Back at the hotel, thank God Philip and Elizabeth didn't hear about the assassination attempt before they got down to business. What a horrible cockblock that would've been. They're exiting the hotel lobby, giggling at each other like teenagers, when they spot the news reports. There's all the usual rabble from the other people in the hotel, all whispers and gasps. Currently on screen is Secretary of State Alexander Haig, who is trying to reassure the public that there is currently order in Washington. The President is in the hospital, and Vice-President Bush is in an airplane, but Haig assures everyone that he's in charge in the White House. "I am in control here in the White House, pending the return of the Vice-President," are his exact words. This actually was a controversy back then, with Haig speaking misleadingly about the line of succession -- obviously Bush was next in line, followed by Speaker of the House, Senate President Pro Tem, et cetera. Haig was speaking more of the political reality that until Bush was back in Washington, Haig was the highest-ranking Executive branch member and this holding down the fort. Not to bring all my White House knowledge back to The West Wing, but compare this to Leo McGarry acknowledging to the press that he was making the decisions while President Bartlett was in surgery after getting shot. It's counter to the Constitution, and it would by no means be a smart thing to announce publicly (which is why Leo didn't), but it was the reality of the situation. So Haig shouldn't have said that, and the rest of this episode is a testament as to why. Mostly, I'm just proud of myself for recognizing Alexander Haig on sight, even though the only image I have of him in my head is as played by Powers Boothe in Nixon. Anyway. Philip and Elizabeth make a hasty exit, he off to see "Charles," while she to check the signal sites. Kudos also to Elizabeth for tamping down her glee at the thought of Reagan getting shot.
Langley. Agent John-Boy is indiscriminately snapping at agents all over the place. He's a bitch, but you kind of can't blame him when there are agents who have to be told specifically to check out John Hinckley's possible Soviet/communist connections. John-Boy then pulls Stan aside and tells him to hit up Nina ASAP. Stan says he can arrange a meeting within 24 hours, but of course on a day like today, that's way too long. John-Boy says he needs to know if the Soviets were behind this attempt, "before nuclear missiles are whistling over my head." Fair enough. Stan agrees to throw caution (i.e. Nina's safety) to the wind and arrange an immediate meeting.