Noël (The West Wing)

The West Wing episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 10
Directed by Thomas Schlamme
Teleplay by Aaron Sorkin
Story by Peter Parnell
Production code 226210
Original air date December 20, 2000
Guest appearance(s)
Season 2 episodes

"Noël" is the 10th episode of the second season of The West Wing.


Due to his colleagues' growing concern over his behavior Josh spends the day with Stanley Keyworth, a psychotherapist from the American Trauma Victims Association (ATVA). Stanley notices Josh's bandaged hand and asks about it. Even though Stanley makes it clear that he doesn't believe him, Josh insists that he cut his hand on a glass. Josh recounts the last few weeks:

His behavior began to change on the day that he was assigned to review the personal and military history of an Air Force pilot who had broken away from his fighter jet's training formation. Josh had discovered that the two shared the same birthday, and that the pilot had been shot down and injured over Bosnia. Before Josh had a chance to report on this, the pilot radioed in to say, "It wasn't the plane," and killed himself by crashing into a mountain in New Mexico. Days later, while discussing a political situation, Josh raised his voice to the President in the Oval Office, at which point Leo called in ATVA to talk to him. During the congressional Christmas party, Yo-Yo Ma performed and Josh was overcome with panic. When he went home, he slammed his hand into his window and cut himself on the broken glass.

Stanley asks Josh if, given what he had in common with the pilot – their common birthday and injuries – he wondered if he himself might have been suicidal. Josh initially denies this, but eventually admits that during the party he found himself reliving the attack at Rosslyn and that he felt out of control. Stanley tells him that his increasing stress and the episode at the party were triggered by the presence of a brass quintet at the White House, which subconsciously reminded Josh of police and ambulance sirens, thereby transporting him back to his own shooting and near-death in Rosslyn. He is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and is concerned that it will endanger his job ("That doesn't sound like something they let you have if you work for the President") but Leo promises him "as long as I got a job, you got a job" in a moving speech which aligns Josh's trauma with Leo's own difficult past.

In another story, C.J. is told by a reporter that a woman saw a painting on the White House Tour and began screaming. C.J. does some research and finds out with the help of Bernard Thatch, the White House's snobbish but competent Protocol Chief, that the painting was owned by a Jewish family in Europe, seized by the Nazi collaborationist French Vichy Regime, and eventually given as a gift to the White House by the French government. The woman's father owned the painting, and C.J. returns it to the grateful woman and her son.

Sam is interested in a measure to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to reduce high gas prices, and the staff decides to review the issue when the new year begins. Finally, the President wants to sign all of his holiday cards by hand, until he is told the total number of cards is 1,110,000.


Thomas Del Ruth won the American Society of Cinematographers award for cinematography for this episode.[1]

Bradley Whitford won the 2001 Best Supporting Actor Emmy Award, in part for his performance in this episode.[2]

Thomas Schlamme won the 2000 Directors Guild of America Award for Best Dramatic Series for this episode.[3]


  1. "The ASC Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography". American Society of Cinematographers. Retrieved October 26, 2013.
  2. "The West Wing". Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  3. "53rd Annual DGA Awards". Directors Guild of America. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
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