The West Wing (1999–2006): Season 4, Episode 13 - The Long Goodbye - full transcript

C.J. takes a short trip to her home in Dayton to check on her father, who is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, and to give a speech at her high school reunion; at the Dayton airport, she meets an old high school acquaintance and they have a quick fling.

Previously on The West Wing:

No, Dad, I'm on the plane.

All right. I'll try and call you later if
there's anything interesting to report.

Talk to you later.

- I'm talking about my father.
- Why?

He's not doing fine. He forgets things.

- I know.
- He forgets what's going on.

He thought this was the
general election today...

...and he snaps back in, but...

After meeting with the council
on foreign relations...

...the president and first lady
will go to Camp David...

...where the governor of Nebraska
will join them.

Wasn't Josh Lyman scheduled to
do press briefings today...

...and over the weekend?
- You have me.

You're not going to your
high school reunion in Dayton?

- Yes. If that's all...
- We understood you were to deliver...

...a speech entitled
"The Promise of a Generation."

- How did you know?
- It's in the Dayton papers.

- Right.
- Could you tell us...

...what the promise of a generation is,
since you're chickening out?

I'm not sure, but like pornography,
I know it when I see it.

They came up with the title.
Because it's school...

...I felt it was an assignment.
I couldn't say no.

My job prevents me certain pleasures.

- I'm not chickening out.
- We don't get Josh.

No fresh meat for the lions.

- That's a full lid.
- Thank you.

Thank you. I couldn't go out there.

Like they had this sadistic
anticipatory glee.

- I agree. I have to stay.
- What are you doing here?

Josh can't do the briefings. I missed the
last flight to Dayton, so it's moot.

No, there's one at 7:50. You're booked.
There is. I don't make the schedules.

- Go. I'll do it.
- Good luck.

It's not your shtick.
You don't know who to call...

...where to look,
when to smile and interrupt.

- You scared of that promise thing?
- Yes.

No, that can't be it.

It's your dad.

I'm sorry.

- How's he doing?
- Don't use the words...

..."Alzheimer's" or"doctors."
- Nevertheless, those are...

...the relevant words.
- His wife scares me.

The woman who takes care
of him scares me. Molly.

She was my English teacher,
and she was a tough grader.

Scared of your high school teacher?

Well, she's also now my stepmother,
so it's just a little bit fraught.

Did you ever not get an A
in her class?

Nevertheless, Dayton awaits.

Finish your speech.

Toby, a couple of things.

There are notes for an NEA speech...

...and the president's going to ask for
something, maybe over the weekend.

Also, Toby, the section on embassy
security is still being ironed out by Josh.

- And I haven't...
- Ma'am?

I haven't had a chance to work on...
Hold on.

Thank you.

No, not you.

No, I didn't mean that you
have no social skills, Toby.

I'm sorry if you think I was being
insensitive to your...

I think you're very...
You're a very pretty girl, Toby.

By the way, I have...

I have notes about the
SEC appointment speech.

I can't do this. I'll call you later.
I'm gonna have a heart attack.

Toby, if you get this, there's also an
errant draft of a briefing paper...

...on agricultural trading exchange
with South African students...

...and it has to pass through the...
I think I may have been maybe cut off.

I'll e-mail you.

You look basically exactly the same.

- Pardon me?
- Yeah, you do.

I didn't think you'd be coming.

I feel slightly so much better now.

I'm hearing Violent Femmes
and thinking...

...Quaaludes and detention and tacos.

Well, there was a little bit more
to it than that.


Marco Arlens.

Where's your band?

Alas, The Mollusks of Lust.

- I'm afraid we didn't make it.
- Nor did the purple and magenta Mohawk.

But unlike the Mollusks,
Mohawks are making a comeback...

...but as fauxhawks.

- Are you dreading this?
- Yeah.

But I'm not making a speech about...

- The promise of a generation.
- Yeah.

So, what are you up to now?

Sort of... in Paris.
- Paris?

You were a baseball-playing
punk rocker.

And you were the smartest...


...saddest girl in Dayton.

Thank you. I think that might
have been a compliment.

How's your dad, Mr. Cregg?

He's not still teaching math, is he?

No. He has a new job now,
he gets married.

After my mom died. Twice. Now to a
lovely lady in the English department.

Her job is baking and hating me.

- Did you ever have Mrs. Lapham?
- Yeah.

She hated me too.

So she's your stepmom. Wow.

- So it's just all fun?
- Welcome home.

That's my ride.

Hey, listen, at the risk of
being anything... wouldn't wanna go to this
thing together, would you?

I mean, we could get a vodka first,
which helps with fear...

