The West Wing

Season 1 Episode 3

A Proportional Response

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Oct 06, 1999 on NBC

Episode Recap

This episode opens as Josh is beginning his day at work. Just as he is swiping his card in the lobby, Donna appears. Josh's Bullpen Area-- Donna tells Josh that C.J. is looking for him and Josh doesn't know why. Donna then asks for a raise, and Josh isn't too happy about hearing about it at that exact moment. After talking to Donna, Josh soon realizes that C.J. wants to speak to him about Sam and the call girl and wants to hide from her. He tells Donna to lie for him and open his office door. Who is sitting at his desk and not too happy, C.J. Josh's Office-- C.J. is extremely upset that Sam was with the call girl and she was not told about it. Donna had no idea that C.J. was in the office and Josh tells her she's not getting a raise now. C.J. and Josh begin arguing about Sam and Josh says that Sam didn't know she was a call girl. C.J. says that things like that don't matter to the press and they begin to call each other names. The two leave Josh's office for a staff meeting in Leo's office. Northwest Lobby-- As they head to the staff meeting, Toby appears and tells both C.J. and Josh about the night before. Bartlet still reeling from Toliver's death, was not a pleasant gentleman at a dinner that Toby attended with him. Josh jokingly tells C.J. that she should tell the President about Sam and the call girl. C.J. then informs Toby that she needs to speak to him about the incident. Oval Office-- Bartlet is still not in a good mood and now he's arguing with Leo about Cashman and Berryhill. He can't understand what is taking so long about drawing up a strike against Syria. Leo accuses Bartlet of taking the whole situation too personally. Bartlet cannot find his glasses anywhere and is taking it out on Mrs. Landingham. Leo's Office-- The whole group has gathered for a staff meeting. Sam reveals that a congressman named Bertram Coles was on a radio program in his district and said that the President was too weak on defense. Toby wants to get the man for treason. Leo says you can't arrest people for being mean to the President. Leo tells C.J. if an attack order is given today, they need a half-hour on each of the networks and tells Toby to work on a draft for the President. Toby wants to know what they are bombing and Leo says even he doesn't know. Hallway-- As the staff meeting ends, C.J. and Josh are discussing who they'll need to tell about the bombing first. C.J. then tells Sam that she needs to talk to him around lunchtime. As she walks away, he asks Toby if she knows and he tells Sam that she does. As Sam leaves, Toby notices a group of reporters. He walks over to them and they begin asking about the Bertram Coles radio program. Toby says they take all threats against the President seriously and he can't talk about it. Toby walks away with a slight smirk on his face. C.J.'s Office-- Sam goes to see what C.J. needs to talk to him about, even though he knows why. C.J. said if she figured it out, what makes him think that people in the press room couldn't figure it out. Sam says it isn't tawdry and that it shouldn't matter if he sees her again or not. C.J. tells him he cannot see her again no matter what and that she was supposed to have been his first phone call, not Josh or Toby. Sam tells C.J. that he thinks the problem C.J. is having about this is that she wasn't contacted first and nothing else. C.J. is visibly hurt by Sam's comments and she tells him to leave. Sam leaves and then hits the wall on his way back to his office. The Situation Room-- Bartlet and Leo arrive in the Situation Room and Admiral Fitzwallace begins to tell them about the three retaliatory scenarios they can use. He says they are comprehensive and meet the requirements of proportional response and pose minimal risk to Americans and assets. As Fitzwallace prepares to tell him of the first scenario, Bartlet questions the virtue of a proportional response. He says Syria knows that they are going to strike so what is this all about. Bartlet reveals his plan for disproportional response which is if you kill an American you will not be attacked by proportional response, you will be hit with a total disaster. Bartlet tells them to come up with a new scenario along those lines within an hour and leaves in anger. Roosevelt Room-- Josh begins a meeting with a young man named Charles "Charlie" Young who is interviewing for a job to be the personal aide to the President.. However, he thinks he's applying for a messenger job. Charlie cannot understand why he's been picked for an interview for this job. Charlie says things like: "Right, see, I came here, I was looking for a job as a messenger and I had an interview with Miss DiLaguardia and she told me to wait." Josh says "Yes, that's because we asked Miss DiLaguardia to keep an eye out. She's recommending you for a different job.... Personal aide to the President..." His grades are great and Josh doesn't understand why he isn't in college. Charlie reveals his mother was a police officer who was killed in the line of fire five months earlier. Situation Room-- Bartlet returns as Fitzwallace and the others have come up with another plan. This scenario would attack Hassan airport and