The West Wing

Season 4 Episode 9

Swiss Diplomacy

1
Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Nov 20, 2002 on NBC
8.1
out of 10
User Rating
91 votes
2

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
The 15-year old son of an Iranian leader needs a heart transplant in the U.S. Problem is, the only man who could do it is an enemy of the Iranian government; The Senate minority leader threatens to thwart the President's legislative agenda when he believes that Hoynes is doing some political maneuvering for the next Presidential election; Toby offers a Congresswoman a Cabinet position but is forced to take back the offer.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Yes, there were non-Aaron Sorkin episodes in the first four seasons.

    9.0
    The episode trivia for Swiss Diplomacy is incorrect. This is one of three episodes in which Aaron Sorkin is not in the writing credits in the first four seasons (Enemies from Season 1 and The Long Goodbye from Season 4 were the two others). This is also, by far, the best of those three episodes.



    The power of Aaron Sorkin's writing is easy to see when compared to a non-Sorkin from the same series. While Sorkin's humor is most certainly quirky, it's also riddled with cadence. Few, if any, writers have this cadence (David Mamet is one other example, though he's primarily film-oriented).



    Swiss Diplomacy, however, is a success because it is co-written by one of Sorkin's understudies (Kevin Falls). Thus, there are plenty of similarities with the writing of Falls versus the writing of Sorkin. The episode teaser is the best evidence of this as the scene was well-paced. I love how the walk-and-talks from The West Wing are paced with the dialogue. This is not only a writing achievement -- it's a directing achievement.



    Christopher Misiano directed this episode (a veteran on the show by this time), and this is an interesting choice since his pace is usually much slower than, say, Alex Graves (who is a master of the fast-paced walk-and-talks). Of course, the pace slows from the episode teaser as the episode becomes more serious (regarding, e.g., the Toby storyline, the transplant storyline, etc.). In fact, there is a terrific pause about halfway into the episode when Bartlet finds out that news of the politically fragile transplant leaks. Bartlet storms out of the West Wing and sighs loudly. This is a perfect touch -- a physical example of a "beat".



    And with time, the dialogue and direction speed up (though cautiously) to the end of the episode -- which is a triumphant, quiet close to the day. In terms of pacing, this episode does not meet Sorkin's mastery -- but it's definitely worthy of accolades. Credit Misiano for his directing touch in this respect.



    There were times when the dialogue seemed a little too forcefully paced, or a little too silly (Refer to Enemies for an extreme example of this). But these were far overshadowed by the quality storytelling. This is another gem of an episode in a show with almost a perfect track record in the first four seasons.moreless
  • Quite what you expect..

    8.0
    I really liked the story in this episode. Specially that 15 years old boy.. and the controversy going around him - some who wanted to help that child and others who were so concerned with politics that they were ready to give up on that kids life. But I liked the outcome.. and the conversation president and doctor had.



    Also, quite interesting development was all with Josh and those politics.. They just won and they are all acting like next election is behind the corner. So that's little feeling like backstabbing but there is a storyline coming.



    Other than that.. I did like Toby storyline but not realized why they had to back it in the end..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

Geoff Pierson

Geoff Pierson

Sen. Tripplehorn

Guest Star

Lucinda Jenney

Lucinda Jenney

Karen Kroft

Guest Star

Bernard White

Bernard White

Ehsan Mohebi

Guest Star

Lily Tomlin

Lily Tomlin

Debbie Fiderer

Recurring Role

Joshua Malina

Joshua Malina

Will Bailey

Recurring Role

Tim Matheson

Tim Matheson

John Hoynes

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (1)

    • This was the second of only three episodes to have not been written or co-written by Aaron Sorkin during the first four seasons, the others being season one's "Enemies" and this season's "The Long Goodbye."

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Leo: Please don't forget all politics are local.
      Bartlet: Ah. Bite me!

    • Donna: You're the reason there are term limits.
      Josh: Yeah? You're the reason-- (pauses) Nothing. Nothing's happening. Nothing's there.

    • Toby: The president says all you need is one, the rest is for ego.
      Karen Kroft: Aha, and how many did the president win by?
      Toby: About three and a half million.
      Karen Kroft: Yeah.
      Toby: He's got a pretty healthy ego, though.

    • Leo: I'll talk to him.
      Ambassador Von Rutte: The president?
      Bartlet (on TV): Don't get me wrong Mark, I think January's a good month but...
      Leo: Yer, the president, generalissimo, whatever he comes back as.

    • C.J.: I think Andy's about to get sued for election fraud.
      Toby: Andy was trying to get sued for election fraud.
      C.J.: Really?
      Toby: Yeah. She's a pistol.

    • Abbey: Am I dreaming, or are you talking to me about foreign policy? Not worried the sky is going to fall down?
      Jed: No, but I'm concerned about spousal abuse.

  • NOTES (0)

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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