The West Wing

Season 2 Episode 22

Two Cathedrals

1
Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM May 16, 2001 on NBC
9.8
out of 10
User Rating
320 votes
19

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
On the day of Mrs. Landingham's funeral, the staff deals with a Haitian presidential crisis and the law suit against the big tobacco companies, and Bartlet must decide about running for reelection.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • About this episode

    10
    This had great single camera picture editing.
  • A Boy King and a Real Dame.

    10
    The flashbacks to to the early days of Bartlet's and Mrs. Landingham's relationship were excellent. Aided by the perfect casting of the young Bartlet and Mrs. Landingham(especially Kirsten Nelson). I loved the scene when Jed is working on his car and she's trying to convince him to talk to his father about the salary discrepancies. The way it tied into the final scenes was done incredibly well also.



    Bartlet: "Why do you talk to me like this?"

    Mrs. Landingham: "'Cause you've never had a big sister and you need one. Look at you. You're a Boy King. You're a foot smarter than the smartest kids in the class. You're blessed with inspiration. You must know this by now, you must have sensed it."



    I never expected Bartlet's father to be so cruel. In a way it explains why he works so hard, trying to earn his dad's respect that he never can. But for him to be such a kind person in spite of that, is a miracle. Made more so by the fact that is father was probably jealous of the greatness in his own son, as he was of his brother's intelligence.



    Bartlet's scene in National Cathedral was without question the best moment in my television viewing history. Sheen's acting was phenomenal and Sorkin's words were superb, both were incredibly moving. I'm only going to post the moments that made the biggest impact on me, but it was obviously extraordinary from start to finish.



    Bartlet: "You're a son of a *****, you know that? She bought her first new car and you hit her with a drunk driver. What, that supposed to be funny?...What was Josh Lyman? A warning shot? That was my son. What did I ever do to yours but praise his glory and praise his name?...Yes, I lied. It was a sin. I've committed many sins. Have I displeased you, you feckless thug?...Cruciatus in crucem! Eas in crucem.(To hell with your punishments! And to hell with you.) You get Hoynes!"



    I really respected the choice of making some of Bartlet's monologue be in Latin. I can't imagine the network execs were thrilled with that decision. But it fit with his character and the moment so well, that I didn't mind looking up the translation, and I certainly didn't mind rewatching the scene. I couldn't imagine that part ever being surpassed in excellence; until I got to the final moments of the episode.



    The scene between Mrs. Landingham and Bartlet in the Oval Office, with the wind and the rain ripping through the open door was truly brilliant. I loved watching Bartlet's subconscious try to convince him that America needed him to run again. And Mrs. Landingham was also incredible in that scene.



    Mrs. Landingham: "You know if you don't want to run again, I respect that. But if you don't run because you think its going to be to hard or you think you're gonna lose; well God, Jed, I don't even wanna know you."



    I thought Brothers in Arms was a superb song choice to play over Bartlet's trip to the press conference, though I am pretty partial to Dire Straits, but BiA in particular is a great song. Even knowing the series went on for another five seasons, I was pretty nervous going in to the final scene. The staff waiting to see if it would be Answer A or Answer B, Bartlet's hair and jacket being soaked from the rain, and his silent answer of looking off, smiling, and putting his hands in his pockets was one of my favorite moments from any series. Beautiful way to end an unblievably good episode, and an altogether excellent season.



    10/10, Simply put, the best episode of any TV show I've ever seen. A 10 really doesn't do it justice, as it exceeded the quality of everything else. It could never be over-hyped, over-rated, or over-praised.moreless
  • One of the best episodes ever!

    10
    Every time I watch 'Two Cathedrals' I get goose bumps. The performance of Martin Sheen is just breathtaking.



    The flashbacks are a very powerful element to bring the relationship between Mrs. Laningham and Jed Bartlet in the viewer perspective.



    The way he 'talks' to god in latin is just brilliant. Lighting his cigarette to pay his disrespect to HIM. Brilliant and cunning.



  • An amazing episode, from start to finish.

    10
    This episode is definently one of my favorites. Bullet time!



    *So much in this episode is going on at the same time, and it's quite amazing how it's done...



