The West Wing

Season 2 Episode 10

Noël

0
Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Dec 20, 2000 on NBC
9.4
out of 10
User Rating
195 votes
11

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
Josh investigates the suicide of a pilot with whom he has things in common; Donna tries to get an invitation to the Congressional Christmas party to hear Yo-Yo Ma perform; Jed insists on signing a mountain of Christmas cards himself; after a White House visitor has a strange reaction to a painting, C.J. sets out to discover its provenance; following weeks of volatile behavior and an outburst in the Oval Office, Josh meets with representatives from the America Trauma Victims Association and finally deals with the trauma from his shooting.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • About this episode

    10
    This had great cinematography.
  • Overwhelming

    10
    This is one of the best episodes of what was clearly one of the finest dramatic series ever put on television. The writing, directing, and especially the acting, could hardly be bettered; it's Bradley Whitford's finest hour. The arc of his scenes with Adam Arkin is brilliantly written and unerringly performed. We go on the journey with him from confusion and anger to understanding and the beginning of acceptance. The coup de gràce is Leo's line, immediately following the Man in the Hole story, "As long as I've got a job, you've got a job." Of the many fine episodes scattered through the run of this show, this one is my personal favorite, a story of hope perfectly suited to the time of year when it was first shown.moreless
  • The devastating psychological effects of gun violence and the descent of Josh into nigh nervous breakdown is expertly analysed.

    9.8
    This is one of the finest episodes of the series. The acting of Brad Whitford (Josh Lyman)is superb and very moving. The devastating psychological effects of gun violence and the descent of Josh into nigh nervous breakdown is expertly analysed. From Josh's initial denial of any problem to his eventual recognition of his 'illness', the viewer is taken on an amazing ride of flashbacks, partially cut scenes and witty dialogue. This episode is also pivotal in the development of Josh as a character. It shows just how complex and vulnerable he really is, beyond his usual bravado, proved to be a facade. Furthermore, the relationship between Josh and Leo is reinforced, so important in later seasons. As is the case with Josh's reliance on Donna. This is drama at its' best. Unmissable.moreless
  • Bach's G Major and the bitter taste of adrenaline.

    10
    Adam Arkin gave a brilliant performance as Dr. Stanley Keyworth. His scenes with Josh were some of the best moments of television ever. Him slowly breaking through Josh's denial defense was both moving and impressive to witness.



    Stanley: "You're in nine kinds of pain. You don't know what's going on inside of you."



    The episode, for obvious reasons, reminded me of my favorite first season episode, The Crackpots and These Women, but Noël completely trumped it. When Josh finally accepts the truth as Yo Yo Ma is playing in the background was the most beautiful piece of television I've ever seen. That plot has been done numerous times since M*A*S*H, but none have topped it, until TWW.



    Josh was incredible outside of the therapy scenes as well. When he was walking through the bullpen with Toby and yells, "I can hear the damn sirens all over the building!" I had to pause it because it got to me so much. And it was just frightening to see him completely lose control during his blow up in the Oval Office. Bradley Whitford is definitely one of the best actors to grace television, and more than deserves any award they could have given him for this episode.



    The scene between Josh and Leo at the end was perfectly done and I couldn't live with myself if I didn't include Leo's anecdote.



    Leo: "This guy's walking down a street, when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep, he can't get out. A doctor passes by, and the guy shouts up "Hey you! Can you help me out?" The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up "Father, I'm down in this hole, can you help me out?" The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by. "Hey Joe, it's me, can you help me out?" And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says "Are you stupid? Now we're both down here!" and the friend says, "Yeah, but I've been down here before and I know the way out." As long as I got a job, you got a job, you understand?"



    I thought it was only appropriate that Leo was the one to get Josh help(and it was really moving that Donna was the one that guessed he was lying about how he cut his hand), not only because he got Josh involved with Bartlet but because as his story pointed out, he's seen dark times as well. Josh's plot definitely outshone everything else, but CJ's scenes dealing with the painting were still excellent. Plus her back and forth with Bernard(from the White House Visitors Office) added some levity to the somber episode. As did Charlie and Bartlet's scene about the Christmas cards.



