The West Wing: In the Shadow of Two Gunmen, Part 1   Rewatch 
September 19, 2014 5:26 PM - Season 2, Episode 1 - Subscribe

All the President's men and women scramble in the chaotic wake of an assassination attempt that leaves some victims fighting for their lives. Meanwhile, as a manhunt continues, the wounded drift in and out of surgery recalling how Bartlet's team came together during the dark months of his longshot primary campaign. Elsewhere, the press department is hounded by the media for details of the shooting while a military crisis looms in Iraq.

Airdate: October 4, 2000
Director: Schlamme
Writer: Sorkin
Yeah Count: 52
So, Mandy was AT Rosslyn, and now she's not. One assumes she was quietly put to sleep, like the older Cunningham brother.

Previously, on the West Wing:
Gina's spidey sense is tingling, Hoynes has regrets, and in Rosslyn lots of gunfire, screaming and chaos before FADE TO BLACK.
posted by ApathyGirl (7 comments total)
Recap, pt 1
And, sirens. A stream of vehicles and escorts are hauling ass down the highway towards the Lincoln Memorial. Bartlet, out of breath, is demanding the head of his Secret Service detail Ron Butterfield(who is a genuine badass in his own right) get Zoey on the radio so he can make sure she’s okay. Unfortunately, Zoey’s a little busy throwing up all over the back of her limo. The President is a little unhappy that Gina isn’t with her, until Ron explains, so patiently, that Gina did exactly what she was trained to do and stayed behind to help ID the shooters. Finally catching his breath, the President (POTUS) asks if anyone is dead, and notices Ron’s hand is all bandaged and bloody and promptly begins freaking out again and demands his driver turn around and go to the hospital. Ron tells him that’s not their protocol but the President wants what he wants and slumps over in his seat, revealing a gunshot somewhere under his jacket. Off to GW!

Back in Rosslyn it’s all first responders and sirens and CJ trying to convince the medic she’s fine and only hit her head when someone tackled her to the ground. She’s trying to find out if the President’s dead but he doesn’t know. Fortunately, here comes Sam the exposition fairy to tell her POTUS is on his way back to the white house with Zoey and Leo. Gina runs by to give the arriving ID agents the rundown on the teenage skinhead shooters, who then shut down the airports and other ports.

Checking in with Toby who can’t seem to find Josh. Charlie thinks Josh is in the car with Leo, but it turns out that Josh is sitting on the stairs with a gaping hole in his abdomen. I haven’t the words to describe Toby’s face as he yells for help. CJ and Sam come running as Josh collapses into the opening credits.

We open on the set of ER, where a head nurse is lightly bitching about irrational pregnant women. The phone rings, but not the normal phone, the POTUSPHONE! This does not alarm head nurse who seems to have regular practice at this drill but this time it isn’t a drill as secret service agents swarm the scene and the ER extras start hustling people out of the way, presumably because Clooney’s on his way in.

Back at the White House, Hoynes is doing his VPOTUS-ial duties and schmoozing the USC sports ball team for a photo op. In storms more Secret Service and whisk him away to an unknown location leaving reporters and visitors agape. Yet more Secret Service try to keep up with the FLOTUS as she runs out the North entrance into a waiting limo, asking doctor-y questions.
Back at the set of ER, POTUS has just arrived and is met by the trauma surgeon on duty who thinks everything looks pretty good for a gunshot and POTUS is still trying to get someone to let him talk to Zoey, and to look at Ron Butterfield’s bloody hand. There’s a minute of clever banter between Margaret and Mrs. Landingham as they hear the news of the shooting on tv.

Zoey finally arrives on set and there’s some nice father/daughter banter and a few bad jokes before Leo comes in to talk shop as they prep POTUS for surgery. Abbey arrives and talks medshop with the trauma guy and then goes and makes the anesthesiologist the 15th member of the I’ve Got a Secret club.

In the waiting room, Gina tells Leo she can’t remember what the signal guy looks like. Leo is reassuring her when the alarms sound and another gurney rolls in - it’s Josh, who is pretty sure he’s supposed to be in New Hampshire and not in this meeting.
posted by ApathyGirl at 5:33 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Recap, part 2
Wibbly wobbly timey wimey chyrons take us three years earlier, to the Capitol Hill offices of Senator John Hoynes of Texas, where a bunch of staffers and Josh are arguing about Social Security. Hoynes grumpy faces everyone before begging off to go vote and pulls Josh to pedeconference him to the elevator. Hoynes uses this time to tell Josh to get off back about the issues while Josh starts questioning what the hell he’s doing with this mook. Fortunately for Josh, here comes former labor secretary Leo McGarry to have chat about Josh’s dad (a lawyer in his own right and admonisher of squirrels) and to ask Josh to come to New Hampshire to hear candidate Jed Bartlett, a New England academic who’s running a distant fourth or fifth going into the democratic primary. Awash in obligation to his sick dad, Josh agrees.

