The West Wing

Season 6 Episode 2

The Birnam Wood

0
Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Oct 27, 2004 on NBC
8.3
out of 10
User Rating
97 votes
2

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Bartlet orders a strike on the terrorist training camp as he and his staff broker a peace settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but Bartlet and Leo realize that their differences over the peace settlement are irreconcilable, warranting a change in Leo's responsibilities. Having returned from Germany, Josh expresses concern about Leo's well-being, and his observations turn out to be well founded.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Honest, open-minded, and heart-wrenching

    8.5
    There may be a clear break in the series between Season 4 and 5 but that doesn't take away from the fact that West Wing remains the sharpest show. This episode proves it. In the sensitive discussion on Israeli-Palestinian relations, both sides are presented and without demonizing either side but rather humanizing both points of view. That alone made the episode powerful. BUT the part of the show that completely tore at your heart was John Spencer's performance in an eerie prescient performance that would later feature life imitating art. Not only is it disconcerting to see the demise of the powerful duo of Bartlett and Leo but Spencer's defeatist attitude, his frustration, and his eventual physical depiction of the a heart attack...It was just emotion that you could feel from your couch.

    So, perhaps West Wing's last seasons, though different, push our characters where they haven't been before and pushes our sensibilities...and those are good things.moreless
  • Two words, John Spencer

    10
    This episode was perfect. Season six of this fantastic series has gotten off to a great start. This episode and the previous three demonstrate why this show is by far the most literate and intelligent show on television. The way the show explored the complex issue of the Arab Israeli conflict whilst blending in a combination of humour and heart wrenching drama; in the form of Donna's surgery and the ensuing complications, as well as Leo's continued isolation from Jed and his subsequent heart attack; remind me of why I watch and love this show. John Spencers acting, particularly during the heart attack scene was outstanding. All in all a fantastic episode, cant wait for the next one.moreless
Armin Mueller-Stahl

Armin Mueller-Stahl

Eli Zahavy

Guest Star

Makram Khoury

Makram Khoury

Nizar Farad

Guest Star

Eli Danker

Eli Danker

Doran Mazar

Guest Star

Terry O'Quinn

Terry O'Quinn

Nicholas Alexander

Recurring Role

Lily Tomlin

Lily Tomlin

Debbie Fiderer

Recurring Role

Nicole Robinson

Nicole Robinson

Margaret

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (2)

    • When Farad asks Jed how old his children and grandchildren are, Jed tells him that Annie, Elizabeth Bartlet Westin's daughter, started high school last week. This does not fit in with the timeline of the series because Annie was twelve in the pilot.

    • Gen. Alexander makes reference to "The Kingdom of Syria", but Syria is a republic, not a kingdom.

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Toby: You could give every Palestinian man, woman, and child an Uzi and they still wouldn't be a match for the IDF.
      Mazar: And we have no intention of letting that change.

    • Bartlet: Any ideas on how to break the logjam?
      Josh: Too bad Congress isn't here. They'd just cook the books and hold a press conference.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Standing in for Camp David in this episode is ThorpeWood, an environmental education center located on a 110-acre nature preserve nestled in a secluded, heavily forested stream valley 1,500 feet high on Maryland's Catoctin Mountains.

    • The title of this episode is a reference to Shakespeare's Macbeth, in which a prophecy had stated "Fear not, till Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane" and then news arrives that the grove appears to be moving. So The Birnam Wood moving would be a portent of unexpected disaster. Alternatively, it could represent something coming to pass that was thought to be impossible, such as an agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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