PRESIDENT'S TEAM SCRAMBLES AND CASUALTIES MOUNT AFTER ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT IN TWO-HOUR SEASON PREMIERE OF EMMY-WINNING DRAMA -- In the two-hour season premiere of the record Emmy Award-winning drama, all the President's (Martin Sheen) men and women scramble in the chaotic wake of an assassination attempt that leaves some victims fighting for their lives. Meanwhile, as a manhunt continues, the wounded drift in and out of surgery recalling how Bartlet's team came together during the dark months of his long-shot primary campaign. Elsewhere, the press department is hounded by the media for details of the shooting while a military crisis looms in Iraq.
As the second part of the second season opener begins, a television in a bar is showing news reports on the aftermath of the Rosslyn shootings. We see an individual who is the man that was on the ground and gave the signal to the shooters in the window. As he leaves the bar, FBI and Secret Service agents converge and take him into custody.
C.J. then gives a press briefing where she announces the arrest of the suspect - while the press corps continues to shout questions at her - and updates them on the conditions of the President and Josh. She then calls Toby and Sam at the hospital, where she asks Sam to come back to the White House to talk with Nancy McNally regarding the letter the President didn't sign and to Toby she says that she is still getting questions about the tent. Toby agrees to talk to someone at Secret Service or Treasury about it.
The episode then shifts back into flashback mode and we see Sam in another meeting at the law firm, still talking about oil tankers. Sam urges the oil companies to buy better ships rather than the ships being discussed. We then see Josh on the phone in the rain, asking the operator for the number of the "really big law firm." He hangs up and finds his way to the law firm - where he knocks on the glass of the conference room where Sam is still meeting. He points as his face and Sam realizes that Josh has seen the real thing. Sam gets up and walks out of the meeting, declaring that he is going to "New Hampshire!"
Back at the White House, C.J. talks with Sam about his talking with Nancy McNally, she also asks him if he knows who pulled her down when the shooting starts. Sam gives a very unconvincing "no." Danny then comes to C.J., still asking about who was in charge when the President was under anesthesia. She promises him they are working on it and will have the information soon.
In another flashback, we see C.J. answer her phone and she comments that it is 6:30 in the morning, but she gets out of bed. She arrives at her office (a Hollywood PR firm) and gets into it with a Hollywood producer, which results in her losing her job. She comes home to find Toby waiting for her. She trips and falls into the pool. She gets out of the pool and Toby asks her to come and work with the Bartlet campaign as the Press Secretary. She accepts.
Back at the hospital, the President and the First Lady are talking with Ron Butterfield, when Charlie comes in. They tell Charlie that the shooters were members of West Virginia White Pride and the President was not the target, without coming out and saying that Charlie was - although he understands.
At the White House, Leo is talking with Margaret about the letter that wasn't signed. Margaret tells Leo that she can sign the President's name and she could have taken care of this - Leo is astonished and urges her to stop practicing the President's signature. C.J. comes in and talks to Leo about the request for her to do the morning shows. She really doesn't want to do it and Leo urges her to reconsider - but he asks her to have Sam do it. Leo then meets Toby and Toby tells him that he is going to talk to Ron Butterfield.
Returning to flashback, Bartlet and the campaign staff are meeting about issues. Bartlet admits he made a mistake by not being available for an interview and asks gruffly, "What's Next?" Toby, along with Sam and Josh, urge Bartlet to leave New Hampshire and begin campaigning in South Carolina. As Bartlet is from New Hampshire, he "can't win the New Hampshire primary" (although he will win), so they should leave the state to the other challengers and head south, where they would have the state to themselves. Bartlet doesn't believe they will beat Hoynes in South Carolina - to which the staff responds they only need to beat Wiley - who will drop out if he doesn't come in second. The staff then lists out how the rest of the primary season will go - with the high point coming in the Illinois primary. The meeting breaks up and Josh goes back to his office to find Donna answering his phone. She talks fast and gets herself hired as Josh's assistant as Josh finds her intriguing.
The episode moves back to the present and we see Josh's surgery continuing. C.J. comes to see Sam to compliment him on his appearance on the morning shows. She has had time to think about the shootings and asks Sam to give her back her necklace, as she remembered that it was him who threw her to the ground to protect her. C.J. goes into her press briefing.
Toby goes to meet with Ron Butterfield, who gives Toby the standard line about not commenting on Secret Service procedure. Toby reminds him that he wrote a memo about the President entering and exiting in the open air at the President's urging. Toby wants the Treasury Department to release the memo, but Butterfield objects - saying Toby "would never let you not let me protect the President." C.J. concludes her press briefing by offering the names and some stories about crimes committed at the same time of the shooting. At Leo's request, Danny comes to see Leo (who is standing in the back of the press room). Leo asks Danny to come with him to the hospital (so he can put to rest the stories about the "letter").
The next scene is again a flashback, to the night of the Illinois primary. Josh is trying to get in touch with his father, but there is no answer at his house. Bartlet comes out of his room, angry at Sam's draft of his victory speech (where Sam uses the phrase, "my opponent" rather than using Hoynes's name). The news calls the primary for Bartlet and the room erupts in cheering and celebration. Donna comes up to Josh, who tells him that his father died. In the penultimate scene of the episode, Josh is waiting at the airport for a flight home - when Bartlet comes to see him in the waiting lounge. The two of them have a heart-to-heart conversation and as Josh leaves, Bartlet tells Leo, "I'm ready." As the two of them walk out of the airport people begin to recognize Bartlet and come up to shake his hand as we hear Bartlet's voice in the background - accepting the nomination as President.
In the final scene, Bartlet is leaning over Josh as he is coming out of the anesthesia. Josh mumbles something and he repeats it for the President. Bartlet looks up and Leo asks what Josh said - and Bartlet replies, "he said, What's Next."
- Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn
- Dulé Hill as Charlie Young
- Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg
- 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
- ❝What was that, Josh? I couldn't hear. [Bartlet leans close to Josh's mouth and listens to him whisper. Then Bartlet straightens and strokes Josh's head] He said, "What's next?"❞
- —President Bartlet
- ❝Tonight, what began on the commons in Concord, Massachusetts, as an alliance of farmers and workers- of cobblers and tinsmiths, of statesmen and students, of mothers and wives, of men and boys-lives two centuries later as America. My name is Josiah Bartlet, and I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States❞
- —President Bartlet
- The saying "It's the Economy Stupid" which was used by Bill Clinton when running for President in 1992, can be seen on the whiteboard during the scenes in the New Hampshire Campaign Office.
- When Josh and Bartlet are sitting in the airport at the end talking, over the loudspeaker you can hear Martin Sheen calling Josh's plane.
- The scene at the airport was actually shot at LAX, not O'Hare.
- This episode calls Bartlet "Former" New Hampshire Governor, although his was still Governor in October 1997. Also in "Memorial Day" he is Governor which shows him in the Governors office in New Hampshire days after the 1998 election.
- C.J. mistakenly says that the pistol issued to the Secret Service is called a .357 SIG Sauer. It is in fact called the SIG Sauer P226 which has been issued to the Secret Service since 1999, and is chambered in .357 SIG, a cartridge used by many law enforcement agencies.
- In the next to last scene where Bartlet is shaking hands as he walks down the terminal concourse, the camera crane is reflected in the chrome panels of the wall in the top of the shot.
Notes and references