Bruno and Josh give separate interviews on TV; both profess to be happy about the states they've won so far (Josh is especially happy about Illinois because "that's Leo McGarry country"), both insist their respective candidates will win their own home states (Texas for Congressman Santos, California for Senator Vinick), and each are optimistic about beating their opponent in his home state. They each finish their interview, and Josh asks Ronna why they aren't dominating Texas, while Bob tells Bruno they've picked up a few more states, including West Virginia ("God bless coal country," says Bruno), but Wisconsin is leaning towards Santos.
As Josh heads through the ballroom, Donna tells him Santos will win Minnesota, but they don't know about Ohio, and Bruce and Gene want a minute with Josh to talk about the victory speech. Josh wants to avoid that meeting, but he sees the two of them waiting in front of him, and asks Donna to interrupt him after two minutes.
In the Vinick control room, Bob confirms Minnesota has gone for Santos, and Bruno, like everyone else, is waiting on Ohio.
Back in the ballroom, Bruce and Gene both point out to Josh there needs to be less optimism and more talk of economic burden and sacrifice in the speech, as well as a mention of Kazakhstan. Josh, who clearly doesn't want to be there, asks if they can put their suggestions in writing, and they hand him an envelope, which he grabs before leaving.
In Santos' limo, Bram tells him he's not talking to anyone until the election is declared over, and says they're sneaking in through the basement. Josh calls, and tells Bram they've won Minnesota, but when Bram passes the phone to Santos, Josh tells him about what Bruce and Gene told him, and says it's his fault. Santos tells him not to worry. Josh, who's been walking up the stairs back towards the control room, sees Donna and hangs up. He gently chides her for not interrupting the meeting, but eventually, he notices the dazed look on her face, and asks her what's wrong. After a few seconds, Donna finally tells him Annabeth found Leo unconscious in his room, and they're taking him to the hospital. Josh looks stunned.
C.J. slowly hangs the phone up, looking shocked. Margaret calls for her a couple times, and C.J., snapping out of it, asks if President Bartlet is in. Margaret confirms this, and asks if she should get Will; C.J. says yes, and walks towards the Oval Office. Inside, President Bartlet is packing for a trip, and asks Nancy for a file he needs to take; she says she'll look. Bartlet greets C.J., and tells her he had to leave Manchester because he knew it would be bad form to celebrate the fact Elizabeth's husband, who was running for Congress, was losing. He stops joking when he notices the look on C.J.'s face, and asks in a different tone, "C.J., what is it?"
Lou and Ronna join Congressman Santos, Helen and Bram as they walk towards a service elevator. Lou tells them Leo's at Methodist Hospital, and Josh is on his way there. Santos wants to know if they should go to the hospital, but Lou says they shouldn't because the press doesn't have the story yet. As they get into the elevator, both Santos and Helen want to issue a statement to the press, Helen because she thinks the press may have the story, and Santos because he doesn't want to hide anything. Lou, however, points out reporting it would put them at a disadvantage, because people might not vote, and that would hand the election to Senator Vinick, which, as Lou reminds them, would represent all Santos was running against. Santos seems to accept this, but does ask Lou to start working on a statement, and also asks for a direct line to the hospital.
In the Vinick control room, Bob is able to report, to the jubilation of everyone in the room, that Ohio has been called for Senator Vinick.
Josh and Donna race through the hallway at the hospital, and an agent directs them to an elevator. They wait as the elevator takes them up, and then race out, eventually finding Annabeth, who's with the Secret Service agents who were by Leo's room. In a teary voice, Annabeth says, "He died, Josh." Josh and the others react in shock, and Annabeth buries herself in Josh's shoulder and starts sobbing.
In the Santos control room, Edie and Lou are tallying the electoral votes (179 to 166 in favor of Senator Vinick) when Bram's phone rings. He tells everyone it's Josh, and he goes into the next room. He finds Santos and Helen sitting in a chair, and Bram hands the phone to Santos. Santos listens, seems to slump a little, and Helen takes his hand.
In the Oval Office, President Bartlet is on the phone with Abbey, telling her he's going to fly to the hospital when he can, and mentions Mallory is there already, when he notices C.J. has walked in, looking gutted. He tells Abbey to hang on and puts the phone down. After a few seconds, he simply asks, "When?" "Just a few minutes ago," replies C.J., who's barely holding it together. Bartlet comes around from his desk, and he and C.J. hug each other. Eventually, they break it off, and Bartlet thanks C.J., who leaves. After taking a few seconds to try and compose himself, Bartlet picks the phone back up, and says heavily, "Sweetheart, I'm sorry, I have some very bad news."