...and a cracker, which helps
with the bad food.

Safety in numbers.

That'd be great.

I'll see you.

Claudia Jean, when you go out
on a date, you're supposed to call...

...if you come in after midnight,
aren't you?

I'm sorry, I...

Come on in. Come on.

Come and have a Manhattan. Molly
made cupcakes for us before retiring.

- Great.
- Tell me everything.

I wanna know everything.
Let's sit up all night and catch up.

I don't seem to do
much of that anymore.

Ticking clocks, you know,
and so much to do.

- How are you, Daddy?
- I've been a little blue lately.

- I haven't been able to fish.
- It's February.

I know that. I'm aware of that.

I've got these Italian flies
I wanna try out.

They're quite flirtatious.

Would you go to the river
with me in the morning?

- You wanna go fishing tomorrow?
- I know.

I know it's gonna be cold,
but I thought it might be bracing.

I don't wanna be at the mercy
of the seasons, do I, at my age?

Why let meteorology dictate?

- We used to go fishing, didn't we?
- Yes.

- There you go, then.
- Once or twice.

- Just like the old days...
- Which I don't recall loving. Yes, just like.

When you get to a certain age...

...the little things you used to do
matter more and more. Old...

...Mr. Moyers from two doors down,
after his Beth died...

...all he wanted to do was to be taken
to the Astro Dinette for tuna melts...

...which is what they'd done
together every Thursday.

Now it's me taking him.

Are we gonna wake up Molly?

You could blast Elgar in here
with 25 speakers... wouldn't wake up Molly.
- How is Molly?

Marvelous, fun, funny.

Lots of rules.

Ex-vice principals can't give up
their principles, can they?

You hungry?

I'll be right there. I'm gonna put my bags
down and wash my face.

About Mr. Moyers, you think he...? Dad?

Mr. Moyers lived in Shaker Heights.
The Astro's in Cleveland.

Well, I know that.

I meant Marianthall, not Moyers.

Did I say Moyers?

Yep, I started smoking again.
I'm not supposed to, but there it is.

- Why is this kitchen such a mess?
- We have a nice lady that comes in...

...but who knows when?

The fact is, I don't know
where anything is in here.

Daddy, what are you...?

Lately, I've been perfecting
a zabaglione.

- You know what that is?
- An Italian...

...custard sauce.
- Correct, Ms. Cregg.

A custard, fabled for
its restorative properties.

Somewhere in this kitchen is a copper
pot with a curvy ass. I need it.

- Here.
- Yeah. Good, good.

Can't do it without that. It facilitates
the whipping at a far greater rate.

- How's your job?
- We're happy.

- This is a time we...
- Somewhere in this hellhole kitchen... a really good bottle
of Marsala wine.

We get to... We have a window.
We get to...

We get to do...

...actual work for a while.
No more campaigning... Got it.

Oh, good.

You know, I like your man. His economic
theories, so generous, so good.

But he hides his light under a bushel.
Why is that?

You already... Dad...

He wanted to win. He did so with honor.
We played clean.

That you did. That you did.
I'm proud of you.

Thank you.

- You're writing?
- Yeah. A handbook...

...for the teaching of mathematics to a
generation of mathematically...

...illiterate teachers.
- That's wonderful, Daddy.

I was thinking of asking you to write
a forward, but I suppose that's...

...unethical, no?
- No, I'd be happy to.

Well, it seems to me that everything
is intrinsically unethical these days.

-"Numerical Idiocy." Catchy title.
- Yeah. Well...

Go to the supermarket,
they can't make change.

They can't tell you that if you drive
at 40 miles an hour for three hours...'ve gone 260 miles.

Daddy, 120.

I have found that this pot is the very
most efficient way of making a custard.

And I can only surmise
that it's because... doesn't allow eggs to stay
in one place long enough...

...for them to get overcooked.

- I think you have to keep whipping.
- What?

Hundred and twenty. Oh, God.
Wow, senior moment.

Yeah, you have to...

Dad, maybe you need more help.

Everybody needs more help.

Yes, but I don't think you're doing
as well as...

I have to finish my book. Kids aren't
being taught any of the important things.

Inductive reasoning, estimation.
It's gone. It's all disappearing.

Oh, stop staring at me, darling.

You know you were brought up
better than that.


Archimedes is getting old.

Where's Molly?

Well, I mean...

Of course. She left.

She left? What does that mean?

This obviously isn't much fun.

- Not what she signed on for.
- But this is what's happening.

You don't just walk away.
This is what's happening to you.

Forty miles an hour for three hours
has always been 120.

I don't know what I was thinking.

