SEASON FINALE FINDS PRESIDENT TAKING DRASTIC MEASURES IN ADMINISTRATION'S GREATEST CRISIS -- In the season finale, a national crisis is thrust on the President (Martin Sheen) on the night of his daughter Zoey's graduation, forcing him to shut down Washington, D.C. as he orders the Fifth Fleet to the Persian Gulf -- all of which prompts Bartlet to consider executive action that would have been unthinkable just hours earlier. In the midst of the administration's greatest challenge, a conflicted Toby (Richard Schiff) still finds time to savor a personal milestone on the best day of his life.
The President and First Lady are having some friends over talking about Zoey and her graduation. Leo and Ron Butterfield arrive in the doorway. Bartlet looks up and sees them and goes over to talk with them. As Ron Butterfield explains to the President what has happened - the drink falls from his hand as do several photos of Zoey that he was holding in his other hand.
Back at the scene of the party - Agent Davis is trying to get a hold of the situation. Josh and Charlie cannot believe that Zoey has been taken. At the White House, the President, Leo, and Ron Butterfield are rushing to the White House Situation Room to find out the latest. The people around the table are still unsure as to what has happened and what the kidnapping means. Bartlet is unfocused and Leo is clearly trying to get answers. Bartlet gets up to leave the room to check on Abbey.
Outside the nightclub, Davis is talking to Josh and Charlie. Charlie realizes that Jean-Paul may have drugged Zoey and he runs off to confront him. However, Jean-Paul has been drugged as well, but with something other than ecstasy. Davis tells Josh and Charlie to go back to the White House.
At the White House - C.J. is getting ready to brief the Press. Leo comes to talk to her and reminds her not to get into a debate about the President's emotional state. Will comes by looking for Toby and reminds them there is no Vice President. C.J. walks into the Press Room as several reporters shout at her.
Act II - Hour 2
C.J. continues her briefing. As she exits, she runs into Toby who had a difficult time getting into the White House. Will walks up with a draft statement, which Toby immediately revises (and Josh adds to as well). Toby plans out a strategy for the Senior Staff to follow in the coming hours - and then tells the assembled group that Andy had the babies.
In the residence - a doctor is checking on the President. Other than his blood pressure being high, he appears OK. Charlie comes in to tell the President they have located Molly's parents (the agent killed at the nightclub).
Josh is talking with Donna, wondering how many people are in the building - they are going to need people to help with the crisis. Donna is going through a series of faxes that has come in, when she stops and realizes that one of them is from the kidnappers.
The fax is brought to the President along with the news that a date-rape drug was used on Jean-Paul. The fax calls for the release of several Qumari prisoners and the end of American involvement in Qumar. The President asks Fitzwallace where he is - Fitzwallace wants to attack several locations in Qumar - Nancy suggests otherwise. The President orders the Fifth Fleet into the Gulf.
Act IV - Hour 4
Leo and Toby are talking in his office. Toby asks about fatherhood.
In the First Lady's Offices, Abbey walks past Amy - on her way to the briefing room. She wants to make a direct appeal. Amy tells C.J. what Abbey wants to do - C.J. tells Abbey that she can't - but Abbey opens the door to the Press Room and freezes when the reporters begin to shout questions at her. C.J. backs her out of the room and C.J. and Amy tell Abbey that she cannot go into the Press Room while the President is planning military action.
In the Situation Room, Fitzwallace and Nancy are going back and forth about what to do with Qumar. The President is unfocused. Leo tells the President there is a problem - a plane has gone silent near a nuclear plant in Washington state. The President tries to focus on what needs to be done, when the plane acknowledges the fighter jets that are trailing it.
The President and Leo walk out of the Situation Room and their conversation concludes with the President telling Leo to assemble the Cabinet and then find the Speaker of the House.
Act V - Hour 6
Toby is at the hospital checking on Andy and the twins. Toby talks to the twins and then leaves to head back to the White House.
There, Leo is sitting in the portico. Margaret brings him some coffee. Charlie comes out and Leo tells him to stop all nonessential paper for presidential signature. On the bench next to Leo is a copy of the United States Constitution. Leo gets up and goes back inside and tells C.J., Will, and Josh that the President is invoking the 25th Amendment.
As the President reads his declaration to the Cabinet members, and the Senior Staff talk about the invoking of the 25th, we see a group of men get into cars from the United States Capitol. Some of the Cabinet members raise some questions with the President - but he tells them that Leo will know what to do. The Senior Staff raise similar questions - and Toby points out that Leo will know what to do. As the group of men arrive at the White House, Bartlet takes the roll of the Cabinet.
