The West Wing

Season 2 Episode 18

17 People

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Apr 04, 2001 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
144 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Toby, suspicious that there's something going on with the President, finds out about Bartlet's MS and informs Leo of the legal ramifications; Josh and Donna disagree about the date of their "anniversary"; Sam and Ainsley argue about the necessity of the ERA; staffers struggle to punch-up the speech the President will give at the White House Correspondents Dinner.moreless

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  • Riddle me this

    A great episode, but the timeline does not add up. In the Stackhouse filibuster, Josh is going to Florida to take in NY Mets spring training, so it has to be March. Six Days later Toby finds out about Jed\\\'s illness. That would make it Thursday, with a holiday weekend coming up. The only holiday in April is Easter and that is the 15th. Can anyone explain this to me?
  • What was discovered in six days and twenty-three minutes.

    Brilliant cold open. Toby's paranoia building up slowly throughout the week, offset by the steady rhythm of the ball bouncing, was an excellent piece of television. Toby's incredible performance continued throughout the episode, in his scenes with Bartlet and Leo.

    I don't often relate to Toby, so it was interesting to see him as the voice of all my own concerns. Toby's indignation was definitely righteous in my opinion. As terrible as deceiving the voters is, I think think keeping it from the staff is even worse. Leo, Josh, CJ, Toby, and Sam deserved to know that the man they were working so hard to get elected, had what could easily and without warning become a crippling and career ending disease. When Bartlet said he wouldn't apologize, I was close to losing it, and was fuming until he did actually say he was sorry, which was moving enough to earn him some points back with me, if not Toby.

    The scenes in the Oval obviously out shined what was going on in the rest of the West Wing, but there was still some great moments. Particularly Josh and Donna's storyline. I couldn't believe she went back to Dr. Feelgood after Josh hired her. I think she deserves the "snarking" Josh gives her every April with the flowers. Their moment near the end of the episode, in Josh's office, was a nice way to wrap up the storyline.

    Josh: "I'm just saying if you were in an accident, I wouldn't stop for a beer."

    Donna: "If you were in an accident, I wouldn't stop for red lights."

    Though Sam & Ainsley continued to give Josh & Donna a run for their money in the best onscreen chemistry title.

    Sam: "You're adorable."

    Ainsley: "Yet ill adored."

    Sam: "Go figure."

    Sam: "We're not making fun of the host."

    Ainsley: "Who are we making fun of?"

    Everyone: "Republicans!"

    9.5/10, the MS/reelection plot provided some amazing dramatic moments, while the other scenes added some excellent comic relief.moreless
  • Learning secrets..

    This episode really had that amazing sad and very hard tune and somehow the storyline when they tried to turn not funny speech into funny was almost like symbolic - they tried to turn funny a episode what was so serious.. and it all worked together so well.

    First and mostly Toby learning about president's condition and the affects it has had. I think noone else before thought that way. The reasons he had and when he accused Leo making decisions turning Pakistan crises.. It was all just amazing acting on that part.

    Then was the other storyline of people with that speech. And for me the best part was Donna when she said that if Josh would be in hospital, she would not stop for red lights. It was just so beautifully said.

    So, it was really beautiful episode.. very thoughtful...moreless
  • A major turning point in the story arc of President Bartlett's MS.

    One of the most dramatic and gripping episodes of The West Wing, with some superb performances and excellent writing. It's dark, ominous, full of recriminations and a key episode in the history of the show. Interestingly, it manages to stand out with a minimum of cast appearing - Alison Janney's CJ being the most notable absentee.
  • One of my all time favorites.

    There is no part of this episode that I didn't love. Toby was... it's hard to describe him, but Richard Schiff did an amazing job. Toby was just Toby, and I'm glad he finally found out about it. Plus I loved all the senior staff people gathering around trying to make it funny, if only CJ was there. Josh and Donna were amazing together, I loved there whole thing! And then Sam was great talking about the ERA, and Ainsley is probably the only person I could ever listen to and actually hear and accept her point as valid against the ERA. I just loved this episode so much, I am sure to watch it many times. The perfect mix of angst, sweetness, hilarity and so much more! GO WW!moreless
Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen

President Jed Bartlet

Dule Hill

Dule Hill

Charlie Young

Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe

Sam Seaborn (Episodes 1-84)

Richard Schiff

Richard Schiff

Toby Ziegler

John Spencer

John Spencer

Leo McGarry

Bradley Whitford

Bradley Whitford

Josh Lyman

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • When Toby refers to the shooting in Rosslyn, VA, he mentions it took place "last May" while in the episode "The Midterms," the shooting was clearly indicated to have taken place in August.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Sam: You're adorable.
      Ainsley: Yet ill adored.
      Sam: Go figure.

    • Sam: I flat out guarantee you that if men were biologically responsible for procreation, there'd be paid family leave in every Fortune 500.
      Ainsley: Sam, if men were biologically responsible for procreation, they'd fall down and die at the first sonogram.

    • Toby : Leo said you had an attack last year.
      Bartlet : Huh?
      Toby : Leo said you had an attack last year.
      Bartlet : Yeah.
      Toby : Couple of nights before the State of the Union.
      Bartlet : Yeah.
      Toby : Wasn't that also the night you saw satellite pictures of India moving on Kashmir?
      Bartlet : Yeah.
      Toby : India and Pakistan were staring each other down and control of some nuclear weapons had been put into field.
      Bartlet : Yeah.
      Toby : So in the middle of a-- I don't know what you call it.
      Bartlet : An episode.
      Toby : You were in the Situation Room as commander in chief.
      Bartlet : I know. I can't believe we're all still here.

