The West Wing: Season 2 (2000 - 2001)


Season 2
The West Wing

Critics Consensus

President Bartlet is tested by his biggest scandal yet, but The West Wing's approval ratings are way up in a second season that is teeming with dramas on a national scale and burning with an idealistic fervor that will have viewers cheering.

81%

TOMATOMETER

Critic Ratings: 16

99%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 102

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Episodes

Air date: Oct 4, 2000

The conclusion of the two-part season-two opener of The West Wing sees the investigation into the attempted assassination take an unexpected turn when it is revealed that the shooters had intended to kill African-American Personal Aide to the President Charlie Young because of his romantic relationship with presidential daughter Zoe Bartlet (Elizabeth Moss). Meanwhile, the staff continues to reminisce about the campaign while they await word about Josh.

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Air date: Oct 4, 2000

The conclusion of the two-part season-two opener of The West Wing sees the investigation into the attempted assassination take an unexpected turn when it is revealed that the shooters had intended to kill African-American Personal Aide to the President Charlie Young because of his romantic relationship with presidential daughter Zoe Bartlet (Elizabeth Moss). Meanwhile, the staff continues to reminisce about the campaign while they await word about Josh.

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Air date: Oct 18, 2000

The staff of the Bartlet Administration attempts to cope in the aftermath of a shooting that saw both the president and Josh injured. Toby has a fire in his belly and is eager to go after hate groups with ferocity, while Josh is having trouble taking time to recover while the world goes on without him. "The Midterms" is perhaps best remembered for a scathing speech President Bartlet delivers to a right-wing radio host (Claire Yarlett) who uses the Bible to support her homophobic views.

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Air date: Oct 25, 2000

While appearing on Capitol Beat, Sam gets his rear handed to him by a young female conservative named Ainsley Hayes (Emily Procter). The president is so impressed with her performance that he decides to hire the woman as a member of the White House legal counsel, much to the chagrin of the other members of his administration. Meanwhile, CJ deals with the ramifications of accidentally breaking the law by telling a reporter about a grand jury. The Ainsley Hayes character would go on to appear several more times, becoming a fan favorite and an effective foil to the Democratic White House staff.

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Air date: Nov 1, 2000

Emily Procter guest stars once again as conservative White House counsel Ainsley Hayes. After receiving anything but a warm welcome from her new liberal co-workers, Ainsley begins thinking she's not cut out for the job. Luckily, an unexpected ally vehemently comes to her defense and makes her feel accepted. Meanwhile, a high-profile general threatens to publicly slam President Bartlet, so it's up to CJ to step in and thwart the impending attack.

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Air date: Nov 8, 2000

After the president considers calling a lame-duck session of Congress to pass a nuclear test-ban treaty, Toby discovers it might not be worth the trouble after all. Meanwhile, Donna puts on her labor-organizer hat and demands more ergonomic working conditions for the staff of the White House, CJ butts heads with reporter Danny Concannon (Timothy Busfield), and Josh attempts to deal with a drunken Ukrainian dignitary (Eugene Lazarev).

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Air date: Nov 15, 2000

While aboard Air Force One, en route to Portland, OR, Toby and Sam struggle to overcome a case of writer's block while working on a speech on education. Meanwhile, CJ feels President Bartlet's wrath after speaking ill of his beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Josh meets with a homosexual congressman (Michael Tomlinson) to discuss the politician's stance against gay marriage, and Leo receives divorce papers.

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Air date: Nov 22, 2000

It's Thanksgiving time at the Bartlet White House, and the spirit of the holiday is in the air when a group of Chinese Christians wash up in the United States seeking asylum. As the president considers what to do with them, CJ has a struggle of her own on her hands when she's assigned the task of picking which of two turkeys will have its life spared in the traditional presidential pardon. Meanwhile, Charlie struggles to find a carving knife to fit the president's fickle taste and Leo protests against the proposed appointment of his sister to a high-profile government job.

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Air date: Nov 29, 2000

After NASA inadvertently loses contact with the Galileo Mars probe, the president has to decide whether or not he still wants to go through with a planned televised discussion about the craft. Meanwhile, Leo contends with an ambassador (Charlotte Cornwell) after satellites spot a fire at a Russian nuclear plant, Donna expresses her passion for philately, and the country's green bean farmers are up-in-arms after CJ accidentally mentions that the president doesn't like the vegetable at a press briefing.

