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Recap / The West Wing S 03 E 02 Manchester Part One

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We open with C.J. briefing the press, with the difference being it's a straight shot of the podium, with no cutaways. President Bartlet comes up to the podium, takes the question from Sandy about whether he'll run for a second term, puts his hands in his pockets, looks away and smiles. This time, we also get to hear his response; "Yeah. And I'm going to win."

Four weeks later, a visibly tired C.J. is in a limo. The driver tells her they've arrived at Andrews Air Force base, and C.J. gets out of the limo. Bruno Gianelli (Ron Silver) joins President Bartlet as Bartlet gets out of his own limo. Gianelli tells the President he has a new section, but Bartlet tells him to tell Leo. A reporter calls for C.J., who thinks he's talking about the speech. The reporter, however, says he has a source the FDA is going to endorse RU-486, and they're going to do it on Monday, right before Bartlet's speech. C.J. thanks him and walks up into Air Force One. Josh follows her into the plane, and says no one has been able to get together on the speech. C.J. confirms to Josh she's been pretending the speech is fine and they're just tweaking it, and then tells Josh the news about the FDA. Josh isn't happy to hear this, because it takes away the news cycle of the speech. C.J. points out while she told all the governmental departments not to make any news announcements on Monday, the FDA is an independent agency and she has no control over them. Josh also doesn't like the fact Abbey's not on the plane, and C.J. says she'll make sure the Bartlets have pictures taken together when she gets in. Josh says he'll call Gail Trant about the FDA, and asks C.J. to consider postponing the speech just in case (giving the excuse President Bartlet has laryngitis). Doug Wegland (Evan Handler) asks C.J. what Toby's problem with him is, and C.J. tells him not to worry about it. Connie Tate (Connie Britton) is in the lounge area, and is impressed by all of the perks on Air Force One. C.J. tells her the message about the speech, and walks over to a group of reporters. They also ask about the speech, and C.J. insists the speech is fine, and Toby and Sam are working well with Bruno's people. C.J. insists everyone is getting along fine. Just then, Sam bursts into the area, yells at how sentimental the speech is, and says they're going to start over. C.J. takes her seat, and the pilot tells everyone to get seated for takeoff in preparation for the flight to New Hampshire.


In a Flashback to 15 minutes after the press conference, Bartlet walks into the bedroom of the residence. Abbey is sitting in chair, holding a drink, and watching TV coverage of the press conference.

Abbey: You missed it. It was incredible.
Bartlet: Look...
Abbey: All over the news. This crazy man got in front of millions of people and totally screwed his wife.

Abbey thinks Bartlet is joking, but Bartlet claims he isn't. Abbey also says Bartlet's not in the best frame of mind to make a decision like this, having just buried Mrs. Landingham, and he can easily save face by waiting a few weeks, and saying after consulting with doctors and his family that he's changed his mind. Bartlet, however, doesn't want to change his mind, though he also can't talk at the moment; he has to go to the Situation Room for a briefing on Haiti. Abbey tells him to go ahead, but she won't be waiting up for him.


Josh, meanwhile, comes back to his office looking for Donna. Turns out she got there ahead of him (the motorcade left without him, so he had to get a ride with Ed and Larry. He tells her to set up a conference call with Cabinet members and Congressional leaders. Both Josh and Donna are excited, and acknowledge it before Josh tells her to get on with the call. Toby and Sam come in, and they and Josh agree to cancel the public schedule for the next day, and set up so "our people" are available for broadcast news shows that night. Toby walks off, and Sam wants to know why Toby isn't smiling. Josh says Toby is smiling on the inside. Sam calls for C.J.; Nancy points out she's still at the press conference, but Sam tells her to get C.J. anyway. The three of them all end up in the Oval Office, where Bartlet is at his desk reading. All of them look at the President until he calls them on it. Leo comes in to pull him to the Situation Room, and when the two of them leave, Toby says they shouldn't worry about Haiti, but just do what they have to.


