West Wing Wiki
West Wing Wiki

PRODIGAL DAUGHTER C.J. RETURNS TO ROLLERCOASTER HIGH SCHOOL REUNION; MATTHEW MODINE MAKES EPISODIC TV DEBUT -- In a special episode guest written by playwright Jon Robin Baitz ("Three Hotels"), C.J. (Allison Janney) reluctantly returns to Dayton, Ohio, to speak at her 20th high school class reunion but her return home includes an impromptu encounter with a rich and handsome classmate (guest star Matthew Modine, "Notting Hill," in his episodic TV debut) -- and a sobering understanding that her intellectual father is suddenly deteriorating from Alzheimer's Disease. While C.J. is confronted with a kaleidoscope of emotions, she can't help but check in on Toby (Richard Schiff) who struggles to fill in for her during news briefings.


C.J. begins the episode with a press briefing, bantering with the press corps, who keep asking her about her planned trip to her reunion and the speech she is planning to give.  She doesn't want to go so she is going to stay but Toby and Carol conspire to send her.

At the airport, both in DC and again in Ohio, C.J. can’t let go of her work - spending most of the time (on screen) talking to Toby on her phone.  Waiting for her cab in Ohio, she is approached by an fellow classmate, where they reminisce and decide to go to the reunion together.

Arriving at her father's house, the place is a mess, dirty dishes everywhere, and C.J. learns that his new wife, Molly, has left him - the next morning she goes to confront Molly.  C.J. and her father go fishing together later, where he has a particularly troubling episode with C.J.  They go to see a doctor (who is also a family friend).  Her father gets mad at the doctor and leaves - at which point the doctor tells C.J. that it's good he is mad - but she needs to start planning right now for the end.

Later, C.J. gets ready for the reunion, when Marco arrives to pick up C.J. - he and her father have a rambling  conversation and then C.J. and Marco leave (after Tal has another episode).  They sit outside the restaurant and talk - C.J. tells Marco that she doesn't think she can do it - they drive to a hotel instead for a tryst.

Back at her father's house - Molly, returns to take care of Tal.  They go off to the reunion to hear C.J.'s speech.  As C.J. is delivering her speech - her phone rings - it's Toby - there's been several bombings of US embassies abroad and she needs to return to Washington.  She apologizes to the class and leaves, with Marco and her father close behind.  C.J. and her father share a moment before getting into the car - without speaking, she lets him know that she will be there for him.


Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg
Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler
Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman

Special Guest Stars

Donald Moffat as Talmidge Cregg
Matthew Modine as Marco Arlens

Guest Starring

Verna Bloom as Molly Lapham Cregg
Betsy Aidem as Libby
Terry Beaver as Dr. Lee Voight


Elijah Roberts as Harry
Randolph Brooks as Arthur Leeds
Kris Murphy as Katie Witt
Mindy Seeger as Chris
Timothy Davis-Reed as Mark O'Donnell
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick


'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 the demolition derby going on in my brain
—Talmidge Cregg


  • This episode features the fewest members of the main cast to appear in an episode to this point in the series, at three. It is also the first episode of the entire series not to feature Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet
  • John Spencer appears in the background of one scene in the role of Leo McGarry, but he does not talk.


  • When her father suggests they go fishing, C.J. says "It's February," but this episode takes place before Bartlet's second inauguration (which should be on January 20th).
  • Oddity: after her speech was interrupted, CJ addresses her father by his first name (Tal).
  • Location Trivia: Suburban Chicago played the character of Dayton, OH, with scenes shot in Oak Park and Elmwood Park, IL.
  • In other episodes it is mentioned that C.J. has two older brothers but they are not discussed in this episode nor any other episode dealing with C.J.'s father's illness or caring for him.

I PilotPost Hoc, Ergo Propter HocA Proportional ResponseFive Votes Down
The Crackpots and These WomenMr. Willis of OhioThe State DinnerEnemiesThe Short List
In Excelsis DeoLord John MarburyHe Shall, from Time to Time...Take Out the Trash Day
Take This Sabbath DayCelestial Navigation20 Hours in L.A.The White House Pro-Am
Six Meetings Before LunchLet Bartlet Be BartletMandatory Minimums
Lies, Damn Lies and StatisticsWhat Kind of Day Has It Been?
II In the Shadow of Two Gunmen (Part I)In the Shadow of Two Gunmen (Part II)The Midterms
In This White HouseAnd It's Surely to Their CreditThe Lame Duck CongressThe Portland Trip
ShibbolethGalileoNoëlThe Leadership BreakfastThe Drop-In
Bartlet's Third State of the UnionThe War at HomeEllie
Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to JailThe Stackhouse Filibuster
17 PeopleBad Moon RisingThe Fall's Gonna Kill You18th and PotomacTwo Cathedrals
III Manchester (Part I)Manchester (Part II)Ways and MeansOn the Day BeforeWar CrimesGone QuietThe Indians in the LobbyThe Women of QumarBartlet for AmericaH.Con - 172100,000 AirplanesThe Two BartletsNight FiveHartsfield's LandingDead Irish Writers
The U.S. Poet LaureateStirredEnemies Foreign and DomesticThe Black Vera Wang
We Killed YamamotoPosse Comitatus
IV 20 Hours in America (Part I)20 Hours in America (Part II)College KidsThe Red Mass
Debate CampGame OnElection NightProcess StoriesSwiss DiplomacyArctic Radar
Holy NightGuns Not ButterThe Long GoodbyeInauguration (Part I)
Inauguration: Over There (Part II)The California 47thRed Haven's on FirePrivateers
Angel MaintenanceEvidence of Things Not SeenLife On MarsCommencementTwenty-Five
V 7A WF 83429The Dogs of WarJefferson LivesHanA Constituency of OneDisaster ReliefSeparation of PowersShutdownAbu el BanatThe Stormy PresentThe Benign PrerogativeSlow News DayThe Warfare of Genghis KhanAn KheFull DisclosureEppur Si Muove
The SupremesAccessTalking PointsNo ExitGazaMemorial Day
VI NSF ThurmontThe Birnam WoodThird-Day StoryLiftoffThe Hubbert PeakThe Dover TestA Change Is Gonna ComeIn The RoomImpact WinterFaith Based Initiative
Opposition Research365 DaysKing CornThe Wake Up CallFreedoniaDrought ConditionsA Good DayLa PalabraNinety Miles AwayIn God We TrustThings Fall Apart2162 Votes
VII The TicketThe Mommy ProblemMessage of the WeekMr. FrostHere Today
The Al Smith DinnerThe DebateUndecidedsThe WeddingRunning Mates
Internal DisplacementDuck and CoverThe ColdTwo Weeks OutWelcome to Wherever You Are
Election Day (Part I)Election Day (Part II)RequiemTransitionThe Last Hurrah
Institutional MemoryTomorrow