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Hartsfield's Landing

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"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by Leo
The President (Martin Sheen) engages both Sam (Rob Lowe) and Toby (Richard Schiff) in intricate chess matches that underscore the wily game of brinkmanship Bartlet is playing with the Chinese who threaten to turn their war games in the Taiwan Strait into the real thing if Taiwan begins test-firing their new U.S. Patriot defense missiles. Meanwhile, Josh (Bradley Whitford) is edgy about every vote out of the 42 cast in a remote New Hampshire burg that are counted immediately and always predict the winner of the day's crucial state primary. Elsewhere, a mischievous C.J. (Allison Janney) tries to upset Charlie (Dulé Hill) by not accounting for her copy of the President's top-secret daily schedule - prompting a war of mischievous games and tricks.

Summary Edit

Opening - Andrews Air Force Base, 8:40pm ESTEdit

The President exits Air Force One after returning from a trip to India.  He speaks briefly with the press, talking about the history of chess - when C.J. (standing nearby) gets a call from Leo.  He wants the President back - there is a crisis developing with China.  Taiwan is preparing to test missiles and China is reacting with increased military activity in response.

Act IEdit

The President and Leo come to the Situation Room to get up to speed on the Taiwan-China faceoff.  The President is preparing to move ships from the Seventh Fleet into the region.  C.J. is giving a briefing in the Press Room - where she is obviously being questioned on the China crisis.  She sees Charlie in the hall and asks for a copy of the President's schedule.  He makes her sign it out - as it has found its way into the Press Room twice.  She objects to this new layer of minutia but signs out the schedule. Josh is in his office and yells for Donna.  He has learned that two people in Hartsfield's Landing with whom they had contact in the last campaign are planning to vote for Governor Ritchie and not the President.  Josh tells Donna to call them and see about getting them back into the Bartlet camp.  He reminds her that New Hampshire politics are retail politics.  She reminds him that she can't make the call from her desk - he sends her out to Lafayette Park to make the call.

Sam arrives in his office to find a chess set, a gift from the President - who arrives to challenge Sam to a game.  The President gives sets to both Toby and Sam in thanks for the State of the Union message.  Sam and the President talk about the India trip and the President moves the conversation to China and brings Sam inside on the issues.

Act IIEdit

Nancy and Leo meet with the Chinese Ambassador over the Taiwan issue.  The Ambassador makes it clear to both Nancy and Leo the moment the Taiwanese test their missiles, the Chinese will test theirs.  In the Oval Office, Leo directs C.J. to leak to selected press that the USS Carl Vinson will be doing a "passing exercise" - they want the Chinese media to pick it up.

Donna returns to the office to report to Josh that the Flenders will not be voting for the President.  Josh gives Donna some reasons why the Flenders should reconsider and sends her back out into the cold.

Charlie is looking around for his copy of the President's Private Schedule - he quickly realizes that C.J. has taken and hidden it on him. 

At the President's request, Toby comes to the Oval Office.  The President wants to get past the fight the two of them had the other night.  He challenges Toby to a game of chess on a set that he is giving to him.  Toby asks what they are going to talk about (if not China) - the President tells him, "Reelection and the Bartlet psychosis."  The conversation soons turn testy again when Toby steers the conversation back to Bartlet's father.

Act IIIEdit

Bartlet returns to his game with Sam and in addition to the chess game - Sam asks how the meeting with the Chinese Ambassador went.  The President asks Sam how he thinks it went.  Sam pretty much hits the nail on the head and Bartlet continues to tell Sam to "see the whole board."

Josh comes to see C.J. to ask her if she wants to get pizza.  They are getting ready for the Hartsfield's Landing vote.  She agrees and decides to call ahead - but Charlie has crazy glued her phone.  She realizes that she and Charlie are now in a full on practical joke war.

Leo comes to get the President - Nancy has an update on the China-Taiwan showdown.   After Nancy McNally leaves - the President tells Leo about the conversation he is having with Toby. 

Act IVEdit

C.J. returns to the White House with the pizza and sets off the alarms when she swipes her card.  Charlie has exchanged her card with his.  Leo comes to the lobby and tells the Secret Service to sign C.J. in with an appointment - and then tells C.J. to be in her office in 15 minutes.

Donna is on the phone outside the White House still trying to convince the Flenders to vote for the President.  Josh comes out and tells Donna to let the Flenders off the hook.  He gets on the phone and has a conversation with Mackie Flender and tells him thanks and to go and vote.

