The Pilot of JAG

The review has three parts: the synopsis; the detailed story, described scene by scene; my comments; and a list of information or references that provide some continuity between episodes.


Women in the military is a big news story.  Time magazine runs a story about a female Navy Radio Intercept Officer.  Unfortunately, she disappears from her ship.  The investigation into her disappearance uncovers complex human motivations, including prejudice against women, and ultimately a case of mistaken identity.
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Detailed story

 July 14, 17:32
 Somewhere in the Adriatic

The Italian fishermen are startled by flight of two low-flying Tomcats.  The CAG (Commander Air Group), Thomas Boone, is taking lead with a female RIO (Radar Intercept Officer ?), Lieutenant j.g. Angela Arutti.  When the AWACS above them vectors them onto Serbian MIGs that are in breach of the Bosnian no-fly zone, the CAG tells his wingman, Lt Mace, to pull back while he takes them on alone.  Arutti is acting nervous but runs through routine procedures, making educated guesses about the identity of the targets and making Phoenix available.  The CAG is aggressive towards her, countermanding her selection of the Phoenix missile, downing the two enemy fighters with guns at closer range.  In the process, they are painted by enemy radar for a while.  Arutti loses track of the second MIG and the wingman provides them with the information that it is on their six.  Arutti is shaken by the experience whereas the others, all men, are cock-a-hoop at the splashing of the two MIGs.

The titles play over the scenes as the two jets land.

The plane captain, a non-commissioned man, admires the Lieutenant’s arse as she climbs down from her cockpit.  He congratulates her on “busting her cherry”.  The look on his face suggests to me that he knows full well that this sexual terminology is inappropriate in today’s Navy.  The Lieutenant tells him to find a better expression.  She looks tired of having to deal with the whole topic.

She rushes after the CAG for a word before the briefing.  He pre-empts her: “You want to know why I didn’t use the Phoenix ?” he asks and, when she confirms, he uses the cost of the missile as his reason as well as a desire to know if she could handle a fight at close quarters and, he concludes, she cannot.  Then he leaves and his wingman and RIO, Lt j.g. Mason Painter, come along and try to include Angela in their high-fiving.  She isn’t impressed by Mace’s attitude or his sexual innuendos and he decides that she was scared.  Painter defends her after she has gone.

In a cabin, Arutti is listening to her mission on a Dictaphone and crying because she agrees with the CAG that she failed in the combat situation.  She sits down at the PC and composes a letter of resignation.

We cut to a scene in the aircraft carrier gym where a crowd of people are cheering on someone who is doing bench presses.  This turns out to be Lt Cassie Fuller, a blond body-builder who is also a woman.  She makes the weight and gives way to a man, Ripper, who fails.  She leaves and the crowd disperses, congratulating her, but leaving him seething.  The others tell him to give up – there are limits, they say, but he doesn’t agree.

Cassie enters Arutti’s cabin and we discover that she is Arutti’s room-mate.  She tells Arutti that she has just won another bottle of Jack from Ripper and Angela wants to know why she does it since it will only get her more wave-offs.  Cassie ignores that and reports that there is a rumour that a reporter is coming in the morning to interview Angela.  Angela doesn’t want to be interviewed, feeling that she was too scared during the mission.  Cassie thinks that women aviators in the Navy need stories like Angela’s to counteract all the stories of Tailhook, the sexual harassment scandal.  She tries to make Arutti feel better by saying that she gets scared too.  Arutti pulls on a leather flying jacket, with “Lobo” written on the back and leaves to get some air, giving Cassie a wry smile when she asks whether that is all she is going to get.  Meanwhile, Cassie looks at the computer and finds Arutti’s resignation later and she looks concerned.

Arutti makes a secretive and dangerous way across the deck to a large plane, the COB, and lets herself in through the underneath hatch.
As soon as she is inside, she is jumped and after one kiss she says: I need you so much tonight.

Later she drops down out of the plane and makes her way again across the deck.  As she ducks under another piece of equipment on the deck, Ripper spots her, seeing a figure in a leather jacket with blond hair.