Senator Vinick is in his hotel room with Sheila, watching the results, when Bruno comes into the room and tells him Santos is on the line. Vinick makes a joke about Santos conceding, but Bruno quietly tells him, "You'll wanna take this call." Vinick gets on the phone and looks shocked when he hears the news.
Santos sincerely thanks Vinick for his condolences, and says he'll pass along the message to everyone else. Just as he hangs up, the TV news starts reporting Leo's death. We see the reactions from Santos' control room, the ballroom where the delegates are gathered, and the White House, where Margaret is weeping quietly. All the anchors talk about Leo's long service, and speculate whether his death will hurt Santos' chances.
In Santos' hotel suite a little later, Santos is meeting with Bram, Goodwin, Kagan, Lou and Ronna. Goodwin and Kagan argue over whether Santos can pick a new VP nominee, and when the best time would be to do so to prevent Vinick from making trouble. Lou finally buts in and tells them Santos needs to make a speech ASAP to reassure voters out west. She tells Santos the speechwriters have started working on a statement; he cautions her not to overwrite it. Santos asks about Mallory, and Bram says she's headed to the hospital, where Josh still is. Lou asks if she should get Josh back, and Santos says no, that wherever Josh thinks he needs to be is fine. He tells Lou to get the statement.
At the hospital, Josh is standing by a window in the hallway, still dazed. Donna comes up to him and updates him on results. Josh comes out of it long enough to mention Santos needs to make a statement (Donna tells him Lou's working on it) and someone needs to tell President Bartlet (Donna called C.J.). He asks after Mallory, and Donna says she went to call her mother. He then asks about Santos, and Donna says like everyone else, he's in shock. Donna offers to drive Josh back to the hotel, puts her arm around him, and starts to walk him out.
Bob, Bruno, Jane and Sheila are gathered in Senator Vinick's hotel suite. Bob and Jane both wonder how Santos can go on without his more experienced running mate. Vinick is amazed Santos hasn't made a statement yet. Jane says they probably haven't figured out what to say yet - "Hey, sorry, thought he had a few thousand more miles left in him. Oops." Vinick gives her a disgusted look, and Jane, realizing she may have gone too far, puts her hands up as an apologetic gesture. Sheila reminds Vinick the polls close in California soon, and their numbers aren't strong. Vinick wonders if he should make a statement of his own, and Bob and Jane again say he should because undecideds may not vote for Santos without Leo buttressing him. Vinick turns to Bruno and says, "You're quiet all of a sudden," to which Bruno can only reply, "Yeah." Bob says a Santos win would probably be tainted, and also adds a Republican Congress might not even confirm it; Jane doesn't even think they'd get a Republican Congress. Vinick figures out they want him to say people shouldn't vote for Santos because Leo died, and is disgusted by the thought. Sheila agrees, but points out they need to do something.
Santos is trying to get off the phone with a senator who is wondering why Leo was a VP candidate in the first place with his medical history, and after he hangs up, tells Helen the senator offered to take Leo's place. Lou gives him the speech, and they make their way to the ballroom, where the Foo Fighters are playing "Miracle". Lou goes to the stage manager and whispers in his ear; he in turn goes on stage and whispers to Dave Grohl, who finishes the song to quiet and scattered applause. Lou tells the crowd that Congressman Santos is there to make a statement. Santos steps up to the mike, looks around, and begins:
We see the people in the room watching, as well as C.J. watching in her office, and Vinick and the others watching in his hotel suite.
Annabeth, Donna and Josh are back at the hotel, and slowly walk towards the control room. When the other staffers notice them, they give them hugs of sympathy (Edie hugs Donna, Lou hugs Josh). Lou and the others update the three on the election results, and not just the presidential race; the Democrats have a chance to take the House, though Republicans will still have the majority in the Senate, and President Bartlet's son-in-law lost by double digits in his district. Josh asks if the press are playing it as a defeat for the First Family, and Bram says they're portraying it as a victory for his district, which finally gets Josh to smile and laugh.
