30 Days of The West Wing: Day 3 - Your favourite episode
TV doesn’t get much better than this. Scratch that, TV doesn’t get any better than this. This episode isn’t just about the death of a much-beloved colleague and whether or not President Bartlet will run for a second term; it is the fall and rebirth of a man. The flashbacks to Jed’s school days are intricately woven into the storyline through parallels and cinematography to die for and the casting of young Jed and Mrs Landingham is flawless (their dynamic is just begging for a spin-off). We see his mistreatment at the hands of his father and we realise that by rejecting God, Jed is finally speaking the words he never could to his father. There is a universalisability about that brilliant scene in the church (I haven’t the foggiest idea why Martin Sheen never won an Emmy for this) because who hasn’t had their faith tested or experienced that moment of doubt; not just with religion but in all areas of life?
The eponymous ‘Two Cathedrals’ represent the two most defining aspects of Jed and how connected they are. When he loses faith in God, he also loses faith in his presidency, but Mrs Landingham is there to put some much needed sense in him, like always. Because you never had a big sister and you need one. Visited by an angel, baptised in the rain of a tropical storm, disciples - SO MANY JESUS METAPHORS YOU GUYS. So when we reach the final scene I am already a wreck, but Sorkin and Schlamme go ahead and decide to create the best sequence of television I’ve ever seen. (Not even exaggerating. Just watch this: x ) I’ve seen it fifty times, I know exactly what is going to happen, and yet the magic is still there. In summary: the best episode ever of the best show ever, and y’all should watch it. Stat.