Angela walks across an elevator, which starts to rise.  Knocked off her feet, she almost goes over the side of the ship, catching onto a ladder at the last minute.  After a few moments she is able to pull herself up.  She stands at the top, looking down at the churning waters and breathing heavily.  Then she is pushed off her perch, hitting the water below.  A figure looks over the edge from the top of the gantry.

July 14, 23:02
J.A.G. Headquarters
Washington, D.C.

An Admiral, Adm. Al Brovo, the Judge Advocate General, is sitting in his office in undress whites, watching Jay Leno.  Jay’s monologue includes some jokes about women in combat, prompted by the fact that Lt Angela Arutti is on the front of Time magazine.  Lt Commander Teddy Lindsey, similarly attired, interrupts him to tell him that the very same lieutenant is missing from the USS Sea Hawk.  The Admiral immediately sees the political dangers of this event and wants to lay it off onto NIS.  When Teddy shows him a signal from CINCMED he realises he can’t and he requests a junior officer who will not intimidate the Captain of the Sea Hawk.  He asks where Lieutenant Rabb is and is told that he is at the embassy party.  He instructs Teddy to get Rabb on a transport to Naples and thence to the Sea Hawk in 20 minutes and to find him a female j.g. in case they have to face the press, a female j.g. who is easy on the eyes.

A helicopter approaches the Sea Hawk and after 20 minutes or so we are meeting our protagonist.  Inside sit Lt Rabb and the female j.g., in dress whites.  The j.g. is excited to be visiting a carrier for the first time.  She asks if it is Rabb’s first time on a carrier and he remembers the first time he visited the USS Ticonderoga with his father on a 4th July in the late 60s, when his father put him up in the cockpit of his plane as he smoked a cigar and talked of going to the moon.  Coming back to the present, Harm smiles at Kate but does not answer.

As Kate steps down, she loses her cap and has to run after it, very embarrassed.  Around them fighter planes are taking off and Harm looks around in delight at the activity.  Then Ensign Bud Roberts, PA officer, collects them to take them to the bridge.  He uses the terminology “six” and explains that everyone on a carrier uses pilot jargon.  As they are crossing the deck, Cassie fails to trap and Bud warns them to cover their ears.  Kate asks what happened and Harm answers before Bud has a chance.  Bud says that he didn’t know Commander Rabb had served on a carrier and Kate says that she didn’t either.

The Air Boss is suggesting to the CAG that Cassie shouldn’t be flying today and the CAG is objecting that he wouldn’t say that if Cassie were a man.  Then CAG is called to the phone.  The Skipper is looking down at the flight deck at the arriving JAG officers and tells the CAG, “Damn, he looks like the Hammer.”  The CAG just says: “Shame he couldn’t fly like him!”  The Skipper thought it was a night vision problem and the CAG seems cynical about that.

Bud lets slip that there is a reporter on board and Harm, ignoring the Skipper’s orders, goes to see him in the officer’s ward room.  The reporter wants ice cream and Harm asks Bud to rustle some up.  Then the reporter recognises Harm and Harm admits that they met 15 years ago in Bangkok.  The reporter remembers his name and his story – father is an MIA; at 16 he runs away from home to find him – very gutsy, he thinks.  Harm is uncomfortable at being called gutsy.

Harm sends Bud and the photographer out to the deck while he negotiates with the reporter who is ex-special forces.  Harm tells the reporter that Arutti is missing and asks him to sit on the story.  If he gets   a ride over Bosnia, he won’t file for 12 hours.  When Harm says 24 hours, he asks for two rides and exclusive, which he already said he had.  They shake on it and Harm leaves the reporter to the ice cream.

On the bridge, the Skipper and CAG are watching Cassie trying to trap.  When Harm reports to the Skipper, the skipper has already found out that he has been having ice cream with a reporter.  Harm reports the deal he has made and the Skipper takes Harm and Kate into the CIC.  Skipper is angry that Harm made the deal without authority.  CAG refuses to fly the reporter.  Harm says it is in the best interests of the Navy and that he has the authority, because he is investigating a possible murder.
The Skipper queries the murder angle and Harm tells the Skipper and the CAG about the signal that CINCMed received, saying: “She was murdered”.

