THE CHRISTMAS EPISODE -- A winter storm blankets the northeast as a staffer gets a surprising visit from his father and Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and Leo (John Spencer) start to hear the footsteps.
Opening – Brooklyn Heights, Christmas Eve, 1954
Three men are in a car on a New York City street talking about the holidays in Yiddish: Jacob, Jules, and Zev. Jules is Julie Ziegler—Toby's father. Jacob and Zev get out of the car to go into a shop on the corner. Julie gets out of the car and lights a cigarette. The other two tell Julie to stay at the car. At that moment, he sees a woman pushing her baby in a stroller and whispers the name "Tobias." Gunshots ring out, and only Jacob returns to the car. They leave and the man asks Julie what he has named his son. Julie replies, "Tobias. Little Toby."
It's Christmas at the White House and Dr. Stanley Keyworth arrives at the West Wing. In the Mural Room, the Whiffenpoofs are singing for the staff. Josh runs into Leo, and Leo tells him the Israelis have closed the Church of the Nativity. He tells Josh to look into it.
At the offices of Freedom Watch, Toby is being deposed by Larry Claypool regarding the investigation into whether or not Andy misled the voters of her district by not disclosing her pregnancy. Toby is uncooperative and warns Claypool about interfering with his children. Back at the White House, C.J. is giving her briefing when Santa Claus shows up with a gift for her. Santa then kisses her passionately, at which point C.J. realizes that Danny is in the costume.
Toby returns to the White House and encounters Will in the lobby. Toby wants to move Will to Sam's office despite Will's reservations. He sends Will to get his things and walks into his office to find his father, Julie, sitting in his office. Julie tells Toby that Josh got him the appointment. Julie tries to talk to Toby, but Toby walks out of his office, leaving Julie there.
In the President's private study, President Bartlet and Dr. Keyworth are talking. At one point in the conversation, Bartlet uses the word "airplane" instead of another word, which Keyworth notices. Bartlet explains that he has been spacing out at meetings, unable to concentrate. Leo arrives to tell the President about the Church of the Nativity and to tell Dr. Keyworth the airports are closed, so he's going to have to stay.
Charlie arrives in his office to find Zoey and her new boyfriend, Jean-Paul, waiting to see the President. Zoey tries to get Charlie to tell her what the President's mood is, because she wants to ask him if Jean-Paul can come to New Hampshire with the family to spend Christmas. Charlie is not in the mood to help Zoey.
In C.J.'s office, Danny is talking to C.J. about what he has been up to. Most recently, he was in Bermuda where he met a guy who told him that he had met US Army Rangers outside an airstrip in Bermuda at the same time that Abdul Shareef's plane went missing near there. He tells her that he's back and that he's looking into this story. She doesn't say anything to him.
In Leo's office, Josh is telling Leo what he has found out about the Church of the Nativity. The Israelis maintain the building is unsafe and that's why they won't let anyone in, nor will they let in the supplies for fear of them being used in a bomb. Josh leaves Leo's office to find Toby, who wants to know why Josh got his father into the White House. Josh makes no apologies, and Toby goes back to his office. He tells his father that he is going to have to spend the night and asks Ginger to try and find him a room.
Toby goes into Sam's office to find Will working. Several other staffers have put bicycles in the office as a prank in protest. They talk about some notes they've received and Toby tells Will they are going to meet with the President about the speech. Will doesn't want to do that. Toby goes back to his office, telling his father they can't find him a room and that he's going to have to wait. Julie offers to wait somewhere else, but Toby erupts at his father telling him that he can't just wander around the White House as a convicted felon.
Donna is in the Mural Room with the Whiffenpoofs and other staffers. She's late leaving for her rendezvous with Jack. The President is standing on the portico in the snow, thinking. He goes inside and tells Charlie to tell Josh that he's coming to see him. The President arrives and tells Josh that he wants to find money in the budget for a bill that didn't get out of committee—at the White House's request—but now the President wants to fold it into the HHS budget. As the President leaves, Donna arrives and Josh tells her that he needs her a little longer but will have her on her way soon.
Charlie arrives in his office to find Will Bailey waiting for his meeting with Toby and the President. Charlie tells Will that Leo sent Toby to the hill and Will decides that he can't meet the President without Toby there. The President comes out of the Oval Office and asks Will to come in. Will refuses to go in, stumbling over his words the entire time. The President goes back in to the Oval Office and Will looks at Charlie, stricken over this interaction.
When Toby returns, he pokes fun at Will and his presidential flameout but asks to have the meeting rescheduled. As they return to the bullpen, Ginger asks Toby when Albert Anastasia was killed. Toby opens the door to his office and asks his father, who immediately knows the date. Will asks Toby about his father. Toby tells Will that he used to be part of Murder, Incorporated.
