Follow TV Tropes


Recap / The West Wing S 04 E 23 Twenty Five

Go To

Abbey is sitting with two other women in a private room in the White House, and they're all laughing about how their husbands have empty nest syndrome. Abbey calls over to Bartlet, who's busy looking at old photographs of Zoey. Abbey jokes at how many visits he's planning to make to France, including being a judge at the Cannes Film Festival. Bartlet tells Abbey he found the picture of Zoey when she was coming home from the hospital. As the other two men Bartlet is with reminisce about their children, Leo and Ron appear in back by the doorway. Bartlet sees them and goes to talk with them. As the men and other women continue to talk, we see (but don't hear) Leo and Ron tell Bartlet about Zoey being kidnapped. Bartlet, who was carrying both a glass of alcohol and several pictures, drops both the pictures and the glass, causing the glass to shatter. Abbey looks up at the sound, and Bartlet looks ashen-faced.


Back outside the club, Wes orders other agents around, and tells a disbelieving Charlie and Josh what happened. Charlie insists Zoey is messing with everybody until Wes tells him about Molly being killed. Charlie starts to walk towards his car, insisting he can catch them, until Josh points out he and Charlie were the last two to see Zoey enter the club alive, so they're witnesses.

President Bartlet, Leo and Ron all hustle to the Situation Room. While Ron and Leo discuss details (police roadblocks, FBI command post), Bartlet asks Ron if his other daughters are okay, which they are. They go into the Situation Room, where Admiral Fitzwallace, Nancy McNally and Agent Mike Casper are waiting. Leo tells everybody they don't need to keep the news a secret, and Agent Casper confirms the Secret Service put the news out on all news frequencies. Leo tells someone he needs C.J., and then asks Admiral Fitzwallace if they're being attacked. Fitzwallace admits he thinks so, but he doesn't know, and it'll take a few hours of going through watch lists and interviewing people at the crime scene to figure out for sure. Dr. McNally thinks it's a low-tech kidnapping, and couldn't have been as organized as everyone thinks. Agent Casper says he doesn't know what it is, and Leo snaps he doesn't want to hear that answer. Bartlet, who's distracted, makes sure they've shut down Union Station, and leaves to check on Abbey. Dr. McNally argues Zoey will probably show up in back of a muffler shop instead of a Bahji camp, but Admiral Fitzwallace doesn't believe that.


Josh and Charlie tell an agent at the scene about Charlie meeting Zoey at the Arboretum and drinking champagne. Wes points out there was no sign of a struggle, and asks Charlie if they tried anything else, including ecstasy. Charlie remembers Zoey telling him Jean-Paul wanted her to try ecstasy, and starts running towards an ambulance, where Jean-Paul is sitting. Charlie starts yelling at Jean-Paul, but one of the paramedics tells him Jean-Paul is out of it. Wes catches up, shines his flashlight in Jean-Paul's face, and realizes he's been taking something else instead. Wes yells for another paramedic to get a blood sample. Wes tells Charlie and Josh they can go back to the White House. Josh tries to offer condolences about Molly, but Wes just tells him to go.

Outside C.J.'s office, Carol tells her to refer any law enforcement issues to the FBI, and the local news that happened to be covering the party at the club was whisked away before they discovered anything. Leo comes by and asks Carol to excuse them. He and C.J. go into C.J.'s office, and he tells her emphatically not to let the press bring up Bartlet's emotional state, and to only treat him as the commander in chief. He tells her, "This is the most important press conference of your life", and leaves. Will has come by looking for Toby (C.J. hasn't seen or heard from him), and says he doesn't even know where to begin writing his speech. As C.J. walks towards the press briefing room, Will also points out there's no Vice President, and he doesn't see how President Bartlet can say, "We don't negotiate with terrorists". C.J. says they'll take it one step at a time. She goes into the packed press room and begins her briefing. She gives a description of what Zoey was wearing given what witnesses told them, and she asks the networks carrying the conference to keep the 1-800 tip line displayed. C.J. deflects questions about Bartlet's MS and about the possibility of Zoey being raped (though she does say they'll release Molly's name when her family's been notified), and leaves.


