Previously on The West Wing: On the evening of Bartlet's third State of the Union address, five DEA agents are abducted in Colombia by drug lords; Leo thinks they're not hostages, they're prisoners, and that the intention is to kill the agents; Jed gears up for military intervention; Josh waits impatiently for pollster Joey Lucas to provide polling numbers, but they're thwarted by a blackout; Abby's furious with Jed for breaking a deal they made, apparently having to do with him being in office for only one term.
The scene opens with Jed hanging around on the patio outside the Oval Office, smoking. Sigh. It's Tuesday night. Leo comes out to see what Jed's up to. Jed mentions that it's only been three hours since he gave the speech. "Can you believe that?" he asks. Leo hunches up for warmth and puts his hands in his pockets, saying that it's freezing. Jed says that he's not allowed to smoke inside anymore; Leo comments that he thought Jed was allowed to do pretty much whatever he wanted. Jed replies, "Up to the point where you accidentally burn holes in priceless antiques." Not to mention in your lungs. Leo says he should stop smoking; Jed asks why. Leo says, "You'll live longer." Jed says, "I smoke two cigarettes a day." Leo states that it's a bad example. Jed, glancing up at the sky, asks, "For who? Russian spy satellites? George Bernard Shaw said, 'You don't live longer; it just seems longer.'" Leo's not sure it was Shaw; neither's Jed. Jed asks Leo if it's "time"; Leo says it is. Jed puts out his cigarette and follows Leo back into the Oval Office.
In the next shot, they enter the Situation Room; as Jed makes that "sit down already" gesture with his hands to those assembled, he asks, "Where are we?" One guy tells him, "Sir, a C-141 with two Delta Force Teams has been in the air for eighty-five minutes." Jed says, "Tell me what happens when I give the order." He's told that they will enter Colombian air space, and a nineteen-man unit -- a Special Forces Alpha Team that's already on the ground in Tres Encinas -- will head to Villacerreno, at which point they'll hike eleven miles into the jungle and hold still. For a really long time, because it will be daylight when they arrive, and they'll have to lie in the jungle until sunset, when the hostages are supposed to be moved. Jed asks, "They're moving the hostages from where to where?" He's told they're being moved from the Tasco outpost to the Frente command centre, on foot. One guy mentions that 10.7 kilometres down the road, there's a plateau called Mesa del Oro which will give the Deltas maximum manoeuvrability. Jed turns to Mickey (on his right) -- who is Secretary of something (presumably Defense) -- and says, "Mickey, you look like you want to say something." Mickey thinks they should wait, to see how negotiations continue with Guerra. Leo says, "Guerra wants Aguilar out of a Colombian prison. Are there any other circumstances under which he's going to give these hostages back?" Mickey: "Possibly." Leo: "Crap." Mickey thinks that if they keep talking, the hostages won't get shot during the rescue. Leo doesn't see what difference it makes if they get shot during a rescue, or at Villacerreno. Mickey thinks that they can be kept alive longer if they allow them to be taken to Villacerreno. Jed's not sure that's such a great idea, since he's been led to believe they'll probably be tortured at Villacerreno. Another military guy advises POTUS that the C-141 is approaching Colombian airspace. Everyone looks expectantly at Jed; he glances at Mickey, then at the table briefly, then looks at Leo. Leo has that "you know I'm behind you no matter what, but please do what I want you to" look. The music begins at the precise second that Jed says, "Go."