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Recap / The West Wing S 02 E 21 Eighteenth And Potomac

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This episode focuses on three main stories. The foreground story is about the President's staff and the first lady planning how to handle the MS situation, and the staff's general dismay at what has happened. The secondary story is about Haiti: they elected a president, but the military doesn't like it; the new president-elect is missing, the military has arrested some other officials, and they take the U.S. embassy. The other story is about Mrs. Landingham: she has just bought her first car, and as she is returning after picking it up, she is hit by a drunk driver and killed. The title comes from the intersection where the accident takes place.



Bartlet and Leo go outside from the Oval Office. They're discussing Joey Lucas's poll about how they should handle the MS situation. They head to the basement; they're meeting there because Leo doesn't like the way it looks for them to meet in the middle of the night.

In the basement, the staff is dscussing the poll; Joey Lucas is there as well. The President arrives and meets Joey and her interpreter again. Joey, via Kenny, tells the President about the poll. The poll numbers are awful.

Bartlet: Joey, is there any good news in there at all?
Joey: No, sir.

Smash cut to the main titles.

Act I

Bartlet and Leo are in the Oval Office with Robbie, discussing the situation in Port-au-Prince. The government quashed a victory rally for Dessaline. Two people were killed, and there are now 400 UN "technical advisors" and some unarmed "security specialists" there. The Chief Justice's house is surrounded and the Minister of Justice has been arrested. The situation is bad, and the president-elect (of Haiti) is missing. Bartlet, over objections, orders the embassy evacuated.


Josh walks up to the basement door and gives the guard the password "Saggitarius." Josh enters; C.J., Sam, and Toby are there. They discuss strategies for announcing the MS. C.J. wants to do it with Abbey, on a newsmagazine, on Wednesday night, and follow it with a press conference. She convinces the group. Everyone's a little testy.

Charlie and Mrs. Landingham are walking into the White House lobby, talking about the car that Mrs. Landingham just bought. Charlie asks detailed questions about a car she is buying. She's planning on picking it up later that day. Josh shows up, needing to see Leo.

Josh gets to Leo's office. They discuss the imbalance in the big tobacco lawsuit; they're pretty severely outgunned. Leo asks Josh about how it's going downstairs; Margaret comes in with a note for Leo, he reads it, and leaves.


Act II

Leo is in the Oval Office, and Bartlet and Charlie arrive from outside. Leo advises the president about Dessaline's status; he's probably headed to the U.S. embassy. They discuss with some staffers whether they should intervene. A phone call comes in, and the person who takes it says "The car's at the gate." Bartlet tells him to let him in.

C.J., Toby, and Sam are all meeting in the basement. They discuss whether to have Hoynes there at the press conference. C.J. gets a note about the situation in Haiti and leaves to brief the press. Sam and Toby discuss Hoynes and the MS situation a bit more.

Josh comes out from a building with Sen. Ritter. They're talking about Haiti, but Josh wants to talk about the tobacco lawsuit. Ritter tells Josh that the bill to appropriate more money for the lawsuit is not going to get a vote, because the chairman of the committee is in big tobacco's pocket. The nose count is eight to seven against it, too. Josh tells Ritter how important the case is, and Ritter says, "We were wondering when you guys were going to notice."

Donna is waiting for Toby in his office. Toby walks in, asks Donna to sit, and tells her about the President's MS. Donna asks if the President is in any pain, Toby tells her that she's the first assistant to find out, and she leaves.

In the outer Oval Office, Charlie and Mrs. Landingham are still discussing her car. He tells her it was a mistake to go to the dealership alone. They go into the Oval Office. Charlie asks her how much she paid, and she reveals that she paid sticker price, and her reason is because she's a government employee and can't accept gifts above a certain value. C.J. comes in looking for Leo, who's in the Situation Room.

Leo is meeting in the Situation Room with Nancy McNally and several others about the Haiti situation. The Haitian military is taking the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince.


C.J. is briefing the press about Haiti. She relays the facts, and takes questions. Is the U.S. prepared to invade Haiti? C.J. doesn't really answer the questions. C.J. leaves the briefing room. Carol hands her a note in the hallway. C.J. asks if "he's" here, and if she looks okay. "He" is Paul Tackett, the head of a TV network. C.J. sits down with him and asks for 30 minutes, the night after tomorrow. C.J. won't tell him why. He agrees to her terms.