- Yeah, everything's gone well here.
-Is it? Good.

Where's the...?

I lost the... That NEA thing you wanted.

Lost it? It's notes, there's a file.

Yeah, you needed me
to polish a draft?

There's no draft to polish.
That's what I'm saying.

There's notes.
I don 't have them here.

Well, I'm sure I can find it.

I wanna be clear about the briefing.
What I meant when I said...

...that you need to know who to look at
and when to ask certain questions..., avoid the calm ones. Get the
anxious ones out of the way, sweetie... get the pros room to figure out
what they want.

Avoid ones who don 't blink.
They're power devils.

- I don't know what that is.
-Yes, you do.

Is anything happening?

The usual chaos, but minus 10 percent.

- How are things?
- Usual, uneventful, Dayton-esque.

- How's your father?
- Fine.

- And the wicked stepmother?
- Even finer.

- The weather?
- Perfection.

I'll call you later.

- Hi, Lib.
- You come for the reunion...

...but stay for the comfort
and ease of home?

Yep, afraid so.

You have to stop being beautiful,

- That would be today.
- The speech, C.J.

-"The Promise of a Generation"? Really?
- You going?

No. I think I know exactly
why you're here at 7:05 a.m.

Your stepmom,
she's moved right back in.

I prefer to think of your mother
as my dad's third wife, Libby.

Yeah? Let me tell you, it's been fun.

Come in, see if you can broker a deal.
God knows I've tried.

I want lemonade.

You'll get lemonade after you wash your
hands, which have snail on them, Harry.


I failed, I know. Please, no lectures.

- What happened?
- Have you been there? Have you seen...?

- Mom, nobody is...
- I made a mistake.

It was years of him being charming.
You both know... charming the man can be.
- Yes, but...

I'm in the English department,
he's in the math.

There were lunches.

There were quiet lunches for years.

And we wait. Both of us,
waiting, for years.


...your mom died and I had
married what's-his-name...

...we were still two
missed connections...

...two withered, married,
ancient people waiting...

Why didn't you call me, Molly?

I didn't get to spend time
with your father.

We never had an affair.

I'm sorry, but I don't want to
diaper a man...

Shut up! Shut up.

You were a wonderful teacher, Molly.
You should be ashamed of yourself.

Well, I am.

And did you know what the
nickname for the disease is?

"The long goodbye."

Not in your case, though, is it?
More accurately...'s"the short 'see you later'

What happened to reciprocity?
Do you ever imagine in a million years...

...if the roles were reversed,
he would ever do this to you?

What you're doing right now invalidates
everything that came before...

...all the good, the years of teaching.
This cancels a good and valuable life.

- He needs you.
- I need him!

You came for the reunion?

You're giving a speech, aren't you?

It was in the paper.

"The Promise of a Generation."

We were going to go and stand
in the back.

You remember how to do this?

It's not in the wrist...'s the fulcrum-and-lever effect,
sort of.

And then let it drift.

And then let it sink.

And of course, then nothing happens,
which is the fun part.

How is she? You went to see her.

- No, no.
- Sweetie, I know when young people lie.

Did she say how long she's been gone?

It seems like weeks. Has it been
weeks or just a few days?

Dad, you know...

...we need to get some help if Molly
won't come back. We do.

Someone to come in and referee me?

We would figure something out.

You mean more than a nice lady
from Catholic Family Services?

We have to find some way, because
you being alone won't work out now.

Why not? I can work around the clock,
there's so much to do.

There's a whole chapter
on women and math anxiety.

Because for years... Now why is that,
that women underperformed in math?

- The teachers were sexist men?
- Exactly.

So there's blocked women
to be helped.


...let me help you.

That's good. Now, just...

Nice and easy. Nice and easy.


Thank you.

- You could hurt yourself.
- You could hurt yourself.

Look at that hook.
Practically a nipple piercing.

You will hurt yourself.

- We can afford it. I can afford it.
- Molly never liked to go fishing.

She considered it devilish. I explained
to her we throw them back, usually.

Mostly, I just like to stand
and work the odds.

Have you...

...done...? Have you done anything...

...seen doctors?
- Doctors?

My age smells of liniment and waiting
rooms. No. I've researched.

There's a new drug, Reminyl.

- Buys you a few months, they say.
- We could arrange to see someone.

Lee Voight, he's your friend.
He's a terrific neurologist.

It's such a beautiful day, Molly. I'd
prefer not to screw it up with all that.

- Dad, I'm not...
- Molly, please, please! This nagging.

Can't we just enjoy it here...?

- Dad, I'm not Molly.
- You're not Molly. You're not Molly.

Who...? Who the hell are you?
Who the hell are you?

