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'The West Wing' recap: No, you did NOT just do that to C.J.

Season 1 | Episode 11 | “Lord John Marbury” | Aired Jan 5, 2000

Let’s flash back to January 5, 2000, when we were all super grateful that our computers hadn’t melted down and caused airplanes to plummet from the sky.

Now that the Y2K threat is over, there’s a different type of crisis brewing: The Indian army has invaded Pakistani-held Kashmir territory with 300,000 troops. In a tense military briefing, the president asks the CIA director how they could possibly have missed seeing that many human beings amassing on the Kashmir border. The CIA director admits to dropping the ball. It seems to me that the CIA wasn’t aware that there was any kind of ball and were instead preparing for a swim meet.

The menfolk gather for an Oval Office strategy session on the conflict that breaks up when C.J. sticks her head in, unaware of what they’re discussing.

Josh, meanwhile, has been subpoenaed to give testimony in a deposition for Freedom Watch, the latest of many. “I’m a professional hostile witness,” he laments. Sam encourages Josh to take an attorney with him, but he shrugs it off.

Poor Sam then gets cornered by Mandy, who wants to take on Republican Mike Brace as a consulting client. She asks Sam to talk Josh and Toby into agreeing, flattering him by saying he’s the only senior staff member who wants to actually get things done rather than merely win.

CharlieIn the cute corner of the White House: Zoey asks Charlie if he ever gets a night off and says it’d be cool to go out sometimes. Charlie clarifies, “With me?” Unfortunately, he doesn’t get any nights off, but once she leaves, you can tell he’s intrigued by the offer.

At that day’s press briefing, a reporter asks C.J. about India’s troop movement, and she brushes it off, saying that’s ridiculous, and she was in the Oval Office 10 minutes ago, so if something had happened, she’d know. AWKWARD. OH, SO AWKWARD.

After the briefing, Toby and Leo fill C.J. in on the situation. She very quickly realizes this was what she walked into in the Oval Office, but no one saw fit to fill her in. But she’s an absolute professional about this grievous insult, where in a similar situation, I’d be a yelling, foot-stomping screech beast. (Mandy, in other words.)

Josh’s deposition with Freedom Watch is, surprise surprise, about his non-investigation into Lillienfield’s allegations about White House drug use. Freedom Watch is suing for records of the investigation under FOIA. Josh snaps that he doesn’t particularly want to play ball for this group that’s working to take down President Bartlet and his staff.

At the White House, the Bartlet Bunch is getting a briefing on India’s weapons capabilities. It’s horrifying, even before they get to what the expert promises is the “truly terrifying part.” In light of this, the president wants to bring in an India expert: Lord John Marbury. At this suggestion, Leo looks like he smelled something bad. (Which is funny, because I bet Lord Marbury himself smells fantastic.)

C.J.’s still angry because the press thinks not that she lied to them, but that her colleagues lied to her, which is in fact the case. She says was just starting to earn some credibility with the press corps, and that’s back to square one now. Toby says it’s because she’s seen as too friendly with the press, and they sent her in there blind, because they didn’t trust her to lie to the press.


Yes. Sure. Setting her up for professional humiliation is better than explaining the situation to her, as well as their misgivings about her relationships with the press *coughDannycough,* so she has the opportunity to conduct herself like the professional she is and they hired her to be. Shameful.

Following a not-great first day of depositions, Toby insists that Josh take Sam with him for part two. Good thing, too; the Freedom Watch lawyer starts asking for the names of any alcoholics in the White House. Sam and Josh refuse to answer. And then we get to it: Is Leo McGarry an alcoholic? And has he gotten treatment for Valium addiction? Claypool, the attorney, has Leo’s confidential treatment records and obviously already knows the answers.

At this point, Sam cuts the questioning short before Josh perjures himself, and on the way out, Josh commits some light assault and battery on Claypool. As they leave, Sam tells Claypool he’ll bust him like a piñata, which is my new favorite hilarious threat.

Back at the White House, Charlie bravely (if foolishly) asks the president how he’d feel about he and Zoey going out. The president tells him it’s the absolute worst time in the world to ask. And with that, Bartlet’s off to meet with ambassadors.

The Chinese ambassador says they’ll use whatever force is necessary to stop India. The Pakistani ambassador doesn’t want to hear the president’s suggestions of reasonable solutions. The Indian ambassador is equally entrenched. Thankfully, the president has a secret weapon: Lord John Marbury

MarburyI’ll level with you, Lord Marbury is AMAZING. He Jack Sparrows into the Oval Office, all loose-limbed and probably a little drunk, accuses Leo of being the butler, asks where he can light his cigarette, then tells Leo to call him “your lordship.” Marbury is a fantastic combination of intelligent, confident and condescending. He is my new spirit animal.

Less fun plots: Toby comes in to apologize to C.J., then sits in silence until CJ. snaps, “WELL??” He apologizes and admits that it was his decision to keep her out of the loop. She seems to accept, and forget what I said about Marbury. C.J. is both my hero and my professional role model. She keeps her cool but forcefully speaks up when necessary. We should all have such grace under pressure.

Now, the anti-role model: Mandy wants to know if Sam convinced anyone else to let her work for Mike Brace. He tells her the reactions weren’t good. (Toby’s response is disbelief, and when Sam asked Josh about it, Josh asked, “Is there another Mike Brace?”) Mandy starts to get all Mandy about things, and Sam finally comes down on her: You can work for us or you can work for them, but you can’t do both. She needs to be in it to win for the White House only. Man, I hate rooting against one of the two prominent female characters on this show, and yet…

Leo and President Bartlet are still talking about the Charlie/Zoey issue. Leo gently asks if it’s a racial problem, which the president denies. It’s the age difference, he says. Zoey’s 19, Charlie’s 21, and “a guy learns a lot in those two years.”

Then Bartlet has the same conversation with Charlie: It’s not because he’s black, it’s because he’s a guy. Then he gets serious and asks Charlie if he’s ready for a negative response from the public and kindly tells him, “You know what to do with the mail, right?”

And this week’s episode ends with the Bartlet Bunch (including C.J., thankfully) gathered as Marbury promises to stick around for as long as it takes to avert war, even if it takes months. Leo is not thrilled. Marbury just wants a light for his cigarette.


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