Still three years ago, we pan around a conference table full of lawyers while head lawyer yammers about oil tankers, and hands off to Sam who appears to be doodling “I <3 Lisa” on his trapper keeper. Chyrons tell us we’re in the Midtown Manhattan offices of Gage Whitney Pace listening to a bunch of oil company weenies and their lawyers work out a deal to buy a fleet of shitty tankers with no liability for when they inevitably crash. This appears to be Sam’s particular area of expertise in this scene and he excuses himself to go get more details from his office only to find his old buddy Josh waiting for him. Sam blows off the oil people to go have a hot dog with Josh while the both muse about their meaningless jobs. Josh tries to convince Sam that Hoynes is worth working for, and certainly better than defending oil companies but Sam isn’t buying it since Hoynes is a morally bankrupt stuffed shirt. Josh mentions his upcoming trip to Nashua and wants to know if Bartlet is worthy if he should come tell Sam, and flashes his dimples. Sam flirts back and tells Josh he’s got a bad poker face, what with DOSE DIMPLES and all, and he’ll just know. They smile the smile of old friends and turn away, fading into Sam turn-bumping into a nurse on the set of ER.
Some guy in a suit updates Abbey on the president’s condition (he’s fine) and Josh’s (he’s so not, what with the bullet nicking his pulmonary artery) and she relays the news to the staff in the waiting room.

At the White House, Leo is talking with someone on the Joint Chiefs staff since Fitzwallace is on a plane headed back from Manila. They head into the Situation Room arriving the same time as the BAMF National Security Advisor Nancy McNally who thinks she looks like an idiot, having come from some sort of formal event. I adore her so much. Hoynes arrives, all the military in the room stand to salute the acting POTUS which clearly unsettles Hoynes. They get into the security briefing, and Hoynes talks tough about finding the kid who signaled the shooters in Rosslyn. Nancy mentions not knowing where a number of sleeper cells currently are, including Bin Laden but she’s not worried about that so much as sudden movement of the Iraqi armed forces and the shooting down of a US plane in the no-fly zone. Leo tries to minimize her evidence but she pushes and looks to Hoynes for a decision. As everyone at the table turns and fixes their headlights on Hoynes, he freezes and defers to Leo. Hmm, wonder if this will come up later? Leo sends a message to Iraq through backchannels telling them not to eff with us tonight.
posted by ApathyGirl at 6:08 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

While I'm normally not a huge fan of backstory episodes, I've always appreciated the looks at what brought the West Wing characters together. Since the show is so much about the staff, their relationships to each other, and their commitments to their work, filling in a little bit of the history makes it easier to care about these people and nicely sets up the personal side of the MS story.

And in the next episode, we get to see CJ fall into the pool, so what's not to like?
posted by zachlipton at 2:21 AM on September 20, 2014 [4 favorites]

I've fallen out of love with Sorkin over the years but goddamn the opening limo/hospital scene is just the greatest, even with the cheesy soundtrack/sound effects.
posted by kmz at 12:45 AM on September 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

That's a terrific scene. I'd also like to note the one-er that starts with her last exclamation of "Trauma one, blue!" All of the Secret Service taking over the er is a single shot until "Eagle's two minutes away" and the smash cut to the White House. 20 seconds of uncut frenetic action. You gotta figure John Wells had something to do with that as it's so very evocative of ER.
posted by aureliobuendia at 10:33 AM on September 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Just watched and here's my usual litany of amazement:

*Jane Lynch as a pushy reporter. Hi Jane! Please stop being mean to CJ.

* The only hug anyone gets on this terrible night is Ginger, from Toby. Like when Donna comes in the room and finds out about Josh, no one hugs her. It's a statement, I think, about how shell-shocked everyone is, but it's also kind of ... cold.

* Though there's a sweet moment in the closing montage where Mrs. Landingham (who knows from loss) is holding Donna's hand.

* The shot on the New York sidewalk looks a little bit guerilla? Like they didn't have the space locked off and they just tried to get it as best they could.

* I've remarked before about how the President is an asshole (but he's our asshole!) but his first questions are about his family and friends, and his strongest desire is to see to the wellbeing of Josh.

* That little kiss on the cheek he gives to Leo is the sweetest thing ever.
posted by aureliobuendia at 11:33 AM on September 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

I love that bit with Nancy McNally "looking like an idiot" because she has an actual life outside of the Situation Room. BAMF, indeed.
posted by janell at 11:26 AM on September 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

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