Review of Two Cathedrals

Written by Rachel

As the credits began to roll, all I could think was that I wanted to get my tape of the season premiere and just watch the ride all over again.

In a perfect world every episode would be solely written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Thomas Schlamme. The West Wing is easily the best written drama on television and often the most visually stunning, but this episode blew the rest out of the water. As President Bartlet stood in the National Cathedral cursing God I was pulled in as if I was standing in the choir loft looking down on him.

There was so much to get done this week that I wondered how they could ever do it in the forty-three minutes an episode runs, but again the numerous storylines were seamlessly weaved in and out. On some shows flashbacks and appearances by the dead can be hokey, but Mrs. Landingham's presence was so necessary here that the scenes never felt trite or out of place.

As always, the ensemble was all in place. You could feel the stress of a staff still dealing with the news of Bartlet's illness, his betrayal and the potential end to all of their dreams. For the most part, this is an idealistic staff that has had big hopes for this administration. They have struggled for over two years and now that they are finally winning a couple of battles, they are slammed with this revelation. They all look like they've been hit...hard.

While it might have seemed like overkill to have the Haiti crisis, the tropical storm, the tobacco trial, Mrs. Landingham's death and funeral and revealing the MS, instead it shows that the pace at the White House never stops. There is no way to not have a military crisis just because you are having a personal loss. Bartlet doesn't have the luxury of sitting down to mourn his dear friend. Instead he has to squeeze her funeral in between military briefings and closed door meetings to decide the future of his administration.

The first time the portico door blew open, I expected it would turn out to be Mrs. Landingham's spirit. I didn't expect the final scene between her and Bartlet. It was a fitting and tender good-bye to a dear character. I wish all the best to Kathryn will be missed.

A fine wrap-up to a great sophomore season. If there was a slump, I missed it.

©2001 by Rachel Vagts. All rights reserved.

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