In the Situation Room, Admiral Fitzwallace and some bald army guy are huddled together holding up their coffee cups, and Fitzwallace says, "This is different coffee than we usually have." It's such an oddly commercial moment that I half expect Juan Valdez to stroll in with his donkey, but instead Leo and POTUS hustle in. POTUS sits down, keeping his posture unusually stiff, and asks what they've got. Fitzwallace replies that they have three retaliatory strike scenarios, operational at the President's command, no prep time needed. Fitzwallace indicates that all three scenarios are comprehensive, meet the requirements of proportional response, and pose minimum risk to American personnel and assets. The Admiral starts to describe the first scenario, known as Pericles I. (Bartlet, the über-nerd, must have named this operation, given that Pericles was a right-wing Democrat in Athens, which seems to be the way Jed is feeling these days.) Before the Admiral can get very far, Jed asks: "What is the virtue of a proportional response?" Fitzwallace is confused, and Jed repeats: "What is the virtue of a proportional response? Why's it good?" Fitzwallace and Leo look at each other. POTUS continues: "They hit an airplane, so we hit a transmitter, right? That's a proportional response." Fitzwallace tries to go back to his presentation, and Jed continues: "They hit a barracks, so we hit two transmitters." Fitzwallace agrees that that's roughly right. Jed says, "This is what we do. I mean, this is what we do." Leo quietly says, "Yes sir, it's what we do. It's what we've always done." Jed snaps, "Well, if it's what we do, if it's what we've always done, don't they know we're doing it?" Leo tries to get him to look at the plan for Pericles I; Jed says he's looked at it: "It's two ammo dumps, an abandoned railroad bridge and a Syrian intelligence agency." Fitzwallace offers that these are four highly rated targets. POTUS points out that the Syrians know they're going to go after those kinds of targets, and that the areas have been abandoned for three days, which they know from satellite reconnaissance. Jed's getting more wound up as he says, "They did that, so we did this. It's the cost of doing business. It's been factored in. Right? Am I right, or am I missing something here?" Leo's trying to interject as the voice of reason, but Jed talks over him. Fitzwallace says, "No sir. You're right, sir." POTUS: "Then I ask again, what is the virtue of a proportional response?" Fitzwallace admits, "It isn't virtuous, Mr. President. It's...all there is, sir." POTUS insists that it's not." Leo tries to get a word in edgewise, but Fitzwallace interrupts, and asks Jed, "Just what else is there?" It's Terminator time: "The disproportional response. Let the word ring forth, from this time and this place, gentlemen, you kill an American, any American, we don't come back with a proportional response. We come back with total disaster!" He bangs the table. Some military guy way down the table asks POTUS if he's suggesting that they "carpet-bomb Damascus." Jed roars, "I am suggesting, General, that you, and Admiral Fitzwallace, and Secretary Hutchinson, and the rest of the national security team take the next sixty minutes and put together an American response scenario that doesn't make me think we're just docking somebody's damn allowance!" With that he storms out, leaving a slightly bewildered Leo to face the chiefs.
The next shot is of an old painting of some guy on a horse. I'm probably supposed to know that it's Teddy Roosevelt or somebody like that, but I'll just plead Canadian-ness here. Strega probably knows. The camera pans down the painting to rest on the face of a young man we've never seen before. He's looking a tad apprehensive as he waits in a large empty conference room. Josh walks in with Donna at his elbow. He's giving her a lunch order as he walks toward the young man: "I would like salad, I would like soup of some kind, and if you were to run across a sandwich of some kind, then hang the expense. And I would like a bottle of water." Donna's got it and she hands Josh a file saying, "This is Charles Young," and whizzes out. Josh doesn't introduce himself but just says, "I'm supposed to vet you." Charles is confused: "I beg your pardon?" Josh repeats himself, "Vet you. I'm supposed to vet you -- investigate to discover if there are problems." He finally introduces himself and asks whether the young man goes by Charles. Turns out it's Charlie. He sits and invites Charlie to do the same, but Charlie prefers to stand. Just then, Josh sees Donna rushing past the door in the hallway and calls out to her that she can forget the salad, he's not going to eat it anyway, but that he would like a bottle of water as soon as is humanly possible. Josh turns his attention back to Charlie and tells him to have a seat i