After a critically acclaimed freshman season, the Emmy Award-winning series The West Wing returns for a behind-the-scenes look at another year in the life of the eclectic group of frenzied staffers in the Oval Office.
Awards: 8 Emmy Awards: Outstanding Drama Series Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Bradley Whitford) Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Allison Janney) Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (Thomas Schlamme) Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Series Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series Outstanding Single-Camera Sound Mixing for a Series 2 Golden Globe Awards: Best Television Series - Drama Best Actor in a Leading Role - Drama Series (Martin Sheen)
01 - In The Shadow of Two Gunmen - Part I
President Josiah Bartlet is rushed to the hospital after being shot. Even though Bartlet undergoes surgery, his wound is not life threatening. But Josh sustained a bullet wound to the chest. As the medical staff operates on the critically wounded Josh, he unconsciously remembers how he joined the Bartlet campaign team. Toby and Sam also recall their early days working together for Bartlet.
02 - In The Shadow of Two Gunmen - Part II
As doctors continue to perform surgery on his chest, Josh remembers, in a dream, how Toby, Sam, C.J., Donna and he became members of the Bartlet political team under Leo's direction. Events leading up to Bartlet's triumphant Democratic nomination for President are also recalled by the others. Josh awakens from the successful surgery. Meanwhile, the federal, state and local agencies search for the remaining conspirator. They capture the young man and discover that he is a member of a racist hate group. The President was not the target. The gunmen aimed at Charlie because of his relationship with Zoey.
03 - The Midterms
In the months leading up to the midterm elections, the staff makes an all-out effort to pick up Democratic seats in Congress. Josh recovers at home. Sam betrays a friend after convincing him to run for office with a promise of support from the Democratic party - which he never delivers. The President becomes obsessed with a school board election in his home state. Since Charlie was the intended target of the shooting, he feels responsible for the incident. He is irritable and initially shuns Zoey's attempts to comfort him. At a White House reception for radio commentators, Bartlet's hatred for intolerance also motivates him to vigorously challenge a well-known talk show host who masquerades as a psychologist and uses the Bible to justify her bigoted views.
04 - In This White House
Toby and Josh help Bartlet mediate between the leader of an AIDS-ravaged, poverty-stricken African nation and a drug company. After a successful deal is reached, the leader returns home and is immediately assassinated. On a political television talk show, Sam is trounced by Ainsley Hayes (EMILY PROCTOR), an attractive and extremely intelligent Republican political analyst. Bartlet is impressed by Ainsley's passion and sense of civic duty, despite her caustic criticism of the Democrats. He orders a dubious Leo to offer her a job, to the outrage of the other staffers.
05 - And It's Surely to Their Credit
C.J. finds a way to stop a retiring general from attacking the President's position on budget cuts for the military. Lone Republican staffer Ainsley Hayes endures a particularly difficult first day on the job. Placed in a cramped, dank office in the White House basement, she must contend not only with the wariness of her co-workers but with the animosity of her outspoken boss (JOHN LARROQUETTE). Sam wants to sue a hate group on Josh's behalf. And Abby informs Bartlet that her schedule and his completed recovery allow for marital activity.
06 - The Lame Duck Congress
Bartlet considers the extraordinary measure of calling the Senate together during its winter holiday in order to force a vote on a comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty. A low-level Ukrainian diplomat arrives at the White House - drunk - and refuses to leave without meeting Bartlet. Because the U.S. can only officially deal with the Ukrainian president, Bartlet "accidentally" encounters Konanov in a conference room and briefly discusses the man's concerns. C.J. is disappointed when Danny rejects an opportunity to work outside of the pressroom, which would have allowed them to date without the appearance of impropriety.
07 - The Portland Trip
During a flight to Portland, Bartlet deals with three issues: a Sudanese tanker that is transporting oil out of Iraq against sanctions; a bill involving same-sex marriage; and an upcoming speech on education. Charlie creates a novel incentive to encourage people to choose the teaching profession.