On the Hill, Josh is talking to members of congress about the tobacco lawsuit. They are not on his side and he doesn't appear to persuade them.

Abbey enters the basement room. Sam tells her about the plan for the TV interview, and asks if they can go over what they're going to say, run it by Oliver Babish, and so on. Abbey agrees. They start to go over what she's going to say. At one point, Sam calls her "Mrs. Bartlet," and she corrects him with "Dr." She also asks why she and her husband aren't doing this together.

In the outer Oval Office, Charlie and Mrs. Landingham are still talking about her car. Leo walks in, and then into the Oval. Leo and Bartlet discuss Haiti: they shot three Haitian soldiers who boarded a U.S. plane. Bartlet is very, very upset about that.

The subject changes to bringing the staff in on reelection. Bartlet agrees with something Leo said off-screen about that. They plan to meet that night about it. Leo ends the scene by giving some military directions on the phone.

Act IV

CNN's coverage of the Haiti situation is playing on the TV in the outer Oval Office. Mrs. Landingham greets the President as he enters. He asks about her new car and has about the same conversation about paying sticker price with her as Charlie did. Presidnt Bartlet recites for her the next section of the law that she quotes, which would have made it okay for her to have gotten a discount on the car. Her response: "Caesar's wife must be beyond reproach." Bartlet offers to write her a check for the difference, but she insists that this is her thing. She describes the car fondly. She even mentions the new car smell. Mrs. Landingham prepares to leave to go pick up her car.

In the basement room, Abbey and Sam are still talking. Sam is tired and Abbey offers him some aspirin. Oliver enters and asks Sam to leave for a minute. Oliver addresses her as Mrs. Bartlet, and she corrects him, too, with "Dr. Bartlet." Oliver advises her to get her own lawyer, and also not to do the interview on Wednesday.

They discuss some history: Bartlet was originally diagnosed by a Dr. Vikram, and Abbey eventually, during the campaign, started writing prescriptions, having them filled, and administering the drugs herself. Oliver goes over how many states' ethics rules she violated. And then some more, because she didn't keep records. He asks her more uncomfortable questions, like whether she's asked Jed if he's had extramarital affairs.

Cut to Josh, in his office, with his head in his hands. Donna enters and puts something on his desk. They talk a bit, and Donna tells him that the President wants a meeting at 9:00 that night in the residence. Josh tries to play that off, but Donna reveals that she knows—she says, "Sagittarius." They stare at each other, then Josh asks her if C.J. is done, and she leaves.

C.J. is in the press room, briefing about Haiti. She finishes up, leaves, and Carol tells her that Leo's ready for her.

Toby is in Leo's office. Toby complains that he's working on strategy for the rest of this presidency, and he doesn't know if there even is a future. Josh enters, and he and Toby step out for a second. They talk about Toby having told Donna; Josh feels that he should have done it. They go back in to Leo's office, and discuss the tobacco lawsuit a bit, reviewing earlier material. They turn to the MS topic, and Leo tells them that they're not going to let it distract them. C.J. comes in and they discuss how the interview is going to happen. C.J. insists on knowing the President's intentions, and Leo tells her that they're meeting tonight to discuss that. Sam comes in, and they get back to the same point about having a meeting.

As the meeting breaks up, Leo tells them to "set one off under these guys" about the tobacco lawsuit. Josh and Sam leave, throwing around language about that.

Leo enters the outer Oval Office and finds Charlie sadly hanging up the phone. After some prompting Charlie tells Leo that there was an accident at 18th and Potomac. Mrs. Landingham was driving her car back to the White House when a drunk driver ran a light and hit her. Leo asks if she's okay, Charlie replies that "No, she's dead." Leo leaves to go see the President.

Outside the White House, we see Leo heading toward the Oval Office. We see Leo deliver the news about Mrs. Landingham through the glass, without hearing it.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Character Death: Mrs. Landingham.
  • Shout-Out: When Sam says that a smart reporter will ask if the President plans on seeking reelection, CJ takes a second and then retorts that a reporter with Ted Baxter's intellect would ask that question.

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