The West Wing

Season 1 Episode 3

A Proportional Response

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Oct 06, 1999 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
194 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Still seething over the downing of an American jet, a vengeful President Bartlet overrules the joint chiefs' plan for a "proportional" military strike. While Leo and other advisers try to cool off POTUS, C.J.scolds a wayward Sam over his potentially explosive private crusade with Laurie. In other news, Josh hires Charlie as a personal aide to the President.moreless

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  • It's what our fathers taught us.

    This is definitely the one that hooked me. I enjoyed the first two episodes but wasn't 100% sure the subject matter was going to keep me interested, but now I am. It started with the same humor I've come to expect and love from Sorkin.

    "You know what, CJ, I really think I'm the best judge of what I mean, you paranoid Berkeley shiksa feminista! ...well, that was way too far."

    "No, no. Well I've got a staff meeting to go to and so do you, you elitist Harvard fascist, missed the deans list two semesters in a row, Yankee jackass!"

    "Feel better getting that off your chest there CJ?"

    "I'm a whole new woman."

    While the comedy was great,

    "There is no law, there is no decency."

    "He's just getting that now."

    It was the drama that made this episode shine. I really got behind Bartlet in this episode, because in many ways I agree with him about the disproportional response. America does have the greatest military force on earth and the fact that we use it to do so much good should mean that those on their way to do good should be able to do so without fear of death. It was a plane full of doctors and nurses on their way to teach others how to become doctors and nurses, how much more altruistic can you get? And if an enemy has the gall to shoot down that plane they should expect more than a slap on the wrist.

    "Let the word ring forth from this time and this place, gentlemen, you kill an American, any American, we don't come back with a proportional response. We come back with total disaster!"

    But what I love about the show is that every issue has two pretty valid sides(exactly what politics is), and as soon as you mention civilian casualties things change pretty quickly. Though Bartlet's monologue about Rome still had me wishing they could have done more. But as Leo said it's the way a super power(the last one) should behave, has to behave.

    "It's what our fathers taught us."

    I even began to see the other side to Sam's situation with the call girl, though I still say he's almost crazy for doing it, I can see it might be more out of frustration with the system than his own personal agenda.

    "It's not like you didn't know you were going to be held to a higher standard when you took this job."

    "I don't mind being held to a higher standard I mind being held to a lower one."

    Also Charlie's(Dule Hill) introduction was done quite well, looking forward to seeing more of his character. Best episode so far for me.moreless
  • The West Wing Episode Review.

    In this third episode of the first season of hit TV series The West Wing Charlie Young is hired to be the personal aide to The President Of The United States Of America. Bartlet wants revenge for the death of friend and doctor brought the hands of terrorist . C.J. tries to save The White House Staff from embarrassment.Over all I thought the episode was really good none of the storylines where boring one of the best sense of the episode is when Charlie is Interviewed by Josh Great scene my over all rating for the episode is 10 out of 10moreless
  • Beautiful storyline, action for all the time - really catching and moving - and for all of those things - I love this show.

    A really good episode, taking the level up and up. It is a respond action for the end of last episode and the way the have portrait the feelings of president - his doubts but also his need for revenge. Maybe the way he get his personal feelings into this matter and then yells it out on everyone else. But he is not the only one who is having hard day. It seems that CJ is making everyone's life miserable but she has to - thinking about how they have to plan every move, every word they say and if something goes wrong, she is the one to explain it. I just adored that busy life what went on there.

    And Charlie - I started to like that character from the first moment.moreless
  • The President deals with the attack and Josh interviews Charlie.

    I thought that this episode of The West Wing was amazing. I always wondered how Charlie got his job. I just seen the first season of this show a while ago and always wondered how long Charlie was working for the President and excactly how he got it. I thought that the President was over reacting when he want the Joint Cheifs to draw up a different response then they had drew up for their attack. I thought that it was really funny to see C.J. argue with Josh then with Sam about the whole Laurie situation. It was nice of C.J. to keep Danny away from the story about Sam being friends with a call girl and give him a head start with another story.moreless
  • Season 1 episodes have a different feeling about them than other later episodes. But this is a great episode and I love it! I am an official Proud Paranoid Shiksa Feminista!moreless

    *The opening to this episode has got to be one of my favorites... It's just so hilarious when Josh finds CJ in his office, "Wow are you stupid!" And then their little exchange of names, that makes me laugh everytime. It really sets up their relationship.

    *The Proportional Response thing in this episode was great. It was sad, but it really showed Bartlet and his friendship with Leo. It was really good.

