The West Wing

Season 4 Episode 18


Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Mar 26, 2003 on NBC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

Toby's old friend approaches him ready to blow the whistle on his employer's violations of environmental laws; staff pranks abound on Amy's first day at the office; Abbey charges Amy with the task of convincing the President to threaten a veto on a foreign aid bill containing an abortion gag rule provision; claiming that Abbey's ancestor was a pirate rather than a privateer, a prominent member threatens to mount a boycott of the D.A.R. dinner at which Zoey will be inducted until Will, C.J. and Amy devise a plan to defuse the situation; at the behest of Jean Paul, Zoey sends Charlie a "Dear John" email, but Charlie refuses to accept the brushoff and declares his love for Zoey; Donna is less than thrilled when Josh assigns her the job of shadowing a possible security risk at Zoey's D.A.R. inducttion; Will takes one for the team in putting an environmental and political face on the destruction and deaths which resulted from the melting of an Alaskan glacier.moreless

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  • Daughters of revolution

    Amy's first day as a first lady's chief staff and her life is maked hell by Josh and by the task she is given - she has to find way to make president threat ban that dear and controversial foreign aid bill. Ofcourse that does not works and to make first lady understand it is most of it about.

    Also there is some humor, mostly on the daughters of revolution gathering as one woman says she is going to boycott and Amy has to talk her coming..

    And then Charlie and Zoe.. that is interesting story line going in exciting way.

  • Another example of Sorkin wit.

    One of the most humorous, whimsical episodes ever. From the pranks on Amy (the pictures, the doors, etc.) to the \"Fracis Scott Key Key\" award to Marblehead this is textbook example of Sorkin\'s goofier sense of humor.

    Its also an example of Sorkin\'s continued bitterness over the cancellation of \"Sports Night.\" In one of the numerous examples of cast members, guest stars, and plot lines to be used in both shows. Will Baily (Joshua Molina) advises Charlie that he should decline Zooey\'s request that he stop pursuing her. In Season One episode of Sports Night ("Ordnance Tactics") Joshua Molina\'s character, Jeremy, attempts to break up with his girlfriend Natalie (Sabrina Lloyd). Citing the extreme stress and emotional turmoil he\'s been under, Natalie declines the break up, telling him he isn\'t being rational.moreless
  • The post-Sam era begins -- with a bang.

    In this exceptional episode, "Privateers" works because it contains the regular "West Wing" formula. Fast-paced storytelling amidst a large plethora of plotline dotted with intelligent and often comedic dialogue.

    "Privateers" begins and ends with the President and Mrs. Bartlet, more often than not discussing the current day, current events, and personal/political interests. What becomes apparent is that the theme of this episode is that Mrs. Bartlet wants to be more involved -- not necessarily more politically active, but more involved -- in the workings of the White House. When she gets her hand on the issue, which is a fine line between her being right and her looking to hard a situation that can be rectified later, she gives Amy the daunting task of getting Mrs. Bartlet's agenda heard. She wants Amy to effectively give the President a reason to reject his own bill because of a "sticky" amendment added to the bill by Republicans.

    When Amy approaches Josh regarding the situation, Josh kindly turns her down for seemingly common sensical reasons. Amy agrees and gives Abbey her reasoning. Abbey remains unconvinced and asks Amy to try again. She is again turned down, and Josh recognizes that she (Amy) does not agree with Abbey. When Amy goes overboard in her defensiveness, Abbey graciously calms her down and says, "Give me a little time."

    Both Stockard Channing and Mary-Louise Parker give phenomenal performances in this episode. Channing is especially convincing in her portrayal of a woman who is a bit overwhelmed, still, by her surroundings -- She is still not completely comfortable as First Lady in this White House. But she has the courage to try...and maybe, just maybe...bring some influence. Thus, her conversation at the end with the President was ultimately reassuring, satisfying, and a perfect touch to the episode.

    Multiple storylines fill the episode, from a suspicious whistle-blower who asks Josh and Toby for help to a woman who may snub the First Lady to the First Lady's daughter giving a snub to the President's body man. This episode is full of good stuff -- and great performances. A fantastic scene involving C.J. and uncontrollable laughter. A terrifically shot falling door (Amy's face -- priceless). And a respectful "turning down" of a Dear John letter.