The Skipper tells his communications officer that he wants who sent that message found.  Harm warns him it might not be easy to trace since it could have been sent from many locations, including on a plane.  The Skipper promises all cooperation but he warns Harm and Kate that they should not interfere with the operations of a ship at war.

The Skipper dismisses them then, as they are leaving, he asks after his mother.  Harm tells them she is fine, that she opened an art gallery in La Jolla a few years back.  The CAG asks if she is still married to the used car salesman and Harm laughs as he says yes.  As they leave, Kate says that she thought his stepfather was a senior VP at Chrysler and he says that he is.

The Skipper and the CAG continue to discuss Aruti’s disappearance.  The CAG thinks this might persuade the powers that be that a combat carrier is no place for women.  The Skipper warns him not to say that to anyone other than him, for the sake of his career.
Harm asks Bud if he can find them some alternate clothes.  Bud is not sure where he’ll find clothes for Lt Pike, except Lt Arutti’s clothes.  She does not want to wear a dead woman’s clothes.

Harm asks where is female officer country and Bud replies on 03 level after the wardroom and sets off to show them the way.  As they walk, Harm asks Bud about Lt Arutti – was she amply endowed, did she turn any heads ?  All the time, the two officers in dress whites and, perhaps, particularly Lt Pike, are turning heads.  Bud says that fraternization is against Navy Regs so it doesn’t happen.  Harm isn’t so sure – after all, the crew is at sea for six months.

When they reach female officer country, Bud stops, bangs on the bulkhead and announces the presence of male officers very loudly.  He explains that they have to wait for 30 seconds.  Kate steps ahead, since it doesn’t include her.  Harm assumes that Arutti’s room-mate is a RIO and is surprised when she is a pilot.

In the cabin, Harm directs Kate to the computer.  Kate tries to break the logon, while Harm breaks into the locker.  They race to break in and they play guessing games – Kate guesses that the picture of Mom, Dad and little sister is Arutti’s and that Arutti had the bottom bunk.  Harm guesses top and loses when, after having broken into it before Kate can break the logon id, Cassie arrives and is very angry to find them there, having broken into HER lockbox.

Cassie says that she has to go and work out after her long mission.  Harm is going to step outside but Cassie says: “Haven’t you seen a naked sailor before ?” and strips off her shirt.  Harm does not know where to look.  He breaks into Arutti’s lockbox finding birth control pills (to regulate her period, Cassie says) and a Dictaphone (to listen to her missions afterwards).

When she left, the two JAGs exchange comments about Cassie’s physique.  Then Kate shows Harm the letter on Arutti’s PC to Mom, Dad and little sister.  Harm scans it and says that it is significant that she doesn’t mention being lonely.  He thinks Arutti had a lover.
Later in the wardroom, Harm and Kate are getting coffee.  Harm tells Kate that not all women in the Navy think like she does about having a lover – thank god!  Harm is even conjecturing that Arutti might have been in a love triangle.  Kate thinks he is being ridiculous and he complains that she is being too adversarial.  She thinks about that and apologises, excusing herself by saying that she has worked more cases against than with him.  Harm welcomes her to the winning team and gets a look in return.

Bud comes and tells them that he has found them quarters.  He relieves them of their covers and of Kate’s purse.

Harm and Kate go to sit down.  Harm recognises someone – Mace.  Mace and Harm introduce Kate and Painter.  Mace teases Harm about the dress whites.  Mace tells him that investigating Arutti’s disappearance is one way to serve on a carrier.  Painter asks about the murder and says that it is scuttlebutt.  He says that Angela wasn’t accident-prone and wouldn’t commit suicide then he excuses himself.  Kate asks Mace if Painter was in love with Angela.  Mace thinks they were good buddies in flight school but that Angela has been a real ice-queen on board, not even melting to him.  Kate is finding his innuendo and flirting funny.  Then Mace steps close to Kate and tells her to come up to the flight deck in half an hour “to see how a night trap is supposed to be done”.  Harm controls his face and puts on a smile.

