I've never liveblogged a thing before, so why not start right now?
Teaser Sequence: Dammit, I cheered when Josh rolled over in bed and then Donna's hand came down and caressed him. And I teared up at the sight of Toby's red rubber ball, the only thing left in his former office, when Will Bailey picked it up and bounced it.
In answer to Abbey Bartlet's question of who in their right mind would hold an outdoor ceremony north of the Equator on January 20, that honor goes to the Congress and state legislatures that ratified the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, which sets noon on January 20 as the beginning of a Presidential and Vice Presidential term of office. Before that, Presidents and Vice Presidents were sworn in on March 4.
Act One: Christ, just pardon the guy already! And the last-minute hiccup in the plans, the ice storm in New England, is something Aaron Sorkin would have done. Cool!
Act Two: The wrapped gift from Leo. I have an idea what this is, but we'll see.
"WWLD". Great touch, that.
Bartlet walking around, talking to staffers. Whatever happened to Ginger and Bonnie? I liked them. And a final scene between Bartlet and Charlie -- dammit, where are my kleenex? Remember the second season episode "Shibboleth", when Bartlet gives Charlie a carving knife for Thanksgiving, the one that had been made for the Bartlet family by a Boston silversmith named Paul Revere? Ah, those were the days.
That wrapped gift from Leo again. I'm guessing it's the bar napkin on which Leo had scrawled "Bartlet for America" a decade before? The one that Bartlet had kept and then framed and given to Leo back in Season Three?
Ah, he pardoned Toby. About time!
And if there's one series of letters from history that I'd like to read, it would be the handwritten letters that outgoing Presidents traditionally leave in the Oval Office for their successors.
Act Three: Wow, Stockard Channing is looking really good again. I didn't think she looked that great in the fourth through sixth seasons, but wow.
Funny exchange about the Inaugural speech: Santos says, "I got a couple good lines, no 'Ask not what your country can do for you,' but it's OK", and Bartlet responds, "Yeah, JFK really screwed us over with that one."
Oops -- President Bartlet and the First Lady are arriving on the Inaugural podium, and the band isn't playing "Hail to the Chief". He's still the President until noon! That's what you call a "production flub".
Santos has a blues guitarist playing "America the Beautiful" at his Inaugural? That rules! Personally, I think that song should be our anthem, anyway -- either that or "This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land".
Another oops: The oath goes "I, [name], do solemnly swear...." Pretty bittersweet moment, though.
Act Four: This is it, the last twelve minutes or so. Josh walking into the same West Wing he knows, but it's a totally new one. He's seeing it through new eyes.
Debbie Fiderer showing her successor around the Oval Office secretary job was another great moment. I love the awestruck look the new secretary got when she realized that door went into the Oval Office.
Charlie slipping out unnoticed.
(OK, I've got to comment on Mary McCormack's hair in this episode. She looks like she's in a 1960s James Bond movie, not The West Wing.)
C.J. at the podium, one last time. Man, they're really doing this right.
Donna, from a cubicle to an office big enough to play a life-size game of "Risk".
President Santos at the desk...C.J. walking out, a face in the crowd...President Santos at work at last.
"What's next?" He got it in there!
Bartlet on Air Force One -- and I was right about the gift.
Abbey: "What are you thinking about?"
Bartlet: "Tomorrow." -- what a perfect final exchange, after all. Hopeful, bittersweet, and it even echoes something of real life, with President Clinton's "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow".
This was a magnificent final episode: touching without being maudlin, full of little touches to remind us of the show's heritage, and that wonderful sense that it's not so much ending as just a series of pages in a bunch of lives being turned.
Thank you to Aaron Sorkin, John Wells, Thomas Schlamme, Martin Sheen, Bradley Whitford, Alison Janney, Janel Maloney, Rob Lowe, Dule Hill, Josh Malina, Jimmy Smits, Alan Alda, Stockard Channing, Richard Schiff -- dammit, everybody connected with this show.
Long live Josiah Bartlet.