Toby's waiting outside the press room, and tells her he's late because transportation across the city is shut down, and he had to get a ride with Metro police just to get to the White House. Will comes by, and Toby asks if he has a statement written. Ginger and Josh join them as well; Toby tells Ginger to hold on to the messages she has, and reads the statement. He tells Will to make it tougher ("Our youngest daughter has been abducted. She will be found, brought home safely, and her abductors caught and punished"). Josh adds a few lines, and Toby asks how President Bartlet is. No one's seen him, and C.J. says a doctor is looking in on him and Abbey. Toby is upset when he thinks the doctor is going to give Bartlet a sedative, but C.J. points out it's for his MS. Toby asks about the stock exchange, and Will points out no one has authority to do anything about that. After praising C.J. for the press conference, Toby tells Josh to call Congressmen (which he's already started to do), and tells Will to sit in with the White House Counsel's office. As the others start to walk away, Toby realizes something:

Toby: Oh, uh, hey! This the way, this is...the babies were born.
C.J.: What babies?
Toby: The twins. Andy had the babies. That's where I was. I was at the just happened ten days early.

Josh hugs Toby, and he and Will say, "Mazel tov!" Toby reveals the babies are each six pounds, one ounce, and the boy's name is Huck (from Andy's grandfather). Everyone says how great a name it is, and Toby, who's smiling, says they need to get back to work. C.J. calls out Toby's name, he turns around, and she puts her hands on her heart before turning around and going back to work.

President Bartlet is in the Oval Office while a doctor takes his blood pressure, which is high, something both the doctor and Bartlet are concerned about. Charlie comes in to tell him Molly's parents are on the phone. Bartlet looks pensive, and then nods his head.

Josh and Donna are in their work area, and Donna tells him since many people went away for the weekend, and transportation shut down so they can't get back, there aren't a lot of people around. She starts complaining about all the faxes they've received from Josh's fan club. Will comes by and offers to help with the phone calls; Josh points out Will needs to sit with Oliver Babish, but when Will tells him his speech-writing interns are still around, accepts Will's offer of having them make calls. Donna interrupts them and says she has a fax with Zoey's picture on it, and Will realizes it's a ransom note.

President Bartlet and Charlie walk back to the Oval Office, with Ron and Agent Casper following. They tell Bartlet GHB was found in Jean-Paul's system, and that he'll be conscious in an hour or so. Leo, Admiral Fitzwallace and Dr. McNally are waiting for President Bartlet in the Oval Office, and they show him the picture, along with a translated ransom demand; the President must release three prisoners from Islamabad, and the U.S. must withdraw from Qumar. Admiral Fitzwallace wants to attack key targets in Qumar, but Dr. McNally again thinks they shouldn't escalate like that, and should concentrate on finding Jean-Paul's dealer. Leo points out the dealer will likely be dead, and Bartlet agrees to send the Fifth Fleet into the Gulf.

A little later, Leo and Toby are in Leo's office, watching the news. Leo brings up Huck's name, saying he likes it, and then, remembering Toby's plan with the house, asks him how it went. Toby lies and says the babies interrupted everything, but when Leo presses him, Toby admits Andy said no. He then asks Leo if he was nervous when Mallory was born. Leo admits he was, for the reason fathers normally are; Toby thinks he himself was nervous because he was afraid he wouldn't love his kids the way fathers are supposed to, because he doesn't know if he has the capacity for it. Leo thinks Toby's crazy for worrying like this, and that he will love his kids like he's supposed to. He asks again what went on at the house, and Toby doesn't answer, but turns up the volume on the TV.

Amy is sitting outside Abbey's office when Abbey comes through the doors and starts walking towards the press room. Amy asks where she's going, and Abbey says she's going to make an appeal, because it's something she's seen mothers do. Donna, whom they pass, looks alarmed, and both Amy and C.J., whom they also pass, try to talk Abbey out of it, but she won't be deterred. Abbey opens up the doors to the press briefing room, and is immediately overwhelmed by all the photographers and reporters. C.J. gets in between them, tells the press to give her a break, and she and Amy escort Abbey out. Abbey walks away in a daze, and Amy and C.J. look at each other, concerned. Amy catches up to Abbey and gently points out if Abbey did make an appeal, it could be seen as negotiating with terrorists, it would undermine President Bartlet's position, and if the goal was to destabilize the U.S. government, Abbey's appearance would make the kidnappers believe they've succeeded. Abbey calms down and says she realizes she can't, it's just she's seen other mothers do so. C.J. invites Abbey to sit on the couch in her office, and Amy calls for the doctor while Donna looks on.

