The West Wing: Galileo   Rewatch 
December 13, 2016 10:22 AM - Season 2, Episode 9 - Subscribe

NASA prepares to receive the first pictures from their new Mars probe, accompanied by a live broadcast with the President. Meanwhile, the Russian government covers up a missile silo fire, a report that the President doesn't like green beans poses an electoral problem in Oregon, and Josh investigates the consequences of honoring a man who called for Puerto Rican statehood. C.J. promotes a staffer to Deputy Press Secretary but then faces a slew of disappointed interviewees at a Kennedy Center concert.

(episode summary via Wikipedia)

The West Wing Weekly Podcast has NASA/JPL Systems Engineer Mallory Lefland of the Mars 2020 project.
posted by Etrigan (8 comments total)
I think this one is an unheralded classic. It mixes virtually every good TWW trope with a minimum of the bad TWW tropes. CJ is excellent as she's given some real work to do, Sam gets to be the arrogant dickhole that he really should have been all along, and Leo shows why he got to where he is.
posted by Etrigan at 10:24 AM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

(Also, I figure that a Tuesday-and-Friday schedule will synch us up to TWWW by the end of the year. If anyone wants to jump that, go right ahead.)
posted by Etrigan at 10:25 AM on December 13, 2016

C.J.: "We have at our disposal a captive audience of schoolchildren. Some of them don't go to the blackboard or raise their hand 'cause they think they're going to be wrong. I think you should say to these kids, "You think you get it wrong sometimes, you should come down here and see how the big boys do it." I think you should tell them you haven't given up hope and that it may turn up, but, in the meantime, you want NASA to put its best people in a room and you want them to start building Galileo 6. Some of them will laugh and most of them won't care but for some, they might honestly see that it's about going to the blackboard and raising your hand. And that's the broader theme."

I love this scene. I love this sentiment. The show did such a wonderful job of offering us a a sense of wonder while simultaneously saying, 'being smart is okay. it's cool and you don't have to be ashamed to show your intelligence.'

Later in the episode, we have this exchange between Sam and Mallory:

Sam: "There are a lot of hungry people in the world, Mal, and none of them are hungry 'cause we went to the moon. None of them are colder and certainly none of them are dumber 'cause we went to the moon."
Mallory: "And we went to the moon. Do we really have to go to Mars?"
Sam: "Yes."
Mallory: "Why?"
Sam: "Because it's next. 'Cause we came out of the cave, and we looked over the hill and we saw fire; and we crossed the ocean and we pioneered the west, and we took to the sky. The history of man is hung on a timeline of exploration and this is what's next."

The history of humanity is about striving, and reaching for what's next and also about making mistakes and learning from them.
posted by zarq at 3:30 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

The history of man is hung on a timeline of exploration and this is what's next.

I have always quoted this as "The history of man is hung on a map", and I have no idea why.
posted by Etrigan at 4:56 PM on December 13, 2016

Definitely one of my WW favourites.

I love Bartlett here. He's excited and smart and fussy and inspired. The way he starts off annoyed at having to go to the symphony and then ends up really digging the composer's work is great.

And CJ! She spends the first half of the episode getting made fun of for being dumb, but then wins the day by showing that we shouldn't run away from our mistakes. The contrast with the Russians being unable to admit their mistakes is well done.

And the humour works so well. Funny, smart, dramatic, and sweet. Everything that makes The West Wing great.

"Well, that's 20 seconds of my life I'm never getting back."
posted by dry white toast at 9:19 PM on December 14, 2016

Aaron Sorkin is amazing--and kind of terrible in how he treats women. I love 95% of this episode. The 5% of CJ having to deal with the sexual shaming of the guy she didn't hire, and both her character and the narrative humoring it--is excruciating.
posted by ElizaDolots at 4:36 PM on December 17, 2016

I'm up to date - w00t!
posted by theora55 at 1:58 PM on December 24, 2016

God I love this episode. One of the series' best. It pits the pettiest of political problems - can the President publicly say that he doesn't like green beans? Can we put someone on a stamp if they have an opinion the Administration can't back up? - against the questions of whether we can, in fact, do more than what has been done before. Can we go to Mars? Can someone do anything unexpected with music anymore?

And it does it all without really saying that it's doing so. Yes, it says, you can still be surprised by great music. We can go to Mars, but it takes work. In the light of that, yeah, we can probably trust Oregonian farmers and put a dude on a stamp.

Hell yes. This is the West Wing episode I want to live inside.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:17 PM on November 29, 2018

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