Arriving outside the Oval Office, we finally see the faces of the men, who are led by Speaker of the House Glen Allen Walken (R), who is about to assume the Presidency. They all enter the Oval Office and the President arrives from the Cabinet Meeting. Charlie shows in Justice Sharon Day. Will points out the Speaker needs to resign from Congress before he can take the oath as President. The Senior Staff try to figure out how to deal with Walken. Bartlet tries to defend his staff, but Walken and Leo remind him that he is "relieved".
As President Bartlet signs the order removing him from power - the Speaker is sworn in as the Acting President.
- Stockard Channing as Abigail Bartlet
- Dulé Hill as Charlie Young
- Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg
- Joshua Malina as Will Bailey
- 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
- Mary-Louise Parker as Amy Gardner
- John Goodman as Glen Allen Walken (uncredited)
- with John Amos as Admiral Fitzwallace
- and Taye Diggs as Wesley Davis
- Michael O'Neill as Ron Butterfield
- Anna Deavere Smith as Nancy McNally
- Clark Gregg as Special Agent Casper
- Harry Groener as Roger Tribbey
- NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper
- Trent Ford as Jean-Paul Vicomte de Bourbon
- Alan Dale as Mitch Bryce
- Vernee Watson-Johnson as Nurse
- J. Patrick McCormack as General Wendall
- Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick
- Kim Webster as Ginger
- Devika Parikh as Bonnie
- Laura Gardner as Gwen
- Kris Murphy as Katie Witt
- Timothy Davis-Reed as Mark O'Donnell
- Charles Noland as Steve
- Randolph Brooks as Arthur Leeds
- Susanne Filkins as Geri
- Sha' Bennett as Peggy
- Lucy Butler as Jill
- Lance E. Nichols as Jay
- Milt Tarver as Jerry
- Jon Van Ness as Andrew
- Dan Manning as Banks
- John Antonini as Jamie Reed
- Shannon Marshall as Randy Weathers
- Gary Telles as FBI Agent #1
- Kathryn Klavana as FBI Agent #2
- Weston Blakesley as Dr. Wellman
- Brady Rubin as Justice Sharon Day
- Haskell Vaughn Anderson III as Interior Secretary
- Estuardo Rodriguez Minano as Paramedic
- Ivan Allen as Roger Salier
- Keely Jones as Reporter
- Diane Badger as Cabinet Member
- Jim Gabriel as Cabinet Member
- ❝We're in control. The government is functioning. This is the most important press conference of your life❞
- —Leo to C.J.
- ❝I didn’t realize babies come with hats. You guys crack me up. (baby coos) You don’t have jobs. You can’t walk or speak the language. (pulls up a chair next to the bed) You don’t have a dollar in your pockets, but you got yourselves a hat. So, everything’s fine. (baby coos) I don’t wanna alarm you or anything but… I’m Dad. (laughs as he look over at Huck) And for you, son, for you, this’ll be the last time I pass the buck, but I think it should be clear from the get-go that it was Mom who named you Huckleberry. I guess she was feeling like life… doesn’t present enough challenges to overcome on its own. (to his daughter) And, honey, you’ve got a name now too. Your mom and I named you after… an incredibly brave… uh… An incredibly brave woman, really not all that much older than you. Your name is Molly. Huck and Molly. So, what do I do? Well, you’re gonna need food and clothes and doctors and dentists and… there’s that. And, should you have any questions along the way, I’m gonna be doin’ stuff like this, (grabs a tissue and wipes Huck’s mouth) Huck, because you’re leaking a little bit out of your mouth there. You’re holding my finger, son? Hey, Molly. Your brother’s holding my hand. Do you wanna hold my hand? (laughs) This isn’t gonna mean anything to you, but… Leo was right. (smiles) Leo was right❞
- C.J.: Well, the President and the Speaker have to make it clear to the country that there's someone in charge.
- Josh: I'd argue we first have to make it clear to the world that there's someone in charge.
- Will: I'd make it clear to Bahji that there's someone in charge.
- Speaker Walken: Franz Ferdinand, who was the nephew of the Austro-Hungarian emperor, was killed by a group called the Black Hand. And because they were a Serbian nationalist society, the empire declared war on Serbia. Then Russia, which was bound by a treaty, was forced to mobilize which meant that Germany had to declare war on Russia. Then France declared war on Germany, and that was World War I. Because the emperor's nephew was killed. Now, I thought you all had some good ideas, but somebody oughta make it clear to the people in this room that someone is in charge.