08 - Shibboleth
As Thanksgiving arrives, Bartlet decides the fate of a container ship full of illegal Chinese immigrants who claim to be Christians seeking asylum from religious persecution. Toby wants Leo's controversial sister appointed to an education post. C.J. must choose a national turkey, and Charlie has his work cut out for him when the President sends him out to find the perfect carving knife.
09 - Galileo
While the Russian government claims an explosion in its country occurred at an oil refinery, evidence proves it happened at a nuclear facility. Bartlet chides the Russian ambassador for not seeking help. A failed space mission to Mars puts a damper on a speech Bartlet plans to give schoolchildren. Sam avoids his former girlfriend Mallory, Leo's daughter.
10 - Noël
At Christmas time, Leo hires a traumatologist (ADAM ARKIN) to force Josh to confront his unacknowledged stress resulting from when he was shot. Josh initially denies his recent erratic emotions as he recounts the events of the last few weeks. Sam deals with an errant energy secretary who contradicts Bartlet. Meanwhile, C.J. helps a tourist who becomes agitated after seeing a painting that was stolen from her family by the Nazi-controlled French government. And Charlie must persuade a stubborn Bartlet that the President cannot possibly personally sign more than one million White House Christmas cards. Cellist YO-YO MA (himself) performs.
11 - The Leadership Breakfast
Bartlet's staff prepares for a Presidential breakfast meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders. The event simply serves as a symbolic show of bipartisanship at the start of the new legislative session, but Toby wants the parties to argue real issues. Trouble ensues when Toby strikes a deal with the chief of staff to the Republican majority leader, and she betrays him.
12 - The Drop-In
Leo fails to convince Bartlet of the merits of an expensive but unproven missile defense system. Meanwhile, Leo and the others are irritated by the news that pompous Lord John Marbury (ROGER REES) has been appointed ambassador from Great Britain. Toby clashes with Sam over the President's speech for an environmentalist group. C.J. convinces a controversial comic to refuse a White House invitation.
13 - Bartlet's Third State of The Union
Bartlet's third State of the Union speech is a major success. Unfortunately, problems immediately occur that diminish the White House staff's enthusiasm. Sam learns that a policeman whom Bartlet praised during the speech was charged with beating a suspect 17 years ago. Working with calm pollster Joey Lucas (MARLEE MATLIN), Josh is agitated by the length of time it takes to gauge the public's reaction to the speech, due to an electrical power glitch. Simultaneously, five U.S. drug enforcement officers are taken prisoner by Colombian drug lords. Another difficult issue Bartlet must confront is his wife's angry disappointment. Abbey senses from Bartlet's address that he intends to campaign for a second term, which he had promised her he would not do.
14 - The War At Home
Three hours after learning that drug agents were taken hostage in Colombia, Bartlet gives the order for special forces to rescue them, risking a war. The kidnappers' only demand is that Colombia release a prominent drug lord from prison, but Bartlet refuses to ask that of the Colombian president. The rescue mission fails and nine operatives are killed. Later, Bartlet sadly approves Leo's plan to have the Colombian government inconspicuously release the drug lord without giving the appearance that the U.S. complied with terrorists' demands. The hostages return home - and so do the murdered military personnel. And Abbey tells her husband that she worries his multiple sclerosis will incapacitate him while in office.
15 - Ellie
Comments made by Surgeon General Dr. Courtney Griffith (MARY KAY PLACE) concerning the medical effects of marijuana appear to reverse the President's stance on legalizing the drug. Bartlet asks her to resign, but she refuses. Ellie, Bartlet's middle daughter, further compounds the problem by speaking out in favor of Griffith, her godmother. After Griffith helps him understand the cause of Ellie's rebelliousness, Bartlet begins reconciling with Ellie. Later, he refuses Griffith's resignation. Also, Toby asks his combative ex-wife, Congresswoman Andrea "Andy" Wyatt (KATHLEEN YORK), for help with an influential labor commission. And a movie director accuses Bartlet of cowardice.
