West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Fifth Season Episodes * #522 "Memorial Day"
Pres, Charlie, Kate
Dule Hill as Charlie Young, Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet, Mary McCormack as Kate Harper
NBC Warner Bros. Photo
Written by: John Sacret Young & Josh Singer, Directed by: Christopher Misiano
Takes Place: Mostly on Memorial Day (starts soon after the previous episode ends)
Broadcast: May 19, 2004
Query: Is there such a thing as "the diplomatic rank of a three star general"?

The President is in the middle of acts of retribution between the Israelis and the Palestinians. These acts interfere with the U.S. response to the bombing of its officials. But Bartlet is still trying to find a middle course. When Toby hands him the speech he is about to give to the nation, Bartlet finds it too inflammatory,
"'Tyranny of terror'? 'Death mongers'? What is this, Tolkien?"
"The stronger your language now, the more leeway---" Toby tries to tell him.
"I'm not saying it." Within minutes he is on the air. "My fellow Americans, good evening. This morning we lost three distinguished Americans in a despicable act of terror in the Middle East. I come before you shocked and saddened by our loss --- and angered as we all are by the tragedy thrust upon us. The search is underway for those responsible. I ask for your patience while we hunt for answers. And as we pray with those who grieve, let us resolve to search not only for justice but also for a just end to this senseless cycle of violence."

Immediately after the speech he has an interview with the Israeli ambassador who he berates for the strike on a terrorist which also killed 11 civilians. She tells him,
"Mr. President, we received information on the whereabouts of a man responsible for the repeated killing of our citizens. We had the specific location and little time. Would you have done any differently?" Although, he doesn't answer her here, he learns a moment later that the FBI, through Israeli intelligence, has located one of the people responsible for the bombing of the Americans --- his answer will come in actions he does or does not take as he finds himself in the same situation.

We flashback to a courtesy briefing President-Elect Bartlet is given,
"So, you are telling me with less than three months left in office, the President and Admiral Fitzwallace are going to saddle me with a war in the Phillipines." When the General giving him the briefing chuckles over this, Bartlet continues, "I've been President-Elect for 72 hours; the brass is already laughing at me."
When Bartlet goes on to admit that he doesn't know about such things, the General says, "Woodrow Wilson didn't know a battalion from a battery when he took office.... Admiral Fitzwallace thought you might find it--- reassuring...."
After the general leaves, Bartlet tells Leo, "Admiral Fitzwallace. Remind me to fire that guy."

Donna finally wakes up and when she does Josh is there beside her. When the nurse has to draw blood, however, Josh steps out of the room and uses the time to call Toby,
"...she's awake...." he tells Toby. "What's going on there?"
"Well, other than the legion of congressmen parading into the Oval demanding retribution, it's been pretty quiet."

Back in Germany, Donna wonders how long Josh is going to stay,
"I don't know... I'm here as long as I need to be here." Josh steps out of the room a few minutes later to take a call. While he is in the hall, Donna's photo-journalist from Gaza shows up with a flowers. As Josh continues to talk on the phone, he watches the two of them interact.

Bartlet is being pushed by most of his advisors (including Leo) to strike at the bomber they have located --- trouble is they are telling him there could be as many as 50 civilians killed in such a strike. In a flashback Leo advises the President-Elect,
"You get the best information, you consider all your options, you look at the potential good--- and you do what you think is right."
In the present only Kate is pointing out the downsides to the military options, but when the President leaves, Leo tells her, "This isn't the U.N. He's not the Secretary General. He's President of the United States, and our job is to make sure his priorities are clear. Today's priority is not world peace."

The photographer has been with Josh and Donna for some time and as he leaves, he promises Donna he'll be back before first light. After he's gone, Donna asks Josh,
"Isn't he charming?"
"Sure. In a bodice-ripping, Heathcliff-on-the-moor, I'm-too-sexy-for-my-camera sort of way...." A moment later more flowers arrive. "How many photographers did you meet over there?" But these flowers have a card with Arabic on one side and even the flowers and the English on the other side of the card turn out to be code that Kate later translates for Leo.

Later Kate calls and tells Josh that someone has a message they want to deliver through him. Josh isn't sure about this.
"You want me to have a secret meeting with the Son of the Sword?"
Donna overhears him and murmurs, "I must be high from the morphine."
"You know, stealth isn't exactly my strong suit," Josh says into the phone.
"He's very clumsy," Donna says as loud as she can, trying to speak to the person on the other end of the phone.
"...It's a diplomatic meeting," Kate tells Josh.
Pres. Bartlet"Do I need to carry a piece? ...Why aren't you sending --- I don't know --- someone more like you?"
"Because they didn't send me the flowers...."
"Is this dangerous?" Donna asks.
"...Donna wants to know if it's dangerous."
"...keep a low profile."
"Should I switch cabs?" Kate is left a little speechless.

And it's Memorial Day and the President is scheduled to throw out the first ball in Baltimore. Bartlet does not appear to have a reputation as a pitcher. Plus, to make it more difficult for himself, he decides to throw from the mound so the Secret Service insists he wear a bullet proof vest. Josh has already suggested to Toby that Bartlet practice. Toby and Charlie get together to gang up on him. Bartlet gives them 15 minutes.
"This has got to be one of the highlights," Bartlet murmurs as he puts on the vest. He throws down the hall in the residence to Charlie and his first attempt doesn't go well. As Charlie gets the ball and tosses it back to Toby, Bartlet warns him quietly, "Not a word, Ziegler." The practice continues for some time. Still not going well. "Why didn't we cancel?"
"I was just wondering the same thing," Charlie remarks.
"I could write a hundred speeches and we'd never come close to the sight of you up there on that mound."
"Yeah, that's me: All-powerful; bending the will of the world by my mere presence." The next pitch destroys a lamp.

The President is keeping all options open in the Middle East and Leo thinks he is "gun-shy". Leo keeps pushing for military action, but Bartlet, who used to take his advice on such matters (and who has said it should be Leo who is President), is creating his own path here --- one that turns out to have its own obstacles.
Meanwhile Josh returns to Donna's room with flowers only to find that she has been taken to emergency surgery (having developed the same condition that killed Josh's father). And, finally, Bartlet is on the mound throwing out that first ball.

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