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"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by C.J.

As Bartlet and his staff arrive in China for a critical summit, he is still suffering from the paralyzing symptoms of MS. Meanwhile, an asteroid is headed for the U.S., leaving Josh and Leo to deal with the potential consequences. Josh is distraught after Donna quits her job.



Donna and Josh are having breakfast in his office - she takes a call requesting a meeting with Josh for the lunch - she schedules the meeting for 3:00.  Josh asks about his lunch meeting - she tells him that he is having lunch with her, uninterrupted.

Annabeth arrives in Josh's doorway to ask him to do the briefing, which she really doesn't want to do.  He tells her not to worry, there's nothing going on and all the press is on the plane to China.  She's about to leave to do the briefing when C.J. calls from the plane to report to them the President is in the midst of a pronounced MS episode and they are going to alter the China schedule and she needs him to make sure that everyone who needs to know about the President does.  Josh gets on the phone, Annabeth heads to her office, and Josh writes a note to Donna to "GET LEO."

Act I[]

Josh and Annabeth are going over how her briefing will go when Will arrives to tell them the Vice President wants to make the statement - Josh tells Will not to treat this like an opportunity - but Will tells him the VP is the most senior official in the building and he is making the statement.

On the plane, C.J., Kate, and Toby are going over the schedule, taking things off to ease the President's exposure.  The President makes it clear what stays and what goes in the negotiations.  He doesn't want to get rid of negotiations about Tibet or Taiwan - everything else is superfluous.

At the White House, Leo arrives and he and Josh go to the Briefing Room to watch the VP read the statement about the President, which goes poorly - Josh pulls Will out of the briefing to yell at him about Russell announcing there would be a cabinet meeting.  In the back of the room, Leo calls Margaret and tells her that he needs five minutes with every member of the cabinet.

Air Force One arrives in Beijing and Abbey boards the plane.  They are waiting for a hydraulic lift to lower the President to the tarmac.  The President calls over his new body man, Curtis, and tells him to pick him up and carry him off the plane, which he does as the others discuss what is going on.

Act II[]

Back at the White House, Leo and Josh are talking on the phone with CJ and Toby discussing the condition of the President.  Rumors are abounding that he is in a coma, and he was taken to China for medical treatment. CJ tells Leo to dig up something to feed to the press with regards to the President at work.  Josh asks Leo to check in at the Pentagon and the progress of the cabinet meeting.  Leo and Josh briefly discuss Vinnick's Presidential bid.  

Josh and Leo are interrupted and informed that someone from NASA is waiting to speak to someone in charge.  There is an asteroid which may or may not be on the proper trajectory to impact the earth in 48 hours, and NASA thought that it would be wise to alert the White House.

Great Hall of the People - Beijing, China[]

In China C.J. is running through the upcoming event with President Bartlet and Kate.  Kate reminds him, much to his annoyance to remember to thank the Chinese president for "sharing his magnificent space." since the Chinese president is supposed to be seated first.  President Bartlet reminds Kate that his mind has not been affected yet.  C.J. tells Bartlet that should he feel the need for a break during the upcoming meeting that he should tug on his earlobe.  President Bartlet is seated while the Chinese delegation enters the room. Through use of a translator, President Bartlet and the Chinese president begin discussing issues.

Back at the White House, Leo and Josh are speaking to the NASA administrator about the approaching asteroid and detection technology.  The administrator states that the detection technology did not detect the asteroid because it is significantly smaller than 1 kilometer in diameter.  He states that a collision is improbable, but if it happens the impact will occur somewhere in the northern hemisphere.

In China, the President is still in a meeting with the Chinese delegation.  Toby expresses his concern to Kate that Bartlet seems "out of it."  The President is squirming in his seat, and Toby goes to find C.J.  As C.J. and Toby discuss the situation, the President begins tugging on his earlobe.  C.J. says to Kate that they need to get him out of there.  C.J. interrupts the conversation stating that Bartlet has an urgent call from Washington and will need to take a short break.

Charlie and Josh briefly discuss the asteroid.  Charlie brings Josh a motion about political ties with Myanmar. Josh is amazed that with the press room full of reporters wondering about the President and his ability to lead that Charlie is bringing him a motion.  Charlie reminds Josh that they could announce the incoming asteroid.  Donna follows Josh into his office trying to get him to sit down and have a conversation, Josh delays it again.