    "Privateers" is a great episode, despite some nitpicks (mainly from somewhat pretentious and annoying character shots -- by this time, a classic Alex Graves ego trip). Actually, one of the best from Season 4.moreless
Jeff Perry

Jeff Perry

Burt Ganz

Guest Star

Andrea Savage

Andrea Savage

Heidi Choat

Guest Star

Amanda Carlin

Amanda Carlin

Hillary Toobin

Guest Star

Mary-Louise Parker

Mary-Louise Parker

Amy Gardner

Recurring Role

Elisabeth Moss

Elisabeth Moss

Zoey Bartlet

Recurring Role

Trent Ford

Trent Ford

Jean Paul

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

  • QUOTES (14)

    • Toby: How come he knows about the rule, but...
      Josh: Everybody knows about that.
      Toby: Was something else on your mind that moment in law school when they taught that rule? Were you distracted by a bumblebee?

    • Josh: It's a good package, and I'm celebrating tonight.
      Amy: With the Daughers of the American Revolution?
      Josh: The daughters of any revolution.

    • Charlie: I got a "Dear John" letter from Zoe. She breaking up with me again. An e-mail. It's a "Dear John" e-mail from my ex-girlfriend. This is going to be a high self-image day for me.

    • Will: Amy, we have a problem for your office.
      Amy: No, you can't, 'cause it's my first day and already Mrs. Bartlet has me overthrowing the government.

    • Will: I'm just telling you that if this day ends up with me face-to-face with Marion Cotesworth-Haye, I'm gonna, you know...
      CJ: Laugh inappropriately?
      Will: There's a very real possibility.

    • President Bartlet: They were able to show me an insulin molecule basically scoop up two zinc ions.
      Abbey: Before your very eyes.
      President Bartlet: You're a scientist and you're still making fun of this?
      Abbey: No. I'm making fun of you.

    • Abbey: You're up.
      President Bartlet: Yeah. What the hell's going on?
      Abbey: I gave you an extra hour. I checked the schedule and there's absolutely no reason why you couldn't sleep an extra hour.
      President Bartlet: I know, and when she called me at 5, I was going to say, "Call me back in an hour" and go back to sleep. I was going to do it myself.
      Abbey: You had a little plan.
      President Bartlet: Yeah, now I missed the whole thing.
      Abbey: I accidentally blew your plan and you had advisors on this and everything, didn't you? ...and you had memos from senior staff on "Operation Human Snooze Button".
      President Bartlet: "Operation Resting Eagle".
      Abbey: Oh, no. Please tell me you didn't really name it.
      President Bartlet: You know, I was having a little fun in my sleep. It's how I relax.

    • Abbey: Are you getting up at six tomorrow?
      Bartlet: No, I have to get up early.

    • Abbey: So, we're for freedom of speech everywhere but poor countries. Where they can have our help, but only if they live up to Clancy Bangert's moral standards?! What the hell kind of free world are you running?
      Bartlet: I really don't know Abbey, the day hasn't started yet.

    • Hendricks: So far we've evacuated 250 people but residents along the shores of the lake have been difficult to reach.
      Leo: Why?
      Hendricks: For one thing most of them don't have addresses anymore.

    • Amy: Am I being hazed? Is this a hazing? 'Cause I'll go along and everything but I have to see Josh again so...
      Will: It's not a hazing. They don't do that... except, yes, (to C.J.) you put olives in my jacket again.
      C.J.: I did. I did put olives in his jacket. But this is on the level.

    • C.J.: Mrs. Helena Hodsworth Hooter-Tooter of Braintree wants to organize a boycott of the reception and, well, there it is: Yes, Mrs. Bartlet descends from quite the murderous band of ruffians, and her membership in the DAR is suspect on those grounds. Or so believes the Boston Globe.

    • Amy: You're giving someone an award tonight. I'll explain on the way.
      Abbey: What award?
      Amy: The Francis Scott Key key. I didn't know you were related to pirates. That's pretty hot.
      Abbey: I'm related to a privateer. What is a Francis Scott...?
      Amy: I've written some remarks.

    • Leo: You don't want to stand here for a moment and reflect on the fact that a glacier melted this morning?
      Josh: Well, I would, Leo, but a glacier melted this morning, so at this point, Americans are simply trying to outrun it.

  • NOTES (1)


    • Josh: (to C.J. and Will Bailey) He got called by the Globe about Captain Feathersword.

      Captain Feathersword is a "friendly pirate" and a character in the immensely popular Austrailian childrens' entertainment group, the Wiggles.

    • Abbey: What's the trouble, Sheriff Taylor?

      Sheriff Taylor was a character on The Andy Griffith Show, a sitcom of the 1960s. He was an easy-going rural sheriff played by Andy Griffith.