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Take This Sabbath Day

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Take This Sabbath Day
Season 1
Episode 14
Written By Aaron Sorkin
Story By Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. &
Paul Redford and
Aaron Sorkin
Director Thomas Schlamme
Original Airdate February 9, 2000
Guest Stars: Marlee Matlin
Karl Malden
Noah Emmerich
Janel Moloney
Bill O'Brien
David Proval


After the Supreme Court refuses to stay the execution of a Federal prisoner convicted of killing two drug kingpins, President Bartlet must decide whether or not to commute his sentence in less than 48 hours, so he calls upon his sagacious childhood priest for guidance. Meanwhile, even Toby feels the heat over the controversial issue when he hears a sermon on capital punishment from his rabbi. Elsewhere, a hearing-challenged, combative campaign manager begs for an audience with the President when her Democratic congressional candidate has purposely been underfunded by his party before the upcoming election to unseat an incumbent.

Summary Edit

As the episode opens, lawyers are arguing before the Supreme Court. The Justices deny the writ of certiorari and the execution of a prisoner on death row (Simon Cruz). The lawyers want to find someone in the White House they can appeal to. One of them (Bobby Zane) suggests they call Sam Seaborn, as he "used to beat him up in school."

At the White House, Josh and Sam are readying for a weekend off when Sam reminds Josh that he is supposed to meet with Joey Lucas about O'Dwyer, who is running for Congress in the California 46th. Josh had been looking forward to a bachelor party that evening and did not want to have to come in on Saturday, which Donna concurs, because Josh cannot hold his liquor. Sam is determined to take the time off, threatening to leave both his pager and cell phone behind. As he starts to pull his door shut, his desk phone rings. Although he closes the door, he comes back and answers the phone.

Sam meets with Bobby and goes over the facts of the pending execution. Sam tells him that he will brief Toby and Toby will take it to the President. Bobby asks what temple Toby goes to and rushes off. Back at the White House, Sam tells Leo what is going on. Leo questions why the execution is not taking place until Monday morning when it is Friday evening and the Court has denied the writ. Sam explains that executions do not take place between sundown on Friday and sunup on Monday. "We don't execute people on the Sabbath," replies an astounded Leo.

On Saturday morning, Donna comes into the office and finds Josh passed out on the floor, completely disheveled from his night out. Not only is he hung over, he is filthy and she reminds him of his meeting with Joey Lucas. She begins to work at finding him new clothes.

Upon the President's return on Air Force One, Leo meets the group at Andrews and rides back with the President to bring him up to speed. In the next scene, Toby is sitting in temple when his pager goes off. He gets up to respond and calls Sam, who tells him about the appeal being denied and asks if his rabbi is giving a sermon on capital punishment. Toby says yes and tells Sam he is on his way.

Josh is sleeping at his desk when he is awakened by Kenny, who is screaming Joey's words at him (allowing Josh to finally understand that Joey Lucas is a woman and is deaf). Josh gets up to go change his clothes and Donna tells him that he needs to go see Sam because "they turned down the appeal."

In the residence, Leo is talking to President Bartlet about the Cruz case. Bartlet is clearly uncomfortable about being put in the situation. Bartlet asks Charlie to bring Father Thomas Cavanaugh to the White House to offer his counsel to the President. The Senior Staff is working through the Cruz issue while Josh and Joey are going back and forth about her candidate. She demands to see the President just as the President happens by. The President asks Joey about what should be done about Simon Cruz. Joey takes the opportunity to ask about her candidate. The President tells Joey that O'Dwyer is an empty shirt and if she gets someone worthwhile he will get interested.

Toby goes back to his temple and has a conversation with his rabbi about the Cruz case. Back at the White House, Mandy and C.J. go over what C.J.'s role would be in the Cruz case. In the Oval Office, Toby comes to see the President to make his case. Leo comes in and the President and Leo talk some more. Nancy tells the President that Sam would like to see him. The President tells Leo that he doesn't want to see him and Leo has to tell Sam "the President's done" and he cant do anything more about this right now.

Josh goes to see Kenny and Joey Lucas at the airport to talk to her and tells her the President would get interested if a better candidate came along. She asks Josh if the President gave him any names. Josh replies, "yes he did - you."

Back at the White House, Father Cavanaugh arrives and sits with President Bartlet. Cavanaugh asks him how many people were going to have to come to him before he would decide to commute the sentence. C.J. comes in and gives the President a note informing him that Cruz has been executed. Father Cavanaugh offers to hear Jed's confession, upon which Jed gets on his knees and begins to give Father Cavanaugh his confession.

Trivia Edit

  • The small bible used by Karl Malden's character is the same one he used in On the Waterfront (1954). [1]
  • This is one of the few episodes of the series that does not feature a "Previously on The West Wing" montage before the teaser.
  • This is the first episode to introduce the character of Joey Lucas, who became a recurring character through all seven seasons of the show.
  • In the DVD commentary, it is mentioned that Allison Janney was very sick during the shooting and had trouble getting through one scene. Luckily her character was supposed to be very upset in that episode.[2]

Goofs Edit

  • In the first season episode "Take this Sabbath Day", during Toby's discussion with his Rabbi, the Rabbi's arm position over the back of the pew changes repeatedly between shots. [3]
  • Joey Lucas states she is running a campaign against a conservative Republican who supports "amending the Bill of Rights to prohibit burning an American flag." The Bill of Rights are the first ten amendments to the Constitution. He can support amending the Constitution but not the Bill of Rights. We should keep in mind, however, that the purpose of such an amendment is to alter the breadth of the first amendment.
  • At the end of the episode Father Tom says that Jed was sent "a priest, a rabbi and a Quaker", however he has not met Toby, nor Joey Lucas, so could not know that Jed had spoken to people of two other faiths before talking to him.

Quotes Edit

Rabbi Glassman: He asked me if I had any influence over Toby Ziegler. I told him clearly he hadn't spent any time with Toby Ziegler.

Cast Edit

Starring

Special Guest StarEdit

Guest StarringEdit

Special Appearance ByEdit

Co-StarringEdit

References Edit

"The West Wing" Take This Sabbath Day (2000)

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