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Hello and Meme!
My White House
sunclouds33
Hi! I've been lurking on LJ- but not posting so much. I don't know if this is particularly a *return* with a more demanding Personal Life and the "It's like a car wreck!" hell-suck aspect of the American news cycle. However, I'm in for tonight and looking to LJ and I came across a great meme! So pick, an episode, any episode. Taken from frelling_tralk and kikimay.

Name an episode (or episodes, as many as you like) from one of the following shows and I will tell you the following about it.

What I like about it.

What I don't like about it.

Favorite line.

Best performance.

A scene/idea from it that's particularly interesting to me.

Something I would have changed to make the episode better.

  • 1
Multiple choices here (Or all of them, if you're up to!)

AtS "A hole in the world" and/or "You're Welcome". Also, if I can I guess, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban the movie.

OK! I'll do all of them- but I may move a little slowly. First, A Hole in the World. See first set of comments.

Sure, take all the time you need!

Your opinions on AHiTW are very, very interesting and I never considered the parallels between the protagonist of Little Princess and ... Wesley! So interesting.

I have issues with Fred as a character because she isn't written with continuity. She's perpetually "the youngest" (But she should be older than Cordelia) and while she claims to not be the damsel in distress, that's basically her whole role on the show. And I don't like it. I like Amy Acker so much, she's incredibly talented! I love how she shifts from Fred to Illyria.

OK still working through these.

What I like about it: Like many, I'd say seeing a "spunky", witty, charismatic, good-haired Cordelia. I'll cover everything else in "What I didn't like" because I have mixed feelings....

What I don't like about it: Ok- on a surface level, it's nice to see a vibrant Cordelia back and it's very sad that she died so young. However, Cordelia's role is so shallow at a moment where more depth was required. I'm quoting from what I've written on BuffyForums but she snarks, she sword-fights, she's brimming with the audience's righteous anger- but not enough to get in the way of Cangel and Being Nice to the Titular Hero. Like a flawless martyr, she takes responsibility for killing Lilah to Wesley even though of course one blames her but she keeps the secret of Connor and the abominable way she treated Wesley post-Connor losing to herself. No need to apologize for stuff that Cordelia actually did. Cordelia can voice the fannish objection to the mindwipe but she can't try to right Angel's wrong by telling people that their minds have been tampered with. And Cordelia reserves the right to pretty much fake non-judginess re: Lilah in front of Wesley and then snark that Eve is Lilah Jr. a few hours later. She's brimming with righteous anger over how Angel made a deal with the devil and compromised his principles- but she's cool with torturing Eve or assigning Harmony as Angel's secretary to torture Eve and she liked that the Senior Partners banished human Lindsey to g-d knows where.

IMO, Angel wasn't any kind of hero at this point between selling out to W&H and working every day to further its corporate interests to pay for its perks....I'm sorry *resources*, killing and resurrecting-mindwiping his son into a different person, and mindwiping his friends of every significant event in the last year. Cordelia lightly touched on these issues but she ultimately viewed her role of reminding Angel that he's still a hero. I truly disagreed. If that's the purpose of her visit, it was a bad one.

However, it's more interesting if the episode is read subversively. Where Cordelia, in her way, was on the same wrong track as the rest of AI and likely be enmeshed in the same W&H quagmire as they were. People (mainly Angel) just read her as a fresher, cleaner perspective because she has been in a coma/absent through the darkest days and even more, because she *was* corrupted and weak in her own way that compliments with their corrupted, weak stance. Andrew, acting on Buffy's orders, was presented as a bad guy for drawing a clear moral line that Buffy's Army won't cooperate with W&H even though the LA branch is "run" by Angel. That kind of assertive integrity is taken as malevolent to people who've been corrupted already.

Lindsey's story would be anticlimactic and stupid if we didn't know that he returns. He appeared 4 episodes as the puppet master in Destiny and he was in the shadows in the next few episodes as a long-con puppet master. It'd be ridiculous if Angel was able to beat him quickly in a simplistic "I'm Angel! I beat the bad guys!" scene by straightforwardly enjoying that he sent Lindsey to be tortured in hell forever because The Senior Partners chose Angel as a more valuable corporate employee. However we know that Lindsey comes back and yes, Angel kills him again, but it's far more shadowy when Angel assassinates a Lindsey who is nominally on his team. This is a point for viewing the entire episode subversively.

