West Wing 5×15: Full Disclosure

[Review by Jeremy Grayson]

[Writer: Lawrence O’Donnell, Jr. | Director: Lesli Linka Glatter | Aired: 2/25/2004 ]


“If I could take back one moment of my life…” – CJ

I don’t want to do this.

Seriously, I really don’t want to do this.

I mean, it’s not like I need to do this, right? There are 155 episodes of The West Wing. Skipping one won’t matter in the long run.

So, no review today. Come back next time.


Look, this is “Full Disclosure.”

What am I supposed to say here?

You want a review? Fine. I’ll give you a review.

But I’m not discussing the main plot. Just the subplots.

So. There are subplots in this episode. About school vouchers and Chinese bras. Very important issues. The characters try to solve them.

The episode has a good moment near the end where Charlie defends the public use of experimental vouchers. It’s probably the show’s best Charlie moment since “Hartsfield’s Landing.”

So, kudos for that.

There’s also more Josh/Ryan tension, which pretty much rehashes the conflict from “Han.” But still, nice to see someone getting on Josh’s nerves.

Anything else?

Oh, yeah. The episode inspired Hillary Clinton to write an angry letter to Josh Lyman.

That really happened.

So, anyway.

That’s “Full Disclosure.”

See you next time.

Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Josh to Donna: “Get him out of my chair.”
+ Anything involving Toby and Chinese bras.
+ Greg Brock and the parking garage.
+ Greg deciding not to drink DC water.
+ Charlie insulting Taylor Reid. That makes up for his stupid arc in Season Four.

– Okay, screw it. The entire main plot of this episode is awful. Obviously, Sorkin did Team Wells no favors with the callous and unceremonious downfall of John Hoynes. But astonishingly, “Full Disclosure” reduces Hoynes to an even thinner shadow of his former self. The episode (which astonishingly grants Hoynes even less screentime than “Life on Mars” did) turns him into an exploitative opportunist, entirely willing to bring down the Bartlet administration to pave the way for his future political aspirations. He’s already disgraced his own name; why would he think that disgracing the man who offered him the VP job would engender him any more sympathy with the public? Why is this what passes for follow-up from “Life on Mars”? And don’t even get me started on that ending. Question: Did you know that Hoynes and CJ had a one-night stand, years before the series began? You didn’t? Neither did I. Nor did anyone else. That’s because the show never gave us anything resembling a hint that Hoynes and CJ had anything resembling a past before this episode. (Remember when I said that the Hoynes/CJ scene in “Post Hoc, Ergo Procter Hoc” looks more interesting in retrospect? Well, by “interesting,” I meant “terrible.”) More importantly, what’s the point? Does CJ’s brief, long-forgotten tryst with Hoynes have any bearing on the series going forward? Nope. I mean, if you’re going to introduce this kind of random soap-opera twist, why not go all the way, like Scandal? Maybe reveal that Josh is in the Witness Protection Program. Maybe have Abbey kill a Supreme Court justice. Maybe have Toby become a hitman. (Like father, like son.) Don’t just throw “CJ slept with Hoynes!” at the wall and expect it to stick. It won’t stick. It’ll slide down the wall and leave a trail of slime in its wake. And 13 years later, some nerdy kid with too much free time will try to review the episode and will get very angry about it, and will thus try to hide all his anger and criticisms in the Minor Cons section, which he secretly hopes that no one will read.

(…None of you read that, right?)

Score: D

2 thoughts on “West Wing 5×15: Full Disclosure”

  1. This is the first time I’ve found someone else make the connection to the CJ/Hoynes scene in “Post Hoc…” Because yeah, in retrospect, it’s awful. That entire revelation makes no sense, and completely demeans Hoynes. In a more perfect world, they might have created a compelling scenario where Hoynes represents a flawed but legitimate challenge to Russell, and the conflict moves to which one Bartlet would rather hand off his legacy to. Instead, Hoynes is reduced to an absolute joke (albeit one that weirdly foreshadowed John Edwards), and neither he nor Russell are ever taken seriously, simply strawmen to Santos. It just made no sense.

    Although it’s not the weirdest incongruent Wells-era revelation about CJ. Far as I’m concerned, that’s her basketball-playing past.


    1. What’s funny is that I don’t recall hating this episode so much back when I referenced it in the “Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc” review. It was only upon rewatch and closer reflection that I realized how clumsy and lazy the “revelation” is.

      I think a Hoynes vs. Russell primary could have allowed for some interesting tension (given their respective relationships with Bartlet), but I’m ultimately glad the show decided to take things in a fresh direction with Santos.


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