Monday Movie Quote: THE WEST WING – Two Cathedrals.
Some love THE WEST WING, some hate it. Regardless, almost everyone agrees it had some damn fine dialogue. I am of the perspective that THE WEST WING had four seasons. Whatever came later was something else entirely. But those first four seasons were special. Not all of it was good, but it was always enjoyable to my ears.
The final episode of season two has some of the best damn television I have seen. Barlett has lost his long-time secretary to a drunk driver, came clean about his MS and is debating whether or not to run for a second term. This takes place in the National Cathedral, right after Mrs. Landingham’s service. Barlett lights a cigarette and addresses God. While this was being shot, the real-life priests were nearby (as was church higher-ups). The crew were initially afraid they would be opposed to the dialogue, but found they loved it and demanded to watch it be filmed.
As great as this monologue is, the final scene of the episode, a scene that contains almost no words, is even better. Backed by DIRE STRAITS’ BROTHERS IN ARMS, Barlett makes his way to a press conference to announce whether or not he will run for re-election. It is amazing. In addition to the words, I have included clips of both this scene as well as that final one. Enjoy:
BARTLET[tired]: You’re a son-of-a-bitch, you know that?
He slowly walks up the center aisle.
BARTLET: [tired] 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 gaining speed and power. They say we haven’t had a storm this bad since you took out the tender ship of mine last year in the north Atlantic last year… 68 crew. Do you know what a tender ship does? Fixes the other ships.
Doesn’t even carry guns. Floats around and fixes the other ships and delivers that mail.
That’s all it can do. [angry] Gratias tibi ago, domine. Yes, I lied. It was a sin.
[holds out arms] 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, 30 million new acres for conservation, put Mendoza on the bench, we’re not fighting a war, I’ve raised three children…
He ascends the stairs to the Inner Sanctuary.
BARTLET[pleading]: That’s not enough to buy me out of the doghouse? Haec credam a deo pio?
A deo iusto? A deo scito?
He stops at the top of the stairs and extends his arms.
BARTLET: Cruciatus in crucem! Tuus in terra servus nuntius fui officium perfeci. [angry]
Cruciatus in crucem. [waves dismissively] Eas in crucem!
Bartlet turns away in anger. He descends to the lower sanctuary and lights a cigarette.
He takes a single puff, drops the butt to the floor, and grinds it defiantly with his shoe. He looks back at the altar.
BARTLET[betrayed]: You get Hoynes!