The West Wing

Season 4 Episode 23

Twenty Five

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM May 14, 2003 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
120 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

When Bartlet learns that Zoey's kidnapping is the work of Qumari terrorists, he invokes the 25th amendment to diminish their leverage and eliminate any conflict of interest; since there's no Vice President, the power of the Presidency passes to Bartlet's chief political rival and the most powerful Republican in the country, the Speaker of the House, who immediately takes a very hard line; now that twins Huck and Molly have arrived, Toby wonders if he's capable of loving them enough.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.
  • About this episode

    It was depress. This had great directing.
  • Jed Batler walks out of the Oval Office as Aaron Sorking walks out of The West Wing. Coincidence?

    When you finish watching the episode you think Uau! How on earth are they gonna get out of this? And then you read on the papers that this was Aaron Sorkin's last episode on the series and suddenly everything makes sense.

    Let's suppose that Jed is Aaron and that Zoey, his daughter, is The West Wing series. The kidnappers are those main executives at the Network who showed Aaron the door and, who's the Speaker of the House? Very well, John Wells. It reminds you of a big metaphor.

    It seems that Aaron wanted this season to end like the Swan Song, "I'm gonna do my best and I'm gonna write this story in a way that it will be very difficult for you to solve, 'cause I'm leaving tonight".

    As we see Jed Batler temporarily transfering the Presidency and the Speaker taking the Oath, everybody at the Oval Office is thinking "isn't anything that we can do to avoid this nonsense?" But we don't know if it is Jed or Aaron they are thinking about.

    Jed walked out the Oval Office with his head high, with dignity, knowing that what he's done is the right thing, just as Aaron did.moreless
  • One of the best season endings...

    Wow.. I really really liked this episode.. I was going to much higher mark until the end what little ruined it for me but that's just that..

    The whole tension.. the white in usual black.. the way they run there and the reaction when you hear it.. and all of the story in early season.. I think it was first one.. and that really comes play now.. with that twist.. the whole atmosphere. I just have no words.. You can feel it watching.. I was most of the time almost starting crying.. they managed to bring it emotionally to the edge..

    And then Toby.. the talk with the babies.. that was a stunning.. A brilliant episode..moreless
  • Aaron Sorkin's swan song.

    I've never really liked the two-part finale to Season 4. I've always had this nagging feeling in the back of my head that Aaron Sorkin was trying to think of the most clever way to leave the show -- and he thought, "Why not get the President to leave office without leaving office?" I hope that's not true, but I doubt that it isn't.

    For Aaron Sorkin's last two episodes, he brought in many of the big guns. I was more than pleased to see Anna Deavere Smith and John Amos in the episode. I was pleased to see Elisabeth Moss (Zoey) and Timothy Busfield (Danny) in "Commencement". I was pleased to see Mary Louise Parker as Amy and Kathleen York as Andy (in "Commencement"). It was nice to see all of these familiar faces show up and have convincing storylines to give them.

    But I just can't get this nagging feeling out of my head. It seemed too clever, too symbolic to me. It also left the show in bad shape for Season 5 -- of which John Wells had to pick up the pieces. Although his two-part opening was a valiant effort, you could already see the differences that would later emerge unabated in the following episodes.

    Aaron Sorkin left the show in shambles. I can't help but think of the Palladino departure from Gilmore Girls (Season 6), where we see Lorelai Gilmore hitting rock bottom. I can't imagine this is how they wanted to leave the show. Was Sorkin really satisfied leaving the show like this?

    The show was well-written and well-acted, as per usual. What wasn't so usual about the episode was its lack of comedy (certainly appropriate) or its nearly unidimensional storyline. I always appreciate ensemble efforts with one storyline -- it gives a good sense on how all of the characters are connected. You can see how well The West Wing has done with its ensemble by watching the effort each of them does here.

    There's a scene between Leo and Bartlet. Bartlet tells Leo that he had this very scenario depicted to Zoey when she was "confronted" at a Georgetown bar. And now the situation has happened. Again, it comes back to that "clever, too clever" feeling I have. Some television shows get away with the pretentious overtones because they still care more about the quality of the product (The Sopranos comes quickly to mind). Others suffer because the arrogance is too hard to ignore. I think this two-part finale is an example of the latter scenario. As much as the episode is engrossing, riveting, even symbolic -- it's also contrived and conveniently personified. And when those feelings I get can't be counterargued or ignored, the episode no longer feels like an intelligent work. It feels like the work of someone trying too hard.

    I mourned Aaron Sorkin's departure, but not because of episodes like this one.moreless
  • Great!

