path: Home / Second Season Episodes #201 & 202 (23 & 24) In The Shadow of Two Gunmen
Josh (played by Bradley Whitford) was shot critically
- Written by: Aaron Sorkin
- Directed by: Thomas Schlamme
- Takes Place: Starts two minutes after the end of the final episode of the previous season (early August 2000 or maybe May)
- Broadcast: October 4, 2000 (beginning of the second season)
- Query: When did the shooting take place: May or August?
- Query: How Could There be a Verizon Phone Booth Before January 2000?
- Query: Is it really that easy to shoot the President?
- This episode opens as the Secret Service drive off with the President. Monday 9:37 pm. We soon learn other cars followed with Zoey and Leo.
But still at the scene C.J. is being treated for slight injuries sustained when hitting the ground. Toby is walking around looking for Josh, who turns out to be wounded! Gravely wounded.
- Meanwhile in the President's car, Ron Butterfield, ignoring his own wounded hand, answers all the President's concerns and then discovers that the President has been shot in the side (he'd been so wound up that he didn't even know it). They rush the wounded to George Washington Hospital where the President is asked by a nurse:
- "Do you have any medical conditions?"
"Well, I've been shot," he answers.
- As everyone waits to learn the outcome of the wounds, we see flashbacks from the campaign that finally resulted in Bartlet's election.
- In the first flashback, Josh is becoming delirious as the doctors start treating him and he thinks he is back in a meeting for the campaign of Senator John Hoynes of Texas who looks like a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination for President. Josh is frustrated working for Hoynes but still is hesitant when Leo approaches him to take a look at the long-shot campaign of Governor Bartlet of New Hampshire. Josh tries to convince Leo that Hoynes has the nomination sewn up. But Leo insists that Josh just hear the Governor and Josh agrees to do so when Leo says:
- "That's what sons do for old friends of their father's."
- Josh is convinced it's all a waste of time:
- "The Democrats aren't going to nominate another liberal, academic, former governor from New England. We're dumb but we're not that dumb."
"Nah, I think we're exactly that dumb," - Leo responds.
- On the way to the speech Josh stops in to see his friend Sam who is about to be made a partner in the second biggest law firm in New York (Gage Whitney Page in mid-town Manhattan). Sam is dissatisfied with some aspects of his job as he helps a company indemnify themselves with their purchase of sub-standard oil-tankers. But he can't see joining the Hoynes campaign.
Toby is already with the Bartlet campaign, but he expects to be fired because the rest of the campaign team doesn't like the advice he's been giving Bartlet. And he has to admit that he's never been part of a winning campaign, though, he says he's been "professional political operative" his whole life. He admits to telling Bartlet things like:
- "I told him that, if asked about it tonight, he should --- if only because it's the easiest thing to remember --- tell the truth."
"Do you enjoy losing?" he's asked by another member of the team.
"Not that much, no. But then again I really don't have a lot to compare it to."
- But when the team suggests that Leo should do something and that maybe Toby would be more comfortable if he would leave while they discussed it, Leo says:
- "I don't have time to make people comfortable. If a change has to be made it has to be made." Then he fires the rest of the team. "I want Toby, the rest of you, thanks very much." Then he tells Toby: "Don't screw up!"
- This annoys Bartlet who knew the people Leo just fired but doesn't know Toby. He's also upset that Leo made the decision on his own:
- "Yeah, you know why? 'cause you're a crappy politician. I think you'll find I'll be making a lot of decisions on my own so start getting use to it."
"You know I got elected to Congress by this state. This state sent me to Congress three times and then elected me governor. All without your help."
"No seriously, that's a real accomplishment considering your family founded this state.... Were you even opposed in any of those elections?"
"You got rid of all the people I know," Bartlet complains again.
"Yeah, have a good night."
"Why are you doing this? You're a player. You're bigger in the party than I am. Hoynes would make you national chairman. Leo, tell me this isn't one of the twelve steps."
"That's what it is. Right after admitting that we're powerless over alcohol and that a higher power can restore us to sanity. That's where you come in.... Because I'm tired of it: year after year after year after year having to choose between the lesser of who cares. Of trying to get myself excited about a candidate who can speak in complete sentences. Of setting the bar so low, I can hardly bear to look at it. They say a good man can't get elected President. I don't believe that. Do you?"
- Bartlet thinks Leo has too much faith in him. Faith he doesn't share about himself. To this Leo responds:
- "Act as if ye have faith and faith shall be given to you. Put it another way, fake it till you make it."
- Toby brings in C.J. who had been working in Hollywood but has just been fired from her $550,000 Public Relations job, which she really didn't like.
- Donna pushes herself up from volunteer status into becoming an assistant to Josh. At first she claims degrees she doesn't have. Finally, she just says:
- "I think I can be good at this. I think you might find me valuable."
- But Bartlet is not getting along with his people, who he doesn't seem to even know by name. And he has to explain his blunt "What's Next?:
- "When I ask 'What's Next?' it means I'm ready to move on to other things. So, what's next?"
- Leo tries to tell Josh about Bartlet:
- "He's really very easy to like once you get to know him?"
"How many people get that far," Josh asks.
"Not that many."
- When Josh's father dies and Bartlet goes to say that he knows he's been a little hard on everyone, Josh says:
- "If you don't lose this election, it won't be because you didn't try hard enough."
- Back to the present, Josh's 12 hour surgery is finally over and when he comes out from under the anesthesia, he whispers something that only Bartlet catches. When the others ask what Josh said, Bartlet says he said:
- "What's Next?"
Additional Information: At least two people tried to tell us that it was Sam who had pushed down C.J. when the firing started: Michele Blackburn wrote us clear back in July and Greg Corey wrote us more recently. They were right and we were wrong. More recently one of our viewers sent us a link to a page that shows Sam tackling C.J. after the agent ran into her:
Oh, and within 12 hours of the showing of this show more than a dozen people have informed us that Verizon wasn't making pay phones back when Josh was making the call in the rain to Sam about having found "the real thing." See our information on the Verizon gaffe and the list of people who informed us in the order their emails arrived.
For anyone interested in guest stars of this episode (as well as more information),
let us recommend the West Wing Episode Guide.
Background from Bravo: What you need to know from past episodes.