16 - Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to Jail
Sam finds out that his father was unfaithful to Sam's mother for 28 years. Sam tries to help a friend of Donna's whose dying father wants to see his own deceased father's reputation cleared of committing espionage during WWII. The National Security Advisor shows Sam a secret file conclusively proving that the grandfather was in fact a traitor. He does not reveal his finding to Donna's friend. Toby, who is a veteran of many effective protest marches, dutifully attends a disorderly anti-World Trade Organization rally at which the unruly mob refuses to listen to him. He finally makes a persuasive address. C.J. meets with crusading cartographers.
17 - The Stackhouse Filibuster
A stubborn Senator delays a vote - and the Senate's vacation - for over nine hours. He reads recipes, novels and poker rulebooks to the empty chamber because he wants even more stringent requirements on diagnosing and treating autism added to a child health-care reform bill. When Donna finds out that the Senator's grandchild is afflicted with the disorder, Josh works to add the amendment. And Toby wonders about the vice president's motives in admonishing oil companies.
18 - 17 People
For days, Toby ponders the mystery of Hoynes' attempt to gain the voters' favor by admonishing the oil companies. He knows about a poll conducted for Hoynes and an upcoming visit for the vice president to Bartlet's home state. Toby finally forces Leo to admit the truth, that Hoynes suspects Bartlet won't attempt a second term. Even more shocking to Toby is the reason: Bartlet has multiple sclerosis, a secret that only 16 other people know. Toby is furious and confronts Bartlet. Josh, Donna, Sam and Ainsley try to write jokes for the President's speech for the upcoming Correspondents' Dinner.
19 - Bad Moon Rising
Bartlet reluctantly consults the new White House Counsel, Oliver Babish (OLIVER PLATT), who is stunned by the legal implications of Bartlet's condition. Bartlet denies ever testifying under oath or signing a legal document indicating that he is fully healthy, but Abbey did. Sam feels guilty about the role he played in an environmental disaster when an oil tanker he helped a company buy runs aground off the Delaware coast.
20 - The Fall's Gonna Kill You
After Toby informs C.J. about Bartlet's disease, she endures Babish's questioning and realizes that she might have unwittingly been part of a criminal conspiracy to deceive the public. Babish tries to prepare the staffers for the intense scrutiny they will soon suffer. When Abbey returns from a trip, he interrogates her about the family medical history form she signed without disclosing Bartlet's affliction. Josh asks trusted pollster Joey Lucas to somehow gauge how citizens will react. Donna worries about a falling satellite. Josh feels that the Justice Department needs more money to battle the powerful tobacco companies that defrauded the American public.
21 - 18th and Potomac
After Joey gives Bartlet and his staff devastating polling figures, they debate how to inform the public of Bartlet's multiple sclerosis. A major factor is the unanswered question of Bartlet's intent to seek reelection. Babish reminds Abbey that she violated several ethics rules while secretly treating her husband. C.J. arranges for a live, half-hour interview, during which Bartlet will attempt to calm fears over his ability to serve. Leo orders Josh to escalate the battle against tobacco companies. A military coup in Haiti could lead to war with the U.S. While returning home from the dealership with her brand new car, Mrs. Landingham (KATHRYN JOOSTEN) is killed by a drunk driver.
22 - Two Cathedrals
Josh independently implements a rash plan to coerce wayward Democrats to support the administration's lawsuit against big tobacco companies. The military crisis in Haiti escalates. Bartlet must decide whether to run for reelection - most Democrats hope he won't. Abbey finally gives him her blessing to seek reelection. Bartlet reminisces about Mrs. Landingham and attends her funeral. The President and First Lady give a live interview at the White House concerning his illness. Afterwards, when asked by a reporter if he'll run again, the President merely smiles.