The Benign Prerogative (Episode 511)
First Aired: Wednesday, 14th January, 2004
Writer: Carol Flint
Director: Chirstopher Misiano















Maybe Not So Much
Josh's Office / Bullpen / Corridor of the West Wing. Josh and Donna walk and talk.

JOSH: Really? Joey Lucas stopped by?
DONNA: She was sorry you weren't in yet. Nice suit.
JOSH: Was it a heads-up-pre-meeting kind of stopping-by, or a long-time-no-see kind of stopping-by?
DONNA: I don't know, I couldn't tell.
JOSH: How'd she look?
DONNA: Great.
JOSH: I heard she was seeing someone.
DONNA: Yeah, I think she is.
JOSH: Did she say she was seeing someone?
DONNA: No.
JOSH: So, who knows? Maybe the time is right.
DONNA: Maybe not so much.
JOSH: That's not very supportive! Here at the start of a new year, with clean slates ... broad horizons ... and anything's possible.
JOEY: Josh?
(Josh's jaw drops as he turns around to see a very pregnant Joey waving at him)











When You Say We ...?
Josh's office. He enters as Donna sorts through a thick stack of files.

JOSH: What's all this?
DONNA: Council's office sent these over. They're case files for today's meeting with the Pardon Attorney.
JOSH: You wouldn't think there'd be so many.
DONNA: There's only thirty-six, but they aren't short stories. Each file has the original trial record and petition by the prisoner, the Bureau of Prisons recommendation, DOJ recommendation, White House Counsel's preliminary report--
JOSH: Don't leave them here.
DONNA: You said you wanted to take a look?
JOSH: I said we wanted to take a look, and when I said we ...
DONNA: ... You meant me.
JOSH: I'll help you.
DONNA: Thanks.
JOSH: Move them.
DONNA: Right.
JOSH: We need a space where you can spread out. We need to be familiar with the specifics of each of these petition.
DONNA: And when you say we ...?
JOSH: That's the spirit!











This Is Not Pissy
Bullpen. Donna and Josh discuss the clemency cases.

DONNA: The Kaehlers are in the Mural Room.
JOSH: Who are the Kaehlers?
DONNA: Moneybags from Colorado. (she walks away from him) The Vice-President's out of town and the President got held up with the Joint Chiefs.
JOSH: (follows her) You don't have to be pissy.
DONNA: (flatly) This is not pissy.
JOSH: Donna, it's a huge risk for the President. We have to cull the list--we have to be brutal!
DONNA: These thirty-six people haven't been culled enough out of thousands of applicants? Forget that they've all been in prison for at least five years--
JOSH: --For committing crimes.
DONNA: Still, they submitted petitions to Justice that took two years to inch from desk to desk. None of them are violent -- although, by now, I would be -- none of them have priors ... a lot of them, their judges spoke at their sentencing against the harshness of what they had to impose.
JOSH: Doesn't mean we stop scrutinising.
DONNA: Scrutinise away.
DONNA: You tell me--do we toss out Daisy Hanes, mother of three with two jobs, who had a boyfriend who stored a kilo in her closet? She's done eight years and is facing eleven more--that's longer than rapists and child molesters get. There's about fifteen Daisys in here--do we pick three?
JOSH: Donna--
DONNA: You haven't read these files or looked at these photos, and ... I don't blame you--I wish I never had. But I don't see a list anymore. These are people. If you want to cull them, jump in--I'm done.
WILL: Sorry, am I ...?
DONNA: No ... uh, he's got the Kaehlers in the Mural Room, we know.
WILL: Actually, you may want to skip the Kaehlers, they're not here by chance.
JOSH: What do you mean?
WILL: Their son pleaded for clemency, they're here to plead his case.
JOSH: There's a major party contributor with a family member under pardon consideration?
DONNA: No, there's no Kaehler on the list.
WILL: He's the wife's son from a former marriage, his name is Morrissey?
DONNA: Donovan Morrissey? (beat) Estes Park High School senior who Fed Exed LSD.
WILL: I could tell them you're tied up?
DONNA: (with grim determination) No. I will. (very unhappily, she walks past Josh and Will)











She Took The Bullet We All Managed To Dodge
The Oval Office. The President, Leo, Toby and Josh discuss the clemency cases, and the President calls for Donna.

BARTLET: Is she waiting outside?
JOSH: She is, Sir. But honestly--
BARTLET: No. She took the bullet we all managed to dodge. Show her in, please.
(Josh walks over to the door)
JOSH: Hey. Come in.
DONNA: Mr President.
BARTLET: I understand you have a message for me?
DONNA: Uh ... yes, Sir. I promised Mrs Kaehler I'd do my best.
BARTLET: What did she say?
DONNA: She said her son Donovan made a terrible mistake when he was still a teenager. It doesn't excuse anything, but her divorce was very hard on him. By the time he went to trial, the shock of his arrest had given their family a wake-up call. Donovan had completed a drug treatment program, finished high school and been accepted to college. Unfortunately, the guidelines prevented the judge from considering any of those things. She said after Donovan finished one year in prison -- missed one birthday, one Christmas, one fly fishing season -- the other six years he spent in Leavenworth have been a frozen hell. Her words ... a frozen hell. She wasn't--she's someone who ... copes ... but she said if it would make a difference, she'd get on her knees. She begged for your mercy. (beat) That's all.
BARTLET: Thank you, Donna. (she leaves)
LEO: Mr. President?
BARTLET: (deep in thought) Take him. (beat) Take Donovan off the list.
LEO: You can pardon him in the spring, after the dust settles.
BARTLET: Yeah.











Go On
Leo's Office. Margaret, CJ, Toby, Josh, Donna and Will stand arond, stone-faced in the news of Donovan Morrissey's suicide.

BARTLET: (from the door of the Oval Office) Looks like the gang is hovering!
ABBEY: Come on in, guys!
LEO: (noticing the looks on everyone's faces) What's up?
(Donna turns and walks out of the room)
CJ: (to Josh) Go on.
TOBY: We've got this.
(Josh turns and runs after Donna)











I Hope Not
The Ellipse. Josh comforts Donna as the motorcade prepares to depart for the State of the Union.

JOSH: There was nothing you could have done.
DONNA: It's stupid. I don't even know why--
JOSH: It's not stupid. You met them. They got to you.
DONNA: I need to learn how to not be so ... how to keep things at arms' length.
JOSH: (beat; he whispers) I hope not.
TOBY: We're heading over. The President asked if you'd escort the special guests.
(Josh wraps his arm around Donna's shoulder and they walk slowly back to the waiting limousine)



Many thanks to Misdirection for the wonderful screencaps!

For fan fiction relating to this episode, visit Those Stories, a Josh and Donna post-episode fiction archive.

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