Who the hell are you? Who are you?
All these damn women hounding me!

My mother, my mother calls
this morning... remind me to fold the socks
when I get back in...

...and my daughter just abandoned me.

Mothers, wives, daughters, and none
of them stay. All these damn women!



...cannot expect me to silently
do nothing.

You are going to require care.

I wasn't built for it.

- You came for the prom, not for this.
- Reunion. I'm not going.


That world. The expertise,
the solicitude, no.

No, thanks.

I want to go down with some silence,
with my music and some grace.

I'll quit and take care of you.

"We sail," said Pascal,
"in a vast sphere," Claudia Jean.

"Ever drifting in uncertainty...

...driven from end to end."

I'd much rather see you
on TV, darling...

...than sitting opposite me, watching a
demolition derby going on in my brain.

- I'm here under duress, Lee.
- Yeah, Tal? Big deal, so am I.

Stop it, both of you. I'm very
upset and don't wanna laugh.

Look, it's a subtle disease,
and it creeps up on you, Tal.

One-hundred-and-seventy-five thousand
people will be diagnosed this year.

Why on earth would a statistic like that
comfort me?

I thought you liked numbers.

I'm not trying to comfort you.
I'm talking to you like an old pal.

You used to play golf with me,
and you just stopped.

What? I used to play golf,
and I stopped?

I wondered why. Now I know.

We like to say it's not a disease where
you forget where you put the key...'s where you forget
what the key is for.

I know what the key is for,
and I know what the door is for...

...and I think I'll use it.
- You're not alone.

You're not the first or the last, pal.

Ten percent of the people
over 65 have it.

That lumps me in with several million
other poor souls.

There are new drugs.

Yeah. They're not bad. They're not
"knock them out of the ballpark" either.

We can slow it down.

Good. He can slow it down.

- What a concept.
- You shouldn't be alone, Tal.

Having someone there helps keep
it at bay. Alone is not good.

I'm not alone. I have my book
and a cat, right?

So we have a little while, unfortunately,
before I begin not to recognize you, Lee.

But you didn't recognize me.

You covered, and I saw it,
and that's going to last longer...

...and happen more and more.

And by the way, what the hell
happened with Molly?

It's"hard on the spouse,"
isn't it? I read that.

We need to make plans, Lee.

Let's not sugarcoat this.

Known you for a long time,
and I just want to say this...

...because I know you've always
been a straight shooter.

Because you hate being a burden...'re probably aware it's...

...harder on the people around you
than it will be on you.

For you, it will be...

...not unpleasant...

...particularly if we put you on the right
drugs, including antidepressants.

It won't hurt.

If only that were true, kids.

He's too smart. It's no good.
He won't be handled.

He's getting paranoid and mad
and trying to fight.

- Yes.
- Well, that's good. Mad is good.

He should be mad. It sucks.

Look, C. J...

...there is a good home. It's actually
not depressing in any way.

We can get him in
if we make a call now.

He has a while, I think...

...but you're going to have to start
making plans right now, today.

- Should we buy a corsage for the prom?
- Reunion. I'm not going.

You damn well are. Your speech,
"Promise of a Generation."

- Awfully grand title, no?
- They came up with it.

I agreed because I wanted to see you.

No, you didn't.

You could come and live in Washington
with me. I have room.

Do you? Can you imagine?
Talk about ruining a good thing.

Okay, let's see, is this Lakeside
or Grandview?

I know why you started smoking again.

You use the time it gives you
to work stuff out.

- You use the cigarette to stall for time.
- No, sweetie, I started smoking again...

...because I forgot 20 years ago, I quit.
- Great. That's great.

See? I know exactly what I'm doing.

Dad. Dad!

- Hello?
- So how's it going?

- Please tell me everything's okay.
-All quiet in the West Wing.

What's all that honking?

You in a parade?

- They having a parade for you?
- Let's talk later.

Pull over, I'm driving. Pull over.

- Well, let's go, if we're going.
- I mean...

Tell me...

Things like your checkbook, money,
things like that, what do you propose?

- Tell me. You're smart, tell me.
- I'm pretty good with numbers.

Oh? If we drove for three hours
at 40 miles an hour?

I mean, tell me. You are holding on
to something that...

- What? My consciousness? Identity?
...can't be willed away...

- Tell me, brilliant woman! sheer force!

Would you hand over those things
without a fight?

I need a little more time, C.J.

If I let it in on its own pace,
it'll just get dark faster.

The same is true for the bailout
of the iron industry.

Nothing was said that has not been...

That has consistently not been said,
and it's still being not said.

And what's... What's not being said
is often more important...