In the Situation Room, Admiral Fitzwallace and Dr. McNally continue to argue about what to do about Qumar when Leo interrupts with a different problem; there's an unidentified Beach Baron airplane flying over a nuclear reactor in Washington state. They try to communicate with the plane again, but don't get an answer. President Bartlet wants to know when he should give the order to shoot it down, and no one knows which target he's talking about; it turns out he means the plane, and Bartlet gets frustrated at the confusion, but calms down. He tells Admiral Fitzwallace he wants to think a minute before putting the planes in the air, and he and Leo exit the Situation Room.

Outside, Bartlet tells Leo he's not sure about the military options. Leo reassures Bartlet he's doing fine, but Bartlet doesn't think so. He asks if Zoey is alive (Leo is sure she is), and points out the kidnappers are counting on him reacting as a father first and the President second. Leo points out he's got people who will make sure that doesn't happen, but Bartlet again points out he's not sure; he can't even remember Fitzwallace giving him target recommendations, and he doesn't think Leo and the others have the authority to stop him from thinking like a father. He tells Leo to assemble the Cabinet, call the Speaker of the House, and to do it quietly. Bartlet walks up the stairs and pats Leo on the shoulder.

Toby is in the hospital maternity ward, and looks at his twins through the nursery window. A nurse offers to let him see the twins in a private room, and Toby declines, but then changes his mind. The nurse carries the babies into a room, and Toby follows. She says she'll be back in a few minutes to feed them, and closes the door as she leaves.

Toby: I didn't realize babies come with hats. You guys crack me up. You don't have jobs. You can't walk or speak the language. You don't have a dollar in your pockets, but you got yourselves a hat. So, everything's fine. I don't want to alarm you or anything, but...I'm Dad. (he turns to his son) And for you, son, for you, this'll be the last time I pass the buck, but I think it should be clear from the get-go that it was Mom who named you Huckleberry. I guess she was feeling like life doesn't present enough challenges to overcome on its own. (to his daughter) And honey, you've got a name now, too. Your mom and I named you after an incredibly brave, uh...An incredibly brave woman, really not all that much older than you. Your name is Molly. Huck and Molly. So, what do I do? Well, you're gonna need food and clothes and doctors and dentists...there's that. And, should you have any questions along the way, I'm gonna be doing stuff like this, Huck, cause you're leaking a little bit out of your mouth there. (he wipes Huck's mouth) You're holding my finger, son? Hey, Molly. Your brother's holding my hand. Do you wanna hold my hand? (laughs) This isn't going to mean anything to you, but...Leo was right. Leo was right.

The nurse comes in and says how nice it is when the babies look at their parents like that. She turns to the TV in the room, which is playing footage of Zoey as a child, and wonders why they're doing it. Toby looks up to see footage of Bartlet wiping Zoey's mouth just like he did to Huck, looks at his babies, and then stands up. He tells the nurse he has to get back to the office, promises to convey the hospital's thoughts and prayers to the Bartlet's, and gives her his pager number in case Andy needs him or in case the babies do something. As he walks out, Toby slaps the exit sign above his head.

In the Portico area, Leo is sitting on a bench when Margaret gives him a cup of coffee and tells him Charlie is on the way.

Margaret: I think you should sleep for a few hours.
Leo: I'll sleep when he sleeps. But *you* should sleep for a few hours.
Margaret: I'll sleep when you sleep.
Leo: Well, this is gonna be interesting because we're gonna have a small band of dedicated people who can't lift their arms.

Margaret leaves as Charlie joins Leo. After guessing Charlie won't sleep for a few hours either, Leo tells him he wants the staff's secretary office to freeze all non-essential paper for executive signature until further notice, and to get a federal judge there right away. Charlie sees Leo is holding a booklet of the Constitution, agrees, and walks off. C.J., Josh and Will join Leo, and Josh says Donna is paging Toby. Leo tells them what he's done, and that President Bartlet is invoking the 25th amendment. He asks what they think; C.J. and Josh were on the fence, and Will calls it, "a fairly stunning act of patriotism. And a fairly ordinary act of fatherhood." Leo agrees. Toby comes rushing in, saying he was at the hospital, and the babies are fine. Leo tells him what's going on, and Toby is in favor.

