The season one finale and season 2 premiere of The West Wing never fails to give me chills
That last line of “Who’s been hit?!” Such desperation in what I assume was Ron Butterfield’s voice. Ron’s utter terror upon realizing the President has been hit. The way the limousine violently veers off half a second after Ron gives the order to drive to George Washington on code blue.
And then CJ in the season 2 premiere, asking if Jed had been killed with tears in her eyes, not knowing if, in the chaos, her best friends had been shot and killed. The fear in her voice when Sam finds her and asks if she’s alright, and her first concern is the President. The way she breathes - as if every inhale and exhale are causing her unimaginable anguish - as he tells her Jed, Leo, and Zoey are alive and, as far as they know, unharmed.
Gina’s frustration and shame when she can’t remember what kind of cap the kid on the ground was wearing.
Sam’s confusion shifting to deep concern and then fear when Toby tells him that Josh was not in the car with Leo.
Toby’s face when he finds Josh, after calling for him. His confusion, shifting into disbelief, settling on devastation as he sees the blood staining his friend’s hands and the terror in Josh’s eyes. The way he yells for a doctor, for help, for anyone, the way he catches Josh as he passes out and lays his head gently on the concrete.
The way CJ and Sam both turn on their heels and come running at the sound of Toby’s voice, filled with the impotent rage and heartwrenching grief of someone witnessing a loved one’s pain and being powerless to stop it.
Jed’s stubborn insistence that he speaks to Zoey and Leo before he is put under. Mrs. Landingham and Margaret learning of the incident on the news, and the very same senior citizen Jed was arguing with that very same day running out of the West Wing to be there for her President, because for all she knows, she’s about to lose another son and she’ll be damned straight to hell if she isn’t as close to his side as she possibly can be every moment of that uncertainty.
Jed pulling Leo in close to kiss him on the cheek and reassure him. Abbey confiding in the anesthesiologist that Jed has MS.
Leo, Sam, CJ, and Toby all running after Josh as he’s wheeled in on a gurney, oxygen mask stained with the blood on his hands as his friends, his father figure yell his name, making sure he knows they’re there with him. Leo demanding to be told what was happening with his boy, the son he’d never had, all the while Josh babbling about New Hampshire.
Abbey informing everyone that Jed will be fine and the palpable relief that floods through the room.
Nancy freaking McNally.
And of course, Donna’s disbelief when Toby first tells her Josh had been shot. Her heartbreaking devastation when she learns Josh, the man she won’t admit she’s in love with, has been critically wounded and is fighting for his life with every ounce of strength he’s got left.
Toby comforting Ginger, hugging her gently, telling her it’s alright, it’s okay, because she turned on the news and she’s shaking. Toby asking Ginger if she’s ready to go to work in that soft tone that brooks no argument but uses no force.
Jed begging to see Josh, never mind the fact that he had just gotten out of surgery himself, never mind that he had just cheated death, because his son had been shot.
Mrs. Landingham and Donna holding hands, keeping silent vigil in the waiting room.
Jed telling Leo to look what happened, all because they got a good man elected President.
All the flashbacks, to how it all started. To the very roots of Bartlet for America. To Nashua. To how Josh started to realize that Josiah Bartlet, Governor of New Hampshire, was in fact the real thing. To how these beautiful misfits all came together to form a family no one could have seen coming.
And all the while, you’re on the edge of your seat, tears in your eyes because these characters, these people you’ve come to love are in pain now and all you can do is watch. And wait.