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"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by Toby

Speculations begin to circulate around the link between the US and communist Cuba, President Bartlet is forced to decide whether to lift an out-dated embargo on US citizens visiting Cuba (or, in this case, not) and continue to hold secret talks with the debilitated dictator of Cuba, or re-certify the 40-year-old ban, while Kate recalls her connection with Leo, from before her time in politics.


Opening - Monday Morning[]

Leo arrives very early in the West Wing and heads for his office. He makes a phone call, speaking to someone in Spanish. Leo is changing the header on the white board in his office from 330 to 329 days. The President arrives in Leo's office and reads from a Hemingway book. Then, Leo tells him there is a rumor about Castro. Leo wants to go to Florida (with an idea).

Margaret is looking for Leo. Charlie tells her that he saw Leo packing up earlier. Leo arrives in Cuba at the home of Ernest Hemingway and is shown inside. C.J. and Charlie come to the Oval Office to ask the President where Leo is, but the President has been expecting them and tells them that Leo has gone to Florida. Back at the Hemingway House, Leo is following a gentleman through the house and then is shown into a room where Fidel Castro is waiting.

Act I - Tuesday Morning[]

C.J. finds Charlie who tells her there will be pest exterminators in the White House, then she asks him if Charlie has ever seen Leo reading Hemingway. Charlie says no. In the Situation Room, Kate tells C.J. about a rumor that Castro is seriously ill. The group is working to verify the report. C.J comes to the Oval Office and tells the President about the rumors. He brings her into the Oval Office to tell her what Leo is up to, and that during the past year, they have been holding secret talks with the Cubans in Canada, in an attempt to orchestrate Castro's "retirement."   Leaving the Oval Office, C.J. finds Cliff Calley and asks him to meet with Senator Framhagen, who is concerned the Administration may be trying to make a deal on Cuba. In the Mural Room, Charlie is meeting with one of the pest exterminators who believes that there may be termites in the walls.

Cliff arrives for his meeting with Senator Framhagen and the Senator begins to rant at Cliff about "that NSA gal" at the White House (Kate) and the trouble she caused when she was in Cuba several years ago, but Cliff doesn't understand why Framhagen is so angry about Kate. 

Act II[]

Cliff returns to the White House to report back to C.J. about Framhagen's issue. C.J. asks Margaret to find Kate, but Margaret tells C.J. that Kate is gone for the day. In the Briefing Room, Toby is getting a lot of questions about Castro and Cuba. Kate arrives at a bar and meets with a man she knows from her days at the CIA. The man warns her that any efforts in Cuba will not work out the way they want.

Wednesday Morning[]

Kate finds C.J. and asks her why she wasn't told that Leo was in Cuba talking to Castro. Kate warns C.J. this will all blow up if they are not very careful. C.J. heads for the Portico and finds the President talking to Leo, who has returned. Leo tells them both about his trip and what he has learned. Castro may be willing to talk. The President tells the two of them to think about what a statement would mean if they were to announce Leo's meeting. C.J. returns to her office and asks Margaret to get her Kate's personnel file. C.J. goes into her office to meet with Toby and Cliff, to see what can be done to about the Castro situation. C.J .tells Toby to call Josh and Donna to take the temperature of the two presidential campaigns. Charlie is meeting with more "bug guys." Margaret returns with Kate's personnel file; she had been required to jump through some additional security hoops to obtain it. C.J. sits down and begins to read the file, which is heavily redacted in parts.

Act III[]

Charlie comes to see C.J. about the bugs, but C.J.is not interested in the details and tells him to "just kill the damn bugs." Toby is on the phone, first with Donna, and next with Josh, to see what they are thinking about Castro. He doesn't get anywhere with either of them. Leo comes to see C.J. and apologizes for the Cuba trip and not telling her. C.J. tells Leo about Senator Framhagen and his allegations about Kate. She tells him that she got Kate's file and found a mention of Leo in it. Leo tells C.J. that he was at a meeting in Florida and Framhagen was there. Leo had got drunk and the opportunity to do something about Cuba vanished.

Kate is back at a bar meeting with her former CIA colleague. He apologizes to her about whatever happened in Florida in 1995. He then tells her that people know about Leo's most recent trip to Cuba and that the news is going to break. Kate returns to the White House and goes to see C.J. Kate tells C.J. that Cuban-American factions are going to break the story about Leo.

Act IV - Wednesday Night[]

The President meets with Leo, C.J., Kate, Toby, and Cliff about the news that is going to break. They go around the room and try and decide what to do. They all agree the President should come out and tell the American people what he was trying to do. He tells Toby to get him some airtime to make an address and then calls the candidates to tell them what is coming.

Leo goes to see Framhagen to ask him how he found out about Leo's trip. The two talk about old times and Leo points out that this is going to happen regardless of how much noise Framhagen makes about it. Back at the White House, Leo finds Kate in the Situation Room. They talk about when she was in Florida in 1995, at the same time as Leo. Leo asks if they met in Florida, because he can't remember. In a flashback, we see Kate (in a wig, with a black eye). Leo stumbles out to his car, clearly unfit to drive. Kate walks over and takes the keys from Leo and offers to drive him home. As she gets him into the passenger seat of his car, he vows he will remember her, to which she responds, "No, you won't, but I will."

We see Leo in his office, C.J. in hers, Kate in the Situation Room, all listening to the President give his address on Cuba.


President Bartlet (quoting Hemingway): The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially.
C.J. Cregg: You sure the country's ready for this?
President Bartlet: Who knows who's gonna be sitting here next?  Who knows what will happen after Castro?  All I know for sure is there's a moment here.  Before I'm gone and he's gone, I am not gonna let it pass.

Trivia / Goofs[]

  • Fidel Castro is the only real-life current head of state to be portrayed on The West Wing.  All other on-screen presidents and prime ministers have been fictional characters, while only a handful of others (Queen Elizabeth II, Yasser Arafat) have been mentioned.
  • This episode reveals that Leo is apparently fluent in Spanish.
  • The story that President Bartlet relates to C.J. about President Kennedy sending Pierre Salinger out to find Cuban cigars the night before he signed the embargo against Cuban products is apparently true.  More details can be found here.
  • When C.J. Cregg reviews Kate Harper's C.I.A. File, the first two pages are the same.  However, the pages have been redacted differently.
  • One of the entomologists makes a reference to Abigail Adams and the War of 1812.  However, it was Dolley Madison in the White House in 1812, not Abigail Adams.
  • The White House was gutted and reconstructed in 1949 by Harry Truman. Any structural history before then would have been discovered and/or destroyed.
  • There are continuity issues with the timeline and events that may have taken place in this episode.



Special Guest Stars[]

Guest Starring[]



"The West Wing" Ninety Miles Away (2005)
The West Wing Episode Guide