In the Situation Room, Nancy McNally tells President Bartlet and Leo about a rescue plan for those trapped inside the embassy; they'll fly helicopters from a nearby soccer stadium, land them on the roof of the embassy, and transport everyone in the embassy to a nearby battle carrier. President Bartlet asks about the risk of Haitian civilian casualties, and McNally assures him there's a curfew, and intelligence says there won't be any civilians within a two-mile radius. President Bartlet approves the plan, which is set to go in two hours. As President Bartlet stands up and thanks everyone, McNally leads the other officers in a standing ovation for him.

Back in the present, on Air Force One, Gianelli tells Margaret he needs to speak with Leo. She directs him to Leo's cabin room. Once there, Gianelli starts to point out it's been four weeks, but Leo's more concerned with the fact Wegland's draft of the speech has an apology and stinks besides. Gianelli admits it's lacking in quality, but says the purpose of it is to demonstrate an apology can work. Leo points out President Bartlet is making an official campaign announcement, and an apology isn't appropriate. He also says Bartlet has educated the public about MS, and has made a full disclosure about his health. Gianelli counters while Bartlet has done that and more (saved Haiti, watched the market rebound, and funded the Justice Department's lawsuit against Big Tobacco), he hasn't apologized, and therefore his numbers are soft, which is why Gianelli is there in the first place. Leo says he has to make calls, and they can talk later.

Josh finds C.J. as the plane is beginning its descent. He confirms the FDA is announcing on Monday, and apologizes for getting upset with C.J. earlier. He asks what Leo and Gianelli were talking about, and C.J. confirms it's about the numbers.

Back after the press conference, as the staff (minus Leo), along with Ed and Larry, gathers in the White House mess, everyone agrees they need to put a new poll in the field, because the fake poll Joey put out is bogus; a sitting President will score higher, 1,170 people aren't representative of the whole country, people trust President Bartlet, and he informed everyone in his interview that MS isn't fatal, which will count for a lot. Toby thanks everyone for finally catching up to him. Joey and Kenny come in, soaked, and agree with the consensus about the new poll.

Back in the present, Donna and Josh are driving to the hotel they're staying at. Donna asks about RU-486, which Josh says is a new birth control pill. Donna is in favor of it, and can't understand why Josh isn't; Josh counters he is in favor of it as long as the FDA doesn't announce it on Monday, because it'll make the pro-life movement mad, and it'll also interfere with their campaign announcement. When they pull up to the hotel, Josh gets out of the car, leaving Donna to carry the bags, which she isn't thrilled about.

In a New Hampshire bar, Wegland asks for a martini. He wonders if it's always that crowded, and the bartender says it always is when the "circus" is in town. Toby comes up to the bar and greets the bartender with a package of M&Ms from the Air Force One, and she takes his order for a Jack Daniels. Wegland asks if Toby's read the speech (he has), and repeats Gianelli's line about wanting to demonstrate an apology could work. Toby says President Bartlet won't apologize, and they're starting over on the speech. Wegland points out President Bartlet needs to apologize now so they won't spend the next 15 months being asked why. Toby says he knows what he's doing. Wegland tries to bring up Haiti, but Toby points out they're within earshot of the White House press corps. The bartender brings Toby his drink. Toby thanks her and walks away. She asks Wegland if he and Toby are friends, and Wegland just sighs.

Back to four weeks earlier, Toby goes to Leo's office and tells him they're putting a new poll in the field. Leo starts to go through the reasons why that's a good idea, but Toby says they're already there. Leo tells Toby Bartlet is in the Residence; when Toby asks about Abbey, Leo tells him not to go there. Margaret comes in and tells Leo they're ready...