    *Bartlet's speech in Latin is utterly amazing, it gives me goosebumps and I love it. It's the most amazing acting I've ever seen, Bartlet yelling at God and announcing his defeat. I want to cry.



    *The great flashbacks are amazing, because the foreshadowing was so great, and I loved Mrs. Landingham and her scenes with Jed.



    *The end is so amazing, where it's raining and Brothers in Arms is playing, with everybody walking and it's just so great. Then when Bartler gets up to the podium and is asked by reelection, I just sit there and watch as he puts his hands in his pockets and looks away and smiles. It's so amazing, I don't know what to do. Truly an amazing episode. I heart Aaron Sorkin and Martin Sheen!moreless
  • Inspired!

    10
    This is the best episode of the best series on television. Ever. I just re-watched it and it has lost nothing in the few years that have passed. The superb quality of the writing in this episode was even more pronounced after this past week's crop of contrived and hackneyed season finales on the various networks. There is a way to use car accidents and there's a way to make dramatic television in a way that does not come across as forced and revisited for the umpteenth time. And Sorkin is the master. Plus who else would put a whole speech in Latin in prime time?moreless
Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen

President Jed Bartlet

Dule Hill

Dule Hill

Charlie Young

Allison Janney

Allison Janney

Claudia Jean "C.J." Cregg

Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe

Sam Seaborn (Episodes 1-84)

Richard Schiff

Richard Schiff

Toby Ziegler

John Spencer

John Spencer

Leo McGarry

Christopher Murray

Christopher Murray

Tony Phillips

Guest Star

Patrick Thomas O'Brien

Patrick Thomas O'Brien

Hanson

Guest Star

Lawrence O'Donnell

Lawrence O'Donnell

Dr. Bartlet

Guest Star

Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith

Nancy McNally

Recurring Role

Nicole Robinson

Nicole Robinson

Margaret

Recurring Role

Charles Noland

Charles Noland

Steve

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Goof: In the teaser, when Margaret hands Leo a note he puts on his glasses to read it. Then a rear shot is shown and Leo puts his glasses on again.

    • Bartlet's motorcade to the State Department press conference passes the National Cathedral in a path so leisurely that it staggers the imagination -- minimally a seven mile trip, rather than the actual one mile direct distance between the White House and State Department.

    • Goof: About eleven minutes into the episode, Bartlet puts a pair of glasses into his left shirt pocket. Two very quick camera shots later, the glasses are in his right pocket.

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Bartlet: Damn it! Mrs. Landingham!
      Mrs. Landingham: I really wish you wouldn't shout, Mr. President.
      Bartlet: The door keeps blowing open.
      Mrs. Landingham: Yes, but there's an intercom, and you can use it to call me at my desk.
      Bartlet: I was...
      Mrs. Landingham: You don't know how to use the intercom.
      Bartlet: It's not that I don't know how to use it. It's just that I haven't learned yet.
      (Pause)
      I have MS, and I didn't tell anybody.
      Mrs. Landingham: Yeah. So you're having a little bit of a day.
      Bartlet: You gonna make jokes?
      Mrs. Landingham: God doesn't make cars crash and you know it. Stop using me as an excuse.
      Bartlet: Party's not going to want me to run.
      Mrs. Landingham: Party will come back. You'll get them back.
      Bartlet: I've got a secret for you, Mrs. Landingham. I've never been the most popular guy in the Democratic Party.
      Mrs. Landingham: I've got a secret for you, Mr. President. Your father was a prick who could never get over the fact that he wasn't as smart as his brothers. Are you in a tough spot? Yes. Do I feel sorry for you? I do not. Why? Because there are people way worse off then you.
      Bartlet: Give me numbers.
      Mrs. Landingham: I don't know numbers. You give 'em to me.
      Bartlet: How about a child born in this minute has a one-in-five chance of being born into poverty.
      Mrs. Landingham: How many American's don't have health insurance?
      Bartlet: 44 million.
      Mrs. Landingham: What's the number one cause of death for black men under 35?
      Bartlet: Homicide.
      Mrs. Landingham: How many Americans are behind bars?
      Bartlet: 3 million.
      Mrs. Landingham: How many Americans are drug addicts?
      Bartlet: 5 million.
      Mrs. Landingham: And one-in-five kids in poverty?
      Bartlet: That's 13 million American children. 3 and a half million kids are going to schools that are literally falling apart. We need 127 billion in school construction and we need it today.
      Mrs. Landingham: To say nothing of 53 people trapped in an embassy.
      Bartlet: Yes.
      Mrs. Landingham: You know, if you don't want to run again, I respect that. But if you don't run because you think it's going to be too hard or you think you're going to lose well, God, Jed, I don't even wanna know you.

