Abu El Banat (Ep. 5.09)
Written by: Debora Cahn
Directed by: Lesli Linka Glatter
Episode Description (from NBC):
The festive Christmas spirit at the annual White House tree-lighting is dimmed when the President (Martin Sheen) learns that Christian relief workers have been jailed in Islamic northern Sudan while he welcomes his three headstrong daughters -- including the returning Zoey (Elisabeth Moss) -- and is surprised to learn that his son-in-law (Steven Eckholdt) wants to run for Congress in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, when the licenses of some doctors in Oregon are suspended after they administer drugs in an assisted suicide, Toby (Richard Schiff) tries to keep the administration from being bogged down in a debate -- and clashes with Will (Joshua Malina) when he tries to convince the Vice President to address the political hot potato.
1. Debora Cahn
In my opinion, Debora Cahn's writing is the most Sorkin-esque of all the writers who came along after Sorkin left. Abu El Banat has some really great dialogue -- humorous and reminiscent of what Aaron himself would write. For example, the scene where CJ is trying to put up her Christmas tree in her office...it's a cute, light moment between Toby and CJ.
2. The first appearance of Liz Bartlet
We've spent the last four and a half seasons hearing about Liz, but this is the first time we actually see her. It's interesting to watch Liz and CJ's interactions...they are obviously friends, maybe not BFFs, but friendly enough that Liz thinks she can set CJ up on a date with a guy.
3. Everyone makes fun of Doug Westin
I want to feel sorry for Doug, but honestly, he's kind of an idiot. I crack up every time Josh makes a joke about Doug and CJ says, "Doug's your friend!" I can't believe Doug thinks he's capable of running for Congress. Poor Josh, he just can't seem to get through to him that, NO, we don't want you to run! "I'm a winner!" Ugh. *rolls eyes*
4. "So, what'd you think of the Three Tenors?"
CJ, Gus is a five year old, not a grown up! She seems so uncomfortable around children...I feel her pain. I like the image of him sitting in his grandpa's chair in the Oval Office.
5. Donna's in charge of shopping
So cute that Donna buys Josh's Christmas/Hanukah presents for him. Also, that's a task that is definitely not in her job description...I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I guess that depends on how you view their relationship at this point.
6. "CJ, how's your dad?"
Obviously CJ is affected by the assisted suicide thing that's come up with the AG. She might be a little to close to the issue, what with her father being ill and everything. I like Toby's expression of concern. I also really enjoyed Toby's conversation later in the ep with the President about how one in five requests for doctor assisted suicide come from people with MS.
7. "Somebody's in a timeout."
Yay for Zoey sucking it up and replacing Gus during the tree lighting. She saved Christmas!
8. Will getting moved across the street to the OEOB
I really, really hate Will for most of season five and six, so I was so glad Toby had him moved. I understand why he would be pissed about getting moved without knowing first...hell, I'd be pissed, too. But, come on, he totally deserved it.
9. A little too much Bartlet family togetherness
Wow, this is quite possibly the most uncomfortable dinner ever. I find it interesting how preoccupied Jed is with Ellie in this episode. He mentions her not being there at least four times during the ep. I think Ellie and her father are very much a like...it's probably why they don't get along sometimes. I love their father/daughter relationship.
10. Donna picks her own gift, but Josh already got it.
This is such a cute scene. I don't know why I like it so much. I guess because there is some sweet banter which was sorely lacking between Josh and Donna during season 5 (and 6 and most of 7), and also because it shows Josh's thoughtfulness.
11. Gus and his Grandpa lighting (and relighting) the tree
This last scene is very sweet...a special Christmassy moment between grandfather and grandson. Jed is just a grandfather here, not the President.