As Harm and Kate finally sit down, Kate remarks that Mace doesn’t like him. Harm does not want to talk about it.  He then avoids Kate’s question about his being a pilot, voicing his suspicion that Painter sent the message to CINCMed.  When Kate persists, he coldly shuts her down, telling her it is none of her business.

A plane is landing out of the night sky.  Harm is on the quarterdeck.  He remembers flying a tomcat in the dark.  He has problems with his eyes and he hears that he is a little low.  They crash in flames.

July 15 02:42
UN Relief Flight 113
Sarajevo Approach

A man uses a ground-to-air missile to shoot the flight out of the sky.  This is going to escalate the action in which the Sea Hawk is taking part.

Admiral Brovo is playing the clarinet, in front of a pool in some gardens.  Teddy comes to find him and waits, not wanting to interrupt.  The Admiral knows he is there.  Teddy tells him that he is wanted at the White House although he doesn’t know why.  The Admiral postulates that it is the Sea Hawk incident.  Teddy reports that Harm still isn’t sure that it is murder, suicide and accident.  The Admiral tells Teddy that he should have made it clear to Harm that he wants a verdict of accidental death, unless there is incontrovertible evidence for another finding.  Teddy promises that he did make that clear.  The Admiral knows that his investigation is going to be subject to strict scrutiny by one side or another if the verdict is Murder or Suicide although, as he assures Teddy, junior officers get thrown to the sharks first so it is Lt Rabb who is “sailing into Harm’s way.”  He then has to explain the witticism for the Commander.
The Admiral tells him, “You need a sense of humour, Teddy, otherwise people will think you are a lawyer.”  “But I am a lawyer, sir,” responds Teddy, not getting it.

On the carrier, the plane captain has found a cap on the nettings just over the side.  The CAG calls Arutti’s disappearance a suicide.  Kate challenges him on that.  She goes on to ask if Arutti was depressed and states that the CAG must surely have an opinion of the mental state of his RIO and a woman under his command.  She gets into quite a shouting match when the CAG refuses to answer questions there and then and states only at his damned convenience and where he damned well likes when asked for an alternate location and time.  Rabb steps in as senior officer and stops Kate questioning the CAG.  Kate stiffens to attention and says, “Yes, sir.”  It is clear that she is not happy.

Kate tells Harm that they have to talk.  Just then Bud finds them and shows them the uniforms they have found.  Lt Puller has given her one of her uniforms, which surprises them all.  Bud then goes on to volunteer too much information about how the uniform will fit, seeing as how Kate is so tall and Lt Puller is so full across the chest, before stuttering into confused silence.  Kate stalks after him, telling Harm “not one word” as she walks past him.

They next run into the reporter, who has heard about the cap.  Kate insists that Arutti did not commit suicide and, when the reporter jumps on that and then, when he accuses her of gender-bias, she gives him a hard stare, which he describes as being targeted.  So far, Kate’s mood is getting worse and worse.  When they get to Harm’s quarters, she bundles Bud out, telling him she can find her own way to her quarters.

Then she lays into Harm.  “I am 27 years old, a Harvard Law School graduate and a lieutenant in the same Navy as you.  Don’t treat me as anything less.”  As he gets changed into the flight suit that Bud got him, stripping off his shirt, Harm defends himself by saying that it is not a good idea to irritate the CAG.  Kate won’t back down so easily and states that it is Harm’s prerogative to irritate the CAG.  Harm tells her that he knows the CAG, because the CAG was his father’s wingman when he was shot down.

Harm then says that maybe the reporter, de Palma, is right – Kate is suffering from gender bias.  Kate thinks the CAG is also suffering from gender bias.  Harm is happy to accept that both she and the CAG are but he denies that he is himself because he likes having women at sea.  His change in tone and smile make Kate smile.

