A RELUCTANT JOSH IS ORDERED TO CONFRONT HIS TRAUMATIC DEMONS DURING HEIGHT OF CHRISTMAS SEASON -- Christmas draws near as Josh (Bradley Whitford) is ordered by Leo (John Spencer) to consult with a doctor who specializes in analyzing trauma victims -- but Josh's denial of his occasional emotional outbursts belie the fact that he isn't fully recovered from his life-threatening injuries in the Presidential assassination attempt. What's particularly telling is Josh's identification with a dead fighter pilot who recently took his own life by deliberately crashing his jet -- a man who coincidentally shared his birthday and experienced emotional trauma after being shot down over Bosnia. Elsewhere: the President (Martin Sheen) wants to personally sign all of his Christmas cards -- which total hundreds of thousands; Sam (Rob Lowe) confronts a representative of the Energy Secretary who publicly advocates release of federal oil reserves; C.J. (Allison Janney) gets personally involved when a foreign White House tourist becomes extremely agitated at the sight of a painting donated by the French government.
Opening - Christmas Eve
Josh walks into a room and meets with Dr. Stanley Keyworth and Kaytha Trask. The two of them are representatives of ATVA, the American Trauma Victims Association. Stanley immediately asks Josh what happened to his hand. Josh replies that he broke it on a glass. Stanley gives Josh some background on ATVA, which Josh already knows, responding sarcastically to Stanley. Josh accuses Stanley of lying, which Stanley admits to - who in turn asks Josh not to lie to him either. Stanley asks Josh again how he cut his hand.
Stanley begins the conversation by asking Josh to recount the events on the night he was shot. Josh is still being overly aggressive and tells Stanley that he came out of the building, heard gunshots, and woke up in a hospital. Stanley changes tacks and asks Josh what happened three weeks ago. Josh starts to shut down, telling Stanley, "I don't know what you're referring to." Josh admits that his colleagues may have been referring to "the pilot," but there was a lot going on and he can't be sure. Stanley pushes him and he gets Josh to start talking about the pilot. [flashing back three weeks ago] The White House is getting ready for the Christmas season. Josh and Toby are discussing the presence of a brass quintet in the lobby of the White House. Josh is bothered by them, but Toby is determined to fill the White House with Christmas spirit.
Josh and Toby discuss how the Assistant Energy Secretary, Ben Zaharian, spoke the night before and during a Q&A, stated that "drilling in the SPR (Strategic Petroleum Reserve) has a lot of merit." Toby tells Sam to get into it and to give C.J. a heads up. Sam goes into the press briefing and slips her a note, just as she gets a question about it. The briefing ends and Sam and C.J. discuss a previous question about a woman getting agitated on the White House tour. C.J. tells him that it happens about five times a week. She then bumps into Josh and asks him where the president is. Josh responds that he is in the Situation Room, and C.J. asks what's going on - and Josh replies, something about a pilot.
In the Situation Room, the President and Leo get a briefing about a pilot that has broken off from his group and is now flying alone over the Mountain West. His intentions are not yet clear, whether he intends to blow something up [with his missiles] or to defect with a military asset. The military is going to send up fighter jets to determine if the pilot is dead due to a sudden lack of air pressure or if he is alive, he will be directed to land at a designated spot.
Back in the meeting with Stanley and Josh, Stanley asks Josh if that was the first time he had heard about the pilot. Josh responds that he wasn't in the Situation Room, but he was asked later to look into the pilot's background. Josh is startled when there is a knock on the door. Stanley tells him that it is only the coffee.
[returning to three weeks ago] Josh and Leo are discussing the pilot and Leo asks Josh to find out more about the pilot and how he could have gotten through such an extensive psychological training and find themselves in this situation. He sees Donna moments later, who already has the pilot's personnel file [they called her ten minutes ago - though she tries to tell him that she is tuned to him]. She asks Josh if she can go to the Congressional Christmas Party, because she really wants to see Yo-Yo Ma, who will be playing. He agrees. As he begins to review the file, he immediately notices that he shares a birthday with the rogue pilot. Sam comes to see Josh to tell him that he spoke with someone at Energy and while he chastised them, Sam thinks the government should change its policy on the SPR - he is going to talk to Leo about it.
C.J. meets with Bernard Thatch, from the White House Visitors Office, about the woman who got upset on the White House Tour. Bernard gives C.J. a report on the incident and the painting that caused it. Charlie comes to see the President, who is getting another briefing about the pilot. Charlie asks the President about the White House Christmas cards - the President wants to sign them all by hand, but Charlie explains that isn't practical, as there are 1.1 million cards to be sent out. Leo comes in to tell the President that he is needed in the Situation Room.
Back with Stanley and Josh, Josh tells Stanley the pilot was dead. Stanley asks Josh about what he had learned in the interim before the situation resolved itself. Josh again tries to deflect. [returning to three weeks ago] Leo comes into Josh's office to tell him that it was over - the pilot flew into a mountain in New Mexico. Josh asks if he was alive prior to that, Leo responds that he was. There was a radio message from the pilot, who said, "it wasn't the plane." The pilot had committed suicide. Leo asks Josh what he had learned and [flashing back and forth between Leo and Stanley] Josh tells about their shared birthday and the medals he had been awarded and that the pilot had been shot down over Bosnia and there had been some injuries.
Josh and Toby are again discussing the music in the lobby, which this time is bagpipers. As they walk back to Josh's office, he complains that "he can hear the sirens all over the building." Toby stops and waits, and Josh corrects himself, saying "bagpipers." He tells Toby they can't play in the lobby. C.J. comes out of her office and asks Carol to get her the report about the woman on the White House tour. She then comes to Toby and asks him about what she should do about the SPR question. Down the hall, Josh comes out of his office and asks for a little quiet. He is clearly becoming more and more unglued. Donna asks if he needs something, while C.J. and Toby look on with concern. [back in the meeting] Stanley asks if Josh knew there were people who were concerned about him at that point. Josh states that he wasn't sure and he is becoming increasingly upset with Stanley's questions.
Stanley asks Josh to recount the events of five days earlier [flashing back to December 19] Josh comes to C.J.'s office to ask why there is no more information on the pilot who committed suicide. He doesn't accept that no one is interested in this. C.J. has him look at a photograph, in which Josh identifies the painting as being the same one that is hanging in the Blue Room. It was this same painting that caused the woman to scream during her White House tour.
Stanley and Josh continue their conversation and Stanley asks Josh about a meeting he had in the Oval Office that day. Stanley questions him as he was mad at the rest of the Senior Staff, Donna, who would be next? The episode flashes back and forth between Stanley and Josh and the meeting in the Oval Office, which was with the President, Leo, and Sam over the issue of changing the administration's policy on the SPR. Stanley asks Josh if he raised his voice to the President - to which Josh vehemently declares, you don't raise your voice to the President, and certainly not in the Oval Office. [flashing back to the Oval Office] Josh begins to argue with the President over the SPR - Leo tries to steer the conversation away. Josh erupts at the President and Leo sends Josh out of the room to wait in Leo's office. The President does not respond until Josh is out of the room and Sam and Leo conclude their conversation with the President. Leo comes in and tells Josh that he is going to meet with representatives from ATVA.
Back in the meeting (where it is now the evening and dark outside) Stanley and Josh continue. Stanley comes back to the question he has repeatedly asked, how Josh hurt his hand. Josh gives the story that he broke a glass in his apartment, though it is apparent it was definitely something else. Stanley asks Josh to tell him about the Christmas party that led to him "breaking the glass."