    • Bartlet: You're a son of a bitch, you know that? She bought her first new car and you hit her with a drunk driver. What? Was that supposed to be funny? "You can't conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God," says Graham Greene. I don't know who's ass he was kissing there 'cause I think you're just vindictive. What was Josh Lyman? A warning shot? That was my son. What did I ever do to yours except praise his glory and praise his name? There's a tropical storm that's gaining speed and power. They say we haven't had a storm this bad since you took out that tender ship of mine in the North Atlantic last year, 68 crew. You know what a tender ship does? It fixes the other ships. It doesn't even carry guns. It just goes around and fixes the other ships and delivers the mail. That's all it can do. Gratias tibi ago, domine. Yes, I lied. It was a sin. I've committed many sins. Have I displeased you, you feckless thug? 3.8 million new jobs, that wasn't good? Bailed out Mexico. Increased foreign trade. Thirty million new acres of land for conservation. Put Mendoza on the bench. We're not fighting a war. I've raised three children. That's not enough to buy me out of the doghouse? Haec credam a deo pio? A deo iusto, a deo scito? Cruciatus in crucem. Tuus in terra servus, nuntius fui. Officium perfeci. Cruciatus in crucem. Eas in crucem!

    • Mrs. Landingham: (smiling) Look at you. You're a boy king. You're a foot smarter than the smartest kid in the class. You're blessed with inspiration. You must know this by now. You must have sensed it. Look, if you think we're wrong... if you think Mr. Hopkins should honestly get paid more than Mrs. Chadwick, then I respect that. But if you think we're right and you won't speak up because you can't be bothered, then God, Jed, I don't even want to know you. Come inside. (walks off) I'll call Triple A.

    • Mrs Landingham: God doesn't make cars crash, and you know it. Stop using me as an excuse.

  • NOTES (5)

    • Additional Credit: Washington DC Production Services by Thinkfilm, Inc.

    • The role of Bartlet's father was played by series producer (later consulting and executive producer) and story editor Lawrence O'Donnell. Aaron Sorkin commonly assigns small roles to show staff for table reads, and director Thomas Schlamme found O'Donnell's interpretation of Jed's father so interesting that he eventually offered him the role.

    • The Latin cathedral rant and its translation:

      "Gratias tibi ago, domine. Haec credam a deo pio? A deo iusto, a deo scito? Cruciatus in crucem. Tuus in terra servus, nuntius fui. Officium perfeci. Cruciatus in crucem. Eas in crucem!"

      "I give thanks to you, O Lord. Am I really to believe that these are the acts of a loving God? A just God? A wise God? To hell with your punishments. I was your servant here on Earth. And I spread your word and I did your work. To hell with your punishments. To hell with you!"

    • Awards and Nominations: The episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Series (Bill Johnson, A.C.E.). Nominated for 2002 Banff Rockie Award for Continuing Series Nominated for 2001 DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series Night Won the 2002 Humanitas Prize in the 60 Minutes category Nominated for 2002 WGA Award in the category of Episodic Drama.

    • Music: The song near the end is Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits playing "Brothers in Arms" from their CD of the same name.

  • ALLUSIONS (2)

    • Bartlet: "You can't conceive, nor can I, the appalling
      strangeness of the mercy of God," says Graham Greene.

      This line is from Graham Greene's book Brighton Rock.

    • Toby: The last time they didn't know. The President taped an Easter message that looked like it was lit by Ed Wood!

      Ed Wood was a filmmaker heralded as "the worst of all time" for the complete lack of conventional filmmaking ability in his work.

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