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The West Wing
Season 5 Descriptions



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5.1 7A WF 83429  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 09-24-03 Rerun 01-21-04

Resuming from last season's cliffhanger, the world watches the desperate search for the President's (Martin Sheen) abducted daughter while rival administrations form an uneasy alliance as they weigh options that might include a preemptive military strike at terrorist targets -- a move that could doom the victim. After President Bartlet invoked the 25th Amendment, House Speaker Walken (John Goodman) addresses the nation after the news breaks about Bartlet's assassination of a Qumari terrorist leader last year, more anti-American violence occurs overseas and the weary President gathers his family at the White House -- but faces losing their respect after news reports of the Qumari incident.

5.2 The Dogs of War  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 10-01-03 Rerun 01-28-04

The international crisis concerning the terrorist abduction of Bartlet's (Martin Sheen) daughter Zoey (Elisabeth Moss) reaches critical mass as Walken (John Goodman) presides over the bombardment of Qumari terrorist camps while the kidnappers issue a 24-hour deadline for the unlikely removal of American troops from Qumar. Elsewhere, Josh (Bradley Whitford) fumes over his perceived notion that the Republicans will exploit and push forward their own legislative agenda while Toby (Richard Schiff) visits his newborn twins -- even as he oversees the drafting of two presidential speeches that hinge on Zoey's fate.

5.3 Jefferson Lives  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 10-08-03

As a White House Fourth of July ceremony nears following a harrowing chapter in the nation's history, Bartlet (Martin Sheen) endures the painful process of nominating a proper candidate for vice president -- but his first choice is his secretary of state (William Devane) who faces a nasty uphill fight for approval. Elsewhere, Amy (Mary-Louise Parker) champions the reclusive First Lady's (Stockard Channing) violence prevention provisions for an upcoming bill while Abby withdraws from her husband after the Qumari assassination is exposed. In addition, a frustrated Josh (Bradley Whitford) reacts when is confronted by Amy and Donna (Janel Moloney) is appalled by the new intern Ryan (Jesse Bradford).

5.4 Han  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 10-22-03

A renowned North Korean pianist is greeted in the White House for a solo performance but the formalities hit a sour note when he slips a message to the President (Martin Sheen) stating that he wants to defect -- and despite CJ's (Allison Janney) passionate argument, others counsel Bartlet that doing so would endanger crucial ongoing negotiations with the nation. Also on the front burner, is the backstage campaign to get the President's choice for Vice President (Gary Cole) unanimously approved by both houses of Congress -- but there's one holdout whose nay vote could embarrass everyone. In addition, Toby (Richard Schiff) and Will (Joshua Malina) get playful while composing a speech and Donna (Janel Moloney) takes her Midwestern aunt and uncle for a tour.

5.5 Constituency of One  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 10-29-03

After Josh (Bradley Whitford) is hailed as the "101st Senator" in a newspaper profile, he butts heads with a conservative Idaho Democratic Senator (Tom Skerritt) who withholds his approval of a backlog of military promotions to secure an expensive but faulty missile launcher to be built in his home state. In the back corridors, Will (Joshua Malina) gets a flattering offer from the newly approved Vice President (Gary Cole) while CJ (Allison Janney) runs afoul of Leo's (John Spencer) temper when she does not stick to the administration's scripted line on an EPA report on coal-based energy. Likewise, Amy (Mary-Louise Parker) earns the President's (Martin Sheen) wrath when she pushes for funding of the First Lady's agenda on violence prevention while Toby (Richard Schiff) pieces together a message calendar to stay on point during Bartlet's second term.

5.6 Disaster Relief  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 11-05-03

Josh (Bradley Whitford) fears the worst after a political miscalculation costs the Democrats dearly as the President (Martin Sheen) is pre-occupied with a killer tornado in Oklahoma and flies there to lend his support but his compassion overrules good judgment and he stays longer than planned. Meanwhile, a worried Leo (John Spencer) has several crises back home that need the president's immediate attention. Donna (Janel Moloney) keeps an eye out for Josh's welfare after he becomes Washington's latest persona non grata.

5.7 Separation of Powers  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 11-12-03

As the President's (Martin Sheen) staff wrangle with Speaker Haffley (Steven Culp) over the pending federal budget, Toby (Richard Schiff) dispatches former Supreme Court clerk and personal friend Joe Quincy (Matthew Perry) to check on the condition of the stricken Chief Justice (Milo O'Shea) -- an ancient Supreme Court icon who has Washington wondering if he will finally step down. As the clock ticks on a new budget, hard-charging Angela (Michael Hyatt) faces a mighty challenge as she tries to hammer out an agreement that could compromise Bartlet's campaign promises. But the President is also focused on a crucial national TV interview that Zoey (Elisabeth Moss) has agreed to tape with a well-known newswoman (Kathrin Lautner) with a knack for exposing raw emotions.