Also, it's very annoying when Angel snarks on Spike all "Spike, brain trust that he is, trusted Lindsey's visions" and that exposition basically guides the "How are we going to end Lindsey/fix Spike's fuck up" meeting. Because Angel DID THE SAME THING. Angel trusted a guy calling himself Doyle who said that he got visions of evil happening in LA and Angel fought on the basis of that information without conducting any kind of background check and...a spinoff was born.

Favorite line.

SPIKE: She's evil, you gourmless tit.
CORDELIA: Excuse me? Who bit whom?
ANGEL: Did you call me a tit?
CORDELIA: I thought he had a soul.
SPIKE: I thought she didn't.
CORDELIA: I do.
SPIKE: So do I.
CORDELIA: Well, clearly, mine's better.


Edited at 2017-02-20 02:47 pm (UTC)

Best performance. Eh, I'm underwhelmed by David Boreanaz's and Charisma Carpenter's dramatic performances in this ep. Maybe an UO. Maybe this an another but while I think Christian Kane made an excellent Lindsey in the early season of AtS, there's some gimmicky about how he performs Lindsey in S5 even though the writing for the character is very interesting. Among the regular cast, I think Amy Acker, J August Richards, Alexis Denisof, and Andy Hallet are all far stronger actors even though they're usually the supporting characters to Angel and Cordelia- but those characters are pretty benched in You're Welcome.

I think it's close between David Boreanaz doing the best dramatic work of the dramatic roles offered and James Masters actually doing some very fine comedic buttmonkey work.

A scene/idea from it that's particularly interesting to me.

I wrote this on BuffyForums:

Gunn does a thing here and in Damage where Gunn starts disagreeing with the gang in legalese with all of the confidence of a lawyer with screwy logic and law. Then, the gang easily defeats Gunn's legal argument because it's flat out wrong. Then, Gunn pulls out his real big gun argument and Gunn wins the overall debate. IMO, Gunn conducts himself unethically and unprofessionally in both arguments. Gunn tries making a move to to pull the wool over his bumpkin non-lawyer teammates' eyes by babbling incorrect lawyer jargon against their interests at them all the while Gunn acts like he's their counselor/lawyer who is working the law for them (which he told Angel in Cautionary Tale...). I don't know how much of the problem that Gunn doesn't understand the intersection between law and reality because his legal knowledge is mystical upgrades or Gunn is being a sneaky bastard and trying to use his legal know-how to silence the team without revealing his deeper feelings.

From Damage:

GUNN: You're firing her?
ANGEL: Well, that's one option.
WESLEY: A generous one, considering she tried to kill you.
GUNN: OK, first, the parasite she allegedly sicked on you wasn't meant to be fatal.
FRED: No, just send you into a permanent hallucinogenic coma.
ANGEL: And what's with the "alleged"? You don't believe I know it was her?
GUNN: It's not about what I believe. It's about the evidence.
WESLEY: This isn't a courtroom, Gunn. Things work with a bit more immediacy in the real world.
GUNN: She's liaison to the senior partners. You don't get to be that without serious juice. Move against her without solid proof and it could end in a long, bloody fight.
ANGEL: OK, fine. I think I liked you better when you just wanted to hit people.
GUNN: Rational thought—it's an acquired taste.


See, here it feels like Gunn is so locked into legal mystical upgrades that he genuinely has trouble sorting between legal burdens of proof vs. enough proof for terminating someone or considering someone an enemy. Obviously, this is incredibly dangerous if Gunn genuinely feels like Eve should get to retain her position and access to Angel because someone hasn't proven to a jury beyond reasonable doubt that she put the slugs on Angel. When Wesley and Angel challenge Angel, then Gunn goes to his Plan B argument which is more convincing.

BTW, Angel reveals how much he's a part of Gunn's inferiority complex with, "I think I liked you better when you just wanted to hit people." Really, Angel? How different is that comment from Angelus's racially-tinged beat-down of "You know your place". The Gunn that Angel found and recruited wanted to hit the bad guys....and design innovative weaponry for the streets, assist Anne in caring for the homeless, mentor other street youths, network with people from all walks of life, go on interesting and daring reconnaissance missions, and yeah, hit people to protect others. I'm attacking Gunn in this general post, but Angel is a big part of the problem.