We cut between House Speaker Glen Allen Walken (John Goodman) walking towards the Oval Office from outside, President Bartlet meeting with his Cabinet members, and Leo and the staff talking. Josh points out they're handing the Republicans the election, and thinks it's signaling to the country they're not handling the situation. Toby disagrees, saying it's signaling to the nation they *are* handling it. Bartlet tells the Cabinet while the Constitution doesn't require unanimous approval from them to invoke the 25th, he wants it. A couple of cabinet members want to know what happens if Bartlet gives orders contradicting the acting president, but Bartlet assures them that won't happen. Everyone votes in favor.

Walken and his staff meet up with C.J., Josh, Toby and Will at the outside entrance of the Oval Office. Walken tells everyone to relax. Leo joins them, shakes Walken's hand, and invites them into the Oval Office, where Admiral Fitzwallace and Dr. McNally are waiting. Inside, Walken asks about Abbey, and Leo says she's upset. Leo tells Walken the staff is just hearing about the news, and tells Walken they'll do a joint press conference in a couple hours, followed by a briefing. Walken interrupts to ask about the Beach Baron; Leo says it was frat boys playing chicken, and Walken tells Fitzwallace unidentified aircraft only get one warning from then on, or they get shot down, even if his mother is on the plane. Bartlet walks in, he and Walken start to greet each other, and he starts to admonish Walken about what will happen if it turns out Molly was shot with an unregistered gun before trailing off. Charlie comes in with Justice Sharon Day, and Will tells Walken he needs to resign - Leo also points out he can't go back unless he's re-elected in two years - and Walken readily agrees. As he's signing the necessary papers, Bartlet goes over to Toby.

Bartlet: Huck?
Toby: And Molly.
Bartlet: Nice. So, what do you know now that you didn't know before?
Toby: Babies come with hats.
Bartlet: (chuckling) Yeah. They also come with those little theft-protection devices. Those little LoJacks on their ankles so they can't be boosted from the hospital. Man, don't ever let them take it off.
Toby: (in a low voice) There's no one in this room who wouldn't rather die then let you down, you know.

Will signs the papers as a witness, and Bartlet says he has two letters; one to remove himself from power (which he'll sign), and one reinstating him. He asks what the next step is.

C.J.: Well, the President and the Speaker have to make it clear to the country that there's someone in charge.
Josh: I'd argue we first have to make it clear to the world that there's someone in charge.
Will: I'd make it clear to Bahji that there's someone in charge.
Walken: Franz Ferdinand, who was the nephew of the Austro-Hungarian emperor, was killed by a group called the Black Hand. And because they were a Serbian nationalist society, the empire declared war on Serbia. Then Russia, which was bound by a treaty, was forced to mobilize which meant that Germany had to declare war on Russia. Then France declared war on Germany, and that was World War I. Because the emperor's nephew was killed. Now, I thought you all had some good ideas, but somebody ought to make it clear to the people in this room that someone is in charge.
Bartlet: Glen, they've been up all night.

Bartlet looks at Leo, who says the same thing. Bartlet tells Justice Day to swear Walken in, and as Bartlet exits the Oval Office, we hear Walken taking the oath.

This episode contains the following examples:

  • Call-Back: Probably the biggest one of the series; Bartlet confesses to Leo he once described this exact scenario to Zoey in order to scare her.
    • Also, Donna refers to Josh's "fan groups", which were also discussed in the Season 3 episode "The U.S. Poet Laureate." Also, though we don't see them, Will refers to his speech-writing interns (the "Laurens") who've been with him since "The California 47th" earlier that year.
  • Cliffhanger: And how!
  • Continuity Nod: The Cabinet member who asks Bartlet what would happen if he gave an order contrary to what Walken ordered is Secretary of Agriculture Roger Tribbey.
  • Meaningful Echo: Within the space of a few minutes; Bartlet says to a cabinet member, "Leo will know what to do", and Toby says the same thing to Josh.
  • Not So Different: At the end, when everyone's squabbling about how to inform the nation that the Speaker of the House has become the Acting President, the Speaker gets everyone's attention through use of a historical anecdote that appears to be a tangent but is actually quite pointedly relevant to the point at hand... similarly to how Bartlet frequently does.
  • Papa Wolf: Bartlet, obviously, but also, though he didn't think he would, Toby.
    Leo: The babies are okay?
    Toby: Yeah, they're great. And if somebody was hurting them, I'd drop napalm on Yellowstone to get them to stop. Letting some prisoners out of jail wouldn't be nothing and I've known my kids for about forty-five minutes.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: