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West Wing Wiki

MARK HARMON, JAMES BROLIN AND MARY-LOUISE PARKER GUEST-STAR IN THE DRAMATIC SEASON FINALE AS BARTLET MEETS HIS PRESIDENTIAL OPPONENT RITCHIE -- In the season finale, President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) encounters Ritchie (guest star James Brolin, "Pensacola: Wings of Gold") -- his Republican presidential rival -- when they attend a Broadway play while the President faces a terrorist threat after he discovers that a high-ranking Middle Eastern official has been supporting terrorism. When Josh (Bradley Whitford) supports a key welfare reform bill that his feminist activist/lover Amy (guest star Mary-Louise Parker) opposes, it threatens their personal relationship. Elsewhere, the flirtation between C.J. (Allison Janney) and her Secret Service bodyguard (guest star Mark Harmon) is limited by the boundaries of their professional relationship and the search continues for a replacement for Mrs. Landingham.



C.J. is briefing the press on the President's upcoming trip to New York. She is also asked about the planned welfare bill vote. When asked why the President is leaving an hour later for New York, she consults her notes and tells them that the President is meeting with Abdul Shareef.

Act I[]

Leo is meeting in the Situation Room about Shareef's visit to the White House. He is concerned that if the President puts a face and voice to Shareef, he will be unable to give the order to kill Shareef. The President enters and Joint Chiefs explain the assassination plan.

Josh and Amy are having breakfast and talking about the upcoming welfare vote. Elsewhere, Charlie has come to see Debbie Fiderer, who was working at Office of Personnel Management and recommended Charlie for the job he now holds. She says she is not interested in the Executive Secretary job, but Charlie insists that she come in to talk to the President. She tells him that she was fired from the White House, and Charlie tells her that he knows (implying that he also knows she was fired for recommending him).

Donovan comes to the White House with Anthony, a teenager that Simon serves as Big Brother for. He goes into C.J.'s office to tell her that he is not allowed to date a protectee or kiss a protectee. She banters with Simon and he leaves, telling her he will see her on the plane to New York.

In the President's study, Bartlet is meeting with Dr. Stanley Keyworth. The President is distracted by the plan to kill Shareef and tries to discuss it indirectly by asking Stanley what crimes he would commit if they weren't illegal. Stanley tries to figure out what is on the Bartlet's mind, but the President can't open up to Keyworth about it and gets up to leave to go to his meeting with Shareef.

Act II[]

Toby and Sam are meeting with a Congressman from Florida. The Congressman wants the President to meet with Governor Ritchie that evening at the play in New York. The Congressman implies that several yea votes can be had if the President agrees to talk with Ritchie. Toby says no. In another room, Josh is meeting with other Congressmen, who are concerned about the vote and why the President is not staying in DC to monitor the vote.  Josh confirms the three Congressmen are voting no and tells them to expect a call from the President.

The President meets with Abdul Shareef in the Oval Office, where they exchange gifts and conversation.  Shareef goes to shake Bartlet's hand, but the President refuses. He asks the translator to apologize and to tell him that he has a rash on his hands. Shareef leaves.

Toby tells Sam that Kevin Cahn has told the AP that Governor Ritchie is looking forward to meeting with the President that evening. Sam tells Toby to counter with a statement the President is going to be busy working the welfare vote, which is being held up by the Florida delegation. They both get Josh to sign off on the plan due to the extra pressure it will put on him to win the vote.

Debbie Fiderer comes to the White House. She is nervous and has "self-medicated" to get through the meeting. The first meeting with President Bartlet does not go well. Charlie tells her there will be another interview and another until they get it right. In a conference room in the White House, Leo and Fitzwallace meet with the "Gang of Eight" to tell them about the plan to kill Shareef.

Act III[]

In New York, Ron Butterfield tells Simon Donovan that they have a lead on C.J.'s stalker and they may have him soon. Just then, C.J. comes outside to talk to the press. Donovan rushes over and pulls her aside. They talk privately and then Simon gets a call—the stalker has been arrested and he no longer has to protect C.J. The two of them kiss passionately.

As the play gets underway, Sam gets a call and motions for Toby to follow him. Sam tells Toby that Ritchie went to the Yankee game instead of coming right to the play. Sam tells Toby they should send the Presidential motorcade out to tie up traffic and delay Ritchie's arrival to the play. Toby calls Josh to get his input on that idea, and the two of them talk about how Josh is handling this pressure. Josh is down because, while they are going to win the vote, it's likely going to be the end of his relationship with Amy.

Act IV[]

Toby and Sam talk to the press during the intermission of the play. They take a swipe at Ritchie, who has been stuck in traffic. The President and Charlie talk and Charlie tells the President he is going to arrange another meeting for him and Debbie Fiderer. When the President asks why, Charlie tells him that she got fired because of him.

Simon Donovan walks into a Korean grocery to buy something and stumbles into the middle of an armed robbery. He manages to take down one of the robbers, but the other comes around a corner and shoots Donovan dead. As music builds in the background, Ron Butterfield calls C.J. outside to tell her about the shooting. She can't believe it and walks off, breaking down on a bench in Times Square. Back in Washington, Josh and Amy are talking in his apartment. It escalates into a fight, which is interrupted when the phone rings and they learn about Donovan's murder.

Leo and the President meet and Leo tells him it is time. The President has reservations and thinks it is wrong. Leo impresses upon the President that this is his duty as President of the United States. The President then gives the order despite his fears there will be retaliation. He goes downstairs to have a cigarette and runs into Governor Ritchie. They have a contentious discussion.

The President returns to his box while we see Shareef's plane land in Bermuda. Shareef exits the plane with his two bodyguards, at which point all three are shot dead. The finale is reaching a crescendo in New York, and Leo comes to tell the President it is done.


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

Adam Arkin as Dr. Stanley Keyworth
Mary-Louise Parker as Amy Gardner
Lily Tomlin as Deborah Fiderer
James Brolin as Robert Ritchie
Mark Harmon as Simon Donovan
with John Amos as Admiral Fitzwallace

Recurring cast

NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper
Renée Estevez as Nancy
Thomas Kopache as Bob Slattery

Guest Starring

Kurt Fuller as SitRoom Civilian Advisor
Michael O'Neill as Ron Butterfield
David Huddleston as Senator Max Lobell
Armin Shimerman as Richard III
Andrew McFarlane as Anthony Marcus
William Thomas Jr. as David
Fred Sanders as Ted
Glenn Morshower as Mike Chysler
Wren T. Brown as in Josh's meeting
Ken Thorley as in Josh's meeting
Basil Hoffman as Congressman


Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick
Al No'mani as Abdul ibn Shareef
Al Faris as Translator
John David Conti as Howell
Nate Reese as Cantwell
Paul Norwood as Bristol
Randolph Brooks as Arthur Leeds
Mindy Seeger as Chris
Kris Murphy as Katie Witt
Timothy Davis-Reed as Mark O'Donnell
Charles Noland as Steve
S.E. Perry as Marine Officer Thomas
Heidi Anderson as Waitress
William Dennis Hunt as Duke of York
Jeanie Hacket as Queen Margaret
Orlando Seale as Young Clifford
Douglas Weston as Bedford
Adrian Diamond as Young Boy
Joshua Wolf Coleman as Chorus
Charles Currier as Chorus
Russell Edge as Chorus
Joshua Fardon as Chorus
Richard Gould as Chorus
Rob Nagle as Chorus
Kevin Owers as Chorus
Graham Shiels as Chorus
Richard Soto as Chorus
Glenn Kubota as Grocer
Karen Tsen Lee as Reporter
Ted Koch as Reporter
Mark Gerald Douglas as Agent
Lisa Datz as Agent
James Villani as Thug


Okay. Well... surely, this is the most absurd meeting I ever sat in, and friends, that is saying something
—President Bartlet
If I tell you I intend to commit a crime, you're required by law to report it. [beat] I have a strange meeting coming up. [beat] I'm gonna go. It's good seeing you
—President Bartlet
[to Charlie] Is this a joke? If it's a joke, it's both funny and well-executed, but I think you and I both know that it's not. I send you out to replace Delores Landingham, and that's what you came home with?
—President Bartlet

Governor Ritchie: Oh. Crime. Boy, I don't know.
President Bartlet: [sighs] We should have a great debate, Rob. We owe it to everyone. When I was running as a governor, I didn't know anything. I made them start Bartlet college in my dining room. Two hours every morning on foreign affairs and the military. You can do that.
Governor Ritchie: How many different ways you think you're gonna find to call me dumb?
President Bartlet: I wasn't, Rob. But you've turned being un-engaged into a Zen-like thing, and you shouldn't enjoy it so much is all, and if it appears at times as if I don't like you, that's the only reason why.
Governor Ritchie: You're what my friends call a superior sumbitch. You're an academic elitist and a snob. You're, uh, Hollywood, you're weak, you're liberal, and you can't be trusted. And if it appears from time to time as if I don't like you, well, those are just a few of the many reasons why.
President Bartlet: In the future, if you're wondering, "Crime. Boy, I don't know" is when I decided to kick your ass.


  • The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 was adopted to bar U.S. military personnel from enforcing local law.
  • During the briefing of the Gang of Eight, one of the attendees asks when the President would give the order and Leo responds "at the last possible minute". When Leo later meets with Bartlet on the night of the assassination, Leo informs the President that he has two minutes to give the go ahead. The conversation that follows lasts one minute, meaning that Bartlet gives the order exactly at the last possible minute.


  • Leo refers to Thomas Merton's prayer:
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone
  • Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk (Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance) residing at the Abbey in Gethsemani, Kentucky.
  • The red and white rose petals scattered on the floor where Simon dies are a visual reference to "The Wars of the Roses," named after the red and white rose symbols of the royal houses that battled for the throne of England.


  • Sorkin, following an Aristotelian dramatic tenet related to άμαρτια[1], choose Simon Donovan's death as the hubris for President Bartlet's act of assassinating Abdul ibn Shareef.[2]
  • When Bartlet tells Stanley he was 'singing it this morning', he's actually referring to what was originally the pre-credits teaser that got cut: a scene of Bartlet shaving in the morning and singing. The scene was used in promos for the episode.[2]
  • This is the last season finale of the series to feature Rob Lowe (Sam Seaborn). The character is written off of the show mid-Season 4 and substituted with Joshua Malina as Will Bailey.


  • During the episode, Leo McGarry and Percy Fitzwallace confer with the "Gang of Eight" about the possibility of the President ordering Shareef's assassination. In the West Wing universe, the Gang of Eight includes the House Majority and Minority Leaders, Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, and the Chairmen and Ranking Members of both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. This differs from the real world where it is the Speaker of the House and the House Minority Leader who are members of the Gang of Eight, while the House Majority Leader is not. It is revealed in the season opener of Season Five that Acting-President Glen Allen Walken (the former Republican Speaker of the House) had "signed off" on the assassination and so it is assumed that he was informed of what was to happen before the Gang of Eight were told.


hallelujah | JEFF BUCKLEY
simon dies and cj grieves
patriotic song | STEPHEN OLIVER
performed as bartlet is notified of the murder

Notes and references[]

I PilotPost Hoc, Ergo Propter HocA Proportional ResponseFive Votes Down
The Crackpots and These WomenMr. Willis of OhioThe State DinnerEnemiesThe Short List
In Excelsis DeoLord John MarburyHe Shall, from Time to Time...Take Out the Trash Day
Take This Sabbath DayCelestial Navigation20 Hours in L.A.The White House Pro-Am
Six Meetings Before LunchLet Bartlet Be BartletMandatory Minimums
Lies, Damn Lies and StatisticsWhat Kind of Day Has It Been?
II In the Shadow of Two Gunmen (Part I)In the Shadow of Two Gunmen (Part II)The Midterms
In This White HouseAnd It's Surely to Their CreditThe Lame Duck CongressThe Portland Trip
ShibbolethGalileoNoëlThe Leadership BreakfastThe Drop-In
Bartlet's Third State of the UnionThe War at HomeEllie
Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to JailThe Stackhouse Filibuster
17 PeopleBad Moon RisingThe Fall's Gonna Kill You18th and PotomacTwo Cathedrals
III Manchester (Part I)Manchester (Part II)Ways and MeansOn the Day BeforeWar CrimesGone QuietThe Indians in the LobbyThe Women of QumarBartlet for AmericaH.Con - 172100,000 AirplanesThe Two BartletsNight FiveHartsfield's LandingDead Irish Writers
The U.S. Poet LaureateStirredEnemies Foreign and DomesticThe Black Vera Wang
We Killed YamamotoPosse Comitatus
IV 20 Hours in America (Part I)20 Hours in America (Part II)College KidsThe Red Mass
Debate CampGame OnElection NightProcess StoriesSwiss DiplomacyArctic Radar
Holy NightGuns Not ButterThe Long GoodbyeInauguration (Part I)
Inauguration: Over There (Part II)The California 47thRed Haven's on FirePrivateers
Angel MaintenanceEvidence of Things Not SeenLife On MarsCommencementTwenty-Five
V 7A WF 83429The Dogs of WarJefferson LivesHanA Constituency of OneDisaster ReliefSeparation of PowersShutdownAbu el BanatThe Stormy PresentThe Benign PrerogativeSlow News DayThe Warfare of Genghis KhanAn KheFull DisclosureEppur Si Muove
The SupremesAccessTalking PointsNo ExitGazaMemorial Day
VI NSF ThurmontThe Birnam WoodThird-Day StoryLiftoffThe Hubbert PeakThe Dover TestA Change Is Gonna ComeIn The RoomImpact WinterFaith Based Initiative
Opposition Research365 DaysKing CornThe Wake Up CallFreedoniaDrought ConditionsA Good DayLa PalabraNinety Miles AwayIn God We TrustThings Fall Apart2162 Votes
VII The TicketThe Mommy ProblemMessage of the WeekMr. FrostHere Today
The Al Smith DinnerThe DebateUndecidedsThe WeddingRunning Mates
Internal DisplacementDuck and CoverThe ColdTwo Weeks OutWelcome to Wherever You Are
Election Day (Part I)Election Day (Part II)RequiemTransitionThe Last Hurrah
Institutional MemoryTomorrow