cause major casualties and cripple the region's ability to get medical supplies and water. He also reveals that this strike would be seen abroad as an over-reaction by a first time commander-in-chief. This plan convinces Bartlet to think about the first plan called Pericles One that won't cause any casualties but will cripple their intelligence. He then orders the plan to be put into place. Roosevelt Room-- Josh is still interviewing Charlie about the personal aide job. Charlie still thinks it's because the messenger job isn't available anymore. Sam then walks in and begins talking to Charlie. Josh says he needs to ask him about Charlie's personal life and Sam says he doesn't actually have to do that. Josh and Sam leave the room and begin arguing about the questions he was asking Charlie. Toby walks up to them and says it's happening and they need to get to Leo's office. Leo's Office-- Leo enters the office and begins to tell the staff about what the bombing is about and when it will take place. C.J. says she has to speak with the President about this and Leo assures her that he will be available. After everyone leaves, Josh tells Leo about Charlie and the personal aide job. Josh likes him and wants to hire him but is afraid because Charlie is black. Leo tells him the Attorney General and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs are black so there isn't a problem. Josh says it's because of the visual of a black man holding the President's overnight bag. Leo says if he's the right man, hire him. Josh agrees and Admiral Fitzwallace is brought into the room. Fitzwallace tells Leo he has got to sit him down and talk to him about his actions. Leo says he doesn't know what to say and Fitzwallace says to tell him that it's always like this the first time and that he's doing fine. Leo then asks Fitzwallace about the idea of a young black man carrying around the bags for the President and Fitzwallace says as long as he's getting a decent wage and treat him with respect, he doesn't care. Toby's Office-- Sam and Toby are discussing what to include in the President's speech to the country. C.J. comes to the door and wants to know more about the missile being used. As C.J. leaves, Sam follows her into the hallway and tells C.J. he is sorry about what he said earlier. Hallway-- C.J. is questioned by reporters about what's going on and she reveals she can't say anything. As she goes to her office Danny Concannon is standing at her doorway and he needs to talk to her. C.J. says she can't talk to him about what's going on and he should know that. He says it's not about that. It turns out he knows about Sam and the call girl. Josh's Bullpen Area-- Josh is standing around with nothing to do and asks about Charlie. Turns out Charlie is filling out his forms at personnel. Behind Josh, Mandy appears in Josh's doorway and calls out to him. Josh wants to know why Donna can't tell him people are in his office. She said the first time she didn't know, the second time she didn't care. Josh's Office-- Mandy and Josh are discussing the bombing and Josh can't figure out why she's there. She has a present for him, it's a picture of them with Josh's face covered with magic marker. The two begin reminiscing about how they met and their relationship. C.J.'s Office-- Danny reveals he doesn't have enough to write a story about Sam and C.J. begins standing up for Sam's actions. Danny agrees to drop the story but says someone might find out about the situation and not be so nice about it. C.J. gets a phone call and tells Danny she's going to give him a 10 minute head start on the story because he's such a nice guy. Oval Office-- The office is filled with camera equipment and Bartlet is still mad because he can't find his glasses. Josh, who was giving Charlie a tour of where he would be working, enters the room along with Charlie. The staff is chatting with each other and Charlie tells Josh something and Josh tells him he needs to tell the President. Charlie tells the President that after overhearing the President talking about reading a report in his study, that's where his glasses are. Bartlet could care less when Josh tries to introduce him. Leo, fed up with Bartlet's actions, takes him into his office. Leo's Office-- Bartlet is called out on his actions by Leo. Bartlet wants to know why it isn't right for him to be able to attack Syria the way he wants instead of proportional response. Leo says America has to act like the super-power that it is, not like how Bartlet wants. He says we have to act how our fathers taught us. Then the two begin talking about Bertram Coles calling Bartlet out on the radio and how furious Toby is about it. Bartlet asks about the kid who told him where his glasses were and Leo tells him all about Charlie. Oval Office-- C.J. and Toby begin discussing the fact that someone told the press that the Secret Service is investigating Bertram Coles for threatening the President's life. Toby says he doesn't, but C.J. names a reporter who says she said Toby told the press about it. Charlie is asked back into the Oval Office by the President and he begins discussing how his mother was shot and he asks him to be his personal aide. The President then goes to his desk to begin his speech to the nation about the Syrian bombing earlier that day.