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The Wake Up Call

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"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by Leo

On Valentine's Day, an Iranian fighter jet accidentally shoots down a British passenger plane, killing 100 people, but C.J. is reluctant to awaken the President even as the hawkish British prime minister, Maureen Graty, considers bombing Iran's nuclear reactors in retaliation.  After learning that the passenger jet was mistaken for a U.S. spy plane, Bartlet calls in British ambassador Lord John Marbury, as they debate whether a strike is the perfect excuse to wipe out the atomic sites or if it will set back reform movements in the rogue nation.  Elsewhere: Abby and C.J. war over the President's schedule for rest; Toby and a legal professor try to pound out a new democratic constitution with representatives of Belarus, and everyone keeps dodging the traditional White House appointment with Miss Universe.

Summary Edit

Opening - 8:00 PMEdit

The President is sitting in the Oval Office listening to opera.  C.J. comes in and questions why he hasn't gone up to the residence.  The two talk about the Bartlets' plan to go to the opera the next evening.  She encourages him to go to bed and rest.  Back in her office, she tells Margaret to move the President's wake-up call to 8:30. 

Toby comes into C.J.'s office to introduce Lawrence Lessig, who is helping the Belorussians write a new Constitution.  The President comes in and, upon meeting Lessig, brings him back to the Oval Office to talk, despite C.J.'s plea that he get some rest.

Act I - 12:15 AMEdit

C.J. arrives home and gets into bed, only to be awakened three hours later by a phone call from Kate Harper, who calls to tell her that a British Airliner has disappeared from radar over the Caspian Sea after being off course, and drifting into Iranian airspace.

4:55 AMEdit

C.J. is back at the White House and on the phone with the British Prime Minister, who is obviously angry at the idea that Iran may have shot down the plane.  Charlie arrives, and the two talk about next steps.  She leaves him and goes to the Situation Room, where Kate and Secretary Hutchinson are discussing what has happened.  C.J. comes in and they tell her the Iranians may have shot down the plane, mistaking it for an American surveillance aircraft.

C.J. and Kate walk back, and Kate tells C.J. that the President likes to have a heads-up if there is a chance that Prime Minister Graty might make decisions with international ramifications.  C.J. tells Kate that the President will be up in a few hours.

6:30 AMEdit

C.J. is back in her office going over her schedule with Margaret.  She then spies Toby in the Roosevelt Room working on the Belarus Constitution.  Kate then comes to her office with intel that Iranian jets intercepted the British airliner.  C.J. tells Margaret to wake the President.  She and Kate go and tell the President what has happened.

7:30 AMEdit

The President comes to the Oval Office, telling C.J. he needs to talk to the British PM.  C.J. tells him that she has already talked to her.  The President has several ideas on what to do next, most of which C.J. has already put in place.  He still wants to talk to the PM, who is on TV as the three walk into the Oval Office.

Act II - 8:05 AMEdit

The President is in the Oval Office, still angry at British Prime Minister Graty going on TV without having talked to him first.  But C.J. had not woken him, so Graty took it upon herself.  Bartlet is working himself into a frenzy and Kate and C.J. leave - where they find Abbey in C.J.'s office.  Abbey asks C.J. about why the President is up instead of still sleeping.  C.J. tells the First Lady that she let him sleep as long as she could.

Toby meets with the Belarus delegation, who begin to question him about things in the US Constitution.  Professor Lessig shows up shortly thereafter and they get to work.  Margaret calls Toby out to meet with C.J. , who tells Toby that he is going to need to brief the press and tentatively schedule some time with the networks, in case the President decides to address the nation.  She makes the point to Toby not to say "the President" has been monitoring the situation but to say "the White House."

In the hallway, Lord John Marbury appears looking for "Gerald" (he means Leo).  C.J. goes out to get him and brings him to the Oval Office, where the President and Kate are on the phone with Prime Minister Graty.  The three of them tell Lord John that Iran may have thought it was an American spy plane.  Marbury is surprised but tells them the Prime Minister will do what she has to do.

