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Recap / The West Wing S 02 E 02 In The Shadow Of Two Gunmen Part Two

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In the Dixie Pig BarBQ diner, a TV is broadcasting the latest update about the shooting, and about President Bartlet and Josh's condition. The signal man, without his baseball cap, is watching in satisfaction. He stubs a cigarette out into his breakfast, and leaves. Outside the diner, he starts to light another cigarette when a helicopter light appears and he's immediately surrounded by police, FBI and Secret Service agents, who subdue him.

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In the press room, C.J., looking more in control than she did at her last press conference, confirms there is a suspect in custody, though she refuses to give any information about him. As she's telling the press that President Bartlet is out of surgery - and expected to make a full recovery - and Josh is still in surgery, we switch to the waiting room at the hospital, where Abbey, Charlie, Donna, Sam and Toby, among others, are watching on TV. Sam asks if the President knows they've arrested a suspect, and Abbey confirms this, though she notes he's still a little groggy. An aide comes in and tells Sam and Toby they're wanted on the phone, and they both leave. Abbey asks Donna if she wants to wash up. Donna wants to know if there's anything she should be doing on behalf of Josh, but Abbey assures her it's taken care of.

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In another room in the hospital, Sam and Toby are on speakerphone with C.J., who tells Sam to talk with Nancy McNally about the letter the President never signed. She also mentions the press are continuing to ask why the President exited the building in open air, and she'd feel better with a direct "no comment" from the Secret Service. Sam says he'll take care of that, but Toby insists on doing it himself, and tells Sam to go back to the office. As he does so...

...we're in another Flashback to Gage Whitney Pace, which is meeting in the same conference room with Kensington Oil to finalize their agreement. Sam, however, has a new idea he wants to bring up; he thinks Kensington should buy more expensive ships that are nevertheless safer, instead of trying to get a liability shield for ships that won't be as safe. Needless to say, neither Kensington nor Sam's colleagues or bosses are happy about this idea, and Gage asks to speak to Sam outside. In the hallway, Sam tries to argue that maybe Kensington didn't know about this option, but Gage tells Sam to stop talking about it.

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At a pay phone in the midtown area, in the pouring rain, Josh tries to get the phone number for Sam's firm, though once again, he can't remember what it's called. Eventually, he gives up, hangs up the phone, and dashes off.

Back in the meeting, both sides try to finalize the agreement again, but Sam brings up another more expensive ship to buy, and points out it's better, and cheaper, to pay now than later, and makes for better PR to boot. Again, both Kensington and Sam's colleagues and bosses are exasperated by this. Just then, Josh knocks on the door of the conference room. Sam looks up, and and Josh points to his own, smiling face. Sam eventually gets it, and gathers up his things before deciding he's not going to need them. When Gage asks where Sam is going, Sam, who's walking out, yells, "New Hampshire!", and Josh waves as they both take off.

In the office area, C.J. asks Sam if he's talked with Nancy McNally, and he confirms he has. C.J. also asks if he knows who pulled her down, but Sam says he doesn't, and leaves. Carol comes up to C.J. and tells her she's been booked to do the morning news shows, which C.J. is unhappy about. Danny approaches her and apologizes, but asks again who was in charge while the President was being operated on. C.J. assures him she's working on the answer, but she needs more time. The phone rings, and as C.J. goes to answer it...

...we're in another Flashback, as C.J. is at her home in Beverly Hills, getting a phone call from her boss at 6:30 in the morning, and struggling to stay awake.

At Triton-Day, a PR firm in Beverly Hills, C.J., still not entirely together, comes into the office of her boss, Isobel (Grace Zabriskie), who's waiting with an impatient and upset Roger Becker (Allen Garfield). He wants to know why his studio only received two Golden Globe nominations, and why he dropped six places on the list of Premiere magazine's "100 Most Powerful People in Hollywood" list. C.J. tries to butter him up at first, but then points out the movie that was nominated was bad, and the only reason he got one of them was because everyone liked the little kid who was nominated. Isobel asks if she and C.J. can be excused, and takes her into the lobby. Once there, C.J. apologizes, and says she'll find a way to make it up to Roger, but Isobel says Roger's an important client. C.J. realizes she's being fired, and yells for someone to call her a cab because she broke her glasses and can't drive home.