But Gunn is more slippery in You're Welcome just merely an automaton of the law:

GUNN: I'd say we've all had a bellyful. Any thought about what would happen to us if we tried to say bye-bye? The ramifications, I mean. You think the senior partners are just gonna let us breeze on out the front door?
FRED: You're saying we're trapped here?
GUNN: I'm saying we knew what we were getting into when we signed up for this gig. Let's not start pretending that this was some lease with an option to buy.
ANGEL: Gunn, you really think they won't let us out? Or is it that you just don't want to leave?
GUNN: (looks to his side, then looks at Angel, raising his eyebrows) OK. Maybe I don't. It's 'cause I believe in what we're doing. We made the right call.


Here, Gunn does a thing where he acts like AI gang is contractually bound to work permanently at W&H with no room to quit or leave. Not to be racially insensitive, but Gunn conflates "lease with an option to buy" with basically saying that it's reasonable that AI gave themselves over to slavery- permanently working for W&H with no room to quit once they had the experience of working there. Gunn says so casually with such obvious legal authority "let's not pretending that this was some lease with an option to buy". Gunn only moves from his position of "can't legally leave" when Angel puts on the pressure that Gunn *wants* to be there so Gunn pivots with the "did the right thing" argument.

Something I would have changed to make the episode better: If there was a subservsive read, I would have made it more obvious. I think it could have really paid off to made Fred a bigger part of the Angel/Cordelia story and discussions because Fred had the most misgivings about being at W&H. It would have been interesting to see how a Fred would have reacted to Cordelia instinctively saying "It's wrong that you're all here" and whether Fred's agreement would have bound Cordelia to stick to her initial position instead of just justifying Angel's choices.

Very interesting take. As always, you're so logical in making your points.

I do agree about the whole Gunn topic and Angel "enjoying" being the superior (As he did with newly-vamped Spike, there's a pattern here) And now I would have loved to see Cordelia actually telling the truth to Fred!

OK! I'll do all of them- but I may move a little slowly. First, A Hole in the World.

What I like about it: I'll cop to it. The Wesley/Fred scenes made me cry. I hear the people who argue that the relationship is creepy or it's so underwritten other than Wesley's fantasies that they anti-ship it. I can understand all of that and even agree to a limited extent.

However, I'm just left shipping Wesley/Fred because I like both them as characters so much and I buy that they love each other in some meaningful way even though we didn't see it develop romantically on Fred's side. To some extent, I'm a conventional authorial intent fangirl here. And that kind of love was harder and harder to find because I found most of the relationships in AI pretty cynical and set-in-by-inertia. However, there are a number of scenes of Wesley and Fred cooperatively working together or caring about each other in S3-5 to that point, romance or not, it survived as probably the last mutually good-intentioned relationships and that's enough to mourn the breakdown as Fred died.

The Caveman v. Astronauts metaphor is kind of silly on first-hearing but I think it owns its role as such a memorable metaphor that every fan and their daughter uses it to write AtS and even Buffyverse meta.

What I don't like about it: The Fred-flashback scenes kind of leave me cold. It's not clear if she's leaving for college or grad school. It plays like she's leaving for college- but then, it's disappointing that Fred doesn't even have a BIT of her stoner Spin the Bottle 16 year old persona to provide a little continuity in how Fred came to be and to give a little shout out to that hilarious, awesome element of her past. If she's leaving for grad school, it's annoying that the scene plays so much like Fred going to college and it's part of the uncomfortable aspect of how the series was so averse to owning up to Fred's likely early-30-something age.

Favorite line: Fred: I am not—I am not the damsel in distress. I am not some case. I have to work this. I lived in a cave for 5 years in a world where they killed my kind like cattle. I am not going to be cut down by some monster flu. I am better than that!

