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The Birnam Wood

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"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by Leo

Bartlet has convinced Israel and Palestine to visit Camp David for a round of peace negotiations. Leo stays back in order to give the official okay to strike the Ein Hawa terrorist training camp in Syria.  The Peace Summit takes place over several days at Camp David, resulting in a major breakthrough at the end of the summit.

Summary Edit

Opening - Day TwoEdit

President Bartlet opens the summit by laying out the goals they hope to accomplish.  Back at the White House, C.J. briefs the press on the schedule of events and what has taken place at the summit already.  She turns the podium over to General Alexander, who informs the press about the attack that Bartlet authorized against Syria.  At Camp David, the President is told about the attack, and delivers the news to the summit participants.

Act IEdit

At the summit, Will, Kate, and Toby are discussing the negotiations.  Toby is adamant that Jerusalem cannot be a negotiating point.  The President comes in and asks where they are - they tell him they are stuck.  After they break up, Will asks Toby where Leo is.

C.J. comes to Leo's office at his request.  Leo is watching a tape of the Speaker on TV.  Leo tells C.J. they need to work harder to get their message out.  C.J. asks what the message is.

Back at the summit, the President meets with Chairman Farad and Prime Minister Zahavy.  They try to agree on some topics for the sub-groups to discuss - both Farad and Zahavy move to Jerusalem - and the discussion gets heated and Zahavy stands up to walk out.  Bartlet tells both of them to sit down and talk to each other - no one is leaving after one hour.

At the White House, Josh returns from Germany.  He and C.J. talk and then he goes to see Leo.  Josh asks him when he is going to Camp David, Leo defers but tells Josh that he needs to get up there right away.

Later, at the afternoon briefing, C.J. briefs the press on the morning discussions.  At the summit, Josh has arrived and is meeting with several of the principals

Act II - Day ThreeEdit

C.J. is again briefing the press on what has been taking place at the summit.  At the summit, the President is playing basketball with Senior Staff and is hearing  about what is being talked about in the sub-groups.  The President gives them a charge on how to proceed - he wants at least one agreement on anything, something they can build on.  Josh talks to the President and asks him if there is something else he can be doing (in Leo's absence).  After the Senior Staff walk away, Abbey asks Jed where Leo is.

In the afternoon sessions, little progress is being made.  Leo arrives at Camp David.  The Senior Staff brief the President on what has happened.  After the President leaves to dress for dinner - Toby and Josh tell Leo about what is happening and they urge him to talk to the President - they may have to call off the summit.

The Palestinian delegation is holding an evening prayer service, while inside one of the cabins, the US representatives and the Israeli delegation hold a Shabat dinner.

Act III - Day FourEdit

C.J. gives her briefing to the press - at the summit, Josh, Kate, and Toby are talking about ways to compromise.  They arrive to talk with Leo, who doesn't feel well.  They tell him about their ideas.  They decide they need to pull the Israeli Defense Minister out of the talks because he is an obstacle to an agreement.  Toby goes skeet shooting with him.  Josh and Kate meet with Prime Minister Zahavy to pitch their plan.  Zahavy thinks for a long moment about it and then agrees.  The Senior Staff inform the President about the agreement and he tells them what to do next.  Leo and the President talk and Leo tells him that they haven't gotten anywhere if they don't get a deal on Jerusalem.

Kate goes to see Chairman Farad and gets him to agree on a deal on the "right to return."  They go back to the President to tell him - and that leaves the "big one" - Jerusalem.  The President will run the negotiations on that point.  Bartlet starts with Farad, who doesn't want to budge at all on Jerusalem - he wants it under Palestinian control - Bartlet is proposing shared control.

Josh and Toby are talking about some of the issues, when Will walks up and tells them that Bartlet got Farad to agree.  Bartlet next talks to Prime Minister Zahavy who cannot agree to shared custody of Jerusalem.  Zahavy storms off.

Act IVEdit

The President meets with the staff to talk about what to do next now that the talks have broken down over Jerusalem.  Later, Kate comes to find Josh - she tells him to get Toby and Will and meet her in the cabin - she has an idea.  In the Aspen Cabin, Kate is explaining her plan to the President, Abbey, and the others (without Leo).  She suggests that the Palestinian sites in Jerusalem be giving "diplomatic status" and the Israelis would keep control of Jerusalem.  But the US and other nations would have to provide peacekeeping forces.