- President Bartlet: Glen, they've been up all night.
- Speaker Walken: You're relieved, Mr. President.
- 3 years prior, President Bartlet describes to his daughter, Zoey, a so-called "Nightmare Scenario". This scenario is taken almost word for word and incorporated into this episode, where Zoey actually does get kidnapped, at a large party, and people are killed in the process. Below is what President Bartlet said to Zoey back then:
- ❝The nightmare scenario sweetheart, is you getting kidnapped. You go out to a bar or a party in some club, and you get up to go to the restroom. Somebody comes up from behind and puts their hand across your mouth, and whisks you out the back door. You're so petrified, you don't even notice the bodies of a few secret service agents lying on the ground with bullet holes in their heads. Then you're whisked away in a car. It's a big party with lots of noise and lots of people coming and going. And it's a half hour before someone says: “Hey, where's Zoey?” Another 15 minutes before the first phone call. It's another hour and a half before anyone even thinks to shutdown all the airports. And now we're off to the races. You're tied to a chair in a cargo shack somewhere in the middle of Uganda and I am told that I have 72 hours to get Israel to free 460 terrorist prisoners. So I'm on the phone pleading with Ben Yabin, and he's saying: “I'm sorry Mr President; but Israel simply does not negotiate with terrorists, period. It's the only way we can survive.” So now we got a new problem: Because this country no longer has a Commander-in-Chief. It has a father who's out of his mind, because his little girl is in a shack somewhere in Uganda with a gun to her head.❞
- —President Bartlet to Zoey[src]
- When several of the members question Bartlet on his decision, the first is Roger Tribbey, Secretary of Agriculture, who appears in "He Shall, From Time to Time" as the cabinet member who is held out of the State of the Union address.
- There is no Saw Mill River Nuclear Reactor in Richland, Washington. The Saw Mill River is in Westchester County, NY. There is a nuclear reactor named the Columbia Generating Station 10 miles north of Richland, Washington, operated by Energy Northwest. Additionally, the Department of Energy's Hanford Nuclear Reservation is also located just north of Richland. There is a Savannah River nuclear facility, but in South Carolina.
- One of the big sources of dramatic tension through the kidnapping plot is the fact that Walken, a Republican, is acting as the president during a Democrat's administration. But this might be overstating the conflict of how the situation would play out. As the episode correctly depicts, and as stated in the Succession Act of 1947, the Speaker has to resign his office in order to act as president. Or, put another way, his resignation (and the President Pro Tem of the senate, should it get that far) is a qualification for acting as president. Thus, if he doesn't resign, he can't act as president. The President, Leo, Josh and the others could have met with him to discuss next steps, and suggest that he not resign so that the Secretary of State could act as president through the crisis. This is a slight hint of this when Leo asks Walken if he really wants to resign. Since Walken would still outrank Berryhill in terms of succession, he would be able to step in at any time to act as president should Bartlet's self-removal from office become permanent and Walken felt it was his time to step up. Of course, this may have led to a different set of partisan conflicts but that wasn't the thrust of the episode. It's also possible that such as partisan succession split could lead to a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of including Congressional officers in the Succession Act. Further, according to the 25th Amendment and the Succession Act, only the vice president would actually become the president upon the removal or death of the president. Anyone else in that position would merely be acting as president, as in they would be allowed to exercise the powers of the office but not actually hold the title. Later episodes seem to treat Walken as if he really were the president.
- During the roll call vote of the cabinet members, it appears that Secretary of Defense Hutchinson is not the same individual who portrays him later (though the Secretary is supposed to be Hutchinson the entire time) and though he is not seen.
- Leo says Walken would have to wait until the midterms to run for Congress again. However, congressional vacancies would have to be filed by a special election, which Walken would be eligible to run for and, given the circumstances of his resignation, would likely win. And given the situation was resolved quickly, it's doubtful an election would have been held that quickly. However, Walken returning to Congress is never addressed again in the series. Further, the potential for a quick resolution to the kidnapping and Walken winning a special election would likely cause the majority to delay filling the Speaker's seat again in case Walken wanted it back. The short-term murkiness of the situation is precisely why letting the Secretary of State handle the early parts of the crisis as acting president would have been more prudent, both practically and politically.
BEHIND THE SCENES
- In the DVD commentary it is mentioned that the show had to deal with 12 - 16 real babies and their mothers for the scene in "25" where Toby has a private conversation with his newborn twins.
Notes and references