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Sports Night/Napoleon's Battle Plan

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Napoleon's Battle Plan
Season 1, Episode 22
Airdate April 27, 1999
Production Number N-322
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Robert Berlinger
← 1x21
Ten Wickets
1x23 →
What Kind of Day Has It Been
Sports NightSeason One

Napoleon's Battle Plan is the twenty-second episode of the first season of Sports Night.

Loose lips might sink friendships, as Dana learns the truth about the other corners of Season One's love rectangle. Casey takes the high road, Dan takes the low road, and there isn't a pair of trousers between them.

Starring: Josh Charles (Dan Rydell), Peter Krause (Casey McCall), Felicity Huffman (Dana Whitaker), Joshua Malina (Jeremy Goodwin), Sabrina Lloyd (Natalie Hurley) and Robert Guillaume (Isaac Jaffe (credit only))

Guest Starring: Kayla Blake (Kim), Greg Baker (Elliott), Ted McGinley (Gordon), Brenda Strong (Sally), Jeff Mooring (Dave), Ron Ostrow (Will), Timothy Davis-Reed (Chris)

Co-Starring: Suzanne Kellogg (Alyson), Darren Foreman (the Waiter), Laura Elizabeth Ford (the Waitress)


Plot Overview

With five minutes to air, Dan and Casey remain in their offices, clad only in their shirts, ties, boxer shorts and black socks. Casey puts in an emergency call to wardrobe, rather than sing a song with Dan. In the control room, Dana waxes eloquent to Jeremy about a purchase she's considering—the Soshi/Suntac RTS-3, a camera with lots of special features—although she admits knowing nothing about photography.

Still pantsless in their office, Dan chides Casey for not developing a plan to derail Dana's engagement to Gordon. Casey claims he tried, and came up with nothing. Natalie reports that the anchors' pants are being pressed at the moment. With less than four minutes to air, they'll have to do the first few segments in their drawers. Dan decides that if Casey has no plan, it might be time for him to step in. The two stride towards the studio barelegged.

Natalie knows why Dana can't stop talking about cameras: she had trouble sleeping last night and read a catalogue filled with products she knew nothing about, but felt a sudden desire to buy. Casey decides that he's following the same battle plan as legendary general Napoleon Boneaparte: "First we show up, then we see what happens." Dan is not impressed, and after asking Alyson the makeup girl to avert her eyes, he announces that he's stepping in.

The next day, Dan is trying to ghostwrite Casey's big reveal to Dana. All he's come up with is "in the interests of full disclosure," which Casey finds lame. Dan maintains that telling Dana would be the high road, whereas Casey declares it to be the lowest of roads. He tells Dan not to reveal anything to Dana, preferring to stick with Napoleon's plan.

Jeremy finds Natalie in the conference room, arranging the segment order for tonight's show. He's got a company memo about a blood drive, and wants Natalie to know he can't participate. He obviously feels guilty about it, as he over-explains hmself while Natalie hardly cares. Dan walks in as Jeremy leaves, and after a preamble, tells her that Gordon once spent the night with Sally. Before he can finish his warning to her to be responsible and discreet with the information, Natalie has already charged out to tell Dana.

Dana and Jeremy are in the control room, he obsessing over not giving blood, she over her photography catalog. Natalie pulls Dana aside and begs her to cancel the engagement and give back the ring (which Gordon was going to give her at lunch today.) When Natalie explains why, Dana doesn't believe it, and promises to get the answer from Gordon at lunch. Natalie is surprised by how calmly Dana takes the accusation, and so is Dana.

At lunch, Dana is flustered by the new diamond on her finger, and blurts the question to Gordon. Gordon immediately asks if Casey told her, which momentarily confuses Dana. Gordon apologizes and begs Dana to forgive him, and she does, but she asks how Casey would know. Embarrassed, Gordon explains how Casey recognized the shirt he'd left when he (Casey) had slept with Sally. This, more than the rest, provokes Dana's anger.

Returning from lunch, Dana finds Sally in the edit room. Voices are quickly raised, and Dana is almost accusing Sally of deliberately seducing both men for career advancement before Sally forces her to admit how ridiculous that sounds. Dana begins to weep, and Sally realizes that Dana isn't mad because of her liason with Gordon, but because of her relationship with Casey. Dana hadn't realized that Casey has been sleeping with Sally for weeks now, and this revelation hurts more. Sally is becoming teary herself, knowing that Casey has only used her for sex.

Natalie tells Dan that she has told Dana, and that Dana has learned everything. She promises a little punishment for Dan for withholding information. Dan steels himself before walking into his office, where he confesses that both of Casey's secrets are out. Before Casey can commit physical violence, Dana bursts in with some harsh words for Casey, then storms out. Casey follows, arguing that she has no right to be upset over his social life, but distraught Dana ignores him.

That night, Natalie's punishment has begun, as Dan and Casey are once again pantsless with only minutes to air. Dan gets Casey to admit that it's not entirely a bad thing that Dana knows. After all, Casey stuck to the plan: he showed up, now he'll see what happens next. As the show begins, Dana sits distracted in the control room, pondering the exact same question.


