The main plotline of this story is the abortion issue. A 527 group (think Swift Boat Veterans) releases an attack ad on Santos's abortion record. Because of this, Vinick's campaign has a chance to court the right-wingers of the Republican party, although he would lose much of the moderate support that he currently has, and Viinick has to choose whether he wants to solidify a close win with his base, or have a chance at the huge win with moderates. I think this is the first time the West Wing has devoted an entire episode to the abortion issue, which is definitely interesting since it is probably the biggest issue among voters today.
Of course, this all brings up the question of, "how exactly did Vinick get nominated, anyway?" Pro-life voters tend to be the most active ones in the GOP primaries, so one wonders if this could actually happen in our universe. Every time they talked about how Vinick's stand could keep the base at home, I wonder how the "base" put him in this position in the first place. Ah well. I guess if that's my biggest issue with the campaign episodes, then everything's ok.
There are two other subplots for the campaign portion of this episode. The first, is the negotiations for the debates. I certainly wish Bruno got more screentime than he does, because I loved him during the Bartlet re-election campaign episodes, and I love him now. Lou convinces Josh to let her go to the negotiations, since Bruno has managed to get inside of Josh's head. Even though Santos's campaign needs the debates far more than Vinick, Lou blows up the negotiations and walks away from the table, in what appears to be a bit of reverse psychology. I'm not sure this tactic would have worked out if Vinick and Santos don't come together at the end.
In other news, Donna's back! Yay! Lou hires her to do midwest press coverage, and she takes on a major press conference after the big negative ad. Josh has a problem, and Lou puts them in a room and ties them together until they finally kiss. I might have made that last part up, but it's what I wanted to happen. Josh still doesn't seem to realize how good Donna can be at her job, and I'm hoping one of the plotlines for the rest of the season is Josh finally beginning to appreciate her talent. Since every sign has pointed to this season being the last, I hope they finally get together at the end, also. It sure was convinient that Josh had a folder right next to him of all the negative things Donna said about the Santos campaign, wasn't it?
Finally, Will gets thrown to the wolves. Ok, I actually did like him when he was first brought in to replace Sam, but he quickly became annoying when he went to work for the Vice-President. He does an excellent job with the press. I thought he was arguably as good as CJ, and he was definitely an improvement over Toby, and certainly an improvement over Josh doing a press briefing. I also LOVED the spinning camera effect for once. It made the whole scene seem like a little dance between Will and the press.
If this is going to be the final season of the West Wing, it looks like it will go out on a good note, even if, judging by the ratings, no one's watching. Perhaps word of mouth for this last season will at least help drive up DVD sales.