West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Third Season Episodes /  "Posse Comitatus" (Finale) * Comments In Support of our Contention that this was a Cheap Shot at Ratings.
C.J. & Simon Mark Harmon as Secret Service agent Simon Donovan & Allison Janney as Press Secretary CJ Cregg
NBC Photo by: Eric Liebowitz
Writer: Aaron Sorkin, Director: Alex Graves

The following comments are posted in the order in which they were received.

  1. I would like to applaud the editors of "The West Wing Continuity Guide" on their dealing with the write up of the season finale. I too found the episode very disgusting and dissapointing not to mention almost totally worthless. The appeal of Aaron Sorkin's writing is in his ability to tiptoe around his scripts, planting little seeds here and there. The only resemblance of this trait that I could see in the season finale is in the continuing degeneration of Josh and Amy's relation which could very generously be called hostile. Sorkin is not the bomb-dropping type, but this script was very obviously a ratings ploy if I've ever seen one.

    Furthermore, the episode left a bad taste in my mouth and almost no indication of where the viewers will be taken next season except on a wild campaign ride with a bitterly sarcastic ex-girlfriend to deal with, not to mention a new and looney executive secretary. Maybe the last episode is symbolic in the way that the show will be turning into the movie version of "The war of the roses", because if the last episode is any indication, it will not be continuing it's Emmy-winning run as the best show on television.

    A very disgusted fan

  2. I enjoy your site and although I don't normally make comments, I wanted to say I agree with you about this episode. As soon as Donovan was shot I was reminded of a comment my mom often made about CHiP's (I was 6 or 7 when this show was on so I think I can be excused for watching it.) Anyhow, whenever Jon or Ponch would get a girlfriend on CHiPs my mom would say "this is so sad, she's going to be dead within 2 episodes." Which of course she would be.

    It is a sad day when plot devices from CHiPs are showing up on the West Wing. --- Beatrix

  3. I can't agree with you more. For me, Sorkin "jumped the shark" emotionally with the death of Simon. (You probably are aware that "jumping the shark" is when a TV show takes that move that goes beyond the distance we can stretch our credibility to follow them. It's named after a "Happy Days" episode in which Fonzie was water-skiing and after jumping every other dead and living object in the water, jumped a shark.)

    Did we need to know that good guys die? After 9/11, I think we've gotten that one. Did we need to go one-for-one, because Bartlett chose to have the Defense Minister killed? Killing Simon was the obvious move since the character was introduced; the craft writing would have been to allow him to live and explore how CJ would relate to the slightly goofy, sweet guy as their relationship grew.

    As you say, now we know every end-of-season series of WW shows will include the near-death or death of a great character: Josh, Mrs. Landingham, Simon.

    This element of the final put me off the show entirely. I was a person who declined Wednesday night invites so I could watch it. I don't care to see it now. --- D. Jensen

  4. Yeah, you're right: it was a debacle. We went through an entire season of one bad episode after another. Charlie was nonexistent; Josh was off his game; Amy Gardner was a demon from hell (apparently now a returning demon from hell). . . . The rest of it, sadly, was forgettable.

    Yes, the season finale was a ratings ploy. But I don't understand why they were worried about ratings. I mean, have we not all be watching for the past 3 years? . . . .

    This is the only show on network TV - the ONLY SHOW - that makes me want to go look stuff up when it's over. . . .

    I was disappointed. I watched it twice that night, and was just appalled all over again at what I witnessed. . . . --- Jen Johnson

  5. Donovan's death bothered me particularly because it made him look like a rookie cop when as a man assigned to guard the President, he should have been street smart before anything else. He should have known instinctively to check for an accomplice in that situation. Why else was the robber still in the store? I hope the Secret Service was not offended. Of course, he did get to kiss Allison Janney. --- Kathleen Asay

  6. Lately, Sorkin hasn't been writing well, he introduced a character 4 episodes before the season finale, ONLY to kill him off! What kind of writing is that? . . . . Where is the cliffhanger? . . . . It burns me up when a show is as good as "The West Wing", great writing, great actors and actresses acting, and then suddenly take a turn for the worse when it comes to writing. What Aaron Sorkin needs to do is take a really good summer break and think of some really good plot lines to make up for this past season. Don't get me wrong, I think Season Three had some good episodes in it, just fewer of them. --- Justin Blevins