    • Josh: Did you get the flowers?
      Donna: Yes, I did.
      Josh: Did you like them?
      Donna: They were very pretty.
      Josh: Do you know why I sent them?
      Donna: I know why you think you sent them to me.
      Josh: It's our anniversary.
      Donna: No, it's not.
      Josh: I'm the sort of guy who remembers those things!
      Donna: No, you're the sort of guy who sends a woman flowers to be mean. You're really the only person I've ever met who can do that.
      Josh: I'm quite something.
      Donna: Yes.
      Josh: I sent them to mark an occasion.
      Donna: Are we really going to do this every year?
      Josh: For I am a man of occasion.
      Donna: I started working for you in February, this is April, and you're an idiot.
      Josh: You started working for me once in February, and then you stopped for a while.
      Donna: Yes.
      Josh: Then you started working for me again in April. That's the one I choose to celebrate, because it's the only one where you started working for me and it wasn't followed by your not working, but rather going back to your boyfriend. And how in comparison to that and him you can call me mean is simply another in a long series...
      Donna: Oh, shut up! Honest to God, don't you ever get tired of the sound of your own voice?
      Josh: No. No, no, no.

    • Donna: Yes, you are better than my old boyfriend.

    • Bartlet: Toby's concerned that the peaceful solution I brokered in Kashmir last year was the result of a drug-induced haze.
      Leo: I was there with him. So was Fitz. So was Cashman, Hutchinson, Berryhill...
      Toby: Well, that's fantastic.
      Leo: Toby.
      Toby: None of you were elected!
      Bartlet: I was elected, they were appointed. Vice President was elected. He has the constitutional authority to assume my--
      Toby: Not last May. He didn't last May when you were under general anesthesia.
      Bartlet: That's because I never signed the letter but I don't think I got shot because I got MS.
      Toby: No, I don't think you did either, sir. I meant that during a night of extreme chaos and fear when we didn't yet know if we'd been the victims of domestic or foreign terrorism, or even an act of war there was uncertainty as to who was giving the national security orders and it was because you never signed the letter. So I'm led to wonder, given your condition and it's lack of predictability why there isn't simply a signed letter sitting in a file someplace. And the answer, of course, is that (chuckles once) if there was a-a signed letter sitting in a file someplace, somebody would ask why. The commander in chief had just been attacked, he was under a general anesthetic, a fugitive was at large, the manhunt included every federal state and local law enforcement agency. The Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware National Guard units were federalized. The KH-10s showed Republican Guard movement in southern Iraq. And 12 hours earlier an F-117was shot down in the no-fly and the vice president's authority was murky at best. The national security advisor and the secretary of state didn't know who they were taking their orders from. I wasn't in the Situation Room that night, but I'll bet all the money in my pockets against all the money in your pockets that it was Leo. Who no one elected! For 90 minutes that night there was a coup d'état in this country.
      Bartlet: And the walls came tumbling down. I feel fine, by the way, thanks for asking.
      Leo: Sir--
      Bartlet: No, Leo. Toby's concern for my health is moving me in ways--
      Toby: Mr. President--
      Bartlet: Shut up!

    • Josh: I'm just sayin', if you were in an accident, I wouldn't stop for a beer.
      Donna:If you were in an accident, I wouldn't stop for red lights.

    • Bartlet (to Toby): You know, your indignation would be a lot more interesting to me if it weren't quite so covered in crap. Are you pissed because I didn't say anything or are you pissed because there were 15 people who knew before you did?

  • NOTES (3)

    • The 17 people are: 1 The First Lady 2 Elizabeth 'Liz' Bartlet-Westin 3 Eleanor 'Ellie' Bartlet 4 Zoey Bartlet 5 the President's brother, John 6 Dr. Herman Virkram 7 Vice President John Hoynes 8 Admiral Fitzwallace 9 Leo McGarry 10 Dr. David Lee, the anesthesiologist at GW 11 Toby 12-16 other doctors and radiologists 17 and President Bartlet.

    • This episode has the smallest number of guest stars of any episode of the West Wing, with only Emily Procter in addition to the regulars.

    • Allison Janney does not appear in this episode.


    • Toby: Maybe, I thought, it was an Eisenhower-Nixon ...

      Toby refers to the Republican Party's dilemma at the end of President Eisenhower's first term. Eisenhower suffered a heart attack, but recovered enough to run again in 1956. Some Republicans feared that his health problem might cause independent voters to defect to the Democratic candidate, out of concern that Vice-President Nixon might take over one day. They suggested that Eisenhower drop Nixon from the ticket and choose someone more widely acceptable. Eisenhower refused to do so.

    • Donna: Knock knock. Who's there?Sam and his prostitute friend.

      This is an allusion to season one, when Sam was dating Laurie, a call girl.

    • Josh: Hey, Ado Annie, I sent you flowers!

      Ado Annie was a character from Oklahoma!. She was engaged to a man named Will but she continued to flirt with other men and it made Will jealous.

    • Sam: "Certainly not if Phyllis Schlafly over here has her way."

      For ten years, right-winger Phyllis Schlafly railed against the Equal Rights Amendment.