single level plane, which is what you see.

      From the inside, the plane appears as Air Force One, a VC-25, which is a modified Boeing 747. As Donna walks to the front of the plane to Vice President Russell's quarters you can see a staircase which would only be found in Air Force One. That would mean that the plane they used for the inside shot was a two-level plane and not a one-level plane which is what Air Force Two is.

      'Air Force One' and 'Air Force Two' are not specific aircraft but ATC call-signs attached to whatever aircraft is being used to carry (One) the president and/or (Two) the vice-president.

    • In the West Wing universe, a bill to withold driver's licenses from illegal immigrants is vetoed by the Governor of California. In reality, it is currently not legal for illegal immigrants to obtain California driver's licenses. A bill that would have made it legal was overturned by Governor Schwarzenegger.

    • The seal of the state of California shown in this episode is not the actual seal, which depicts the goddess Minerva in a landscape.

  • QUOTES (2)

  • NOTES (3)

    • Awards and Nominations:
      Jimmy Smits won the 2005 Imagen Award for Best Actor TV Drama for his work in this episode

      This episode won the 2005 Imagen Award for Best Primetime TV Series, Drama

    • Stockard Channing, Dulé Hill, Allison Janney, Mary McCormack, Richard Schiff, and Martin Sheen do not appear in this episode.

    • "La Palabra" is Spanish for "The Word." This is the first and only time an episode title has been in Spanish.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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