The West Wing Season 1 Episode 8 Review: Enemies

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The West Wing went off the air many years ago. But I’ve finally given in and am ready to start the series from the beginning, reviewing each episode as I go. Ready to join me? Let’s do this…  



What? You ask? Well, The West Wing Season 1 Episode 8 was rather uneventful. 

It was the first time I wished President Bartlet was a little more professional around the White House and maybe not so involved in the personal lives of his staff.  Deep down, if any one of them does something that he considers hurtful to his political future, they may be toast.

Beginning of a Bad Day - The West Wing

The relationship between Vice President Hoynes and President Bartlet came into focus on "Enemies, " and we finally learn why the two don't have one. 

Unless I'm forgetting something, the two of them crossing paths in an otherwise quiet meeting before Cabinet officers was their first on-screen scene together. It was as ugly as I would have expected it to be given past brushes with Hoynes.

Bartlet was late to the meeting. When he appeared in the room, he asked for the minutes to be read, and he discovered Hoynes thought Bartlet would agree their first order of business should be finding a way to work together with Congress, Bartlett humiliated him by wondering why serving the American people wasn't first.

Hoynes had a look of both confusion and horror on his face, and although Bartlet's behavior wasn't totally unexpected to me, news of the incident leaked out of the room and to the press.

Humiliated - The West Wing Season 1 Episode 8

Bartlet has always been called a proud and stubborn man, but this did exceed my expectations. The only times we've seen Vice President Hoynes since the series began is when he's in the midst of some hostile scenario when it comes to the president or his staff.

This time was no different, and when he apologized to Bartlet, Hoynes couldn't help but take the time to ask what he'd ever done to deserve such awful treatment than deliver the South.

It surprised me the two had never taken the time to discuss their differences, and frankly, Bartlet's reply was hard and hardly reassuring when it comes to the mans we've known so far.

You Made Me Beg - The West Wing Season 1 Episode 8

In his opinion, Bartlet thought Hoynes made him beg to be his Vice Presidential running mate and making him beg was one step too far, and apparently, one Bartlet will never be able to forgive.

Hoynes was taken aback. It was clear he hadn't thought of himself as requiring Bartlet to beg, but as a man who had just been trounced in the primary. It was probably harder for him to accept the handout from Bartlet than it was for Bartlet to offer it.

What Did I Ever Do? - The West Wing Season 1 Episode 8

But all Bartlet could recall was Hoynes making him beg. The way he spoke about it was with a face we've never seen on the President. Well, maybe once. When he was considering his first military action in defense of his new friend after he was shot down over Syria.

Bartlet may be a liberal, but he has a hard streak that is anything but what the average citizen thinks of when they imagine the softer side of the properties of Democrats.

Danny, of course, wanted to make the most out of that moment that took place in front of the cabinet. Danny, who finds six protestors and will send the West Wing into turmoil. 

Does he have a way to turning over the dirt to find otherwise unpanned gold or is he just a pain in the ass? I'm inclined to believe the latter, but this early in the run, I'd probably be wrong.

Fixing the Mess - The West Wing Season 1 Episode 8

By digging, he won himself 30 minutes with Bartlet on any topic. He is the only winner from that scenario.

Mallory's attempt to take Sam onto a simple date at the opera left room for Leo to stick his nose into things. Of course, Mallory was using her parents' former opera tickets, and she refused to tell Leo how her mother was doing.

The President even saw fit to stick his nose into the situation. What she learned from everything was that Sam is exactly like her father. It was the nicest thing she ever said to him, Sam said.

You Make My Neck Hurt - The West Wing Season 1 Episode 8

It made sense that Leo was agitated at his daughter's date with Sam, and even using his former opera tix to do it. What didn't make sense was why Bartlet got involved. Did he somehow think he was helping his friend deal with his divorce?

Instead, Bartlet's knowledge about everything felt overdone and his wink to Mallory on his way out of Leo's office that evening seemed inappropriate. 

Bartlet doesn't spend enough time with his own family. Why is he keeping Josh in the West Wing until four in the morning waxing poetic about national parks? Josh tried to extricate himself several times to no avail.

Sure, it's fun to learn something inane from the Pres during work hours, but there comes a time when he needs to let go and spend time with his loved ones instead of keeping his staff for no reason.

It's Finally Over - The West Wing Season 1 Episode 8

Isn't that already why Leo's marriage has failed? His inability to spend time with his wife? They all complain to some degree about how much time working at the White House requires of them, and while they love the work and each other, Bartlet has to remember he's their boss.

Josh pointed out that he can't leave until he's been relieved from his job for the evening, but it seemed to go right over Bartlet's head. Bartlet is a little too close to his staff, and he'll need to back away a bit for the sanity of all of them or four (to eight) years could kill them.

But it's likely very real, so I appreciate how hard it must be for everyone. I look forward to the next episode to get back to something bit more exciting.

Enemies Review

Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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