Josh and Donna are working on the President's request. Donna asks Josh what he meant by saying "it's not what it looks like" when telling her she had to stay. Josh says that he didn't want her to think that he was keeping her there on purpose. Josh goes to see the President and finds C.J. who tells him about Danny's story on Bermuda. Josh asks C.J. if she has told Leo. Josh questions C.J. on the plausibility of Danny's story, but C.J. tells Josh that she thinks that it is exactly what happened.
On the portico, Zoey finally gets up the nerve to ask her father if Jean-Paul can come to New Hampshire. He says no. He starts to talk to her more (almost telling her about the Shareef incident) but stops and relents, saying that Jean-Paul can come. They go into the Oval Office to find Leo. Zoey leaves, and the President and Leo talk. President Bartlet tells Leo that he almost told Zoey about Shareef. Leo tells the President that he's trying to get through his own guilt by getting Josh to fix the problem with the Church of the Nativity. Leo also tells the President that Danny is on the trail of the Shareef story.
Will and Toby arrive in the Oval Office for their rescheduled meeting. After Will fails to repeat his earlier objections to the President's notes, Toby tells the President that Will did catch the "bad note" in the ones the President sent back. Will asks, surprised, not aware there was a "bad note." It turns out the note was a test of his ability to "speak truth to power." Will insists that, despite his initial hesitancy, he is able to tell powerful people when they are wrong. He then tells the President why he thinks the bad note is mistaken.
As Will and Toby leave the Oval Office, Josh is waiting for Toby. He tells Toby that he would give anything to have a father who was a felon or a sister with a past and that he should look at the room he just walked out of (the Oval Office) and acknowledge that his father may have had something to do with that. As Josh walks away, Leo tells him that he's off the hook on the HHS appropriation and that he's sent Donna on her way. He tells him to stop worrying about the Church of the Nativity, too.
Toby returns to his office and tells his father that he will stay with him that night and go home in the morning. Julie tries to talk to him, but Toby tells him not to try all at once. They gather their things and head out, stopping to listen to the Whiffenpoofs. Julie is overcome with emotion. Elsewhere in the White House, Leo comes to find Josh and they decide to keep on the phones about the Church of the Nativity. Meanwhile, Charlie checks in with the President before he leaves, and Danny is typing on his computer.
- Dulé Hill as Charlie Young
- Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg
- Joshua Malina as Will Bailey
- Janel Moloney as Donna Moss
- Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler
- John Spencer as Leo McGarry
- Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman
- and Martin Sheen as President Bartlet
Special Guest Stars
- Adam Arkin as Stanley Keyworth
- Timothy Busfield as Danny Concannon
- SPECIAL APPEARANCE BY
- The Whiffenpoofs
- Jerry Adler as Jules Ziegler
- Elisabeth Moss as Zoey Bartlet
- John Diehl as Larry Claypool
- Trent Ford as Jean-Paul Vicomte de Bourbon
- Kim Webster as Ginger
- Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick
- Devika Parikh as Bonnie
- Timothy Davis-Reed as Mark O'Donnell
- Kris Murphy as Katie Witt
- Steve Ireland as Ron
- Danny Jacobs as Young Jules Ziegler
- Harry Karp as Zev
- Alex Reznik as Jacob
- Leo McGarry: Israel's closed the Church of the Nativity. You want to believe that at Christmas?
- Josh Lyman: It's ironic.
- Leo McGarry: Why?
- Josh Lyman: 'Cause Mary and Joseph couldn't get a room at the inn and they went to this place, which is now on Christmas—the irony isn't self-explanatory?
- Leo McGarry: This isn't funny.
- Will Bailey: Okay. Hey, your dad seems like such a nice guy. I was talking to him before.
- Toby Ziegler: Yeah.
- Will Bailey: Is he retired?
- Toby Ziegler: Yeah.
- Will Bailey: What did he do?
- Toby Ziegler: He made ladies' raincoats and before that, he worked for Murder Incorporated.
- 〉But I'm not convinced and that's 'cause you haven't convinced me. This isn't Tillman at the Stanford Club or the California 47th. This is big-boy school, Mr. Bailey. You understand?〈
- Josh comments to Leo that Donna is spending the holiday with Jack Reese at the Washington Inn - it is likely he is referring to the Inn at Little Washington.
- C.J. gets a goldfish pin, a reference to Gail.
- C.J. claims that Scrooge was a nice guy, until something happened with Mr. Fezziwig.
- Zoey pronounces Jean-Paul's title "de Condé" as "de Cond".
- When Toby returns to his office and finds Julie looking at one of the newspaper clippings on the wall - it is the same newspaper that is in the Westley Police Station, when Sam and Toby go to get Judge Mendoza out of jail (Celestial Navigation).
- Toby's full legal name was given as "Toby Zachary Ziegler" while being subpoenaed during the investigation into the president's withholding of his multiple sclerosis (Ways and Means). Yet, during his deposition with Freedom Watch, Toby states his full name as "Tobias Zachary Ziegler."
Notes and references
- Joshua Malina joins the main cast, after being billed as a Special Guest Star for the past four episodes