Charlie and the President leave the residence for the Congressional Christmas party. They are dressed in white tie, because the President wanted it that way. In the West Wing, C.J. and Bernard Thatch meet with the Haussmanns. Rebecca Haussmann is the woman who "freaked out" on the White House tour. Rebecca's father was Augie Haussmann, an art dealer, whose properties were confiscated by the Nazis in World War II. The art was sold to a Swiss Dealer, who sold it to the Musee D'Orsay, which had lent it to the National Gallery and sent to the White House, when the President saw the painting and liked it. C.J. returns the painting to Mrs. Haussmann, who is very grateful. Bernard tells David [and his mother] the painting is likely worth nearly half a million dollars and the White House would be happy to keep it on display, which would continue to grow its value. But Mrs. Haussmann wishes to take it home.
C.J. encounters Josh in the lobby and asks how the Didion meeting went. Josh is not altogether there [they are in the lobby with musicians playing] but manages to answer her. [flashing back to the Christmas Eve meeting] Josh asks Stanley what the diagnosis was, which Stanley had told Josh he had done in the first five minutes of meeting Josh. Stanley stuns Josh by telling him he has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Josh is afraid it might cost him his job. As Josh and Stanley continue to talk, images from the Congressional Christmas party are seen, where Josh suffered another episode while Yo-Yo Ma played. Stanley is trying to get him to "remember the shooting, without reliving it." Stanley pushes Josh to tell him what happened. From the side of the room Kaytha Trask, spoke up, "you tasted something bitter in your mouth," which was the adrenaline. Scenes from the shootings play out while Josh is pressured to remember. Stanley again returns to the crux of the issue, how did Josh hurt his hand. We see scenes from Josh's apartment where he crashes the glass into the table. Stanley asks Josh if, after everything else, especially the pilot, that he didn't have suicidal tendencies, too? Finally, Josh remembers and we see him putting his hand through the window of his apartment.
[we flash back to Stanley and Josh] Stanley wraps up and tells Josh, well that's it. Josh cannot believe that is it. Stanley tells Josh he will give him a name of a therapist he will like. Josh wants to know what happens if tomorrow another pilot that shares his birthday does something. Stanley says that it wasn't the pilot that started it. Josh wants to know what it was and Kaytha says (at Stanley's urging), it was the music, which for Josh sounded like sirens. Josh tries to get Stanley to stay, but the two of them leave, with Josh suddenly feeling unburdened and better.
As Josh walks out into the lobby, Leo is sitting in a chair reading. He stands up and asks Josh how it went. Leo tells Josh that he will always look out for him and then sends him to the hospital to get his hand looked at. Donna shows up (who had realized that Josh needed the help) and takes him out of the White House.
- 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
- Paxton Whitehead as Bernard Thatch
- Gregalan Williams as Robbie Mosley
- Gary Cervantes as Bobby
- Daniel von Bargen as Ken Shannon
- Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick
- Kris Murphy as Katie Witt
- Purva Bedi as Kaytha Trask
- Jana Lee Hamblin as Bobbi (Reporter)
- Timothy Davis-Reed as Mark (Reporter)
- Robert Noble as Valet
- Deborah Snipes as Staffer
- Eric A. Payne as Secret Service Agent
- Greg Wrangler as Secret Service Agent
- Michael Crider as David Haussmann
- Etyl Leder as Rebecca Haussmann
- Leo: How'd it go?
- Josh: Did you wait around for me?
- Leo: How'd it go?
- Josh: He thinks I might have an eating disorder.
- Leo: Josh -
- Josh: And a fear of rectangles. That's not weird is it?
- Josh: I didn't cut my hand on a glass. I broke a window in my apartment.
- Leo: This guy's walking down the street when he falls into a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, "Hey can you help me?" The doctor writes a prescription and throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, "Father, I'm down in this hole can you help me out?" The priest writes down a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by. The guy shouts up, "Hey Joe it's me - can you help me out?" and the friend jumps down in the hole. Our guy says, "Are you stupid - now we're both down here!?" The friend says, "Yeah, but I've been down here before and I know the way out."
- Leo: Long as I got a job, you got a job, you understand?