President Bartlet is on the phone with Ellie, assuring her she doesn't have to come until the funeral, which he expects will be in a few days. He says goodbye and hangs up, at which point C.J. comes in and gives him a list of all of the condolence calls that have come in, and asks him to let her know which ones he wants to returns personally. Bartlet gestures towards the TV and notes how strange it is to watch himself being replace on national television. C.J. asks if he would run again if he could, and Bartlet says Abbey wouldn't be happy about that, no matter what the voters thought, and he's glad the 22nd Amendment prevents him from doing so anyway. Bartlet then reminisces about the first time he met Leo, and they argued over something he can't even remember. He brings up the fact they almost lost him 15 years earlier, and while he and Abbey were prepared then, he's not prepared now. Both Bartlet and C.J. start to tear up again.
In the Santos control room, Donna says CBS is calling Maine for Vinick, but Lou points out they can't do that if the margin between them is less than one percent, because that's automatic grounds for a recount. Edie and Ronna freak out about the fact there are hardly any election lawyers in Oregon, until Lou shuts them up by saying they can take two lawyers from Nevada and fly them to Oregon. Lou then asks about the ballroom (Dave Matthews Band is apparently now playing) and about the "too close to call" speech. Bram says Santos is working on it. Josh, who has been staring into space, snaps into attention and says Santos shouldn't be reading that speech, and if it comes to that, it should be Goodwin or someone like that. Bram then notices more results are being announced; Vermont, Iowa and then Maine have all been won by Vinick.
In the Vinick control room, Bob accepts congratulatory high-fives from everyone, but Bruno cautions it's not time to celebrate. Jane comes over with bad news; they lost the House, and also a few state houses. Just then, it's announced Santos has won Texas...
...and all of the Santos staffers are celebrating, spilling out in the hallway; even Lou is overjoyed. Santos and Helen start to dance, and everyone in the hall starts to sing "Deep in the Heart of Texas." Only Donna remains calm, and she's looking for Josh. She takes the elevator down to the floor with Leo's room, and one of the Secret Service agents motions her inside Leo's room. Josh is inside, looking at the mess. He notices Donna, sniffles, and mentions he called housekeeping so Mallory wouldn't have to see the mess. Donna tells him about Texas, and Josh manages to laugh, but still looks despondent. Donna tells him, "You've done a remarkable thing. Win or lose, an extraordinary thing." Josh continues to cry as he says, "I talked him into this, into joining the ticket." Donna gently reminds him no one ever talked Leo into anything he didn't want to do, and says he'd want Josh upstairs. She adds, "He was so proud of you, Josh." Josh slumps into Donna's arms.
In Vinick's hotel suite, Vinick sadly says if he loses California, he's going home. Bob and Jane start second-guessing themselves about where they should have campaigned, until Vinick loudly tells them to be quiet. He asks for his daughter (Sheila says she's with her kids) and for Santos' number so he can call and congratulate him. Bruno, however, tells him to turn up the volume on the TV instead...
...and in the Santos control room, everyone gathers round as the announcers confirm thanks to to a late surge, Vinick has taken California. Only Nevada and Oregon are left, and Josh yells for someone to get election lawyers to fly out to both states.
It's now 3:30 Central time, and we see a montage of the ballroom and both control rooms as they work into the night, as the news anchors report both states are still too close to call despite the fact 90% of the precincts have reported in both states. In Santos' hotel suite, Santos tells Bram and Lou he wants a concession speech ready, and he also wants Vinick's number. When Bram leaves, Lou tells him not to give Santos Vinick's number until he talks to her.
In the Vinick control room, Bruno is drinking coffee. Bob comes up and says they should go into business for themselves as political consultants when everything is over with. Bruno teases Bob about not wanting to work in the Oval Office, and Bob confesses he's not as interested in governing as he is in election races. Bruno says he's quitting after this election, and retiring to his house in upstate New York, where he's thinking of taking up gardening.
Santos is in his hotel suite with Goodwin, Josh, Kagan and Lou. Goodwin and Kagan point out both races are still too close to call, and Santos might have to contest the verdict, which he isn't too happy about doing. Goodwin hears a noise from the next room, and wonders what's going on, and Bram comes in to tell them they've won Oregon. Everyone cheers...
...while in Vinick's hotel suite, everyone is glum. Sheila quietly tries to convince Vinick to get ready to contest the results, and Bruno supports this. Vinick again says no, but Sheila points out he'll regret it the rest of his life if he doesn't say anything.
4:45 am Central time; Josh is in the hallway looking out a window. He doesn't hear Santos come up until Santos greets him. Josh asks if Santos needs anything, and Santos says he just needed to get away from the news for a little bit. He then asks Josh if he should challenge the results, and after hedging a little, Josh tells him straight out he shouldn't because, "You take it to court, you're the guy who screams at the ump because you don't like the call at the plate. Nobody votes for that guy again." Santos likes that answer, and as he turns out one of the lights in the hallway, adds, "Been a hell of a ride, though, hasn't it?" Ronna runs up to them, and says they're ready to call Nevada.