  7. T[o] end this season came the gratuitous slaughter of a Secret Service agent under Fantastically BIZARRE conditions. He was ON DUTY, but NOT wearing his body armor. . . . Killing the agent was just done stupidly and even if it had been better thought out; I would object to the 60's style Death Curse on anyone's Love Interest as soon as the audience begins to like them. I was sick of the - create a nice character just to kill them - scenario decades ago. . . . I am merely writing to express my dislike for such bad/ mean spirited writing in a formerly well written show. --- Anne

  8. I found it sort of ridiculous that Simon Donovan, a highly trained Secret Service agent, would capture a robber and then fail to suspect that he might have an accomplice (something a third-rate policeman would be alert to.) In the store, after Donovan nabs the first creep, he immediately devotes himself to heckling the criminal, telling him not to blame himself, he was up "against the Secret Service." As he does so, he also fails to notice that the store owner is frozen like a statue. Would that raise your suspicions? I guess C. J.'s kiss really screwed up this G-man!

    I think the writers really missed a grand opportunity to extend the relationship between C. J. and Donovan. I felt a lot of chemistry between them that I know would have been interesting to watch next season. --- David I. Goldstein

  9. I'm glad you're doing this. Though I agree with your views, it was thought-provoking to read the "opposed" messages. There is always a lot to enjoy and be stimulated by in the episodes but the killing of Donovan left a bad aftertaste and I don't think I'll ever feel quite the same way about the show. The details that others have pointed out -- on duty? not on duty? not wearing body armor, not suspecting an accomplice -- all made it un-believable. Sorkin doesn't usually write events that stretch credulity so much. And you can't help wonder what gives with the season finales featuring death and shooting. . . . --- Terri

  10. I completely agree with your characterization of this year's West Wing season finale. . . . However, I don't think that killing off Simon Donovan was merely Aaron Sorkin's ploy to get better ratings, though that certainly was a part of it. Sorkin cannot write romantic relationships, in large part probably because he has difficulty conveying female emotions. He didn't know where to go with the C.J. and Simon plot-line, so he decided that the best course of action would be to kill Simon off (and, as others have mentioned, not believably considering standard Secret Service protocol). . . . --- Emily

  11. . . . . I have been a devoted fan of the show from day one simply because the writing (and acting) were unmatched on television. . . . Charlie is a wonderful character who's main role now seems to be someone for the President to torment. . . . Now for Agent Donovan....the opinions opposed to your comments like to allude to the fact that maybe we didn't get the symbolism...well, I got it. It was practically shoved down our throats. . . . for [Donovan] to make such rookie mistakes is unpardonable. Come on...a four year old could have written a better ending. . . . Are we sure this isn't an Aaron Spelling production? . . . --- Jenny

  12. I am in total agreement with your comments. I have come of the opinion that Sorkin likes writing the plots but cannot end them. After all the MS buildup, he writes an anticlimactic censure; after all the Mrs. Barlet-Dr. Bartlet plotline, he ends it simply with her stepping down for the duration of the term; he starts CJ with a lovelife but instead of proceeding or ending it normally, he kills him off; and he even decides to take a lesson from The Godfather and show murder and mayhem with a soundtrack. . . . What a disappointment. --- Maura Porter

  13. The inevitable life cycle of a big hit American TV drama/show spawned by a Hollywood commercially successful TV writer and producer must go something like this:

    1) hatch a dramatic premise so compelling it moves through corporate TV America to eventually land as an hour long drama on the sponsor-filled airwaves; 2) tend to it with devotion and care, creating intriguing scripts and intelligent characters (played by quality actors) that offer something much more than the usual smarm; 3) garner awards and key demographic ratings, critical raves and all the rest; 4) keep churning out quality; 5) slowly, surely lose steam, farming out the original idea to other people for scripts and plot lines; 6) hang on to the dizzying momentum of success with no-lose plot twists and stunts (big name guest stars, maudlin deaths and tragedy); 7) head into a slow but steady decline in overall quality.

    As I see it, we just entered into phase five. . . . --- Julie Rogier

See the emails Opposed to our original comments.
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