The West Wing: Season 3, Episode 22

Posse Comitatus (22 May 2002)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama
8.8
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Bartlet, Leo, Sam, Toby, and C.J. travel to New York City for a Catholic fund raiser at a long Broadway play called "The War of the Roses". Josh steps up his efforts to beat his girlfriend,... See full summary »

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Title: Posse Comitatus (22 May 2002)

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Bartlet, Leo, Sam, Toby, and C.J. travel to New York City for a Catholic fund raiser at a long Broadway play called "The War of the Roses". Josh steps up his efforts to beat his girlfriend, Amy, in their struggle over welfare reform, which leads to her forced resignation. C.J. and Secret Service agent Simon Donavon grow closer, but a tragic event cuts short their relationship. At the play, Bartlet comes face to face with Republican Presidential candidate Rob Ritchie and faces the decision of whether or not to assassinate the Qumari Defense Minister. Written by timdalton007

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latin phrase

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Drama

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22 May 2002 (USA)  »

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1.78 : 1
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Trivia

The episode title refers to not only the Latin definition, but also to 18 U.S.C. § 1385. "Use of Army and Air Force as posse comitatus. Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both." See more »

Goofs

Fitzwallace indicates that the defense minister will be returning home on a Gulfstream business jet. The plane that is shown landing is a Learjet 35, distinguishable by the wingtip fuel tanks. See more »

Quotes

Agent Simon Donovan: [holding a gun on a bank robber] Don't reach! I'm Secret Service. You know you'll never get there.
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Soundtracks

The Patriotic Song
from 'The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickelby'
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User Reviews

Season 3: Has a good balance and tone but misses the chance to have more grit and impact
2 March 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I was glad to find that the second season of this show managed to tone down the excessive smaltz and smugness to get rid of the majority of the parts that were pretty unbearable in the first season. This is a tone that thankfully continues into the third season and, although the politics of all involved is pretty much liberal across the board, As a result we do of course get plots and directions that will engage those that share the politics with the makers but still those that disagree strongly will find little to interest them. This much is par for the course by now and it didn't bother me much in this third season, but for large sections I did find myself wishing that it had done something to step up its game in this season.

The plot was well set up for a more politically muddy season which would have added to the previous reduction in superiority. The decision to run in the election against a backdrop of politically charged actions due to the failure to disclose MS does provide plenty of tougher moments and it does drive a good two thirds of the season, but yet it never fully delivers. It goes for a third of the season with energy and urgency but doesn't build past this and sadly it sort of all fizzles out a little bit. It isn't that it doesn't have a conclusion or a meaning within the season, it is just that it is starts strong and gets softer whereas often with drama it works the other way so as to build and build. The show does explore the characters a bit in the midst of turbulent times, but it never challenges the viewer to like or dislike the character – their basic moulds and our views of them is never threatened and this adds to the slight feel that the drama is weaker than some of the dialogue and acting would suggest. Having characters drift out and seemingly be forgotten also made me feel like the plots involving them were sort of phased out rather than ended or being allowed to exist organically in the bigger picture.

The final handful of episodes are dramatic but the plots mostly seem to exist simply to create drama or to get everything to a point for next season – so again there isn't a satisfying build so much as a sudden rush to get all the pieces in place. It all still works as accessible melodramatic entertainment though and I enjoyed it as such, but just wanted more from it – more weight, more challenge and more in the characters; in short I hoped that the third season would continue to grow as the second had – not just reach a point and be happy with it.

The cast continue to do well and they benefit from the slick writing and glossy of the production. Everyone is good – or at least as good as the material wants. Sheen is typical of the whole cast – he can do troubled, he can do reflective, he can do kindly, he can do angry, he can do comical and so on; so whatever the dialogue that day needed, he was right there – it is not his fault that the days are quite separate and that his character, like that of others, isn't as smart or as developed as the gloss would have you believe. Again it works on a certain level – but I found myself thinking about what writers like those from The Wire etc would make of this show and only ever coming back with the answer of "more".

West Wing season 3 settles into a pattern a bit and as such it disappoints in terms of its ambition. The plots engage, the production is glossy and the performances are solid – in other words it does the job of melodramatic light entertainment and I enjoyed it as such despite wanting it to challenge me and push the characters and material. Of course it is still better than being smug and self-satisfied as it once was, but there is certainly still a lot of room to grow for this show.


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