9:15 AMEdit

Toby is briefing the press and tiptoes around the subject of when the President was informed.  Annabeth, watching on TV, notices the feint, and comes to see Toby to question him about it.  Toby returns to the meeting with the Belorussians.

11:15 AMEdit

In the Oval Office, Marbury, Kate, and the President are talking about how to respond to Iran.  Abbey comes to the door of the Oval Office and asks Kate to step outside.  She tells Kate to go and get the President for a break.  Now.

Act III - 11:45 AMEdit

In the Oval Office, Marbury is holding forth to Kate, when C.J. arrives and asks where the President is.  Marbury tells C.J. the President is "on recess" and Kate takes C.J. aside to tell her what happened with the First Lady.  C.J. asks Margaret to find Charlie and to check if Leo is in yet.

Back at the meeting with the Belorussians, Toby is trying to impress upon them that they need to have vision, to think long term.  Annabeth arrives with Toby's "12:30," the reigning Miss World, from Bhutan.

C.J. tells Charlie to take several of her afternoon meetings.  Leo arrives and C.J. is apologetic, but asks if he will meet with the French, she will meet with "Chet" (the Iranians), and Kate will stay behind with Marbury.  Toby is meeting with Miss World and Annabeth brings a reporter by to distract him from a lead he has that the President wasn't on the morning call with the Prime Minister.

C.J. meets with "Chet," who speaks for the Iranians.  He cautions C.J. that the US must control the British if this is going to resolve itself.  Leo comes in from his meeting with the French and they both talk about how their respective meetings went.  They walk back to her office and talk about the new system in place to ensure the President gets enough rest.

The President comes in from his office, angry at the presidential candidates on TV declaring that Iran should be bombed in response to the airliner downing.  Bartlet raises his voice to C.J., who then asks Leo and Kate to leave the room so she can talk to the President.  He continues to go off about how he needed to be involved in the meetings, she tells him that it would not have necessarily made any difference.

Act IVEdit

Toby returns to the meeting with Lessig and the Belorussians, only to learn that Lessig is only giving them a framework, not an actual constitution, yet.

Leo comes to see the President, who complains to Leo that C.J. didn't wake him up.  Leo tells the President to stop and let C.J. do her job, so the President can do his.  C.J. finds Abbey and the two of them talk about the events of the day, and how the President is managing his illness.  C.J. tells Abbey that she makes her decisions based on what the President needs to know and when he needs to know it and that if she has a problem with how the President is managing his illness, she should take it up with him.

5:00 PMEdit

Marbury meets with the President and they tell him they intercepted transmissions from the Iranian pilots that they believed the plane was American and not a British airliner. C.J. interjects with a plan to go to the United Nations to pressure the Iranians to apologize.  The President, fresh from his talk with Leo, supports C.J.'s idea.

6:00 PMEdit

C.J. comes to Toby and tells him to give the reporter the "Tick-Tock," (a news media colloquialism, meaning a minute-by-minute description of an event).  She comes back to her office and talks to the President and tells him about how she plans to handle things in the future.  The President goes back into the Oval Office where Abbey is waiting for him.  The two argue and C.J. gets up and closes the door between the two offices while they argue.