... than what's stated,
particularly by Congress.

- That man lacks grace and charm.
- Do you think?

At 0600 hours, the president...

- They really need you.
- Yeah, they kind of do.

Dad? Dad, can you get the door?

Mr. Arlen! I heard you were
back in town.

Mr. Cregg. How's the algebra business?

An abysmal mess, I hear.

But fortunately, as the waitresses
like to say,"Not my table."

- Come on in.
- Thank you.

You're no longer a rabid
punk rocker, I see.

How could you possibly remember that?
I was your student for one semester.

I remember the detentions and the
ditchings and the low test scores...

...and your imperviousness
to algorithms.

- Let's get you a drink.
- Scotch?

You're better-looking with a Mohawk.

Yeah, my mom thinks so too.

- So, what you up to now?
- I'm a horologist.

You fix watches?

- You were in trouble.
- Yeah. I spent a lot of time in detention.

No, no. After.

- You were in prison.
- No. Dad, no. He gets confused.

- Dad, no. 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.

C'est la guerre, eh, son?

So, what's the skinny?

You good with the watches?

Yes, sir.

1931 Hamilton.

One of the few thoroughly
American watches.

Each piece, each part, handmade
in the U.S. of A.

- Not many American watchmakers.
- My dad's.

- You're losing time, Mr. Cregg.
- That, son, I am.

- Let's have a look inside.
- Really?


- Your isochronism is out of beat.
- Is it?

This is your balance cock...

...and your hairspring.

The fourth wheel and
the third wheel here.

That's me.

Oh, God. What am I thinking?
You kids should get going.

Maybe we should.

I've always cherished this thing.
My father kept perfect time...

...marked it, measured it with this,
the hellos and goodbyes.

It keeps faltering.
Nobody can do anything.

Well, I could retool it.
It wants a timing machine.

Send it to you in a few weeks
from Paris.


You're a convicted felon.
How do I know you won't steal it?

I'm not a recidivist. It'd be a pleasure,
Mr. Cregg. After all... taught me how to calculate the
number of stones in the Great Pyramid.

I did?

How do you do that?

I can't remember anything.
For days, sometimes.

I can't remember who this is.

- We should be going, Mr. Cregg.
- Oh, forgive me.

Are we that old?

Do you recognize anyone?

Bill Morton from debate.

Julia Keller, cheerleading.

Liz Varney from tennis.

Ben Ehrenreich.

He was sweet.

He tried to kiss me once.

I don't think I can...

...face it right now.

- When do you give your speech?
- After dinner, before the scary dancing.

After dinner?

I'm, like... I'm, like,
on in a few minutes.

No, that clock's 20 minutes fast.

Anyway, you're about to find out.

What am I about to find out?

The bittersweet thrill
of high school popularity.

There were days, some days when...

...we'd played at a party, The Mollusks,
or we'd won a baseball game...

...and there was just that thing...

...that everybody loving you
in that moment.

Are you saying...'re one of those people who think,
like in F. Scott Fitzgerald...

...their best years were 20 years prior?
- Oh, God, no.

No, I think the best day's
gotta be the next day.

Life is...

...all what's next.

It's like those billboards where,
before the actual ad goes up...

...they put in, in big block letters:

"Watch this space."

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 gonna start with a joke and fill
the whole thing 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 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 persuasive those
qualities are in American life...

...and how I see them all around me
day after day.

America is 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 expectations.


I'm sorry.

Excuse me one sec.

Toby, not now. Not now. Not in the...

Something's happened. Turn on CNN.

I hope it's monumental,
not some joke...

...timed to the exact moment
I'm giving my speech.

It is. Two car bombs outside
our embassies in Asia.

One went off, one didn't. A message
to expect more of the same...

...within the next 24 hours. Four.
- Oh, jeez. How many?

No casualties, thank God.
If you can try and get back...

There are no direct flights,
but if you connect out of Chicago... can be in, we think,
at 6:30 in the morning.

Let me get moving. I'll call you
on my way to the airport.


I'm sorry. I have to go.
There's been... We have...

I'm sorry, I...

- What is it?
- Some bombing threats to embassies.

I'm sorry, I have to get to the airport
and get back to D.C.

I'll get the car.

- You all right?
- I have to go.

Tal, I don't know what to do
about this situation.

Nobody does. We'll just try
and figure it out.

I mean, between the lot of us, there's
surely one superior mind still working.

- I don't know whose.
- Right.

We'll drive with you if you like.


Before I forget...

...tell Marco:

Send it back to me soon, please...

...and working.

Time matters.

I'll see you next week.

You can't keep flying back and forth.