Friday, August 27, 2004

Yup, they've got hats

In "Twenty-five", the last episode of The West Wing of the fourth season as well as the last episode penned by series creator and scribe Aaron Sorkin, the main plot of the kidnapping of President Bartlet's daughter is juxtaposed with the subplot of Toby Ziegler dealing with the fact that on this night when something so awful has happened, his ex-wife has just given birth to his twins.

I cited this episode in my roster of my favorite TWW's, in large part because of a single monologue delivered by Toby as he greets his children for the first time. This monologue is one of the most emotional things I've ever seen on a TV show (aided, not insignificantly, by Richard Schiff's brilliantly understated performance). In the episode, this monologue takes place in the fourth act, after Zoey Bartlet has been kidnapped and her Secret Service agent, a woman named Molly, has been murdered; after Toby has proposed to his ex-wife and been turned down; after the boy twin has been named "Huck" while the girl twin has not yet been named; and after Leo McGarry, having listened to Toby's doubts that he'll be a good father, says, "Of course you're gonna love your kids the way you're supposed to...I'm not talking about other fathers, I'm talking about you, and it's a mortal lock."

Anyway, later on Toby visits the twins at the hospital and says this to them, as he's kneeling beside them both.

I didn't realize babies came with hats. You guys crack me up. You don't have jobs, you can't walk or speak a language, you don't have a dollar in your pockets but you got yourselves a hat so everything's fine.

I don't want to alarm you or anything, but...I'm Dad.

And son, for you, this'll be the last time I pass the buck but I just think it should be clear from the get-go that it was Mom who named you 'Huckleberry'. I guess she was feeling like life doesn't present enough challenges to overcome on its own. And honey, you've got a name now too. Your mom and I named you after an incredibly brave, uh, incredibly brave woman, really not all that much older than you. Your name is Molly.

Huck and Molly.

I know you can't understand me, but it's the deepness of my voice -- I read that the deepness of my voice is appealing -- Did you just smile when I said 'deepness of my voice'?

So what do I do? Well you're gonna need food and clothes and doctors and dentists, so there's that. Also, should you have any questions along the way. And I'll be doing stuff like this, Huck, 'cause you're leaking a little bit out of your mouth there.

[Here Toby dabs at Huck's chin with a cloth -- and Huck takes Toby's finger in his entire hand.]

You holding my finger, son? Molly, your brother's holding my hand, you wanna hold my hand?

This is gonna mean anything to you...but Leo was right. Leo was right.

Yeah, he really was.

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