Arc Advancement


  • Dan tells Natalie about Gordon sleeping with Sally. Natalie immediately runs to tell Dana.
  • Dana also learns about Casey and Sally.
  • Dana accepts Gordon's apology for the indiscretion.


  • As Sally points out, Dana gets far angrier at the idea of Casey and Sally sleeping together then Gordon and Sally. By the end of the episode, she's forced to consider the implications of this.


  • Gordon recounts for Dana the story of Casey's missing shirt, as seen in 1x16.


The Show

Behind the Scenes

Allusions and References

  • Casey: I graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Danny.

The Phi Beta Kappa Society is an academic achievement honors society, founded in 1776.

  • Dana: Cut the crap, Sally, this isn't a Noel Coward play.

British author Noel Coward wrote over a dozen plays in his life. Several of these were of the "comedy of manners" mold, where characters disguise their contempt for each other with elegant, superficially polite conversations.

Memorable Moments

  • Dan and Casey walk in their boxers across the newsroom.
  • Natalie runs screaming out of the conference room.
  • Dana and Sally lose their tempers, then start crying.
  • Casey gets the bad news from Dan.


  • Dan: (looking out the window) You think there are people in the building across the street looking at us in our underwear?
    Casey: (looks over his shoulder) Yes, I do.
  • Dana: I can tell you that for $219.95 the Polaris Digital Exposure Meter is a steal at twice the price.
    Jeremy: Do you know what it is?
    Dana: No, but I find myself in the market for one.
  • Casey: (re: Napoleon) He had a two-part plan.
    Dan: What was it?
    Casey: First we show up, then we see what happens.
  • Dan: Alyson, as you can see, Casey and I aren't wearing any pants, so I think in the interest of office professionalism you should avert your eyes.
    Alyson: Okay.
    Dan: Either that or take off your pants.
    Alyson: I'll avert my eyes.
    Casey: Suit yourself, but you should know I play squash three times a week and my calves have been called shapely.
  • Dan: Casey?
    Casey: Yeah?
    Dan: Who's been calling your calves "shapely?"
    Casey: My mom.
    Dan: Okay. Don't talk to me for the rest of the show.
  • Dan: Hang on a second. We can differ. It's okay with me. As long as you understand that I'm right.
  • Dan: It's the high road.
    Casey: It's the low road! It's the lowest of roads. Other roads which would, under normal circumstances, be considered low roads would be high relative to this road.
  • Dan: (re: Dana's engagement) But you have information she doesn't have!
    Casey: I graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Danny. I have information most people don't have. It's my cross to bear.
  • Dan: Why is it wrong to tell her, huh?
    Casey: Doesn't seem very manly, does it?
    Dan: Do it in a deep voice.
    Casey: (waves hand in air) See me waving up here? You know where I am?
    Dan: The high road?
    Casey: I can see everything from up here.
  • Jeremy: Dan?
    Dan: Yeah?
    Jeremy: I can't give blood!
    Dan: (pause) Okay.
    Jeremy: That's all I had to say.
    Dan: Well, you've given me a lot to think about.
  • Dana: Check out this strobe from B&C. 3-head outlets, symmetrical and asymmetrical power distribution, 2-synch phone jack, style outlets and built-in photo cell.
    Jeremy: Do you know what it does?
    Dana: I don't even know what it is.
    Jeremy: But you're going to get one.
    Dana: I think I owe it to myself.
  • Gordon: What's on your mind? You've been strange all through lunch.
    Dana: Gordon, I've been strange my entire life.
  • Dana: I don't like territorial women, Sally.
    Sally: Well, I guess we won't be sharing a ride to the prom then, will we, Dana?
  • Natalie: When the dust settles on this thing, you know what you're going to have to get?
    Dan: Punishment?
    Natalie: A little punishment.
  • Dan: You know how you... didn't want anyone to know about Gordon and Sally?
    Casey: Yeah?
    Dan: That's... not so much the way it is anymore.
    Casey: I see.
    Dan: And people... not knowing about you and Sally?
    Casey: (more upset) Yeah?
    Dan: That's a thing of the past as well. So here's what I think we gotta do. I think we gotta live in the now. I think we say, "OK, this has happened." I think we do those things.
    Casey: (standing up) Really?
    Dan: Yeah.
    Casey: I think I beat the crap outta you.
    Dan: That's not what I would call living in the now.
    Casey: No, it's a lot more like beating the crap outta you.
  • (Dana storms into Casey and Dan's office)
    Dana: You are a sleazy, slimy, adolescent, oversexed, overpaid blowhole!
    Dan: Which one of us are you talking to?
  • Dana: Guys, you're going to have to do the first two blocks without your pants. Casey, you should feel right at home.
  • Dan: (gesturing at the studio) Look, it's your plan.
    Casey: We just showed up. Now... we see what happens.