Best performance: AA, of course because she was making her slow-death as harrowing as possible to the point that I ended up empathizing/also feeling her otherworldly mystical death into an Old One like that's a natural cause of death that I understand and applies to my own moral coil. That's talent! However when contrasted to Shells, I think AD brilliantly connotes forced calm and optimism so that he can be exactly the comforting, empathetic boyfriend that anyone would want if they were dying a tortuous mystical death/transformation into an Old One but laying the groundwork for the next episode where he's a homicidal, stabbing-a-friend blaze of vengeful fury. Like, the kneecapping the lawyer.


A scene/idea from it that's particularly interesting to me: I wrote about A Little Princess's role in Angel in BuffyForums. I'll copy over what I wrote again:

Moving onto another theme, A Little Princess is one of my favorite books. Like before fourth grade when I started reading more adult books, Sara Crewe, Jo March, Anne Shirley, Jane Eyre and Danny Saunders were my literary heroes. I’m torn between two interpretations- the surfacey interpretation Fred is Sara Crewe or the twisted interpretation that Wesley is Sarah Crewe and Fred is his Last Doll.

The passage that Wesley reads about how Sara’s whole personality was etched on her face is very much about Fred. At the end of Shells, Wesley will agree to be Illyria’s guide because Illyria looks like Fred. The personalities written on faces matter a great deal. Moreover, Fred also had Sara’s ageless quality. Sara is a little girl but one look at her serious and observant eyes and you get the feeling that Sara lived a long time. Fred comes off as little girlish but if you look seriously at her history and into her soul and you get the impression that Fred has lived longer than she acts.

One of my favorite elements of A Little Princess was Sara doing her best to maintain her education and sense of self and even more, her sense of specialness from her father that she’s his princess even when she was basically enslaved as an orphan scullery maid cut off from love or ease of life or anything other than mechanistically serving others. It very much feels like a precursor to how Fred functioned in Pylea. Sara making regular nightly trips down from her attic in the middle of the night to study in the boarding school's classrooms so she doesn’t start thinking like a scullery maid and dropping her h’s and forgetting that Henry the VIII had eight wives resonates with Fred babbling to herself about earthly things and writing physics equations on the walls of her cave.

The flashback of Fred’s final day in Texas reverberates that Fred did her best to hold onto her past life much like A Little Princess’s flashbacks and references to Sara's life in India through her make-believe stories shows the past life that Sara was fighting to keep with her. Moreover, despite the re-write of the (legitimately good) 1990s film, Sara’s father really died. Sara did her best to hold onto her past life with her father, was enslaved by Miss Minchin and forced to be a scullery maid but then Sara got to forge a much better but still ultimately difficult life as Mr. Carrisford’s adopted daughter with her father’s fortune restored to her from his will; Sara took an opportunity to be a heroine by making the nearby bakery into a sanctuary for hungry, homeless orphans.

Meanwhile, Fred’s parents were still alive and Fred got to completely choose between family and friends unlike Sara. Still, Fred also went from a perfectly happy and peaceful homelife to being a slave in Pylea to then, forging a better than Pylea but still emotionally difficult life at Angel Investigations with friends.

However, Wesley also has elements of Sara Crewe. Sara made her Last Doll that she ever got from her father representative of everything beautiful and homey in the world so that Sara could hold on and fight to keep her sense of self and stay alive despite her abysmal living conditions. Wesley has that dynamic with Fred where Wesley makes Fred the representative of everything beautiful and valuable in the world so Wesley can cope with his struggles. Of course, it’s completely blameless when it’s a nine year old doing that to their doll; it’s messed up (although still sympathetic) when it’s a grown man doing that to a romantic partner.

One of the most powerful moments in the book was when Sara *rages* at her Last Doll because it just sits there being an inanimate object instead of helping her or offering advice. When Sara rages at her doll for not being a person, it’s a signal that Sara’s hit rock bottom emotionally. In Shells, Wesley will admit that he hates Fred a little bit for being so curious that she opened Illyria’s sarcophagus. That’s a signal that Wesley hit rock bottom for a more insidious twist- hating his “doll” for acting like a person.