C.J. comes to her office to find Charlie - he tells her that Leo told him to be there.  Leo comes in and asks what the two of them are up to.  Leo tells them that it's over - the two of them agree.  C.J. turns around and puts some files on her desk, which collapses, because Charlie has sawed the legs.

The President returns to Sam's office - Sam has been doing research on the long US relationship with China and Taiwan.  He questions how tonight's crisis will resolve.  Leo arrives with a slip of paper that has the results.  Sam asks to guess what is on the slip of paper before reading it.  He gets it right in all essentials.

The President ends the conversation telling Sam that he will run for president one day, that he shouldn't be scared, that he can do it, and that the President believes in him. Their chess game ends with the President putting Sam in checkmate.

Trivia / Goofs Edit

  • The vote taking place at Hartsfield's Landing is ambiguous. Chronologically, the episode occurs during the primaries and not on the day of the general election. Yet Donna's conversations indicate that the voters are choosing between a Republican and the President as if they were voting in the general election. This could be because in New Hampshire, as of the episode's release date, those not registered with any party are free to vote in any party's primary election.
  • The community of Hartsfield's Landing is the fictional equivalent of Dixville Notch, a small town in New Hampshire that always casts the first votes in a presidential election
  • Some DVD versions misspell the episode name as "HEARTSFIELD'S LANDING" on the insert.

Quotes Edit

C.J. Cregg:  The anal retentive side of you is not going to help you get girls.
Charlie Young:  I do OK.
President Bartlet:  Plus, guess what? 
Sam Seaborn:  What?
President Bartlet:  The Patriot tests aren't why China is showing their teeth.
Sam Seaborn:  They're not?
President Bartlet:  No.
Sam Seaborn:  Why are they?
President Bartlet:  You ready to come inside?
Sam Seaborn:  Yes sir.
President Bartlet:  By the end of the week, Taiwan going to announce they are holding their first free elections.
Sam Seaborn:  You're kidding.
President Bartlet:  [looks down at the chess board and the game he is playing with Sam] Defend your queen.
President Bartlet:  See the whole board.
Nancy McNally: Sir, the carriers are 35 minutes from the Strait now.
President Bartlet: All right. [to Leo] You can bring the ambassador back now and get Beijing. 
Nancy McNally: I’m sorry, sir, it’s a formality, but... 
Leo McGarry: She needs the order.
President Bartlet: The Aegis Destroyers.
Nancy McNally: Yes, sir. Just out of curiosity, what if that doesn’t work? 
President Bartlet: I don’t know, but for sure we’re gonna blame you.
Nancy McNally: Yes, sir.
Toby Ziegler: You’re a good father, you don’t have to act like it. You’re the President, you don’t have to act like it. You’re a good man, you don’t have to act like it. You’re not just folks, you’re not plain-spoken... Do not – do not – do not act like it!
President Bartlet: I don’t want to be killed. 
Toby Ziegler: Then make this election about smart, and not... Make it about engaged, and not. Qualified, and not. Make it about a heavyweight. You’re a heavyweight. And you’ve been holding me up for too many rounds. 
Sam Seaborn: I’d like to try it without looking at the note.
President Bartlet: Okay.
Sam Seaborn: China agrees to stand down the war games.
President Bartlet: Right.
Sam Seaborn: And they agree to let Taiwan test the Patriots. One Patriot.
President Bartlet: Yes.
Sam Seaborn: And we... Please, I want to be right about this. We agree not to sell Taiwan the Aegis Destroyers for a period of... I don’t know... five years.
President Bartlet: Ten years, but you’ve got it.
Sam Seaborn: Sir, the Aegis... the Aegis radar technology isn’t something that... I mean, what if Taiwan did fall to China? Now they have – plus these ships cost something like $800 million apiece. Buying four of them would eat half of Taiwan’s defense budget.
President Bartlet: And so...
Sam Seaborn: You never were going to sell them the destroyers.
President Bartlet: [shakes his head] But everybody wakes up alive in the morning and saves a little face.
Sam Seaborn: [amazed] I don’t know how you... I don’t know the word, I... don’t know how you do it.
President Bartlet: You have a lot of help. You listen to everybody and then you call the play. [rises to his feet] Sam. You’re gonna run for President one day. Don’t be scared. You can do it. I believe in you. [looks at the board] That’s checkmate.

Cast Edit


Guest StarringEdit