She notices that he has wings on his overalls and tells him they look nice.  Harm now turns on the flirtation, moving very close to her and telling her that she knows what they say about dress whites and gold wings: they’ll get you in bed anywhere.  Kate laughs and, as Harm leans in, she tells him: “except here” and leaves.

June 16 11:28
The White House

Admiral Brovo meets other senior officers.  The Navy Chief of Staff tells him that he is there to get the President’s go ahead for an alpha strike in retaliation for the downing of the relief flight, on which there were 50 military medical personnel.  Brovo suggests that, if he gets the go ahead, he could get the journalists aboard the Sea Hawk to cover the story for him.

When the other officers are called in to see the President, Brovo is left wondering why he was called to the White House.  Just then, a woman in a business suit comes up to him and Teddy and tells them that the First Lady is anxious to hear about the Sea Hawk investigation.  There is a shot of Hilary Rodham Clinton, with a page boy bob, through a window.

Back on the Sea Hawk, it is night again.  Cassie is trying to land.  Ripper tells her to go around.  She refuses to do so and traps in any case.

Next morning, in the command centre, the CAG is listening to their stories.  He tells Cassie not to ignore LSO instructions again.  After dismissing them, he has a ‘mano a ‘mano with Ripper – he doesn’t like female pilots, does he ?  Neither does the CAG because he doesn’t think they have the stomach for battle.  However, if one of his LSOs waves off one of his pilots because she is a female, he will keelhaul the LSO.  That wipes the smile off his face.

Harm is waiting to talk to the CAG.  The CAG is not willing because he has a mission to fly.  Harm keeps after him, following him into the CIC.  The CAG says he has nothing to add to his mission report but Harm persists, wanting to know how Arutti was, after all, the first time in combat can be confusing.  When the CAG challenges him on how he knows and how he knows what combat was like for his father, given that he was 5 years old when Hammer went down, he says that his father told him via the 18 letter tapes that he sent to Harm’s Mom before he went down.

In the locker room, Harm waits as CAG asks Mr de Palma if he is going to be OK and briefs him on not touching anything.  Mace has another snide comment for Harm.  Harm then raises the question of why the CAG didn’t use the Phoenix – why risk a $ 35m bird on a knife fight ?  The CAG says he didn’t see it as a risk.  He is still being uncooperative and Harm goes for a final question: “Were you testing her guts or yours ?”  The CAG tells him that, because of his father, he didn’t hear that, and Harm does not repeat himself.  The CAG leaves and Harm wonders if this time he pushed too hard.

Lieutenant Rabb is requested in Crypto and finds Kate and an old academy buddy, Zane.  He has managed to restore Arutti’s tape and Harm is intrigued to hear that he intends “to collect later”.  Kate and Harm listen to the mission.  Kate hears it as the CAG busting Arutti’s butt.  Harm hears Arutti questioning the CAG’s decisions.  Questioning decisions is OK on an investigation, not in combat.  Kate thinks that Arutti’s shakiness was reasonable on her first mission and she doesn’t think it would tip her over into suicide.  Harm theorises that, if she wanted it all her life and then found she didn’t have right stuff, maybe it could.  Harm admits that he is like a hung jury – he needs convincing either way.  Kate quotes Zane a couple of times too often for Harm’s liking and Kate loses her temper with Harm’s teasing.

In the air, de Palma is trying to record a report.  The CAG is a very accurate flyer.  They go feet-dry.  De Palma complains of the heat then bravely says that he was looking forward to a dog fight.  The CAG offers to show him what happened last time.  There follow a lot of manoeuvres.  Mace and Painter watch from a safe distance and are very amused, especially when de Palma throws up.
The Italian fishermen are in their boat again.  This time they haul up more than they wanted – Arutti’s body.

July 16 07:34
US Naval Hospital
Naples, Italy

The doctor is telling Harm the results of his autopsy of the body.  There were fresh abrasions on the tips of her fingers – consistent with accidental death.  She had a fractured pelvis and a ruptured spleen – both consistent with high falls; and she died from a wet drowning although the spleen injury might have been fatal.  He shows Harm the body and the leather jacket with Lobo on the back that was part of her personal effects.  It was a slow, agonising death.  Harm is very affected by the details.