...and Leo goes to the Situation Room, where Nancy McNally and other staffers are listening to the helicopters as they fly. McNally tells Leo they'll get to hear every phase of the operation, and it'll be starting momentarily. She asks Leo how he is (he's fine), apologizes for not being at the funeral (Leo understands), and says how proud she is of President Bartlet. She also asks about Abbey, and Leo tells her not to go there, which she accepts. Just then, everyone in the Situation Room hears while one helicopter was able to take off with passengers and without incident, another one took fire. Everyone is tense until it lands at its destination, and guns are able to destroy the opposing fire.

Back in the New Hampshire bar, C.J. is reading a pamphlet about the hotel they're staying at (which is near a grist mill named after John Goffe, a French and Indian War hero), while Sam reads from the speech. Toby comes by and asks C.J. if she wants to play pool for money. Even though she claims not to know how to play, she accepts. C.J. claims she's getting inspiration from the Goffe family, until she reads the mill burned down.

Four weeks earlier, at a press conference right after the rescue mission, C.J. tells the press the rescue operation was mounted from the Enterprise, and she refers them to the Pentagon for details about troops and equipment. Two of the reporters ask whether President Bartlet was in the right state of mind to be making a decision on an evacuation operation after what he'd gone through. C.J. responds, "He'd been through a TV interview and a press conference. The President finds you all annoying but not prohibitively debilitating." The reporters claim President Bartlet had mounted an elaborate plot to conceal a life-threatening illness; C.J. responds MS isn't life-threatening, and denies a plot. As C.J. gets asked who told her, we see Josh watching the press conference on TV in his office area. Joey and Kenny come up and ask him how it's going, and he says C.J's letting the press make her the story. Josh then tells Joey about the Justice Department's suit against Big Tobacco, and the press release he's written to get the Appropriations Committee to give the Justice Department the money they need for the suit. Joey (Kenny) says it's a stupid idea because he won't get anywhere by pissing them off. Josh says he's going to do it anyway. We see C.J. on TV again refusing to answer a question, and, in a tired voice, telling the press corps when the Pentagon briefing will be.

Back in the present, in the New Hampshire bar, Toby tells C.J. he talked to Leo, and he knows what she's thinking about doing. C.J. doesn't say anything, but merely knocks a ball into the corner pocket.

Four weeks earlier, in the Oval Office, Josh and Toby there as President Bartlet, Nancy McNally, and other officers discuss what to do about Haiti. President Bartlet tells them to get a message out that he intends to restore Dessaline to the presidency, and is willing to consider military options. The officers caution him that sanctions could backfire, but approve the plan, and everyone leaves except Josh and Toby. Both of them caution President Bartlet military action in Haiti could be seen as being politically motivated, but he knows sanctions won't be enough. Bartlet says he's late, and leaves. Josh and Toby agree to be careful what they say about Haiti in public. Josh also says they'll have to see what's up with Abbey, and Toby says, "You first."

Back in the bar, Toby asks Charlie if he wants to play pool. Charlie thinks Toby should be writing the speech, but Toby demonstrates he's able to write without paper. He dares Charlie to play by asking if he's scared, and Charlie finally accepts. Toby offers him the break, and Charlie says Toby won't get to play if he does that.

Four weeks earlier, Charlie is in the Outer Oval Office when Babish comes to see him. Babish tells Charlie President Bartlet is having the Attorney General appoint a special prosecutor. Because of that, Babish thinks Charlie should get a lawyer. Charlie insists he doesn't need one, but Babish points out Charlie will be asked about everything he's ever seen and heard since he started working, he can get subpoenaed at any time, and he can be asked about anything else, including his relationship with Zoey. Babish estimates when all is said and done, if Charlie didn't do anything wrong, it'll still end up costing him about $100,000.

Back in the present, Charlie easily wins the game and takes Toby's $20. Toby starts to ask about Abbey, but Charlie says Toby should know better, and leaves.

Connie, Donna, Josh and Margaret are sitting at a table in the same bar; Connie and Margaret are reading, while Donna is eating Josh's food despite his protests. Gianelli comes over looking for Leo; Margaret testily tells him he's on the phone. Gianelli reads part of the speech, which Connie and Josh agree is bad. Wegland walks in, followed by Leo, who tells everybody they'll work on the speech tomorrow. Josh gets up and tells Leo about RU-486. He wants to go through back channels to get them to hold off, but Leo vetoes the idea. Josh tells him they have to consider postponing the speech then. Leo says he'll talk to President Bartlet at the ranch the next morning.