Leo wakes in his cabin - looking haggard and sickly.  He dresses and heads to the Aspen Cabin.  As they go around the room discussing the idea, Leo is brought up to speed - he doesn't think it will work.  Leo asks to speak to the President privately - they walk outside and they argue and Leo tells the President that perhaps he needs to resign.  The President snaps at him, telling him fine, he wants Leo's successor in place before he leaves.

The President goes back inside and Leo is stunned - Josh comes out to ask him if he's OK.  Leo tells Josh to get back inside and do whatever the President needs.  Josh turns and leaves and Leo grabs his chest.  The next morning, Leo is walking in the woods.  He is visibly in distress.  He suffers a massive heart attack and falls to the ground.

Day FiveEdit

The President comes to see Prime Minister Zahavy and the two men take a walk to try and reach a deal (based on Kate's plan).  C.J. comes to the podium at the White House to announce that a deal has been reached and that the President, the Prime Minister, and the Chairman will hold a ceremony in the Rose Garden later that day.

The President boards Marine One for the trip back to the White House.  The Senior Staff discuss the deal and how it might (or might not) work.  They wonder about Leo's reaction - no one has seen him this morning.  Josh tries to call him and in the woods, Leo's phone starts to ring as Marine One passes overhead.

Trivia / GoofsEdit

  • "Birnam wood" is referenced in "Macbeth": "SCENE IV. Country near Birnam wood." [1]
Quote: "We then heard from an anonymous source who said, "the gist is this: Macbeth is told he's safe until Birnam Wood shall come to Dunsinane Castle. He assumes that means he's safe forever, because the woods don't generally move (except in Tolkein, and this is Shakespeare, right?). But when Malcolm comes to fight Macbeth, he has each of his soldiers cut a bough from a tree and carry it with him. Thus his soldiers move to Dunsinane, Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane, and Macbeth is defeated. "When Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane - when the impossible happens - and it does." [2]
  • Some interior scenes were shot at the Thorpewood Retreat Center, in the Catoctin Mountains near Thurmont, MD - the actual "Camp David." Visit the Thorpewood site here: [3]
  • General Alexander says that the U.S. has bombed a terrorist training camp "in the Kingdom of Syria". Syria is not a kingdom; it is a republic. [4]
  • There is a terrorist attack in the Turkish town of Antalya. On the TV screen we see a Tel-Aviv ambulance treating the injured.
  • When Chairman Farad asks President Bartlett how his grandchildren are, and the president informs him that his granddaughter, Annie, had started high school the week before. In the pilot episode which aired five years prior Annie is revealed to be 12. Unless the president has more than one granddaughter named Annie she would be 17 when this aired, and thus should be in her last year of high school, not her first.

Quotes Edit

Leo McGarry: You, me, the Assistant Deputy Secretary for Fishery Exploitation; I don't care. We've got to get our message out.
C.J. Cregg: And what is our message?
Leo McGarry: "Shut up while we're trying to get them to stop killing each other."
President Bartlet: Stop it, both of you. Gentlemen, I have staked my personal credibility and the credibility of the United States on suggesting, perhaps foolishly, that the Israelis and the Palestinians are reasonable people who would like to at least try to resolve their differences peacefully: no one is going home after one hour of talks. Now then, the subgroups will begin on these four topics after lunch. Thank you.
Leo McGarry: I can't support this decision...
President Bartlet: We can't keep having this argument.
Leo McGarry: No sir, we can't. If my counsel is no longer of use to you, perhaps--
President Bartlet: So, if I disagree with your advice, you have to threaten me?
Leo McGarry: This is your own League of Nations and it will ruin you like it ruined Wilson.
President Bartlet: Okay. I'll need your successor in place before you leave.

Cast Edit

StarringEdit

Special Guest StarsEdit

Guest StarringEdit

Co-StarringEdit

ReferencesEdit

"The West Wing" The Birnam Wood (2004)
The West Wing Episode Guide http://www.westwingepguide.com/
The West Wing Unofficial Continuity Guide
The West Wing: The Birnam Wood