Saturday, 22 April 2017

Television: 'The West Wing: Two Cathedrals' (2001) (Episode 2x22)

And then we all waited. For months. With 'Brothers In Arms' running on a loop in our minds. This was one of the best season finales in television, and we all had to wait. The 11th of September incident would intervene between seasons, and the beginning of the third season would be distinctly underwhelming, but for now we all revelled in having watched one of the best television episodes ever.

Great things defy description, while terrible things can be nitpicked into oblivion. Love is irrational, but hate has a reason for everything. That which lingers is what defines what we've experienced. In 'Two Cathedrals', we saw a cleaner picking up a flattened cathedral in a cathedral, a storm raging within and without, a ghostly visitation, and both a renunciation and an acceptance. We saw people worrying deeply about their futures, but then falling into line to bravely go forth and face them, and we saw faith on multiple levels. There were brothers In arms on many levels.

Sometimes, you just have to wonder at how people can make these things on a television schedule. How can it possibly happen? Where does the ability come from, and where does it go when it's done? Think of the dozens and dozens of people, all doing their parts of the work, and all to a common goal? They all made 'Two Cathedrals'. It's not just great writing, the super direction, or the titanically still central performance of Martin Sheen. It's everything. Thinking back to Sheen for a moment, how is it possible that one person being utterly still can be so magnetic? What is this strange ability that one or two screen actors have? It's perplexing.

Storms have been used metaphorically in fiction for what seems like eons, for example in 'The Tempest', as have ghosts. Reluctant heroes who betrayed themselves in their own past before turning back to the light are commonplace. The archetypes are potent, but it's the mixing that counts. Here, the mixing is perfect, and the lesson endeth here. It's a shame about season three, but what can we do. It will pick up again.


1 comment:

  1. Nice post! Presenting fiction on television has a complete story behind. It is not an easy task and takes lots of time as well as effort. A good work in the end speaks for itself.