On the carrier, Painter is on the quarterdeck.  Kate joins him and asks why Mace doesn’t like Harm.  Painter tells her that Mace thinks Harm screwed the pooch on a night landing in which his RIO died.  The Board of Inquiry attributed it to night blindness brought on by an eye infection.  Mace is not convinced but then he is biased, since the RIO was his brother.
Painter then asks if his conversation with Kate is privileged.  Kate explains that it is not – she is the Navy’s lawyer, not his – but she will try and keep information confidential if possible.  Painter tells her that Angela had written a letter of resignation but that she was going to erase it after he persuaded her that everyone gets scared, just the guys hide it better.  They used to meet in the COD at night to be alone – not because they were lovers, but because they were married.

Kate meets Harm off his flight from Naples and gives him the news, including that she found the letter on the PC and that it had been deleted.  Harm thinks this is an accidental death.  Kate still thinks she could have been pushed and suggests the CAG as a suspect because he realised that Angela wasn’t going to resign, after she deleted her letter.  Then Harm sees the inconsistency – how did Angela have time to delete the letter; she never went back to her quarters after meeting Painter.

Harm now has khakis and he gives her a set of clothes that he got for her.

In the exercise area, Ripper is bench pressing again when Cassie grabs the bar and pushes it down, telling him never to wave her off again.  She meets Harm and Kate and explains the difficulties she has been having with Ripper.  Harm suggests that she will do anything to win her case for women in combat, including pushing a quitter off the deck to have a dead hero.  Cassie is disgusted with the suggestion, saying that Angela wasn’t a quitter, but in the process confessing to having deleted the letter of resignation.  Harm says he is convening a Board of Inquiry in Naples.  She is not afraid of that but she is appalled when he says that the Board cannot wait for her mission especially since as an ex-pilot he must know what that means to her.  When he is unmoved, she tells him that Mace is right about him and storms off.

Ripper walks up to them and tells them that someone will push Puller over one of these days.  He says that he saw Puller on the deck that night and, when asked for a motive, suggests a lover’s quarrel.  Kate is disgusted because she sees it as a clear lie, given that they know Angela was married to Painter.  Harm is more open-minded, acknowledging that part of what he says may be true.

On the command centre, the Skipper is not impressed by the way they run their investigation – they think it was murder but have no proof.  Harm tells him that he wants to convene a Board of Inquiry – lieutenants Puller, Painter, Mace and the CAG – but the Skipper says he will have to wait, since scuttlebutt, as usual, is true.  The CAG and other senior officers arrive for a briefing.  Harm looks longingly at the gathered aviators.  The skipper dismisses him and Kate, as he tells the CAG that he’ll need an ATARS run before the strike launches.  Harm explains to Kate that an alpha strike is everything that flies.  Kate is now in khakis.

The carrier prepares for the mission.  In the officer’s wardroom, de Palma is telling Harm, Kate and Bud about his flight with the CAG.  Harm explains the trick – get the cockpit hot, give him some negative Gs, and anyone would puke.  De Palma is not perturbed.  He sees it as the CAG’s way of telling him that he doesn’t belong there.  Kate thinks it is abusive and doesn’t see what gives the CAG the right to decide who does and who doesn’t belong in the air. Harm disagrees – the CAG’s 25 years and 1,000 traps give him the right.
Just then the CAG comes down for a cup of coffee, from the fine silver urns, and asks how de Palma is feeling.  Would he like another flight ?  De Palma excuses himself and Harm jumps in.  The CAG thinks hard and then says “Saddle up.”

On the way to the plane, the CAG tells Harm not to touch anything and to turn off his intercom if he pukes.  Harm counters by telling him not to turn up the heat in his cockpit.

