The West Wing: Season 4, Episode 23

Twenty Five (14 May 2003)

TV Episode  |   |  Drama
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In the wake of his daughter's kidnapping, Bartlet must make a decision between being a father and being President.


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In the wake of his daughter's kidnapping, Bartlet must make a decision between being a father and being President.

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Release Date:

14 May 2003 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Series creator Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme final episode. See more »


When the Speaker of the House resigns from his office in order to be sworn in as President, Leo tells him he cannot "just go back" but has to be re-elected in two years. This is not true, because the Speaker does not have to be a current member of congress (so the house can just elect citizen Walken to be their speaker). Also because congressman Walken resigned his, congressional district can hold a special election, so he can be back in as little as six months as representative and within two weeks as Speaker. See more »


Glenallen Walken: Relax everybody. Breathe regular.
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Crazy Credits

Typically West Wing episodes open with a title credit using white lettering on black background. This episode, and the previous episode's ending "created by" credit have black lettering on white background. See more »


West Wing Main Title
Written by W.G. Snuffy Walden
Performed by Pete Anthony
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User Reviews

Season 4: Feels stuck in a rut and never forces its way to anywhere but settles for the usual tricks to get by on in the meantime
23 April 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

After a very sappy and self-satisfied first season I was happy to see this show settle down somewhat and not be quite so obvious and pleased with itself. The fourth season sees us heading into an election with the President carrying a morally dubious (and illegal) decision with him and I was looking forward to this pressing on the White House while the battle of an election year unfolds. It is strange then that, with these threads on the table going into the season, it actually seems a bit uncertain about what it is doing. The assassination remains in the background of the season and more could have been done with it just in terms of the characters but the bigger surprise for me was the election. Instead of being an impacting event it is pretty much done within a handful of episodes – compare this to the grueling reality of the campaign trail and the constant gameplay we see on the news. I was surprised and disappointed that it was over with so little fuss and so little consequence and I'm not sure why this was the case.

Outside of this we get some nice character-specific episode which are decent despite the show not really being one for strong character development – but at least it gives the cast something else to do apart from hitting their marks as the cameras move around the hallways. The result though is that the season feels fragmented because it doesn't seem to have a consistent stride to it – and at times it sinks back into sappy smugness. Plots and characters don't go anywhere and some characters just seem to not be around anymore with too much real reason – I understand with a big cast that trimming is needed and people may drop out, but the way it is mostly done is rather annoying and made me feel like I was supposed to be fine with it and that the writers took the easy options when they could. The final few episodes are almost hilariously over the top as we get an obvious plot twist towards a season finale – it is all very dramatic and worthy but it feels like a whole new show is happening out of nowhere.

The cast continue to be good but in many ways the writing lets them down this season. The character moments throws some good "out of office" moments to them but mostly they are at work and the lack of a consistent tone and thread limits them by throwing them around a bit. Sheen, Janney, Spencer, Whitford and others remain good but some new cast members struggle to make their mark, with Malina being given too much too soon while Parker tries to do crisply droll but doesn't quite pull it off and never feels like a real person. The parade of guest stars are a distraction rather than a bonus – Slater, Perry and others don't bring much to the show other than their names and faces. Goodman makes a dramatic showing towards the end of the season, hopefully season 5 will make good use of him and not just see him out the door with minimal fuss.

It isn't that the fourth season is bad (it isn't), it is just that it seems inconsequential. The plot threads aren't really made the most use of and it doesn't ever feel like it is going anywhere. This feeling is made all the more obvious by how nuts the final few episodes go as it seeks out a dramatic finish to bring people back for the next season. It will still please those looking for the show to do what it has always done, but it is disappointing that it seems to step backwards here rather than becoming stronger.

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