Moreover, Wesley has a Sara Crewesque element that Wesley and Sarah were very much weakened and emotionally forced into a Last Doll mentality because they don’t know important truths and the people who they counted on to be friends or allies pointedly aren’t. Sara doesn't know that she wasn't left penniless and she's being gaslighted to believe that she doesn't have rights to live comfortably as a child by Miss Minchen. Wesley has been mind wiped of formative history by Angel- and it's part of why Wesley is working *for* Angel at Evil Inc. instead of being his own boss. Actually, just a pure mind-wipe that solely removed Connor from everyone's memory would restore Wesley as nominal Boss of AI as he was pre-Forgiving. We never learn how the Connor-mindwipe rewrote history so Angel ended up as CEO of AI but it further dirties Angel's big lie/mindwipe as self-serving.

Sara and Wesley both have that sense of rootlessness since they’re far away from their childhood homes. Sara’s wonderful father and Wesley’s dreadful father still instilled them with a label of destiny- Sara is a princess and Wesley is a Watcher. Sara and Wesley spend their whole story where they’re far from home trying to keep that image of themselves because it sustains them to be good. Even when Sara feels like being rude or idiotic or keeping much luxuries for herself, she stops herself because she *should* be acting like the ideal of a princess. Even when Wesley feels like quitting or doing the cowardly thing, he stops because he should be a Watcher. Moreover, a scullery maid who tries to be a princess of the rats in the garret and other scullery maid next door and a rootles fired guy who tries to be a Watcher to the most evil vampire on record has the same sense with it seems ridiculous on its surface but like such a worthy coping mechanism when viewed sympathetically.

There’s some dynamic that Fred was always keeping the reality of who she is alive (although it’s somewhat undermined by her erasing her unimpeachable heroism) throughout her life and especially when she was in exile while the Pyleans were tearing her identity apart. However, Wesley and Sara were keeping a fantasy of themselves alive through their exile- but the fantasy was so inextricably intertwined with the reality of their lives that it’s hard to tell the line. Is Wesley a Watcher? He’s not employed by the Watchers’ Council and his function falls far afield of the Council but he sure acts like a Watcher. Is Sara a princess? No, Sara has no kingdom. However, there really is something to Sara’s belief that all girls should feel like princesses- especially when it comes from a nine year old.

Moreover, Sara felt like she was a penniless orphan who was financially abandoned by her father who she deeply loved and trusted for much of the novel even though that’s not true. Her father was a canny businessman who provided for Sara financially right through his dying days and Sara had a good friend of her father’s in London who would have loved to take custody of her and raise her right. In an opposite dynamic, Wesley has false memories in his head of how he related to Angel, Fred, Gunn et al and what his own track record is in terms of mistake work to twist his personality. Sara was inhibited from objecting to her treatment and how things went down because she falsely believed that she was rejected by everyone and had no place or allies in the world. Wesley was inhibited to rejecting to how AI does business and Gunn’s brain upgrades and Angel joining W&H because Wesley believed that his role was JUST to be ally of those two.

This was fascinating and I love it, not least because I'm RIGHT THERE WITH YOU on Sara Crewe and Anne Shirley's roles for me as a kid. (Jane and Jo, too, to a lesser extent.)

It's good to see you posting again! :)

How about This Year's Girl and Who Are You for the meme? :)

Happy to be back (a little). I'll do both but start with This Year's Girl.

What I like about it: A LOT!! Faith’s dreams with Buffy as the murderous aggressor and Faith as the victim just trying to help Buffy make beds like BFFs and then, enjoy a picnic with Daddy Mayor. The lies that Faith tells herself and then, keeps replaying and pickling in throughout her coma leading to her absolute nadir in morality over the course of This Year’s Girl/Who Are You?/Five by Five. The Scooby meeting with Riley and most importantly, Faith watching it all with every reaction clearly transparent on her face from judgment that Buffy moved on romantically already to this seething resentment that she was never able to break into the good guy gang and was forced onto the fringes. Possibly the Best Joyce Scene Ever when Faith holds her hostage. I think Adam is particularly scary in this episode when the gang sees the bodies he’s dismembered.

However, my favorite dynamics is as follows. I love the subtle ambiguity of Buffy hiding Faith from Riley but being self-aware and humble enough that she’d tell Willow that she knows she is being shady with Riley but she can’t handle an open conversation about Faith and most importantly, Angel. However then, Faith in a CRACKLING SCENE OF AWESOME is so confrontational and angry that Buffy immediately doubles-down on denying any guilt whatsoever for how she handled things or any do-gooder optimism that Faith is a vulnerable victim who needs help.

