If you thought this episode felt far longer than 42 minutes, you weren’t alone. This reviewer checked the clock repeatedly, wondering when it was going to end so we could all get a break from the madness. At least the Korean peninsula looks like it’ll live to see another episode. Anyway, here are a mere few of the plot points the writers squeezed in this week.
As in many shows, the monotony of the central relationship sometimes wears thin, and the writers try to spice things up by introducing a new potential love interest. So it is with Trump’s friendship — or is it something more? — with Putin, who has been absent from the last few episodes. Does absence make the heart grow fonder? Or has Trump been distracted by the younger, more attractive Emmanuel Macron, the French president who swept through town this week and was caught on camera exchanging embraces with Trump that went on juuust a second too long? Sure, an affair with a Frenchman is a little cliché, but this is also the show that brought us Zoey’s French boyfriend with the ludicrous accent, Jean-Paul. Jean-Paul ended up spiking Zoey’s drink with drugs right before she got kidnapped, and likewise, Macron ended up trashing Trump’s policies to Congress, so Trump would be wise to tread carefully. Macron’s hand-holding and giggling may not be what they seem. But Trump need not fear — like Charlie waited for Zoey, Putin is surely waiting in the wings.
Former FBI director James Comey came out with a tell-all book in which he depicts Trump as a lying fool who demands blind loyalty and lacks a moral compass. Among the juicy details is that Comey was asked by Trump to investigate the allegation that he had once hired prostitutes to pee in front of him in a Moscow hotel room. Imagine if Ron Butterfield, the head of the Secret Service under President Bartlet, decided to write a tell-all book. It would have included such salacious details as “Bartlet told my agents to report whether his daughter Zoey is skipping classes at Georgetown” and “ordered me to go to the hospital to get my hand wound checked out after an attempt on his own life.” Butterfield would have thought “golden showers” were a reference to some Walt Whitman poem about late afternoon rainstorms that Bartlet liked to quote. Maybe it’s just nostalgia for a simpler time when the president told the truth and cared about people other than himself, but this reviewer would prefer to read the Butterfield memoir at this point.
While the parade of character entrances and exits never ceases, it’s rare for the show to introduce a new character who really adds something. The writers have finally had some success with Stormy Daniels, a porn star who alleges she slept with Trump four months after Melania gave birth. (Is Stormy’s name an homage to Jeff Daniels, star of Aaron Sorkin’s now-defunct series The Newsroom? Is her character a signal that Sorkin is considering writing pornos? So many potential Easter eggs!) Though she could have been another shallow and tawdry idiot in the Trump orbit, Stormy turned out to be smart and witty, and surprisingly capable of beating Trump at his own game. Just as Laurie the Call Girl turned out not to be what Sam — or the audience — expected back in season one, Stormy has turned our expectations of female porn stars upside down, giving the show a feminist tilt that this viewer appreciates. It would be sweet revenge if she succeeds where the many (many, many) male characters have failed at exposing Trump’s basket of deplorable lies. Let’s just hope we don’t have to hear more about her spanking Trump with a magazine with his face on the cover.
Will Putin lash out in jealousy at Trump’s overtures to Macron? Will James Comey get a movie deal, and will he pick Friday Night Lights’ Kyle Chandler to play him? Will Kanye West be Trump’s latest nominee to head the VA? Stay tuned next week to find out.