Four weeks earlier, Josh and Sam are in the Roosevelt room, going over the early numbers with Ed, Larry, and Joey. Joey (Kenny) tells them an incumbent candidate needs to be polling at a minimum of 40% to have any chance of getting re-elected, and President Bartlet is currently polling at 41%, so he's in contention. 39% think the President would be physically unable to discharge his duties as President, but Joey (Kenny) assures them the number will go down once they educate the public about MS. Josh says he's going to set up meetings for tomorrow when the final numbers come in, thanks everyone, and dismisses them. As he and Sam walk out, Sam points out President Bartlet hasn't apologized yet. Josh has no answer for that, but he wants to know what Sam thinks about leaking the press release he wrote about the tobacco suit to the subcommittee. Sam thinks it's a bad idea, which Josh doesn't want to hear. He says he's going to do it anyway. Sam starts to bring up the apology again, but Josh motions that they should watch C.J.'s press conference.

C.J. is being grilled by reporters while Toby watches from the back. When asked if the President talked to the families of the injured Marines, C.J. says President Bartlet did express his gratitude and concern to the Marines and their families, but denies President Bartlet's health was ever discussed. She also confirms the Coast Guard has intercepted Haitian refugees, who have been labeled economic refugees and are being diverted to Guantanamo Bay. A reporter asks if President Bartlet isn't accepting the refugees because he doesn't have the political capital, and C.J. denies that's a factor. The same reporter also asks if President Bartlet's political problems will affect whether he invades Haiti or not, and C.J. insists again it's not a factor; when he asks if the President's situation makes it harder for him to focus on Haiti, C.J., who's had enough, snaps, "To be honest with you, I think the President's relieved to be focusing on something that matters." Everyone gasps at this statement, and Toby looks shocked. C.J. realizes she made a mistake, and starts to say, "What I mean to say was...", but doesn't finish as the reporters barrage her with questions.

Toby walks out to the hallway, still in shock. Sam catches up to him, and he's equally stunned by what happened. They see C.J. walk out of the briefing room as reporters shout after her. Toby gently tries to talk to her, but she's very upset; "Just...just don't say anything for a...just don't say anything for a...." She doesn't look at either of them, but eventually pounds the wall in frustration and storms off. Sam and Toby just stand there, watching her leave.

Joey and Kenny are in Leo's office. Joey tries to tell him about Josh leaking his press release about the Justice Department lawsuit, and why she thinks it's a bad idea, when Margaret interrupts them with a note for Leo. Leo reads it, grimaces, says, "Holy hell," and storms off.

Josh starts to walk towards C.J.'s office, but stops when she walks in and slams the door closed. He turns around and catches up to Sam and Toby, who are still in shock. Leo catches up to them and asks what happened. Sam tries to defend C.J., saying there was a ramp-up, but Leo doesn't want to hear it. Josh tells him what C.J. said, and Leo gets angry and walks towards his office. The other three follow him and try to figure out how C.J. can walk back what she said. As soon as they get into Leo's office, he slams the door closed.

Leo: What if he has to invade? If he invades Haiti after what...It's gonna look like he ordered a military operation to cover up...
Toby: She goes back. She says she was tired. She misspoke—
Leo: C.J. doesn't misspeak!
Josh: (quietly but firmly) She just did.
Leo: If she misspoke, why didn't she clean it up in the Briefing Room? I mean, come to think of it, why didn't she clean it up in the Briefing Room?
Sam: She actually is tired, Leo. We all are.
Sam: We haven't had much time...
Leo: You had a week. How much time do you need?
Sam: (finally at his breaking point) Some of us have had more time than others!