    I just started watching the show and I want to get all the seasons on DVD now. IT is such a good show! This one really kept me on my feet wondering what was going to happen next and the way John Gooden came into the scene was masterful. I loved the way that he took control while at the same time leaving the audience amazed at what had just happened.moreless
Dan Manning

Dan Manning


Guest Star

Jon Van Ness

Jon Van Ness


Guest Star

Milt Tarver

Milt Tarver


Guest Star

Melissa Fitzgerald

Melissa Fitzgerald

Carol Fitzpatrick

Recurring Role

Randy Brooks

Randy Brooks

Arthur Leeds

Recurring Role

Charles Noland

Charles Noland


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • According to the 25th amendment and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the Speaker of the House would not truly become President of the United States. He would be known as the "Acting President". In fact, even if the President never resumed his duties the Speaker would never fully become President, but remain as acting president until the next presidential election. While the Speaker is seen taking the oath of office, that is not required by the Constitution or the succession act, either.

    • Bartlet: What is it they're gonna want? Bahji prisoners freed? We get out of Qumar? We get out of Kuhndu?

      The countries Qumar and Kuhndu and the Bahji terrorist cell are all made up.

    • This is the last episode that Aaron Sorkin wrote.

    • Bartlet says the 25th Amendment allows him to hand power to the next in the "constitutional line of succession." But there is no "constitutional line of succession" other than the vice president. All succession issues are dealt with in the 1947 succession act.

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Wes: Listen to me. You're gonna be fine. You are the key witness to the end of the world.

    • Leo: The babies are okay?
      Toby: Yeah. They're great. And if somebody was hurting them, I'd drop napalm on Yellowstone to get them to stop, letting some prisoners out of jail wouldn't be nothing, and I've known my kids for about 45 minutes.

    • Bartlet: Huck?
      Toby: And Molly.
      Bartlet: Nice. So what do you know now that you didn't know before?
      Toby: Babies come with hats.
      Bartlet: Yeah, they also come with those little theft protection devices, those little LoJacks on their ankles so they can't be boosted from the hospital. Man, don't ever let them take it off.

    • Toby (to the twins): I didn't realize babies come with hats. You guys crack me up. You don't have jobs, you can't walk or speak the language. You don't have a dollar in your pockets, but you got yourselves a hat, so everything's fine. I don't want to alarm you or anything, but I'm Dad. And for you, son, for you, this will be the last time I pass the buck, but I think it should be clear from the get-go that it was Mom who named you Huckleberry. I guess she was feeling like life doesn't present enough challenges to overcome on its own.

  • NOTES (8)

    • Additional Credit:
      Thank you to Chief Teresa C. Chambers and the men and women of the United States Parks Department

    • Music Featured In This Episode: - "Angel" by Massive Attack

    • When Toby is talking to the twins in the hospital room and the camera is on him it is quite clear that Huck has a pacifier in his mouth. When the camera changes to look at Huck the pacifier is gone.

    • Martin Sheen's son, actor Emilio Estevez, made an uncredited appearance as young Jed Bartlet in the home movies segment.

    • Alan Dale, who plays Secretary of Commerce Mitch Bryce in this episode, is the only actor to play roles in both the Bartlet and Palmer ("24") Cabinets. On "24", he played the Vice President. On both shows he had occasion to enact the 25th Amendment and remove the President from office.

    • Awards and Nominations: Episode won the 2003 Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (Christopher Misiano) Episode was nominated for the 2003 Emy for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Series (Janet Ashikaga, A.C.E.) Episode was nominated for the 2003 Emmy for Outstanding Single-Camera Sound Mixing for a Series (Gary D. Rogers, Dan Hiland, Patrick Hanson, C.A.S.) Episode was nominated for the 2003 Emmy in Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (Aaron Sorkin) Episode won the 2003 DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series Night (Christopher Misiano) Episode was nominated for the 2004 Eddie Award in the category of Best Edited One-Hour Series for Television (Janet Ashikaga A.C.E.)

    • In "Mr. Willis of Ohio", after Zoe gets harassed in a bar, Jed lectures her about her security and the possible problems that could occur if she doesn't take her protection seriously. The scenario that he outlines is the exact premise of "Twenty Five", in which he mentions predicting the kidnapping.

    • The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1967, reads as follows:
      "Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
      Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
      Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
      Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
      Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office."


    • Episode Title: "Twenty-Five" refers to the XXV Amendment to the US Constitution, which permits the president to temporarily tranfers his powers when he is unable to discharge the duties of the office.