Back in China, Curtis carries the President into his bedroom where the Surgeon General is waiting for him. Abbey comes in to tell them that the doctor is on his way up.  Bartlet wants to take a nap.  Abbey and Millie are telling him that it isn't the jetlag causing his fatigue.  The President informs Abbey about the potential asteroid impact.

At the White House, Leo comes to Josh for an update.  Leo tells Josh that the President is having difficulty getting through his meetings.  Leo tells Josh that he looked at the tape of Vinick's Presidential bid announcement.  Josh tells Leo that the Vice President offered him the job of campaign manager, and so did Hoynes.  Josh wonders if Hoynes has a shot.  Leo says with Baker out of the race that Russell has a huge financial advantage.  They discuss the differences between Russell and Hoynes.  Leo says to Josh "You have got to want to work for them, and you've got to want them to win."  Josh wonders what happened to the good old days when two guys in a smoke-filled back room chose the Presidential nominee.  Leo says "We're it.  This is the back room."

Act III - Wei Shui Palace Hotel[]

In China, C.J., Kate, and Leo are waiting for the President to wake up from a 15 minute nap that has lasted over 4 hours.  C.J. tries to figure out the logistics of the next couple days.  Millie comments that she doesn't think the President will even be able to last an hour in the wheelchair, and that lying down is much less taxing.  Toby is concerned that without the President in the meetings that the Chinese might drag their heels.  Kate suggests that they make it clear that all decisions are being brought back to the President.  C.J. is concerned that it may seem like Bartlet's condition is worsening and they are trying to hide it.  Millie suggests doing a 15 minute "Hello."  Abbey comes in to inform the gang that the President is awake. C.J. and the President try and hash out scheduling logistics.  The President asks C.J. if he is being benched. C.J. quotes something that the President once told her.

Leo and Josh continue to discuss choosing a candidate.  Josh says he can't pick up and leave the White House for some dark horse he pulled out of a corn field.  Leo says "I did."  Josh says he needs to stay in the White House to finish what he started, to which Leo says "It doesn't finish, it keeps going."

On Day Two of the summit Toby is in a meeting with the Chinese.  They are trying to drag their heels as predicted, and Toby is trying to push them into further discussion.

Charlie and Annabeth are walking to the press room.  Annabeth is avoiding going in to do the briefing. Charlie gives Annabeth a piece of legislation that the President signed while in China.  Annabeth says the press just found out about the asteroid story.  Annabeth is hoping that the press has calmed down.

In China, the President is discussing the asteroid with his new body man Curtis. C.J. and Toby interrupt to bring the President reports of how their respective meetings are going.  Bartlet gives them some additional talking points.  He gets visibly annoyed at the prospect of the discussions regarding North Korea getting swept under the rug.

Leo goes to talk to the Vice President on his way to the Cabinet room.  Leo asks if he can join in on the meeting.  Margaret and the other assistants are going over a list of names for people who should be let into the bunker should their be an asteroid impact.  They left the Vice President off the list until Will notices. Donna comes to find Josh and once again tries to get him to sit down and have a conversation with her.  Donna tells Josh that she is quitting.

Abbey is talking to Jed.  She is talking about their holiday plans.  She walks to the bathroom where he has propped himself up with the wheelchair so he can brush his teeth.  Abbey rushes over to try and get him back into his wheelchair.  The President falls and appears to hit his head.  Abbey yells for his Secret Service agent.  Jed states that he is fine and orders the agent out of the room.  Abbey tries to help Jed up, and he tells her not to touch him.  They both remain seated on the bathroom floor.  He says that his trip has been a waste of time.  Abbey reassures him that  it wasn't.  He tells Abbey that he can't do the job.

Act IV - Day Three[]

C.J. discusses photo opportunities with the President.  He states they should just get a cardboard cut out.  C.J. says they are laying groundwork for the future.  The President states the asteroid has entered their daylight.  In front of the Press, the two Presidents are signing documents - Bartlet whispers to Lian that he wishes he could have met with the former Chinese President.  Lian looks at Bartlet, who whispers that he knows Lian understands English.  The two leave the hall for a private meeting.