Leo just stares at Sam, who stares defiantly back, while Toby looks down and Josh looks at the wall. Eventually, Leo opens the door, asks Margaret if Bartlet is alone, and leaves, but not before telling the others to come up with something.

In the present, the next morning, Leo is driven up to the Bartlet family farm. Bartlet is leaning up against a red pickup truck, drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette. Leo teases him about living in the middle of nowhere, and more seriously, tells him about the FDA announcing RU-846. He says they should consider postponing the speech, but Bartlet says he's ready, and he doesn't care about the news cycle. After a few moments, Leo asks if Abbey and the girls are getting in that morning. Bartlet says they are, and asks about the staff. Leo says they're fine, but when Bartlet asks about C.J., Leo doesn't say anything. Bartlet jokes he could postpone the speech by saying he has MS, but Leo just bows his head. Bartlet then says, "I'm running for reelection, and I'm gonna win." Leo says nothing, and the two of them stare into the distance.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Gianelli calls Margaret "red headed girl", and as calmly as possible, she says her name is Margaret.
  • Armor-Piercing Response:
    Sam: She actually is tired, Leo. We all are.
    Leo: Well, why don't we go with that, Sam? Let's go out and say we're all tired. The President's tired. Complications due to MS.
    Sam: We haven't had much time...
    Leo: You had a week. How much time do you need?
    Sam: [Finally snapping] Some of us have had more time than others!
    [Awkward silence]
  • Big Eater: Donna, but only of Josh's food.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Every staffer repeating over and over how they need to put a new poll in the field. Lampshaded by Toby when he says, "Thank you all for coming around to the self-evident point I made five minutes ago."
  • Foreshadowing: Every time Josh speaks to someone about the tobacco lawsuit and they try to dissuade him from leaking the press release, he dismissively blows them off and decides to go ahead anyway. This will come back to bite him.
  • Heroic BSoD: C.J. after her monumental screw-up in the press room. Complete with Percussive Therapy and Preemptive "Shut Up".
    [As Toby and Sam reach the briefing room exit, C.J. walks into the hallway, takes one step in the direction of her office, sees them, turns and walks away so as not to face them.]
    Toby: [tentatively] C.J....
    [C.J. stops in a doorway.]
    C.J.: Just...just don't say anything for a...just don't say anything!
    [She puts her hand to her head and sighs, muttering to herself. Nobody moves. C.J. pounds her hand into the wall.]
    C.J.: DAMMIT!
    [She turns around and walks between Toby and Sam, back to her office.]
  • Hypocrite: A veiled accusation occurs when Leo's railing against C.J.'s misstep in the Haiti briefing. Sam tries to defend her by pointing out that she's tired and upset over the President's revelations about his MS. Leo dismisses this as not good enough, yelling that she's had a week to get over it. Sam, who is himself grappling with his feelings about the President's actions, snaps and angrily retorts that some people (i.e. Leo and Toby) have had longer to get their heads around it than others. Leo is left with no comeback, possibly because he knows all too well that neither he nor Toby initially reacted well when they first learned about it.
  • Oh, Crap!: The look on everyone's face when an exhausted C.J. gets rattled in the press room and says that the president will be "relieved" to be focusing on Haiti.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Stockard Channing as Dr. Abigail "Abbey" Bartlet.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Joey (Kenny) tells Josh she was jumping down and waving her hands in the air to signal Larry she needed a ride, and both Josh and Larry say they thought she was just happy. Joey says, "You're an idiot!", to which Josh responds, "Which one of are you talking to?" That exchange, in a different circumstance, was also used in an episode of Sports Night.
  • Shout-Out / Take That!: At various times, the speech gets compared to an Andy Williams special (Williams is a crooner best known for his version of "Moon River"), by Sam, and an Up with People rally, by Bruno. Also, Leo says Bartlet's making a campaign announcement, not appearing on Oprah, and Gianelli responds it wouldn't kill the President to be on Oprah.
  • Two-Part Episode

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