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Air date: Dec 20, 2000

Adam Arkin appears for the first time in his recurring role as psychiatrist Stanley Keyworth. As the Bartlet staff prepares for the Christmas holiday, the fact that Josh never dealt with the trauma of being shot leads to erratic behavior, and he's ordered to see Keyworth. At first putting up a tough front, Josh eventually breaks down and confronts his emotions. Throughout their discussion, Josh flashes back to the events that led up to him cutting his hand. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma guest stars as himself.

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The West Wing: Season 2 Photos

Tv Season Info

After a critically acclaimed freshman season, the Emmy Award-winning series The West Wing returns for a behind-the-scenes look at another year in the life of the eclectic group of frenzied staffers in the Oval Office.

Critic Reviews for The West Wing Season 2

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (10)

The second season finale is arguably one of the best episodes of television ever created, let alone the best episode of The West Wing.

Sep 25, 2018 | Full Review…

... the most powerful confrontation on The West Wing, if not television in general.

Sep 25, 2018 | Full Review…

For all the haters out there who called the Season 1 finale a "cliché," the two-part follow-up that launches the series into Season 2 proves to be an incredible pay-off for viewers

Sep 25, 2018 | Full Review…

Season two had Ainsley Hayes, "Two Cathedrals," "The Stackhouse Filibuster," "17 People," Bartlett's MS, and Mrs. Landingham. There will be no questions.

Jun 27, 2018 | Full Review…

It hands us a White House out of a Capra movie, with a folksy, avuncular president whose wisdom appears to be limitless... The West Wing, now in its second year, is nonetheless don't-miss TV.

Jun 27, 2018 | Full Review…

Remember Ainsley Hayes?... She disappeared - banished to her basement office, no doubt, so that she wouldn't get in the way of The West Wing's myopic, melodramatic self-righteousness, which seems to deepen with each passing week.

Jun 26, 2018 | Full Review…

It delivered moments of incredible drama and filled compelling storylines with a smart and funny script which was often capable of delivering genuine laugh-out-loud moments.

Sep 25, 2018 | Full Review…

"Two Cathedrals" is one of the best hours of television ever produced.

Sep 25, 2018 | Full Review…

An entertaining mixture of poignancy, tension, and humor-and a strong reminder that this group is essentially a family.

Sep 25, 2018 | Full Review…

It's also, for all the melodrama, a Shakespearean expression of doubt, arrogance, guilt, and anger from one of TV's last great non-antiheroes of the century.

Aug 7, 2018 | Full Review…

The show enters its second season festooned with nine Emmys and - I speak from the heart - deserves another nine.

Jun 26, 2018 | Full Review…

When it comes down to the wire, Season Two possesses a mythical element that gives it an edge, and it brims with an energy and verve [that] burned brighter than at any other time in the show's seven-year run.

Jun 26, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The West Wing: Season 2

  • Dec 13, 2019
    The West Wing reaches even loftier heights in the second season, from the fantastic use of flashbacks (season premiere and season finale especially), to the character archs.
  • Oct 29, 2019
    My favorite season of the series. The acting is top-notch. Especially, Bradley Whitford's performance in the episode "Noel" which garnered him an Emmy award. Aaron Sorkin's sharp writing is at its finest.
  • Feb 19, 2019
    Aaron Sorkin is awesome
  • Aug 03, 2018
    What I wish for humans.
  • Feb 03, 2017
    Better. Much better. Moira Hill mysteriously disappears, and in her place, we get Emily Procter as a hardcore conservative lawyer with southern hospitality. Following the aftermath of the shooting that ended Season One, gone is any naivety of the nature of politics, and any narrow pity that the directors and writers enforce on us for the characters. We face a group whose responsibilities are far too important to be weighed down by personal drama, no matter what that drama is. The fact that such a lesson follows a shooting is especially effective. And the acting! Wow. They took great advantage of the improved acting. Richard Schiff as communications director Toby Ziegler and Bradley Whitford as deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman are probably the two new standout actors, though Martin Sheen as President Bartlet still reigns supreme. The amount of fear they suppress is challenging to watch, in that we quickly fear what they are feeling. The challenge is appreciated, and I look forward to the next round of finding triumph in defeat.
  • Apr 24, 2014
    Much better than Series 1. Much more pragmatic than S1, with better stories and better production values. Very powerful ending. Still weighed down by being idealistic, smug, folksy and preachy, but these are toned down a bit in this season. Get rid of those, and Toby, and the show would be fantastic.
  • Feb 19, 2014
    Outstanding musical writing, compelling characters and story--what else has topped this on network television?

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