As C.J. gets out of the cab carrying her things, she notices a rental car parked outside her house. She enters through the back, and Toby is sitting by her pool. C.J. starts to walk towards him, but then slips and falls into the pool. Eventually, C.J. makes her way out, and Toby says Bartlet (or actually, Leo) wants to hire her because of her work with "the girls' group with the stupid name; C.J. clarifies he means EMILY's List (Early Money Is Like Yeast - it helps raise the dough). C.J. worries about the fact she's never run a national campaign, and that it pays considerably less than she was earning at the PR firm, but mostly, she wants to know if Bartlet is a good man, which Toby assures her he is. C.J. agrees to join.

In President Bartlet's hospital room, Abbey and Ron (Zoey is there as well) are telling him about the guns the shooters used, which were the wrong kinds to use, which was why the injury count was so low. Bartlet cautions, "We don't know what the injury count is yet". Charlie comes in, and Bartlet tells him the suspect has confessed to being, along with the shooters, members of a white supremacist group. Charlie wonders if they targeted the President, but after an awkward silence, Ron gently but firmly tells him the President wasn't the target. Charlie figures it out, thanks Bartlet, and leaves; Zoey goes after him. Bartlet repeats, "We don't know what the injury count is yet."

In Leo's office, Margaret asks about the letter the President never signed. Leo says they blew the call, but he doesn't really care if there's trouble. Margaret starts to leave, and then stops and says she can sign President Bartlet's name. Leo takes this about as well as you'd expect:

Margaret: Yeah.
Leo: I think the White House counsel would say that's a coup d'etat.
Leo: I would think! And what the hell are you doing practicing the President's signature?
Margaret: (as she leaves) It's just for fun!

C.J. has come in at this last part, and wants to know whose idea it was to have her do the morning news shows. Leo says it's time for the White House to come out from behind the bunker, and if it's Hoynes who does them, it'll look like they don't have a President. C.J. doesn't want to do it, but can't really articulate why; Leo relents and says Sam can do it, and a relieved C.J. thanks him. C.J. brings up the letter and Danny chasing it, and Leo tells her to have Danny see him. Leo leaves, and Toby joins him, telling him about the question about the canopy. Toby says he wants to try and talk Ron out of not commenting. Leo says it won't work, but Toby thinks it's worth a try. Leo assents, and Toby exits...

...and in another Flashback, we see Bartlet's campaign headquarters in New Hampshire, with an anchor on TV talking about Bartlet's surprisingly strong finish in a recent primary, though Bartlet for some reason wasn't available to speak with the anchor about what happened. Turns out this is a tape of a previous broadcast, and C.J. stops it to ask everybody what they did wrong. Bartlet admits they blew it, and asks, "What's next?" Josh mentions Toby has something, but Bartlet doesn't know who Toby is at first (or Josh, either, for that matter). Toby says they should leave New Hampshire (Josh and Sam agree) because, given how popular Bartlet is in the state, they can't exceed expectations, they can only disappoint. Toby says they can go to South Carolina while Hoynes fights Wiley (another candidate) for second place in New Hampshire. Bartlet points out they won't beat Hoynes in South Carolina, but C.J. and Toby point out Bartlet just has to beat Wiley to knock him out of the race. Leo adds if they don't get his endorsement, they'll get Wiley's money, at least. C.J., Sam and Toby predict they'll split the next seven races, and maybe do better, and Hoynes meanwhile will have lost half the primaries even though he's the prohibitive favorite, and Sam and Toby say the key primary will be in Illinois, and if Bartlet wins there, they'll run the table. Bartlet is glad they've saved the voters all the trouble, and when Josh tries to clarify, Bartlet says he understands, but when he says, "What's next?", it means he's ready to move on. Leo tells him they're done, and Bartlet, relieved, leaves. Josh says he really feels Bartlet's warmth for everyone, and Leo admits while Bartlet is easy to like once you get to know him, not that many people do.

In Josh's office at campaign headquarters, Donna is taking a message for Josh. Josh walks in and starts to leave, but does a Double Take when he notices Donna. When she hangs up, Josh asks who she is, and Donna says she's his new assistant, except not really. She says she drove from Madison, Wisconsin to work on the campaign, but admits she only went to college for two years, and had five majors (political science, government, sociology, psychology and biology) and two minors (drama, French) during that time, and she dropped out to take care of her boyfriend. Josh asks if her boyfriend was older; Donna thinks he's getting too personal, but Josh points out Donna was looking through his things. Donna admits he was older, but when Josh asks when he dumped her, Donna retorts, "What makes you think he broke up with me?" Josh points out how serious the campaign is, and how it can't be a place for people to start over, but Donna doesn't understand why that is. Josh says she can stay in New Hampshire while they go to South Carolina, but Donna says she wants to go, she'll do whatever it takes to keep costs down, and that she thinks she'd be good at this. The two of them look at each other for a moment until the phone rings; Josh tells her to get it. As Donna answers the phone, and starts to answer the question, Josh gives her his ID tag, which makes her smile...

