Written by: Debora Cahn, Directed by: Lesli Linka Glatter
Kristin Chenoweth as Annabeth Schott
NBC Universal Photo: Mitch Haddad
- Takes Place: Just before Christmas (Santos is trimming the tree with his family when Josh shows up and when he calls, a Cabinet Secretary immediately says, "Happy Holidays", Toby wishes Josh Feliz Navidad and there are other such things not done in such numbers sooner than just a few days before Christmas)
- Broadcast: December 15, 2004
- Query: If it is near Christmas, isn't the New Hampshire Filing Deadline past?
- Josh is just telling Annabeth that it is a slow day and there isn't much to tell the Press when C.J. calls from Air Force One:
- "In about four minutes the wires are going to report that the President's in the midst of a pronounced Multiple Sclerosis episode and for the moment he does not have the use of his legs. We're ditching the sightseeing, we're staying three days not six but the substantive portions of the China summit will continue as planned.... We're playing it by ear. You got a pen?"
Donna immediately picks one up and says, "Yeah."
C.J. then rattles off Cabinet Secretaries that have to be notified. "We'll call." Josh assures her. "Is he okay?
"The President's condition in no way affects his ability to conduct---"
"We got it," Josh says. "This is me asking."
"I don't know. His arms are working which is good. They weren't an hour ago so maybe he's up doing the polka five minutes from now. Otherwise ---- I don't know. I gotta ---
"Go." Josh tells her. As Donna calls a Cabinet Secretary, Josh gives Annabeth directions, then takes the phone, "Mr. Secretary --- Happy Holidays to you too, Sir --- I'm going to need you to take me off speaker phone for a second if that's okay." As he talks, Josh, knowing he will need experienced help, makes a note to Donna: "Get Leo." To the Secretary Josh continues, "The President's had an MS episode on the plane. He's not able to walk..." Donna runs to contact Leo.
- Back on the plane, they're discussing what all is going to happen, The Surgeon General tells Bartlet,
- "You have to pace yourself. Fatigue is a real issue."
Bartlet overrides his staff's ideas of how to protect him. He has a plan for how to get the Chinese to help with North Korea and there are several steps to the plan. "...We do not skip one step, not one moment of my negotiation with President Lian."
The staff rearranges things. Then the loud speaker informs them, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we have begun our initial descent."
"Indeed," Bartlet murmers to himself.
- Once they land, it turns out they do not have access to equipment needed to get the President off the plane. Bartlet sits quietly while the doctors discuss his medical condition and his staff discuss the equipment problems. Finally he turns to his new Body Man, who it turns out is a big guy. The President calls him over with a nod,
- "Tell me your name one more time."
"Okay. How much can you bench press, Curtis?"
"Quite a bit, sir."
"How about we stage a prison break."
"Absolutely," he says as he reaches down to pick up the President.
It isn't easy and as they prepare to go down the stairs, Bartlet warns him, "You drop me, that's a moment that follows you the rest of your life."
- Meanwhile back at the West Wing, the Program Manager for Near Earth Objects Observation from NASA nervously tells Josh,
- "There's an object coming toward the Earth
"From the sky?"
"An asteroid: AS00267."
"There are a lot of asteroids in the sky --- from my limited understanding."
"Thousands... The LINEAR Observatory in New Mexico recorded a series of images yesterday that were analysed overnight by the Minor Planets Center in Cambridge and their data was posted on the NEO Confirmation page
to be verified by astronomers across the globe, myself included. Now, our calculations could be wrong --- but if they're not --- they indicate that an object following that trajectory would strike the Earth in 48 hours --- 46."
"And this asteroid is---"
Josh calls for the NASA Administrator and Leo. Later Josh sums up what they know, "So, we may be hit with a hunk of intergalactic rock, but we don't know when or where and there's no more information coming because in Maui it's cloudy?"
- And in China, Bartlet finds he isn't up to as much as he had hoped. He gives C.J. a sign to get him out of a meeting and C.J. has the perfect excuse since she just took a call from Leo,
- "You should get back to him if you're up to it."
"It's bound to be better news than what's happening here."
"Oh, you'd be amazed."
- And in the West Wing Donna has been trying to have a private meeting with Josh for days, if not weeks, but something always interferes. She had scheduled them to have lunch today but that isn't going to happen she realizes so she tells him,
- "Can we do this now?"
"The conversation that was supposed to have over lunch but that ship sailed so lets just have it now."
"Can't. World ending."
"I thought it wasn't hitting."
"I thought there's nothing you can do."
"There isn't. Doesn't mean the situation's not to be monitored closely."
"Tomorrow. Lunch. Definitely."
- Josh does, however, make time to sit with Leo and discuss the upcoming election. They discuss Vinick and the pros and cons of Russell and Hoynes. They are not enthused about either of the currently announced candidates for the Democratic nomination for President.
- "What happened to the good old days when a couple of hacks with cigars chose the nominiee in a smoked filled back room."
"They didn't do so bad, did they?"
"...We need a back room."
"...we're it. You and me. This is the back room." Later Leo continues this thought tell Josh, "You pick the smartest, most capable, most honorable individual and you have a conversation. Ideally, before the New Hampshire filing deadline."
"I can't pick up and leave the White House to go run a campaign for some dark horse I pulled out of a corn field."
"I did. Come on. Who's on your wish list?"
"...There's this one guy --- No. It's a stupid idea."
"There are no stupid ideas. Well, there are; I don't know why people say that, but give it a whirl."
"The President can't move his legs. NASA's wondering if the next Ice Age starts on Tuesday. I gotta stay here, got to finish what I started."
"It doesn't finish, Josh. It keeps going."
- Annabeth has to brief the press and that is not what she signed up for. Donna has been wanting that meeting to tell Josh she is moving on and finally she tells him that tomorrow there will be a temp at her desk. Bartlet isn't able to sit through meetings and President Lian is walking all over the White House staff. Bartlet does figure out how to get his most important agenda discussed but at great cost to his health. And the asteroid doesn't hit. But Josh discovers a temp at Donna's desk. Obviously feeling lost, he goes to Leo:
- "Donna quit."
"You piss her off?"
"I don't know. She has a new job."
"Good for her. You see I tried to tell you this. People move on."
This gives Josh the push he needs to approach Santos about running for President.