Writer: Jon Robin Baitz, Director: Alex Graves
Matthew Modine as Marco Arlens, and Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg
NBC Photo: Charles Hodes
- Takes Place: February (C.J. says it is "February" when her father talks about wanting to go fishing)
- Broadcast: January 15, 2003
- Query: What music was playing on the record player when C.J. gets to her father's? and What was her father playing on the piano?
- C.J. is headed for her high school reunion. But then she decides to stay since Josh has already proved that briefings are not his thing. But the White House Press finds out she is supposed to be giving a speech at the reunion. And Toby insists:
- "Go, I'll do the briefings."
"Good luck," Josh says to Toby --- Josh is obviously still traumatized by having done the briefings once.
"You can't," C.J.tells Toby. "It's not your shtick. You don't know who to call on, where to look, when to smile and interrupt ---"
"You scared of that promise thing?" Toby asks referring to the speech she agreed to make on the Promise of a Generation.
"No that can't be it." And after a long pause Toby quietly insists, "It's your dad. . . ."
"You aren't allowed to use the words 'Alzheimers' or 'doctors'."
"Nevertheless, those are the relevant words. . . . Nevertheless, Dayton awaits. Psst. Finish your speech." Carol has gotten her on the last flight out, and C.J. finds she is going after all.
- But C.J. has trouble letting go. From the airport she talks to Toby on her cell phone giving him details he will need. But maybe she gives him a little too much advice. She goes on and on and finally, obviously, Toby interrupts and C.J. decides to backtrack a bit (although since it is Toby, she has a little fun with it):
- "No, I didn't mean I thought you had no social skills, Toby. I'm sorry if you thought I was being insensitive to your --- I think you're --- you're a very pretty girl."
- Even after she reaches Dayton, she spends time on the phone with Toby:
- "I want to be clear about the briefing, Toby. What I meant when I said you need to know who to look at and when to ask certain questions is --- avoid the calm ones. Get the anxious ones out of the way first, sweetie, to give the pros room to figure out what it is they really want. And avoid the ones who don't blink, they are power devils,"
"I don't know what that is."
"Yes, you do. Is anything happening?"
"The usual chaos but minus ten percent."
- Toby asked how her father was, and C.J. lied and said he and his wife were fine. But her father's third wife, Molly, has left him. She admits to C.J. that she is ashamed of herself, but she just can't deal with Tal's advancing Alzheimers She asks C.J.:
- "...did you know what the nickname for the disease is? The long good-bye."
- C.J. is surprised by the occasions when her father can't cope. So she offers:
- "I'll quit and take care of you."
For a long time her father just looks at her. Then he says, "'We sail,' said Pascal, 'in a vast sphere,' Claudia Jean, 'ever drifting in uncertainty, driven from end to end.'" Again her father pauses. "I'd much rather see you on TV, darling, than sitting opposite me watching the demolition derby going on in my brain."
- C.J. and her father stumble along. But at least Toby tells her:
- "All quiet in the West Wing."
But later when Tal watches Toby's attempt to stumble through a press conference, Tal concludes, "That man lacks grace and charm."
C.J. doesn't disagree. "Do you think?"
"They really need you."
"Yeah, they kind of do."
- C.J. has agreed to go to the reunion with an old classmate she saw again at the airport when she got in. When Marco Arlen comes to pick her up, her father answers the door and after they discuss what he did in the past, Tal asks Marco what he is doing now.
- "I'm a horologist."
"You fix watches?" Then Tal has a memory. "You were in trouble.... You were in prison."
"No, Dad, no." C.J. tells Marco, "He gets confused. No, Dad... Marco wasn't in prison."
"Yes, I was. I did a year. It wasn't hard, I was younger. Stock tips. Anyway, I lost most of what I had and moved on."
- Finally comes the time for the speech which C.J. starts by telling her audience her name:
- "My name is C.J. Cregg. As you know, I work for the President of the United States. This is why I was asked to make a short speech for our reunion. It's a terrible subject, a terrible idea: The Promise of a Generation. So bad I was going to start off with a joke and fill the whole thing in with more jokes. But I find the topic has gotten under my skin while I wasn't paying attention because every generation has promise and every generation fails that promise in some respects. How can we not? What is promise if not something that's impossible to live up to? My boss had to recently make his case to the American people that he was worth reelecting and it was not an easy process --- nor should it be. And in its wake I've been thinking a lot about civility, civic duty and kindness, and how pervasive and powerful they are. How enduringly pervasive those qualities are in American life and how I see them all around me day after day. America's a terribly difficult idea filled with promise and impossible to live up to. Promise is inchoate and promise is what binds us. Some of us died, some got sick, some got rich, some had bad luck, some of us were fortunate, more than others. But failed promise only truly fails when it leads to lowered expectation." But at this point the speech is interrupted by a bell that indicates that things are no longer quiet in the West Wing.