Faith: I kept having this dream. I’m not sure what it means but in the dream, this self-righteous blonde chick stabs me and you wanna know why?
Buffy: You had it coming.
Faith: That’s one interpretation, but in my dream, she does it for a guy. (to Willow who is trying to hit her from behind) Try it, Red, and you lose an arm. I wake up to find the blonde chick isn’t even dating the guy she was so nuts about before. I mean, she’s moved on to the first college beefstick she meets. Not only has she forgotten about the love her life, but she’s forgotten about the chick she nearly killed for him. So, that’s my dream. That, and some stuff about cigars and a tunnel. But tell me, college girl, what does it all mean?
Buffy: To me? Mostly that you still mouth off about things you don’t understand.

And then, the subtle bad-ass but hilarious point of Willow STILL getting in a hit with her backpack even though the scene has already evolved from a fighty confrontation to a chase involving the police. LOL.

What I don't like about it: The Buffy/Riley scenes are boring. I also think Willow comes off too dim when she suggests that Xander press the buttons on the blaster to “see what happens” and Riley knowing how to fix the blaster in 2 seconds after Xander’s been futzing around with it and blasting himself is some tiresome Macho Riley Porn that irritates. The “humor” of the gang not noticing that Xander just blasted himself is more mean-spirited than funny.

Favorite line: Well, the Buffy v. Faith confrontation that I quoted above. But besides that:

Willow: Don’t worry. We’re sure to spot Faith, first. She’s like this cleavagy slut bomb walking around going “Oooh, check me out. I’m wicked cool. I’m five by five.”
Tara: Five by five? Five by five what?
Willow: THAT’S THE THING! NOBODY KNOWS.

Best performance: Eliza Dushku, of course.


A scene/idea from it that's particularly interesting to me: Other than what I mentioned before, the Mayor scene:

Mayor: Hello Faith. If you're watching this tape, it can only mean one thing. I'm dead. And our noble campaign to bring order to the town of Sunnydale has failed. Utterly and completely. But on the other hand, heck, maybe we won. And right now, I'm on some jumbo monitor in the Richard Wilkins surrounded by a bunch of kids sitting Indian style and looking up at my face filled with fear and wonder. (Laughs) "Hi kids!" (Faith smiles) But the realist in me tends to doubt it.

It does great things for The Mayor arc. We may wonder why The Mayor wanted to out himself as a baddie and become a pure demon. The Mayor was kind of sitting pretty as an immortal all-powerful Mayor in his little Hellmouth fiefdom. He had eternal life. Sunnydale, as he created it, satisfied his contradictory love of Small Town America but also hellmouth misery. "Can't beat that murder rate. Makes D.C. look like Mayberry." And he was getting away with it at least a hundred years. This scene adds a certain pathos that The Mayor thought that he'd likely die in his Ascension but if he didn't, he kind of envisioned being a more powerful version of himself and still living in a world with museums and field trips of kids. The Mayor was ready to sacrifice everything for what seems like just a hope of being MORE feared and heck, viewed with "wonder" after he already outed himself to Sunnydale as a demon. It makes the audience wonder if he was truly miserable enough being a shadow-mayor governing a shadow-town that he would prefer to die if he couldn't get his small chance of getting to govern openly as a demon.

Something I would have changed to make the episode better: I'd cut that...blasted...Xander "blaster" scene. And nothing would be missed.

I love the subtle ambiguity of Buffy hiding Faith from Riley but being self-aware and humble enough that she’d tell Willow that she knows she is being shady with Riley but she can’t handle an open conversation about Faith and most importantly, Angel. However then, Faith in a CRACKLING SCENE OF AWESOME is so confrontational and angry that Buffy immediately doubles-down on denying any guilt whatsoever for how she handled things or any do-gooder optimism that Faith is a vulnerable victim who needs help.

YESSSSS I LOVE IT. Who Are You is my favourite BtVS episode. Intense and gorgeous and I love the past-comes-back element and all the character work, especially how Faith impacts other relationships (Buffy/Riley most obviously but also Willow/Buffy and Willow/Tara.)