Charlie and Josh are discussing campaign work.  Josh informs the office that the asteroid has passed.  Josh looks toward Donna's desk and sees that she isn't there. Josh goes into Donna's cubicle to talk to the woman sitting at her desk, Marla.  Josh is informed that Donna got a new job.

The President is still in a room with the Chinese.  Leo calls C.J. from the White House to inform her that the world isn't ending.  The Surgeon General and Abbey are speaking with C.J.  Millie is concerned that Jed has been active for far too long.  Abbey tells her that he'll come out when he's ready.  He comes out of the room with a seating arrangement for the North Korea talks.

Josh goes to find Leo and tells him that Donna quit.  Leo tells Josh that people move on.  Josh then goes to Marla to ask her to get him a flight to Houston.

The President is being wheeled out of Air Force One, and C.J. is congratulating him on his progress in the North Korea talks. Abbey and Curtis are trying to get Jed out of his chair.  C.J. is on the phone with Leo telling him about the North Korea summit.  Millie rushes by with members of the Secret Service.  C.J. ends the call quickly, and looks on with Toby as Abbey closes the door.

In Houston, Josh approaches Congressman Santos' house.  He rings the doorbell.  Santos is shocked to see Josh on the other side of the door.  Santos invites Josh inside.  Josh tells Santos that he has a filing deadline.  The Congressman re-states that he is not running for Congress again.  Josh tells him he isn't talking about Congress.

Trivia / Goofs[]

  • A holiday episode, "Impact Winter" takes place at Christmastime. Josh says, "Feliz Navidad" and "Season's Greetings," and Leo wishes the Vice President a "Merry Christmas." Matt Santos's house is seen at the end of the episode decorated for the holiday.
  • This is the first episode of the season to feature the entire main cast of the show.
  • In one scene, Chinese President Lian talks about China "transition[ing] towards a capitalist economic model". In real life, while mainland China has moved towards a mostly de facto capitalist model since the 1980s, the Chinese leadership is apparently very careful not to officially call it "capitalism", using the phrase "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" instead.
  • There is no "Wei Shui Palace Hotel" in Beijing.
  • The U.S. Translator was played by William Hootkins. When he was a teenager, he was learning Russian from Ruth Paine. After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Hootkins was interviewed by the FBI over his association with Paine, whom the Oswald was living with at the time of the assassination.


Vice President Russell: What a blow. I was playing tennis when I heard.
President Bartlet: I'm just saying, you drop me, that's a moment that follows you the rest of your life.
Margaret: There's someone here from NASA. He needs to speak to whoever's in charge, and at this point, I have no idea who that is.
Leo: Maybe keep the philosophical questions to yourself.
Josh: I got it . . . You missed us, didn't you?
Leo: Like a hangnail.
Vice President Russell: What a blow. I was playing tennis when I heard.
Josh Lyman: (sighs) Yeah. What happened to the good old days when... a couple of hacks with cigars chose the nominee in a smoke-filled back room?
Leo McGarry: They didn't do so bad, did they? Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower...
Josh Lyman: We need a back room.
Leo McGarry: Well, we've just about outlawed smoking, and at this point, I'm not allowed to even look at a cigar . . . But we're it . . . You and me . . . This is the back room.
Leo McGarry: There are no stupid ideas. Actually there are, I don't know why people say that.
President Bartlet: The asteroid has entered our daylight. No getting another look. Now we just wait for loud noises. Let's go take some pictures.
CJ Cregg:(To the President)  I could kiss you on your married mouth.
Abbey: Watch yourself.



Special Guest Stars[]

Guest Starring[]


  • Kim Webster as Ginger
  • Ben Murray as Curtis Carruthers
  • William Hootkins as U.S. Translator
  • Willie Gault as Secret Service Agent Michael Madsen
  • David Grant Wright as Edwin Kelwick
  • Raymond Ma as President Lian
  • James Kyson Lee as Chinese Translator
  • Ping Wu as Chinese Official
  • Jonathan Brent as White House Photographer Jim
  • Janette Kim as New Reporter #1


"The West Wing" Impact Winter (2004)