Previously on The West Wing: Josh, Toby, and Donna missed their ride out of Indiana; Leo liked his lawyer, Jordan Kendall; a pipe bomb was set off at a university swim meet killing forty-four people; Toby met a man named Matt Kelley in a bar in Indiana; Leo informs POTUS that Qumar appears to be ready to frame Israel for Shareef's assassination.
Shout-out to flg8or. Also: there's a great deal of pedeconferencing and whirling camera work in this episode. If you're a little prone to motion sickness, you might want to fetch the dimenhydrinate now. I'm just saying. We'll wait.
We're in the Situation Room. The map display shows Qumar; as the displays shifts and the camera moves, it looks to me like it's supposed to be northeast of Saudi Arabia, placing it where the actual country of Iran is. Leo, Fitz, and Jed come in; Jed explains Nancy's absence by saying she's making some calls at his behest. Leo says he's told POTUS about the alleged parachute. It's established that Israel does in fact manufacture parachutes. Good ones. Jed speaks: "Listen, I know we're here for a serious purpose, for a sober purpose..." Why do I have the feeling that what he's about to say will totally belie that? He continues, "But I wanted to say I've never been a part of a street gang before, and that's basically what we are -- a pretty well-financed one -- but anyway, I wanted to say, it feels good. And I think when we're done with this meeting, I think we should go out and get girls, and I don't know, maybe knock over a fruit stand or something." Wow, that's incredibly humorous, except for the part where it's not at all. I don't know if I can adequately express how much I hope this isn't how any actual Presidents conduct themselves in this sort of situation. Fitz and Leo have exchanged brief glances by this point and Leo just says, "Okay," as they all sit down. Jed adds, "We're going to need to learn to sing and dance." Yeah, the whole thing is just like West Side Story, when you think about it.
Leo wisely ignores Jed and tells another guy, "The information's basically coming from the NSC Operations Unit." That guy reads what he says is a cell phone intercept between the Sultan and Habib: "'The Butcher of Kafr will have no choice but to resign.'" We've never been told, if I recall correctly, who Habib is. Also: the closed captioning renders it "Kafr" but the actor delivers the word as "Kaffar." I guess it's supposed to represent an actual place name (kafr means "small village"), but I can't help wondering if they were perhaps driving at the Arabic word kufr, which means "ingratitude to God and manifest disbelief in Him and His religion." One form of this word, meaning "disbeliever," is kafir, which many Muslims use to describe all non-Muslims (something I take issue with). It's a little confusing, because it's not clear (to me anyway) exactly who the "Butcher" is (Israeli? American? Arab of some stripe?), and of who/what exactly he is the Butcher. The kafr/kufr possibilities only add to the confusion. Another guy asks if they're sure that he's talking about Israel. The first guy repeats the message. Someone comes in with a message for POTUS as Leo says, "Well, the B-movie dialogue aside..."