Hi, I'm a silent reader of your essays and really enjoy them. I understand it you don't really like these eps but I thought a challenge may be nice. :)

BtVS: S07 - Same Time, Same Place
AtS: S05 - The Girl in Question

Ooh. If you've time, I'd like to hear about Privateers from The West Wing and Tabula Rasa from Buffy.

OK! Let's start with Privateers:

What I like about it: I have a big soft spot for Privateers. I wrote this review of - and then read over it and as usual, had an instinct critical disgust for any writing of mine from the past, even though I was proud at the time. See here: http://ww-renaissance.livejournal.com/100046.html

Privateers is a classic example of what The West Wing did best- compellingly tell episodic plots about political issues, even though they were typically the forgotten, smaller stories and not always flashy WAR or CONGRESSIONAL DEADLOCK. That's a big part of why TWW remains my absolute favorite TV political show even though I think it's more stylish now to admire House of Cards or Veep. Abbey's crusade to end the global gag order- which is unfortunately, still relevant today. http://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2017-02-14/global-gag-order-leaves-ngos-confused-us-agencies-scrambling . It's even worse because Trump's gag order is worse than the George W. Bush-style gag order that I'm sure the West Wing was contemplating back in 2002.

The creep of unprecedented climate stories which should be categorized as casualties from climate change but are just dismissed as the few victims of a freak accident instead of foreshadowing of the likely death of billions from climate change. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2017/02/16/nasa-is-defiantly-communicating-climate-change-science-despite-trumps-doubts/?utm_term=.967fbf5a25b1 The Toby/Josh story about the whistle blower isn't as personally affecting- but it's also a compelling, real world storyline.

I also think there's great continuity porn that's actually some pretty fucking highbrow porn. Snerk. The Amy v. Abbey conflict where Abbey was pressuring Amy to fight a worthy but unwinnable battle on Amy's first day would already be interesting. Amy's argument to Abbey that it's impractical to expect her to lobby the President to threaten to veto or actually veto his own foreign aid bill if it includes the gag order is interesting on his own merits as realpolitik discussion and personally fascinating as a new employee standing up to a boss even though the employee agrees with the boss on the substance. However, it's raises up a level when Abbey accuses Amy of hypocrisy after Amy was willing to detonate welfare legislation in S3 over marriage incentives. It's even more spicy because fandom was pretty mad at Amy about playing such hardball against Josh (including cutting his phone line and dropping his cell phone into boiling soup). However, this isn't an opportunity for a show to cowardly backtrack on its unpopular storylines because its showrunners read the message board. (*cough* Glee *cough*). Amy defends herself just like she would as a person- she had hope of getting marriage incentives taken off the bill beforehand but she had no hope of getting Bartlet to veto his own foreign aid bill.

It's also a very funny ep. The scene of the Francis Scott Key...Key award and CJ not being able to control herself from cracking up during her gag is pretty damn famous among West Wing fans for a reason. RELATABLE CONTENT. When I was in middle school, I won a local essay contest. There was a big fancy shmancy brunch ceremony and I forget exactly what happened, but there was something hilarious about these nuns' prayers to open the ceremony to my brother and I and between the two of us, we were caught in a Giggle Loop. /Coupling. We couldn't stop giggling and our parents had to drag us out. My parents were all, "I don't want to send you to bed early without dinner on this day where you won an award BUT YOU BROUGHT IT ON YOURSELF."

What I don't like about it: Well, the above were the good storylines in Privateers. Donna's story at having to pretend to latch onto this DAR couple because the male escort had a criminal background and thus, limited security clearance was stupid. It's suck that Charlie had to be one of the Aaron Sorkin Male Characters Who Proudly Persist In Courting Women, Despite Said Women's Objections. Even though, this is the only episode where I really have a problem with Charlie's behavior when he gave Jean Paul the wrong entrance information so he could meet Zoey and leer all over what she was wearing even though Zoey previously asked Charlie to leave her alone. I know it's part of a S4 storyline of Charlie still in love with Zoey. It plays better when it's Charlie just on his own not wearing a jacket to internally prove his love for Zoey or meeting her as friend-who-is-still-in-love-her to keep their mutual promise to each other to dig up champagne at the Japanese Gardens upon her graduation from Georgetown. Charlie's isn't usually as annoying as say Danny Conncanon or Danny Tripp in his "still pining for Zoey" story in S4- but Charlie reaches those levels in Privateers.