...and we cut to the operating room where surgeons continue to work on Josh, and Donna is standing outside, holding that same ID tag.

Sam is in his office when C.J. knocks, and asks him to walk with her before she gives her press briefing. She tells Sam the doctors have taken Josh off the bypass (Sam is going to the hospital), and then cuts to the chase; though she tried to tell Leo the reason she didn't want to do the morning news shows was out of respect for Josh, the real reason was she couldn't remember what happened. It wasn't until she watched Sam that she remembered, and she says to Sam, "I think you have my necklace". Sam jokes he didn't want her to feel obligated, and gives her the necklace. C.J. asks if he was scared, and Sam admits he was. C.J. then goes to the press room.

Outside the hospital, Toby finds Ron, and tells him about the question about the canopy. Ron says the Secret Service doesn't comment on protection procedure. Toby admits he was the main one who argued that Bartlet shouldn't use the canopy, and wants to take the blame for what happened, but Ron points out nothing could have stopped madmen from doing what they did, they got Bartlet and Zoey in the car, and Ron would have figured out something else. He repeats the Secret Service doesn't comment on procedure, and Toby accepts that.

Back in the press room, C.J. is continuing the briefing. Leo, who's watching from the back, motions to Margaret, who goes to Danny and asks him to join Leo in the back. Danny is about to ask Leo something, but Leo motions for him to be quiet. C.J. mentions she's on her fifth briefing, and while it's obviously a big story, President Bartlet, Josh, and a woman in the crowd weren't the only victims of gun violence that night, and she lists the others, concluding it's an issue that needs to be talked about. Leo invites Danny to ride to the hospital with him, and as C.J. continues her briefing...

...we go to one final Flashback, this time in a hotel suite in Chicago. Sam tells Leo the numbers look good, while Josh is on the phone, trying to call his father to check how his chemotherapy went, but he gets no answer. Abbey comes in, asking if there's any food other than fried, and Leo jokes they should get rid of it if it isn't. Bartlet comes in, angry because his acceptance speech calls Hoynes, "My opponent", and tells Leo to come with him. Josh, who has been watching this, looks at Abbey, who tells him Bartlet isn't ready yet, but he will be. Just then, Sam yells that they're ready to call the race. Everyone looks on as the TV anchor says Bartlet has won the primary. The place erupts; Josh hugs C.J. and Leo, and Sam mouths, "Thank you" to Josh. Kool & the Gang's "Celebration" comes on as Donna walks into the celebration. Josh tries to get her to dance with him, but she has bad news; "Josh, your father died". As Josh takes this in...

...we dissolve to O'Hare airport, where Josh is waiting for his flight to be called. All of a sudden, he notices Secret Service agents standing near him, and then Governor Bartlet walks in, offering condolences. Josh says Bartlet should be back at the hotel giving his acceptance speech, but Bartlet wants to know more about what happened to Josh's father. Josh says his father developed a blood clot during his chemo, and it killed him.

Bartlet: Did he like that you were in politics?
Josh: (Beat) I think he would have liked grandchildren more.
Bartlet: (chuckles) He would've.
Josh: He liked that I was working for you. He liked that we were starting to do well. He would've liked tonight. At least his friends and neighbors'll be spared all the, you know...
Bartlet: He'd be doing some bragging right now?
Josh: Yeah. Your name wouldn't have come up, by the way. "My son won the Illinois primary tonight." Three more hours, and he would have been able to say that. He'd have been proud.

Bartlet apologizes for how he's treated Josh and everyone else on the campaign. Just then, the PA announcer calls Josh's flight, and he gets set to leave. Bartlet offers to fly with him, and Josh emphatically tells Bartlet he needs to go back to the hotel, give his victory speech, and then go on to California for the next primary, but he appreciates Bartlet's offer. Josh heads off, and Leo, who's been watching in the background, comes up to Bartlet and asks if Josh will be okay. After confirming he will, Bartlet tells Leo he's ready. As the two walk out, we hear Bartlet give his acceptance speech.