5.8 Shutdown  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 11-19-03

A disastrous fiscal crisis looms when the Federal government is shut down after the President (Martin Sheen) engages in a war of wills between the powerful G.O.P. House Speaker (Steven Culp) over an extra two percent in budget reductions that would trim many of Bartlet's key social programs -- and the Democrats are blamed because of opinion polls. As Leo (John Spencer), Josh (Bradley Whitford) and Toby (Richard Schiff) send everyone home, they remain uneasy as the President refuses to compromise -- until he arrives on a bold plan to personally and publicly challenge the Republicans in the halls of the Capitol. Meanwhile, Abbey (Stockard Channing) suddenly reappears from her self-imposed exile for a State dinner that she might have to cook herself.

5.9 Abu el Banat  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 12-03-03 Rerun 12-22-04

The festive Christmas spirit at the annual White House tree-lighting is dimmed when the President (Martin Sheen) learns that Christian relief workers have been jailed in Islamic northern Sudan while he welcomes his three headstrong daughters -- including the returning Zoey (Elisabeth Moss) -- and is surprised to learn that his son-in-law (Steven Eckholdt) wants to run for Congress in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, when the licenses of some doctors in Oregon are suspended after they administer drugs in an assisted suicide, Toby (Richard Schiff) tries to keep the administration from being bogged down in a debate -- and clashes with Will (Joshua Malina) when he tries to convince the Vice President to address the political hot potato.

5.10 The Stormy Present  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 01-07-04

Bartlet (Martin Sheen) clears his schedule to attend the funeral of a former President whose conservative views often clashed with his own while he monitors a potential firestorm in Saudi Arabia as freedom protesters threaten civil war and surround a worker's compound that includes dozens of Americans. Elsewhere, Josh (Bradley Whitford) mediates a post-Civil War fracas between a representative from North Carolina who demands that her Connecticut counterpart return her state's copy of the Bill of Rights -- stolen long ago by a Union soldier -- and C.J. (Allison Janney) is flustered after meeting a Pentagon scientist whose security innovations could threaten privacy. En route to the funeral, Bartlet shares sobering thoughts with two other men who appreciate the weight of the Oval Office -- Speaker Walker (John Goodman) and ex-President Newman (James Cromwell).

5.11 The Benign Prerogative  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 01-14-04

As the State of the Union speech nears, the President (Martin Sheen) ponders a lengthy list of prisoners eligible for pardon -- but he must weigh the political implications of "the benign prerogative" -- while Charlie (Dulé Hill) befriends an attractive young woman (Gabrielle Union) and shares insider tidbits until he learns that she will begin the White House beat as a reporter. Elsewhere, Toby (Richard Schiff) takes the heartland's temperature by joining pollster Joey (Marlee Matlin) on a mall polling tour that could affect the language of the upcoming speech. In addition, the First Lady (Stockard Channing) vows to be more pro-active in influencing her husband while Bartlet entertains a Colorado couple whose fundraising efforts also include an impassioned plea.

5.12 Slow News Day  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 02-04-04

Toby (Richard Schiff) convinces the President (Martin Sheen) to secretly sanction his solo effort to make history by reforming Social Security but his efforts to recruit a Republican Senator and a Democratic cohort are leaked -- forcing the administration to back-pedal while Josh (Bradley Whitford) and Leo (John Spencer) are left clueless and stewing. Meanwhile, an equally ignorant C.J. (Alison Janney) parries with a reporter who is ready to print all the backstage details. In addition, the female staffers complain to Josh about the new hire -- a mysterious, seductively dressed woman assigned to Toby.

5.13 The Warfare of Genghis Khan  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate mo-dy-yr Rerun 02-11-04

When the flash of a secret nuclear detonation is detected over the Indian Ocean, the President (Martin Sheen) scrambles his inner circle to investigate which nation now has the atomic bomb -- and since conventional thinking favors Iran, Bartlet orders bombers into the air to destroy that nation's most likely uranium-enriched targets. Elsewhere, Josh (Bradley Whitford) tongue-lashes NASA eggheads on the future of space exploration until he is introduced to the wonders of heavenly bodies by an attractive female administrator. In addition, C.J. (Allison Janney) fumes when a combative TV talk-show host denigrates her on the air and Will (Joshua Malina) suggests to the Vice President (Gary Cole) that he is considered a buffoon by the White House staff.

5.14 An Khe  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 02-18-04

When five crew members of an airborne Thunderchief are shot down by North Korean jets near the hostile country, Bartlet (Martin Sheen) dispatches an elite Navy SEAL team to retrieve them -- prompting Leo (John Spencer) to remember his own harrowing experience when he was downed as a pilot over North Vietnam. Leo's good friend and fellow flyer (Jeffrey DeMunn) saved his life and now is under fire for allegedly paying bribes to defense contractors to obtain military contracts. Meanwhile, C.J. (Allison Janney) accepts the challenge of dueling on live television with an opinionated and conservative talk show host (Jay Mohr); Josh (Bradley Whitford) fumes when he briefs the President about a contested tax cut for stay-at-home mothers and is undercut by the brash young Ryan (Jesse Bradford), and the Commander in Chief balks at posing for his official portrait.