    *Charlie! Dule Hill is amazing, and there are some episodes when Charlie is my absolute favorite, but it never feels like Charlie has a really good story line. In the first season he's used great, but in the others he kind of goes away... I love the mention of Debbie! Consistency!

    *The thing with Mandy was funny too, and OMG, I love the whole thing about Bertram saying he would kill the president, or w/ever, and Toby leaking a quote to the reporters! Amazingly funny.

    *Danny! He's so great!

    *I love Sam. Barging into the interview with Josh and Charlie and telling him to sue them... classic.

    This is just a great episode, its new, it's fresh, it's great.moreless
Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen

President Jed Bartlet

Dule Hill

Dule Hill

Charlie Young

Allison Janney

Allison Janney

Claudia Jean "C.J." Cregg

Moira Kelly

Moira Kelly

Mandy Hampton (Episodes 1-22)

Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe

Sam Seaborn (Episodes 1-84)

Richard Schiff

Richard Schiff

Toby Ziegler

Jack Montoya

Jack Montoya

Floor Manager

Guest Star

Chad McKnight

Chad McKnight

Staffer #2

Guest Star

Rose Rollins

Rose Rollins


Guest Star

Timothy Busfield

Timothy Busfield

Danny Concannon

Recurring Role

Renée Estevez

Renée Estevez


Recurring Role

Kathryn Joosten

Kathryn Joosten

Delores Landingham

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Charlie: I've never felt like this before.
      Josh: It doesn't go away.

    • Bartlet: A disproportional response. Let the word ring forth from this time and this place, you kill an American, any American, we don't come back with a proportional response, we come back with total disaster!

    • Bartlet: Did you know that two thousand years ago a Roman citizen could walk across the face of the known world free of the fear of molestation? He could walk across the earth unharmed, cloaked only in the words 'Civis Romanis' I am a Roman citizen. So great was the retribution of Rome, universally understood as certain, should any harm befall even one of its citizens. Where was Morris' protection, or anyone else on that plane? Where is the retribution for the families and where is the warning to the rest of the world that Americans shall walk this earth unharmed, lest the clenched fist of the most mighty military force in the history of mankind comes crashing down on your house!? In other words, Leo, what the hell are we doing here?

    • Josh: I'm like a writer on a movie set.
      Donna: Have you ever been on a movie set?
      Josh: No, but I hear stories.

    • Josh: I really think I'm the best judge of what I mean, you paranoid Berkeley shiksa feminista! Whoa. That was way too far.
      C.J: No, no. Well, I've got a staff meeting to go to and so do you, you elitist, Harvard fascist missed-the-Dean's-list-two-semesters-in-a-row Yankee jackass!
      Josh: Feel better getting that off your chest there, C.J.?
      C.J.: I'm a whole new woman.

    • Donna: Is it possible that there's a situation involving Sam, a woman, and C.J. being denied information about something?
      Josh: (realizes what CJ wants with him) Ok. Here's what I'm gonna do.
      Donna: Hide in your office?
      Josh: No. I'm not gonna hide in my office. I'm gonna go into my office and devise a strategy. That is what I do. I'm a professional. I'm not a little boy. Donna: Hmm. That's the spirit.
      Josh: But if she calls, I'm at the dentist. I'll be back in an hour.
      Donna: (smirks) Got it.
      (Josh walks into his office and C.J. is already there)
      C.J.: (very upset) Wow, are you stupid!

    • Toby: Ordinarily we get help from inside Syrian intelligence.
      Bartlet: So what's the problem?
      Toby: We just blew up Syrian intelligence.
      Bartlet: Oh, for God's sake. Somebody get on the phone to CNN and find out if we hit anything.

    • Josh: What's the good of being in power if you're not going to haul your enemies in for questioning?

    • Jed: There's a delegation of cardiologists having their pictures taken in the Blue Room. You wouldn't think you could find a group of people more arrogant than the fifteen of us, but there they are, right upstairs in the Blue Room.

    • C.J.: Admiral Fitzwallace is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Leo McGarry is White House Chief of Staff, I'm your host, C.J.. Let's play our game.

  • NOTES (3)

    • This episode was the debut of Timothy Busfield's character, Danny Concannon.

    • Dulé Hill joins the cast as Charlie Young

    • This is the second script in which Aaron Sorkin has had a United States President ask "What is the virtue of a proportional response?". In "The American President" (which also starred Martin Sheen), Michael Douglas as President Andrew Shepherd says the same line as Martin Sheen does in this episode as President Josiah Bartlet. Sheen played Shepherd's chief of staff in "The American President."


    • C.J.: Menudo's in the building. I gotta go. Menudo was a Puerto Rican boy band of the 1980s and 1990s whose member list often changed. Ricky Martin was once a member.

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