"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by C.J.
As a potentially deadly crisis at a nuclear power plant throws the White House into a state of emergency, Vinick and Santos struggle with the political fallout on their own campaigns.
C.J. has dinner with Danny and just as it seems he is proposing, she receives an emergency page from the White House and has to leave. C.J. arrives at the White House to learn there has been a nuclear accident in California. Bartlet, Kate, and CJ talk about the nuclear accident. There is the danger of a serious breach.
Bruno gets the call about the nuclear plant. Arnold Vinick tells his campaign staff that 25 years ago he helped pave the way to bring the nuclear plant on line.
Act one: Bartlet and scientists discuss the problems at the plant and possible solutions. Bartlet orders the NRC to take over the plant and works Governor's plan to evacuate. He'll declare a disaster and will help them every way he can. Bartlet met with the press corps and made the announcement about the plant. Santos, his wife, and staff are watching news about the accident. Josh and Santos go into the hall. Josh points out that Vinick's record speaks for itself; let the press go after Vinick. Santos agrees to that plan.
Staff at the Situation room to discuss and assess the emergency. Bartlet orders Pendleton's involvement in evacuations and venting the plant to help prevent an explosion.
Josh and Bram are talking about using the accident to Santos' advantage. Josh said no; Donna said to hang on to his pitchfork and read the paper in her hand. It's about Vinick's paving the way to bring that nuclear plant on line. Bartlet and staff talk about how to address the issue. Bruno expects Josh to make hay over the accident; it's impossible for him not to. Santos insists his campaign remain silent about the accident. They question why the media doesn't know about Vinick's help for the plant.
The press briefing: Will mentions the pipe degrading and emergency repairs. Will announces the President's trip and includes Vinick as senior representative of CA. Vinick issues a statement. The press asks if Vinick is still pro-nuclear. He fumbles his responses and quickly leaves. Vinick and Bartlet argue about nuclear energy. CJ quietly interrupts to say the second valve was closed and that the engineer who fell into a coma died. Bartlet mentions duck and cover drills in schools. China and Russia invade Kazakhstan over their oil, using election fraud as their excuse. The news shows some of the political fall out of the nuclear accident.
The episode ends with Josh writing "too close to call' on the white board.
- Alan Alda as Senator Arnold Vinick
- Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg
- Joshua Malina as Will Bailey
- Mary McCormack as Kate Harper
- Janel Moloney as Donna Moss
- Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman
- with Jimmy Smits as Matthew Santos
- and Martin Sheen as President Jed Bartlet
Special Guest Stars
- Stephen Root as Bob Mayer
- J.K. Simmons as Harry Ravitch
- Michael Chieffo as Hayes
- Matthew Del Negro as Bram Howard
- Renée Estevez as Nancy
- Adam Shulman as Youth Voter #1
- Vanessa Lee Chester as Youth Voter Karen
- Matt Corboy as Asst. HHS Sect. Blieden
- Peggy Dunne as D.O.E. Spokeswoman
- Emil Beheshti as Reporter #1
- Paul Rae as Reporter Walter
- Caroline Duncan as Reporter Jane
- Joyce Guy as Santos Reporter Charlayne
- Sumalee Montano as Vinick Reporter #1
- Timothy Davis-Reed as Vinick Reporter Mark O'Donnell
- Penny Griego as Anchor #1
- Ivan Allen as Anchor Roger Salier
- John Hemphill as E.P.A. Spokesman
- The title is derived from the Cold War-era "civil defense" film, designed to inform citizens, particularly schoolchildren, how to react in the event of an alert indicating an impending nuclear strike. As neither walls nor tables would provide any meaningful protection in such circumstances, the phrase has come to represent a futile but instinctive self-defense response.
- Final appearance of recurring reporter Mark O'Donnell.
- San Andreo is not a real town in California, though it's name is similar to San Andreas, a town that does not have a nuclear power plant.
- When Will Bailey exits the White House to join the motorcade, a shot of C.J. talking on the phone does not correspond with her spoken lines.
- In a scene set in the situation room, a world day/night map shows that it is pre-dawn early morning in North America even though it has just been established to be shortly after 10:40 PM Washington DC time and early morning Kazakhstan time.