On the command centre, Bud explains to Kate that an ATARS mission is to get intell on the final position of the mobile SAM sites.
The plane captain tells Harm that his father is a legend in the squadron – and so is the CAG.  Harm looks longingly at the stick and the CAG tells him not to think about it.  Then the CAG calls to his wingman, Lobo.  Harm looks out at the other plane – it is Cassie’s plane, with Lobo painted on the side.  Cassie is Lobo.  The CAG tells him he cannot use the radio.

The CAG tells Harm that he and his Dad were on a photo reconnaissance mission when his Dad went down.  Over the target, the two planes activate ATARS and do a photo run.  Towards the end, there is Triple A and Harm asks if it was like that over Hanoi.  “When we go back through, they’ll be ready – that’ll be like Hanoi,” says the CAG.  Meanwhile, he sends Lobo up to radio the Sea Hawk with recommended weapons changes for the hornets as a result of the protection around the SAMs.

The second run is hairier.  There is flak from start to finish.  Towards the end, they come in the sights of a ground to air battery and the plane and the CAG are hit.  The CAG just has time to tell Harm to take over before he passes out.  Harm has a bit of a problem getting control of the plane but manages and pulls up.  He tells Lobo that he has to slow down.

Lobo tells him that he cannot transmit ATARs from the back seat.  There is some movement and it is clear that the CAG was conscious enough to be able to hit the transmit button.  At the Sea Hawk the mission continues.

Lobo tells Harm that he can’t trap.  Then the Air Boss also tells him he shouldn’t trap.  He tried the old, radio-bust trick, then the Skipper tells the Air Boss to let him trap.  Lobo says follow her home and Harm says, “No offence, Lobo, but you have the worst record in the fleet.”

Harm gets through to Kate via Zane to give her the message about who is Lobo.  The key suspect now is Ripper and the last thing Harm wants is a wave-off.

Kate asks Bud if he has a pistol then says: “Stick to my six.”  On the flight deck, Ripper is on duty.  Lobo takes Harm through the checklist.  Kate relieves Lt Carter of duty.  Luckily, Bud turns up with the marines as Ripper tells them to throw the bitch off the deck.  Bud stops him and orders the Sergeant to place him under arrest.

Harm has a difficult landing, being a little low, but he manages to trap much to everyone’s jubilation.  Even the crusty old skipper is pleased although he cuts short the celebration.

The air captain reports the Harm that the CAG is breathing and tells him that Harm’s actions make him one of them, adding that “your old man would be proud, sir”.

In the morning, Harm drops in to see the CAG.  He is crusty too and hesitates.  Harm assumes he is trying to thank him but that wasn’t it.  The CAG tells him that he is a naval aviator, and so he damned well expected him to get them back.  Instead, the CAG wants to tell him about the day Harm’s father went down – he stayed with him as long as he could but then he was bingo fuel; then, as it turned out, he caught a tail wind and landed with 800lb of fuel; he doesn’t want to apologise but he wanted to tell Harm that he made a judgment call and that he has had to live with that.  Harm’s eyes are not a judgment call; he has nothing to second-guess.  Harm appreciates that support.

Admiral Brovo is watching De Palma’s report about Harm’s rescue – a lawyer being a hero.  Then Teddy brings in Harm’s report, saying that Arutti was murdered.  Still, Brovo is no longer worried about Harm’s career – if anything goes from JAG it will be Brovo – or Teddy.

Bud is seeing Kate and Harm in undress whites off on the deck.  They run into Mace and his buddies.  Mace tells him he is out of uniform and he pins on a pair of gold wings.  Mace tries one last flirtation with Kate.

On the plane, Ripper, Painter and Lobo are waiting to go to Naples.  Lobo hates being flown, but at least it will end without a wave-off.  Harm gives Painter a sympathetic squeezeon the shoulder as he passes him.  Then Harm helps Kate with her harness.  You know what they say about gold wings and a white uniform.

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Jackie’s Review

As a series pilot, this worked well as a stand-alone film, introducing the key characters but not taking up time to introduce their home office or relationships.  It is the story that takes up the space in the film, with the character elements providing extra colour and interest, like they often do in real life.

