West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Third Season Episodes * #322 "Posse Comitatus" (Season Finale)
C.J. & Simon Mark Harmon as Secret Service agent Simon Donovan & Allison Janney as Press Secretary CJ Cregg
NBC Photo by: Eric Liebowitz
Writer: Aaron Sorkin, Director: Alex Graves
Broadcast: May 22, 2002
Query: What was the music in this finale that was played during and after the convenience store fiasco: "Hallelujah"? (available via U.S., UK & Australian outlets)
Query: What was the music that the Shakespeare company was singing at the end?
Query: What does "Posse Comitatus" mean?
Query: Wouldn't a Secret Service agent be wearing a bullet proof vest?
Query: Who hired Charlie?

We know you do not visit this guide to get our opinions, but we do not think we are going to be able to do one of our usual pages on this episode. We may not even be able to watch the tape again. It took us five days, after all, just to calm down enough to make a comment that was semi-rational.

The idea that the way to raise ratings for May sweeps is to shoot or kill people every year for the finale (finale last year being a two episode story arc) is unworthy of Aaron Sorkin and a show about the West Wing. Two years in a row wasn't enough --- he had to manufacture the same thing again for the third year?

We are hurt by the hack writing that killed Agent Sunshine --- we do not believe we are giving away anything here since Sorkin telegraphs this punch with cliches overused by lesser writers. We are, for instance, shown Simon Donovan as a Big Brother, which was suppose to make his death more poignant --- actually, the heavy-handedness made it less poignant. We have come to expect more subtlety from Aaron Sorkin.

Then there was --- oh hell, let us admit that no matter how Sorkin wrote this, the introduction of a likeable character just to kill him for ratings points (it worked by the way, the ratings for this episode made "The West Wing" third for the week although it is usually only 11th), was --- well we can't, at the moment, think of anything to call it ("ridiculous", "nasty", "mean", "stupid", "gratuitous": nothing seems to adequately cover it)!

And since we are making editorial comments, we'd also like to mention that for most of the past season we have missed the interaction of the main characters. We have heard almost nothing from Charlie all season (except for the time he destroyed all that government property when he decided to act as if he was in a gang war with C.J.). Sorkin is bringing in two new characters as regulars for next season, but he hasn't been able to even write for the main characters he already has.

Of course, there is an implied editorial comment inherent in what we have chosen to put into this site during the last two years and to state it here directly: This show needs to hire someone to check the facts mentioned in the scripts and point out the mistakes before the episodes are shot.

The only thing we can think to do to help those of you who want to be reminded of, or to find out about, this episode, is to introduce you to one of our competitors. The recap on this show at "Television Without Pity" is more complete than anything you may have come to expect from us.

Speaking of this competitor, they are beating us by a quarter of a point in a poll NBC is running. After you check out Television Without Pity, feel free to express your opinion at the NBC poll as to the relative merits of our two sites.

After we put up the above editorial comment we received half a dozen responses (three adamantly opposed to what we said and three in favor) and decided to give these six and anyone else who emailed us from May 29 to June 5 space on this site. Although we intend to publish these first six relatively unedited, we are going to limit all future comments to about five normal size sentences (less than 100 words).
This is not a poll. Don't just write that you agree or not. Write something specific that adds to the general knowledge (hard to do in five sentences, we know). Here are the first six plus the comments for the first two days (for those looking for quotes some of the opposing emails contained quotes) and still the comments are about evenly divided:

The above forum has started a series of forums. First one on Amy!

From NBC:
In the season finale, President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) encounters Ritchie (guest star James Brolin, "Pensacola, Wings of Gold") -- his Republican presidential rival -- when they attend a Broadway play while the President faces a terrorist threat after he discovers that a high-ranking Middle Eastern official has been supporting terrorism.

When Josh (Bradley Whitford) supports a key welfare reform bill that his feminist activist/lover Amy (guest star Mary-Louise Parker) opposes, it threatens their personal relationship.

CJ & Simon Elsewhere, the flirtation between C.J. (Allison Janney) and her Secret Service bodyguard (guest star Mark Harmon) is limited by the boundaries of their professional relationship and the search continues for a replacement for Mrs. Landingham.

John Spencer, Rob Lowe, Richard Schiff, Dule Hill and Janel Moloney also star.

From Warner Brothers
In the season finale, Bartlet makes a life-or-death decision regarding a foreign diplomat who is a known terrorist. He ponders the situation during a charity benefit performance of a Shakespeare play about another conflicted leader, Henry VI. At the performance, Bartlet encounters Governor Robert Ritchie (recurring guest star JAMES BROLIN - "Pensacola: Wings of Gold"), his Republican rival in the upcoming presidential election. Meanwhile, Toby and Sam manipulate the press to discredit Ritchie. When Josh supports a key welfare reform bill that his lover, feminist activist Amy Gardner (recurring guest star MARY-LOUISE PARKER), opposes, their personal relationship is threatened. The flirtation between C.J. and her Secret Service bodyguard, Simon Donovan (recurring guest star MARK HARMON), is limited by their professional relationship. And as the search continues for a replacement for the deceased Mrs. Landingham, Charlie recommends Deborah Fiderer (recurring guest star LILY TOMLIN - "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe"), a former White House secretary who was fired for hiring Charlie.

From TVGuide
President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) has a life-and-death decision to make as the third season concludes. The Qumari defense minister, who's secretly a terrorist mastermind, is arriving in the U.S., and Leo and Fitz want him killed. Is it legal? Is it right? Bartlet wrestles with both questions as he observes the similar struggles of another political leader, Henry VI, during a benefit performance of Shakespeare's War of the Roses plays. Meanwhile, C.J. and Simon Donovan (Mark Harmon) come to an understanding of sorts; and Charlie recommends a woman (Lily Tomlin)---someone who had once helped him--to become Bartlet's new secretary. The job interview doesn't go well at all.

If you would like to see the opinions on this episode, please see the poll at West Wing Fan Survey Page.

For anyone interested in guest stars of this episode, let us recommend the West Wing Episode Guide.
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