Similar to previous episodes, Naruto: Shippuden opens up with a good
piece as we see what's going on from an outside point of view with
regards to the Leaf Village. With the Sand Village and Gaara talking
about how they can help out with what needs to happen with the
rebuilding, there's concern about whether it's enough to take hold as
there is no Hokage there with Tsunade out of commission still. Without
that leadership and focal point, there's the general belief that the
Leaf Village won't be able to handle what they have to deal with and
that things can get pretty splintered and problematic as various
factions try and take hold. But within this mindset, Gaara is convinced
that things will turn out okay because Naruto is there and his lengthy
experience with him paints a very distinct picture.
The flashback story for this episode takes us back to one of the early adventures that Naruto had with Gaara after the two had met, so it maybe sort of kind of fits into past events in some way. Having long been away from this episodes, and I believe Gaara was introduced in a movie, I can't say for certain. Suffice to say that Naruto has no real friendship with Gaara at this point and is practically ready to attack him upon seeing him when they find out that he's their contact for this joint mission. The mission itself is fairly fluffy with some nice bits of action as you have another group of ninjas who have an issue with Gaara and see it as a good time to try and score some points there and cause a bit of trouble. It doesn't impact much of anything in the present, but like most of the flashback stories, it works to try and establish more of Naruto's past in contrast to where he is now in his life.