Bartlet: Tonight, what began on the commons in Concord, Massachusetts, as an alliance of farmers and workers, of cobblers and tinsmiths, of statesmen and students, of mothers and wives, of men and boys, lives two centuries later as America. My name is Josiah Bartlet, and I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States!

In the recovery room, we see Josh laying in a bed, with tubes still sticking out of him. President Bartlet, Leo, and a doctor are there, trying to get him to wake up. Josh slowly opens his eyes, and tries to whisper something, but Bartlet can't hear it. Josh repeats it a little louder, and Bartlet says to Leo, "He said, 'What's next'?"

This episode contains examples of:

  • Armor-Piercing Question: Josh initially tries to get rid of Donna by pointing out that he's working for a political campaign, not a place for people recover from personal crises. Donna retorts that it's hardly an either-or situation:
    Josh: This can't be a place for people to find their confidence and start over—
    Donna: Why not?
    Josh: I'm sorry?
    Donna: Why can't it be those things?
    Josh: [Slightly thrown]... Because—
    Donna: What, is it going to interfere with my typing?
  • Backstory: The Flashback involving Donna attempts to explain why she was The Watson so often in the first season (and part of the second); she only got the job because she pretended she already had the job, she was "the new guy", and she was inexperienced. As the series progressed and she got better at her job, we saw the Hidden Depths.
  • Blind Without 'Em: In her flashback to her PR days, C.J. spends most of the time stumbling around squinting blindly after breaking her glasses. This ends up with a trip into a swimming pool.
    • The flashback implies that a good deal of her klutziness comes from her being almost comically nearsighted: She could not drive herself home, was unable to identify Toby from less than five metres away without her glasses, fell into the pool because of her poor eyesight and mistook the pool maintenance house for her actual house.
    • The Exit Is That Way: After C.J. accepts Toby's offer, she says they should go into the house to discuss it further. Toby points out she's walking in the wrong direction.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": At C.J.'s press conference at the beginning of the episode:
    C.J.: At this time, we can not, we are not, releasing any information whatsoever about the suspect.
    Steve: C.J., can you tell us anything, his name, where he's from, ethnicity, if you guys suspect a motive...?
    C.J.: Yes, Steve, I can tell you all of those things. Because when I said we weren't releasing any information whatsoever, I meant except his name, his address, his ethnicity and what we think his motive was.
  • Captain Obvious: After C.J. trips and falls into her pool:
    Toby: C.J., you kind of fell into the pool there.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In the first season episode "Six Meetings Before Lunch", we found out Josh's father died during the campaign, and while Josh was in Chicago.
    • We see President Bartlet has always had trouble remembering people's names.
  • Foreshadowing: Bartlet's line about how they don't know the true injury count becomes very important during the next episode.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In the flashback to when she started working for Josh, when asking for her reasons for being there Josh guesses that her boyfriend has just dumped her. Donna blusters that that's a private matter and none of his business. Josh in turn retorts that Donna was moments before caught answering potentially private and confidential calls she had no business answering all in the hope that Josh would not realise he never actually hired her: "Your boyfriend broke up with you?"
  • I Owe You My Life: C.J.'s line to Sam; "I think you have my necklace."
  • The Oner: Josh and Donna's Walk and Talk around the campaign office when they first meet.
  • Precision F-Strike: After Bartlet's tirade in Chicago:
    Abbey: (to Josh) You can say it, you know. It's not like I haven't heard it before.
    Josh: Your husband's a real son-of-a-bitch, Mrs. Bartlet.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: There really is a diner in Virginia called the Dixie Pig.
  • Rule of Pool: During the flashback to Toby hiring C.J. she comes home to find him sitting on the opposite side of the pool from her. Because she doesn't have her lenses in she walks straight into the pool.
  • Shout-Out: Sam jokes he didn't tell C.J. about saving her life because he didn't want her acting like Jeannie.
  • Shown Their Work: Emily's List is a real political lobbying group.
  • Two-Part Episode
  • Verbal Backspace: Donna's first conversation with Josh is full of this.
    Donna: I'm here because I want to work with Bartlet. I'm a college graduate with a degree in political science and government.
    Josh: When did you graduate?
    Donna: Hmm?
    Josh: When did you graduate?
    Donna: Okay, when I said I graduated?
    Josh: Yeah?
    Donna: I may have been overstating a little.
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