President Bartlet is asleep at the residence when the phone rings. He groggily says it's okay to send her in. He turns on his light just as C.J. knocks and comes in. She apologizes for disturbing him, but mentions Bartlet wanted to be notified when there was a result. When Bartlet asks, "Do we have a winner?", C.J., with a big smile, says "Yes, we do"...
...and in the Santos control room, everyone is celebrating and hugging each other. Josh slowly lifts his arms up and then hugs Donna. He spots Santos, who silently mouths, "Thank you", to which Josh mouths, "You're welcome."
Vinick is slumped in a chair. The others once again bring up the idea of challenging the vote, but Vinick won't hear of it; "Get me the President-elect on the phone; I want to congratulate him."
In the ballroom, everyone is cheering. As Lou introduces Santos and Helen, Bram tells Santos the speech is on the podium, and Santos thanks him for everything he's done. Lou brings up the President-elect to wild applause, and hugs them both as U2's "Beautiful Day" plays. Santos accepts the applause and finally quiets the crowd. As he thanks Senator Vinick, we see Vinick getting ready to go to sleep. We then see Josh in the Santos control room. As Santos continues his speech, reminding the crowd of the need to work together, Josh colors in Nevada and updates the electoral vote count; 272 to 266 in favor of Santos. Donna comes to the doorway, and looks on. As Santos concludes his speech to loud applause, Josh looks at a bulletin board filled with pictures, including one with Santos and Leo, and says, "Thanks, boss."
This episode contains examples of:
- Big "SHUT UP!": Senator Vinick does this while his staffers are arguing whether to challenge a Santos victory.
- Bittersweet Ending: Santos wins... but Leo...
- Brutal Honesty: Played for Laughs:Bob: When this is over, we should go into business together. Ying and Yang Political Consultants, Inc. Our motto can be, "Ain't about the ideals, it's about the money, stupid."Bruno: Pithy. You don't think it might scare off prospective clients?Bob: Only the neophytes. We'd be fighting off five-term congressmen with a stick.
- Continuity Nod: The crisis in Kazakhstan and the nuclear accident in San Andreo both get mentioned. Also, once again, we see Josh's Guilt Complex in action.
- Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe; Jane makes a tasteless crack about the Democrats nominating Leo despite his health problems because they "thought he had a few thousand more miles left in him". Vinick, who is genuinely affected by the news of Leo's death, doesn't say anything but gives her a Death Glare that clearly demonstrates how little he thinks of her or her remark at that moment.
- The Elevator from Ipanema: Played with; the elevator Josh and Donna take in the hospital is actually playing a Muzak version of "My Cherie Amour".
- Good Cop/Bad Cop: Played for Laughs:Josh: (on the phone with Bram) I need the Congressman; they just called Minnesota for us.Bram: (handing the phone to Congressman Santos) Good news.Josh: Bad news.Congressman Santos: If you guys are playing Good Cop/Bad Cop, your routine needs work.
- Gratuitous Latin: After Lou updates Annabeth, Donna and Josh on election results, Josh says, "Eadem nocte cenae omnes", which Annabeth recognizes as an old saying of Leo's, and Donna translates it; "The same night awaits us all."
- Let Me Get This Straight...: Senator Vinick to Bob and Jane after they talk about challenging Santos if he wins:Senator Vinick: You want me to go out there and say people shouldn't vote for Matt Santos because Leo McGarry died?Sheila: We have to be very careful. We could create a backlash for ourselves.Senator Vinick: How about creating a conscience for ourselves? I've known Leo for 20 years. Can we please not use him as a stepping stool?
- Meaningful Echo: Santos silently mouthing "Thank you" to Josh is similar to what Sam did after Bartlet won the Illinois primary.
- Mood Whiplash: Between the celebration of victory and the heartbreak of Leo's death.
- Must Have Caffeine: Bruno.Bob: More coffee?Bruno: I was just gonna mainline adrenaline. Couldn't find a clean needle.
- Two-Part Episode
- Worthy Opponent: Once again, Vinick demonstrates himself to be this, firmly shutting down any cracks about Leo's death with a glare that could freeze a Jacuzzi. They may have been on opposite sides of the campaign, but nobody is going to disrespect Leo McGarry in his presence and get away with it.