Quotes Edit

C.J. Cregg: You're taking her to the opera?
President Bartlet: Verdi's Otello. Romantic, huh?
C.J. Cregg: Isn't that one where the guy kills his wife?
President Bartlet: It's in Italian. I'm hoping she won't notice.
C.J. Cregg: The United Britannia flight was shot down by two Iranian fighters.
Toby Ziegler: On purpose?
C.J. Cregg: We think it might've been a mistake. Kate's going to give you more. You need to brief.
Toby Ziegler: Okay.
C.J. Cregg: And tentatively set up some time with the networks. Graty's a little excited. He wants to distance himself.
Toby Ziegler: If he went on TV every time Graty blew a gasket...
C.J. Cregg: Tentatively schedule. And Toby, in the briefing...
Toby Ziegler: "Since the early hours of the morning, the President has done everything in his power to assist the British."
C.J. Cregg: Yeah, but don't say "President."
Toby Ziegler: The White House has done everything in its power...?
C.J. Cregg: Yeah.
Toby Ziegler: That's gonna make it sound like he got a good night's sleep.
C.J. Cregg: I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't raise your voice at me in front of the staff.
President Bartlet: I need to manage this crisis. I needed to be in those meetings.
C.J. Cregg: We handled the meetings.
President Bartlet: Yeah, you're right. I don't think my presence would've added much.
C.J. Cregg: You were up in the residence, sir; you were unavailable.
President Bartlet: All I have in this situation is influence. Influence and relationships. If you take those things away from me, I am powerless!
President Bartlet: She didn't wake me up this morning. I could have—
Leo McGarry: What? Prime Minister Grady thinks you are an intellectual snob. A Yankee Doodle windbag. Likely as not you would have made things worse.
President Bartlet: If an American dies and there is even the slightest suspicion of international intrigue, she's supposed to wake me.
Leo McGarry: Since when? If I had used that rule, you'd be dead by now of sleep deprivation.

Trivia / Goofs Edit

  • Lawrence Lessig is a real-life constitutional scholar who was involved in drafting an early version of the Georgian constitution. Episode writer Josh Singer took Lessig's Constitutional Law course at Harvard, and remembered an anecdote told during class. Lessig approved the script, which he felt captured 90% of what was important about "constitutionalism": building a society that respects the rule of law.
  • The tune Annabeth is humming for Valentine's Day while handing out chocolates is "My Funny Valentine," one of the most beloved songs on Kristin Chenoweth's first solo CD, Let Yourself Go. [1]
  • A running gag done by Annabeth is that she uses the word "ticktock." This is yet another sly reference to Kristin Chenoweth's character, Glinda, in "Wicked." [2]
  • The first time we see the British Prime Minister, Maureen Graty. Although we first heard her on the phone to President Bartlet in "The Dover Test", this is the first time she is named.
  • The times between the US, the UK and Iran are skewed. C.J. is awakened at 03:45 Eastern time by Kate telling her about the British plane being shot down. This would have been 08:45 GMT and 12:15 Tehran time, indicating the Iranian Air Force shot down the airliner in the middle of the day, which seems unlikely if they were thinking it was a U.S. spy plane. Later, when the radio transmissions come through to the President and Lord John Marbury we are told the Iranians could shoot the plane down at 02:33 GMT which would be 21:33 Eastern. [3]
  • The plausible reason offered for the shooting-down is that the plane, a 737, had a similar radar profile to a US RC 135 spy plane. The Caspian Sea is beyond the range of 737s ex London, apart from the very newest Next Gen models (relatively few of them were in service at the time of filming, and it's on the ragged edge of their range, so even then no airline would deploy a 737 on any route of that distance). The flight's destination was still some distance away, further exacerbating the problem.
  • C.J. says that the British are coordinating a search with Ukraine in the Caspian Sea, but Ukraine's coast is on the Black Sea, not the Caspian Sea.
  • Lawrence Lessig says British Prime Ministers are weak because they are "subject to shifting coalitions". However, the UK's electoral system ensures that one party normally gets a majority in the House of Commons, meaning coalitions are very rare.
  • UK Prime Minister Grady (along with several other characters) refers to her country as "Great Britain", which refers only to England, Scotland and Wales and excludes Northern Ireland. She is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Cast Edit


Special Guest StarsEdit

Guest StarringEdit


References Edit

"The West Wing" The Wake Up Call (2005)
The West Wing: The Wake Up Call
Movie Mistakes