The West Wing

Season 5 Episode 21


Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM May 12, 2004 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
93 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Donna Moss, Percy Fitzwallace, Andrea Wyatt and a couple of congressmen are in the Middle East on a fact finding mission when their cars are blown up. President Bartlet considers possible military targets to bomb in retaliation. In flashbacks, we see Donna becoming attracted to British photojournalist Colin Ayres.moreless

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  • A fairly accurate description of reality in Israel (with some glaring flaws that only an Israeli might seem)

    First I would like to say that I have lived in Israel for the last 18 years and know the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation up close and personal. Many of my family members live in those territories that are considered, by the rest of the world as occupied. So my point of view is a bit different than that of the average American watching this episode. The story of this episode is based on a true event, that of an American delegation sent to Gaza that got blown up by a side rode bomb (the perpetrators were never captured). The West Wing manages to milk this for all the dramatics it can get, giving Donna a one night stand with a handsome photojournalist, having Josh rush to Germany to be at her side, having Jed mourn Fitzwallace etc.

    They got most of the details rights, when it comes to the people that Donna meets. Settlers usually are this determined that they have the religious and moral right to be there. I believe that the Palestinians living in Gaza would do anything to have a normal day where they can just go to work, go home, be with families and get paid at the end of the day\\month. That most of them dislike the terrorists simply because they can\'t have a normal life thanks to them. Yet it\'s the Israeli soldier (Yossi played by Zach Cohen) that bothers me since purple berets like him generally don\'t guard at check points - They\'re the one sent in to take out terrorist cells. But what annoys me the most is that this \"tour of grounds\" doesn\'t explore deeper issues like the Palestinian governments\' faliure to do it\'s share when it comes to fighting terrorists and serving it\'s people\'s needs. Yes, the episode doesn\'t lay the blame on one party but merely on the situation or at most blames the terrorists themselves. Yet something has to be said about places where lawlessness rules because of inept governing.

    All in all, the episodes portrayal is fairly effective and so say friends of mine who\'ve seen the episode. We get a real kick out any TV show that shows Israel in it (since we\'re such a small country that usually gets only bad coverage). So I\'d have to say that I liked it.moreless
  • Donna and the rest of the CODEL are caught in an explosion throwing the White House into a frenzy of action...

    Donna's begging has finally resulted in Josh sending her on an assignment that MEANS something...

    She takes it seriously and sends back a load of emails to Josh detailing what she is learning about the people and climate of GAZA... most of the episode is told in flashback as Josh is flying to Germany to be with Donna at the hospital. Colin, a photojournalist, who became Donna's paramour while she was in GAZA also flies to be with her and the tension starts to build. Lovely moments when Donna is 'interviewing' different people in GAZA, thanks to Colin's friends and connections.

    This is a VERY important episode in the Josh/Donna relationship. Amazing acting by all.moreless
Mary McCormack

Mary McCormack

Kate Harper

Guest Star

Zach Cohen

Zach Cohen


Guest Star

Novella Nelson

Novella Nelson

Gail Fitzwallace

Guest Star

John Amos

John Amos

Percy Fitzwallace

Recurring Role

Kathleen York

Kathleen York

Andrea Wyatt

Recurring Role

Ron Canada

Ron Canada

Ted Barrow

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • Goof: Donna and Colin are drinking juice in the bar after just meeting. As Colin picks up his glass of juice, his fingers are at the top of the glass as he starts talking to her. As she replies, the camera focuses on her and now Colin's fingers are now on the middle of his glass.

    • In this episode, Donna visits the settlement of Kfar Darom. The issue of evacuation arrises, and the settlers say that they will never leave it because they believe it's their moral obligation to stay there. In reality, several years later the IDF began evacuating settlers in the settlements surrounding Gaza, and Kfar Darom was the last stand of the settlers, who barricaded themselves in a synagogue in town and refused to be removed from the town. Eventually, the IDF broke the barricade and evacuated the settlers by force.
      More information on Kfar Darom can be found here:

    • Yossi, the Israeli border guard soldier Donna speaks with, tells her about two female soldiers who were killed by a terrorist in their barracks.

      This is in fact a true story. On the morning of the 24th of October 2003, a terrorist acting in the name of Hamas and Islamic Jihad infiltrated the IDF base at Netzarim (near the Gaza strip), and killed two female soldiers in their barracks. Their names were Sgt. Sarit Shnior and Sgt. Adi Osman, both nineteen years old. Also murdered in that incident was Sgt. Alon Avrahami, twenty years old.

    • The uniform worn by the Israeli border guard was accurate rendition of an IDF uniform apart from the head-cap. Soldiers at border passings wear full protective gear - which includes a ceramic bullet-proof protective vest, and a helmet.

    • Mrs. Fitzwallace is called Gail in this episode, but her husband referred to her as Laura in "The Dogs of War".

  • QUOTES (2)

    • President Bartlet: The Mideast reminds me of that old joke about the optimist and the pessimist. The pessimist says, "It can't get any worse!" The optimist says, "Oh yes it can!"

    • Fitzwallace: What do photographers say in the digital age, now that the old 'Come up and see my darkroom' line has gone the way of the dodo?

  • NOTES (3)

    • Music Featured In This Episode: - "Indra" by Thievery Corporation
      - "Way of the Mystic" by Angel Tears

    • Awards and Nominations: Episode was nominated for 2 Emmy Award for Outstanding Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series and Outstanding Single-Camera Sound Mixing for a Series. This episode was nominated for the 2005 ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Episodic TV Series (Thomas Del Ruth, A.S.C.).

    • When Josh finds out that Donna has a collapsed lung he says "Collapsed lung. That's no biggie, right?" This is a reference to the collapsed lung he survived through at the beginning of the second season.


    • Fitzwallace: What do photographers say in the digital age, now that the old 'Come up and see my darkroom' line has gone the way of the dodo?

      The dodo, Raphus cucullatus, was a large, flightless bird that inhabited the island of Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean. It was hunted to extinction by the late 17th century. Seafarers would stop at the island and kill the birds for food. It was likely a relic of the expansive evolutionary radiation that occured after the K/T extinction (Dinosaurs), only surviving because of isolation on the island.

    • Leo: It's a tar baby, Sisyphus.

      Sisyphus, Greek spelling Sisuphos, was a king in Greek mythology, who was cruel and punished by the gods. His punishment was to forever roll a large rock up a hill, only to have it roll back down when he neared the top.