The hero of the tale is clearly Harm.  We learn more about his back story than that of anyone else.  As well as solving the case, he is a hero of the main action sequence.  This action also allows the resolution of one of the main emotional threads to his background so that by the end of the story he has slain one of his demons – he is allow to fly again and has his wings returned, even though he cannot be on full flight status.  Another – his MIA father – is explained and unresolved.

The quality of the film of flying jets is very high and several shots reminded me of scenes from “Top Gun” so I think the production company was able to use some of those.

The story contains two scenes of “local colour”, which are filmed using a poor special effect and provide little except a rather patronising view of European nationals.  These are the two scenes with the Italian father and son, fishing from a simple rowing boat.  I’d rather these had been cut.

I didn’t like the admiral.  Even his playing the clarinet just irritated me rather than engaging me.  He is certainly a figure who is aware of and ruled by the politics of a situation.

Commander Lindsey seems to me a little weak to have made it to Commander.  He is an archetypal grey research lawyer and comes across as a bit of a fool.

The film is full of sexual harassment and what could be described as inappropriate attitudes towards colleagues who happen to be women.

The CAG does not like having women in combat as he doesn’t think they can cope.  His behaviour towards her is such that his opinion is reinforced because it causes her to have problems and certainly it does not support her as a new member of his team.  Ripper shares his opinion and, again, he misuses his position to take actions that discriminate against a female pilot in such a way that her performance appears to be poor.  As a word in the CAG’s favour, he does warn Ripper not to wave off one of his pilots for no reason.

The plane captain has a problem with Arutti because he is unable to see her as an officer in his Navy; he cannot stop himself admiring her arse.

Mace uses sexual innuendo towards both Arutti and Pike and this is harassment directly from a more senior officer, a lieutenant, to a more junior, a lieutenant j.g.  One of the reasons Pike can handle it better is she is possibly a little older and more experienced – she’s tried cases against Harm before and says she’s 27 – and she is a lawyer, trained to use language.  Another reason is that Mace has some power over Arutti, even simply being able to talk about her in the mess, whereas with Pike the power, if any, is the other way.  Certainly, when Harm himself gets in on the act, coming on to Kate in a very convincing way even if he was intending a joke, she is left speechless.  (Now that could just be because Harm is – of course, need I mention it – sexier but, being a little more objective, she is also not sure how to deal with this sort of behaviour from her superior officer.  Of course, this incident with Harm is another example of sexual harassment.

The Admiral wants a female j.g. on the case with Harm and wants one that is easy on the eyes.

Now all of this is possibly a reflection of society and the fact that men cannot move beyond these sexual instincts and reactions is part of the reason that many of them do not think women should be in combat (or in the boardroom, etc.)  However, it left a bad taste in my mouth.  My perspective would be that it is the men who have the problem, evolving beyond the instincts of primitive Man.  Maybe they should be excluded from the Navy until they learn to cope.

There are references to the Tailhook Incident.  In 1991, Lt Paula Coughlin was subjected to a sexual assault during the annual conference of the Tailhook Association.  She complained at first to her boss and then to other admirals in the Navy.  Finally an investigation was launched.  However, the quality of the investigation was question and it was itself subject to a Department of Defense investigation.  The incident and the responses to it highlighted a considerable amount of prejudice against women in the military amongst Naval officers, including those in senior positions, and a high level of ongoing sexual harassment.  After the Department of Defense investigation was published, the Navy JAG, Rear Admiral John E. Gordon resigned.

There is a Forrest Gump type mixing of real footage with the fiction, when the shot of Hilary Clinton is seen through the window during the White House scene.

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Harm’s father was a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War, was shot down and is still MIA.

When he was 15 Harm ran away to South East Asia to try to find his father, without success.

Harm’s mother has remarried: to a businessman, a VP at Chrysler.

Harm too was a Navy pilot, flying Tomcats, until he crashed the plane and was discovered to have night blindness.  He switched to the Judge Advocate General Corps and has not flown a Tomcat since.

Lt Kate Pike is 27 and a Harvard Law School graduate.

Captain Tom Boone, the CAG, flew with Harm’s father during the Vietnam War.