This episode opens three hours after the State of the Union address, with Leo finding Bartlet oustide on the patio of the Oval Office. He escorts him to the situation room, where he’s briefed on the hostage situation in Colombia. DEA agents have been captured, and Bartlet gives the order to have them rescued by Delta Force troops.
After the opening credits, CJ briefs Officer Sloan on how to conduct himself for the damage control he’ll have to do tomorrow. As Capitol Beat wraps the post-speech show, CJ tells the host that Officer Sloan will be doing his show exclusively. (Sloan was a last-minute guest, with a mark on his record undiscovered until after he was present at the State of the Union)
The post-speech power outage ends up postponing the State of the Union poll, much to Josh’s disappointment.
Leo finds Bartlet outside (again), this time playing chess on the Oval Office’s patio. Bartlet confides in him that Abby is pissed at him, and that he keeps picturing the caskets coming off the plane during the Vietnam War. Leo lets Bartlet know the rescue troops are down in Colombia.
The darling Mrs. Landingham and Charlie then have a sweet exchange. I love those two.
Josh and Sam discuss Donna’s pushing Josh to date Joey Lucas; women are so puzzling. The president then joins them for breakfast, and he gives them a little speech on the war on drugs. Before the food arrives, he tasks Josh and Sam with putting some thoughts together on how to start fighting a good battle on this topic.
Ainsley then begs Sam for a second meeting with the president, and after just a little ribbing, Sam agrees. I love Ainsley and Sam together.
Toby has a more stressful breakfast with a junior congressman, Seth Gillette from North Dakota.
We then get a peek into the First Couple’s bedroom. Abby refuses to discuss their issues (Jed deciding to run for a second term) until Jed can focus, and that won’t be until after the Colombian hostage crisis is resolved. It’s an interesting look at a power marriage.
Josh is back at the polling center, with Donna figuring out why he’s so hung up on this particular poll.
Ainsley is then ready for her re-do with the president. Well, she’s moderately ready, but then she enters a closet instead of the restroom and the meeting goes from them.
The president then gets word that the Colombian mission was a disaster. There were no hostages where the Delta Force team was sent, but one of the Blackhawks sent for those hostages was shot down, and everyone on board was killed. Bartlet is devasted and furious about the bad intelligence.
He places a call to the president of Colombia, and Bartlet tells him that the U.S. was in Colombian airspace. The president of Colombia offers to release the prisoner the drug lords have requested in exchange for the five DEA agents. Just like in real life, the Bartlet White House doesn’t negotiate with terrorists. Bartlet demands military options instead of negotiations. In the situation room, Bartlet is informed that an effective military campaign would be nearly impossible without massive troop movement. U.S. soldiers would need to outnumber the 20,000 soldiers of this drug cartel at a 10:1 ration to have success.
Jed then briefs Abby on the nine guys in Colombia. She offers to stay, but Jed tells her no. They then start to approach the issue of his reelection. She gives him a speech on the symptoms of MS that may or may not appear. She reminds him that their deal, their deal of one term, was how he justified running in the first place.
Josh and Joey then start talking numbers about the poll, and she points out that Donna is encouraging them to date as a smoke screen for her own feelings toward Josh (Joey is so smart!).
The episode ends with Leo and Bartlet discussing their options. Leo tells Bartlet that fighting a jungle war is not anything he will fight again. Bartlet fights Leo on making the call to release the prisoner (indirectly, of course), but eventually he sees Leo’s wisdom in the situation. Accepting such a defeat is not in Bartlet’s nature.
As CJ holds a press conference explaining the Colombian situation, President Bartlet watches the bodies being removed from the plane.