5.15 Full Disclosure  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 02-25-04 Rerun 12-29-04

The Bartlet administration reels from press leaks that ex-Vice President Hoynes (Tim Matheson) is preparing a tell-all book that will embarrass the President (Martin Sheen) and Leo (John Spencer) as the Veep plans to make his own run for the White House. The news flash first stuns C.J. (Allison Janney) live on the air as she jousts with acerbic pundit Taylor Reid (Jay Mohr). Elsewhere, while Josh (Bradley Whitford) welcomes Washington's mayor (James Pickens, Jr.) to the White House to discuss school vouchers, Josh also faces a political firestorm when Ryan (Jesse Bradford) proposes closing a military base in a district belonging to a powerful Congressman. Toby (Richard Schiff) parleys with trade union bosses who get hung up over import safeguards for brassieres.

5.16 Eppur si muove  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 03-03-04

The President (Martin Sheen) explodes when a rival conservative congresswoman (Cherry Jones) seeks to torpedo funding for a controversial medical study by the National Insitute of Health by exposing the fact that Bartlet's daughter Ellie (Nina Siemaszko) is working there as a scientist. Meanwhile, as Toby (Richard Schiff) searches for the internal White House leak that led to Ellie's press scrutiny, Josh (Bradley Whitford) works to convince an old college friend (Michael Gaston) to stay the course for his blocked confirmation as a judge on the 6th Circuit federal court. Elsewhere, the First Lady (Stockard Channing) agrees to appear on an episode of "Sesame Street" with Elmo and Big Bird -- despite some political concerns from C.J. (Allison Janney).

5.17 The Supremes  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 03-24-04

When a Republican Supreme Court justice suddenly dies, the Bartlet administration scrambles to find a worthy replacement and the halls are flooded with candidates -- but the President (Martin Sheen) senses that the process is a political minefield until Josh (Bradley Whitford) hits upon a wild plan that could open the door for an unthinkable liberal (Glenn Close). The game continues as potential judicial nominees are marched in and out, some serving only as press decoys, but everyone gets curious when the President meets with a bright but conservative judge (William Fichtner).

5.18 Access  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 03-31-04

C.J.'s (Allison Janney) every move is recorded by a TV documentarian as a crew follows her through a "typical" day for a program on White House press secretaries past and present, but the presence of outsiders adds stress when a crisis involving a terrorist shootout with the FBI has a smiling C.J. trying to keep a lid on the story. Meanwhile, C.J. supervises her team as they prepare for a formal papal visit with the President and dodges hardball questions about the imminent future of the current FBI director.

5.19 Talking Points  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 04-21-04

On the eve of the President's (Martin Sheen) visit to a controversial trade summit in Brussels, Josh (Bradley Whitford) feels torn when he learns that free-trader Bartlet will reverse his position about sacrificing American jobs to foreign lands -- while C.J. (Allison Janney) takes out her frustrations with a new FCC ruling allowing multimedia companies increased ownership of TV stations. As the administration fights to spin the job-loss fallout, Donna (Janel Moloney) tells Josh about her dissatisfaction with her limited role on his staff. In the midst of it all, Kate Harper (Mary McCormack) steps in as the brash new Deputy National Security Advisor.

5.20 No Exit  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 04-28-04

After a black-tie dinner, the President (Martin Sheen) and his staff are locked down in the White House when a foreign substance is detected inside, forcing an odd coupling of peole who are forced to occupy small rooms where they share personal reflections -- and some turn confrontational when Toby (Richard Schiff) accuses Will (Joshua Malina) of backstabbing Bartlet. As the inspection continues, the President, Fiderer (Lily Tomlin) and Charlie (Dulé Hill) submit to intense inspection while in other corners, C.J. (Allison Janney) has strong career advice for Donna (Janel Moloney) and Josh (Bradley Whitford) queries security adviser Kate (Mary McCormack) on why his joke was deleted from the Chief's speech.

5.21 Gaza  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 05-12-04

A fact-finding tour to the hotly disputed Gaza Strip includes Donna (Janel Moloney), Admiral Fitzwallace (John Amos) and a few congressmen as they sort through the thicket of rival issues between the Palestinians and Israelis -- but the killing fields soon claim some of the delegation when a deadly bomb shatters their vehicle and has the President (Martin Sheen) considering targets for military action. In flashbacks, Donna is attracted to a dashing British photojournalist (Jason Isaacs) who opens her eyes to his graphic world of recording mankin's most heinous acts of violence.

5.22 Memorial Day  Credits  |  In Reality  |  Episode Page

Original Airdate 05-19-04 Rerun 10-20-04 8 p.m.

In the season finale, Gaza slayings of key U.S. officials might drag fuming President into unending cycle of violence -- In the season finale, events in the tinderbox Gaza Strip spin out of control after the murders of high-ranking U.S. officials as the angry President (Martin Sheen) weighs approrpiate military action -- even as Israel launches its own strikes and surrounds the Palestinian chairman, prompting more retaliatory terrorism. The dangers are compounded when Bartlet suddenly cannot communicate with the chairman and a strange undertow of intrigue finds a wary Josh (Bradley Whitford) meeting with a mysterious foreign operative while tending to Donna in Germany. Meanwhile, Bartlet dons a bulletproof vest and practices his sluggish fastball when he's called to throw the ceremonial first pitch at a game in Baltimore.

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