Favorite line: As always with West Wing, there's a bunch.

ABBEY: So we're for freedom of speech everywhere, but poor countries where they can have our help but only if they live up to Clancy Bangart's moral standards? What the hell kind of free world are you running?
BARTLET: I really don't know Abbe. The day hasn't started yet.

WILL: The legitimacy of her membership in the DAR is being questioned because her qualifying relative was a pirate.
AMY: A pirate?
WILL: A pirate, a pirate. Oh, yes, a pirate, he.
C.J.: A privateer actually.
AMY: Isn't that just a hired pirate?
C.J.: Yeah. Anyway, Mrs. Helena Hodsworth Hooter-Tooter of Braintree wants to organize a boycott of the reception and, well, there it is. Yes, Mrs. Bartlet descends from quite the murderous band of ruffians, and her membership in the DAR is suspect on those grounds or so believes the Boston Globe.

C.J.: Yes. We think we solved your problem.
AMY: Which problem?
C.J.: Marion Cotesworth-Haye of Marblehead.
AMY: Who's organizing a boycott of the reception?
C.J.: Yes.
AMY: How big a problem is it?
C.J.: Not a problem at all, because we have her here.
AMY: Here in the White House?
C.J.: Here in the Mural room.
AMY: I thought she lives in Marblehead.
C.J.: Turns out she came to Washington.
AMY: To boycott the reception?
C.J.: What do you care? Just go in there and talk it through, and if you feel like that isn't working, tell her the First Lady wants to give her an award tonight.
AMY: I make up an award?
C.J.: Save yourself the headache.
AMY: Am I being hazed? Is this a hazing? 'Cause I'll go along and everything but I have to see Josh again so...
WILL: It's not a hazing. They don't do that... except, yes, you put olives in my jacket again.
C.J.: I did. I did put olives in his jacket but this is on the level.

HANDPICKS: This is Hillary Toobin. She's a hydroclimatologist with the USGS.
LEO: What's a hydroclimatologist?
HILLARY: An expert in what I'm about to say. Mean temperatures in Alaska have risen seven degrees in the last 30 years. That's insane. The temperature hike has caused glaciers to shrink and go backwards, leaving lakes of melted glacier water in their wake. A shift in these collapsing glaciers puts pressure on the lakes forcing them to overflow their natural limits, and killing, this morning, 14 people, not spotted owls.
LEO: Are you telling me the deaths this morning are the first fatalities of global warming?
HILLARY: They're definitely global warming fatalities, but I doubt that they're the first.

Best performance: Easily Allison Janney making excellent use of her infectious laughter and having little to do in the scene but laugh hysterically but still remain the funniest player. This is a good ep but there's little else in flashy performances. Mary Louise Parker does a nice job of playing the sympathetic New Girl while also holding onto Amy's intimidating, severe, cynical, divisive affect.

A scene/idea from it that's particularly interesting to me: Actually, stop the presses, but I like my point from the West Wing Renaissance Entry. In contrast to the Continuity Porn of contrasting Amy's strategy with the marriage incentives vs. her strategy with the global gag order, the episode is silent on this:

That said, I do think it's a little problematic that Jed refused to compromise on the first foreign aid bill on giving money to a study on remote prayer (Guns, Not Butter) but he'll compromise on a bill imposing the gag rule. I think the remote prayer study was clearly the lesser evil but it seems like passing the foreign aid bill has became both harder and more political and practically necessary the second time around so the Bartlet administration is taking more crap this time around.

I suppose there's also an argument funding the remote prayer study was taking a crap on the First Amendment and the establishment clause for the actual American government. Meanwhile, the gag rule is taking a crap on the free speech element of the First Amendment but for non-Americans who aren't protected by that amendment anyway. Still, the gag rule has much bigger pragmatic consequences and it comes with clearer discrimination than the remote prayer study.

Something I would have changed to make the episode better: Replace Donna's and Charlie's storylines with something better. It's clearly the rotten part of the otherwise delicious episode. If they can't be replaced, I'd be cool with seeing Amy lobby more senior staffers besides Josh on the global gag order or seeing how Abbey was working to lobby against the global gag order amendment.

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