    I feel like I lack the words to truly describe how good this episode was, definitely my favorite, and what I would consider to be the best so far.moreless
  • I have to watch at Christmas

    10
    Not a usual episode but one that puts a pin on the map that is Josh Lyman.

    I have always been a sucker for a good shrink episode on any series,Sydney Freenman on M*A*S*H comes to mind.This one with the as always brillant Adam Arkin drving deeper and deeper into what Josh needs to admit to himself and Josh's set of barriers to overcome.Well directed,well written and one that sticks with me even years after it was aired.I put the dvd in every Christmas Watch all the West wing Christmas episodes and then watch several Christmas episodes of M^A^S^H abd then A Charlie Brown Christmas and the 1951 Scrooge with Alister Sim and my holiday viewing is done.moreless
Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen

President Jed Bartlet

Dule Hill

Dule Hill

Charlie Young

Allison Janney

Allison Janney

Claudia Jean "C.J." Cregg

Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe

Sam Seaborn (Episodes 1-84)

Richard Schiff

Richard Schiff

Toby Ziegler

John Spencer

John Spencer

Leo McGarry

Adam Arkin

Adam Arkin

Stanley Keyworth

Guest Star

Purva Bedi

Purva Bedi

Kaytha Trask

Guest Star

Michael Crider

Michael Crider

David Housman

Guest Star

Melissa Fitzgerald

Melissa Fitzgerald

Carol Fitzpatrick

Recurring Role

Jana Lee Hamblin

Jana Lee Hamblin

Bobbi

Recurring Role

Timothy Davis-Reed

Timothy Davis-Reed

Mark

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (3)

    • During the initial briefing on the rogue pilot in the Situation Room, a general mentions scrambling F-16's out of "Edwards".

      Edwards Air Force Base is a massive operational air base in Edwards, CA, in the Mojave Desert. It is one of the largest air bases in California, but is most notable for historical flights including Chuck Yeager's breaking of the sound barrier in 1947 as well as the location of the first landing of any space shuttle in 1981. It is also the home of the Dryden Flight Research Center, the Air Force Flight Test Center and the Air Force Rocket Research Laboratory.

      However, Edwards is primarily a test and training facility and would be unlikely to have armed F-16s available for missions such as this.

    • Instead of using recorded music and just mimic, Yo-Yo Ma actually played the song for each take. He did it about 45 times.

    • When Josh talks to Sam in his office, there is a Christmas stocking on the wall beside the chalkboard. Twenty minutes later, when Leo is there, the stocking has disappeared.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Josh : Doctor Keyworth I'm the Deputy White House Chief of Staff. I oversee eleven hundred white house employees. I answer directly to Leo McGarry and The President Of The United States. Do you think you're talking to the paper boy? In your wildest dreams did you imagine that I would walk into this room without knowing exactly who you are and what you do?

    • Stanley: You're in nine kinds of pain. You don't know what's going on inside of you.

    • Josh (about his session with Dr. Keyworth): He thinks I have an eating disorder. And a fear of rectangles. That's not weird, is it?

    • Leo: This guy's walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up: "Hey, you! Can you help me out? " The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up: " Father, I'm down in this hole. Can you help me out? " The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by: " Hey, Joe, it's me. Can you help me out? " And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, "Are you stupid? Now we're both down here. " The friend says: "Yeah, but I've been down here before and I know the way out. "

    • C.J.: You see, you try very hard to be mean, but then you see that being nice is better.
      Bernard: You're a freakishly tall woman.
      C.J.: So, that moment's over, then?
      Bernard: Yes.

    • C.J.: What is the painting doing in the White House?
      Bernard: It was on loan from the Musée D'Orsay to the National Gallery. The President, on a visit to the National Gallery -- and possessing even less taste in fine art than you have in accessories -- announced that he liked the painting. The French government offered it as a gift to the White House, I suppose as retribution for Euro Disney. So here it hangs, like a gym sock on a shower rod.

    • Bernard: There's always an incident on a tour. People touch things.
      C.J.: You should punish them for that.
      Bernard: I've begged my superiors to allow me.

    • Bernard: C.J., your necklace is a monument to bourgeois taste.
      C.J.: Thank you.
      Bernard: You're welcome.

  • NOTES (3)

    • Additional Credit: Special Thanks to Megan Moloney, TV Services, The White House

    • Awards and Nominations: This episode won an Emmy in 2001 for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single Camera Series (Thomas Del Ruth). It also was a 2001 Emmy Award Nominee for Outstanding Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series (Kenneth Hardy, Ellen Totleben). It was also a 2001 ASC Award Winner for Outstanding Achievement in Episodic Television Series 2000 DGA Award Winner for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series Night 2001 Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Award for Best Contemporary Hair Styling - Television - Single Episode (Jeffery Sacino, Tony Williams).

    • Music:
      1. The brass quintet plays "Joy to the World" which was composed by George Frideric Handell
      2. When Donna tells Josh not to be a yutz the quintet plays "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
      3. "What Child Is This" from A Scottish Christmas
      4. Praeludium from the "Suite #1 in G Major" for the Unaccompanied Violoncello. The song was composed by Johann Sebastian Bach and performed by Yo-Yo Ma
      5. "Carol of the Bells" by Steve Banks from Winter Peace

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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