What a fantastic episode this is. While inundated with storylines, there is a focus to the episode that is uncanny given the amount of material it contains. At the center of the episode is the haunting evolution occurring in Kundu. This "evolution" is the genocide of a whole group of people, an obvious reference to the events in Rwanda just a few years before. Thus, it forces the President and his staff to consider foreign policy just before (of course) his second inauguration address.
Will investigates Bartlet's oratorical past and finds a surprising and flagrant viewpoint on foreign policy that encourages him to re-think foreign policy altogether. Meanwhile, no one is pleased with State Department language, and so Will is asked to give them the cold shoulder. But as Will learns of the President's past beliefs on foreign policy, he finds a hot debate with Toby. "Just make it sound better!" Toby says. Will is unconvinced and, furthermore, suspects that these are hollow words from the opinionated Toby.
Meanwhile, Donna's boyfriend Jack Reese is asked to investigate foreign operations in Kundu, which is politically hot water in terms of relations with the Pentagon. Unfortunately, Leo raises the red flag to a Pentagon official, and Jack is the scapegoat of the political squirmish. This, of course, infuriates Donna, and as she confronts a somewhat indifferent and unmotivated Josh about it, her frustration with the White House causes an abrupt end to her conversation.
Oh, in other news, the rekindling of C.J. and Danny is brought up in (as usual) humorous fashion. Timothy Busfield and Allison Janney work so great together as evidenced again in their scenes together in this episode. Great stuff.
Oh, we're not done. Charlie is asked to find a bible for the inauguration (Remember the knife in the episode "Shibboleth"?). Great comedic sideline plot here. But even better is the use of verse by the Chief Justice, which prompts a review of his competence.
How all of this is juggled in an hour is unbeknownst to me, but it is sure fun to watch. My theory is that this episode works because it's fast, it's furious, but it's also toned perfectly. Prevalent through the whole episode is the Kundu storyline -- which brings heavy weights on everyone's shoulders. There is a haunting ominent tone throughout the episode. Things are about to get worse before they get better. The weight of the world is what makes this episode work. It's the guiding light through the maze of comedy, drama, political hi-jinks, and personal conoflicts that drive this series into the complex world of success.
This is most definitely one of the best episodes of the season.