[This was the pilot episode for the JAG television series which introduced: lazy JAG admiral Brovo, simpering “Teddy” Lindsey his legal side-kick, ex-pilot turned lawyer Harmon Rabb and Harvard law graduate Kaitlin Pike. The character, later to become “mikey” also had his debut as fisherman’s son Antonio as well as the CAG and Bud Roberts.]
Antonio and his fisherman father watched as the CAG and his Radio Intercept Officer (RIO) Angela Arruti, flew overhead to engage a Serbian fighter jet. Resenting women on a carrier, the CAG tested Arruti by ordering his wingman to “watch his six” while he took on both of the Serb jets. He turned off their main missile, over Arruti’s panic’d objections, and was able to destroy one jet with a smaller missile; then the other with their 20-MM guns. The terrified Arruti really “lost it” and when she challenged the CAG after landing, he said that he “wanted to see if you had the guts for a knife fight… and you don’t!” Coincidentally, a reporter was coming to interview her the next day for being a woman who had downed two planes; but, listening to the recording which she made of her mission and hearing her own whining and fearful voice, she wrote a letter of resignation on her computer.
She had a “butch” roommate, Lt Puller, who was a pilot who had made an enemy of Lt “ripper” Carter by beating him at weightlifting. Incensed, Carter had been giving her extra wave offs on her landings which hurt her flying record. Puller interrupted Arutti’s writing and tried to talk her out of resigning; but, Arruti left, wearing Puller’s “LOBO” flight jacket. She went to the fantail where the COD was tied down and made love to someone unknown inside the plane. On the way back to her quarters she got caught in a moving deck part and went over the side; but, she caught on some rigging and pulled herself back to the top. When she finally got back on top, she was again pushed overboard by someone also unknown.
Lindsey had to interrupt the JAG, Brovo, who was watching Jay Leno, to tell him that Arruti was missing. Realizing the political implications of a missing femal pilot, Brovo told Lindsey to send the “expendable junior officer Rabb” (Harm) who was less likely to intimidate the Sea Hawks captain. And, in case they needed to talk to the press, “a female JG who was easy on the eyes” (Pike). Bud Roberts was their host aboard the Seahawk and told them that the captain wanted to see them immediately. But, when Harm found that a reporter had been held incommunicado since the morning, he went to talk to the reporter first. The reporter, De Palma, had met Harm when, at 16 years of age, Harm had gone to Vietnam to try and find his MIA father. De Palma agreed to “sit on the story” for 48 hours under the condition that he be given two rides over Bosnia in a jet. Harm revealed to the captain that someone had sent an anonymous encrypted message that “she was murdered” so they were there to investigate. The CAG asked Harm if his step-father, who was a Sr. VP at Chrysler, was still a “used car salesman.”
Harm was harassed by a pilot, Lt Mace, about Harms crash, several years previously, in which his RIO was killed. Mace’s RIO, Lt Painter, seemed to already know about the “being murdered” issue. Mace told them that Painter and Arruti were “tight in RIO school” but she had been “ice” on the cruise so far. Teddy had to wait until Brovo finished playing the clarinet before he could tell him that a Serb Terrorist had shot down a C130 UN relief flight with a MASH unit on board and that Harm still hadn’t decided if it was murder or accident. Brovo told him that without incontrovertible evidence Harm’s report must call it “accidental death” otherwise their investigation would be challenged in congress by either the feminists – if it was suicide, or the anti-feminists- if it was murder. “And,” he said, “a junior officer always gets thrown to the sharks first.”
Brovo was summoned to the Whitehouse by the first lady to talk about the Sea Hawk investigation. While there he met Adm Drake, who was lobbying for a naval “alpha strike” in retaliation for the downing of the UN flight, and suggested he use the reporter aboard the ship to “spin good press.” Pike argued with the CAGs opinion that Arruti’s death was suicide. She had her friend Zane, in crypto, restore Arruti’s cassette tape of her mission, which Puller had erased. She also found from Painter that he had been Arruti’s undisclosed husband and was the one who sent the encrypted message about her being murdered. While in the COD that night, he had talked Arruti out of resigning, so had been going back to her room to erase her resignation letter when she was killed. H & Pike confronted Puller who admitted to erasing the tape and the letter so she became a suspect. Painter also told Pike that the RIO, who had died in Harms night landing crash, was Mace’s brother; which, was why he was so abusive to Harm. Arruti’s body was eventually found by Antonio and his father in their fishing nets. She had died of drowning and had evidence of struggling on her fingertips. Harm noticed she was wearing a flight jacket with the name “Lobo” and had assumed that it was her call sign.
Resentfully, CAG took De Palma up for the flight that Harm had promised him and turned up the heat in the cockpit, did loops and pulled negative “g’s,” all designed to make him airsick and throw up. Then, when the alpha strike had finally been authorized and he was going up for an ATARS recon flight, the CAG offered to take De Palma up again for his second flight but he refused. Harm volunteered and was taken on the flight. The CAG had been Harm’s dad’s wingman on the day he went down in Vietnam. In the flight Harm noticed that Puller was the CAGs wingman and was actually the one with the call sign “Lobo”; so, he realized that Arruti had been killed by mistake, probably by “ripper” Carter who thought she was “Lobo”. During the flight the CAG was shot and Harm had to fly the plane. He refused to “punch out” with the unconscious CAG on board and had to “fake” radio interference so he wouldn’t hear the orders. The captain eventually told the air boss to let him land. Puller helped him with the alignment and checklist because he hadn’t had a trap in 5 years. But Carter was the landing boss who Harm realized would probably try to give him a wave-off so he would crash. He radioed to Pike about Carter and she arrested him so he couldn’t give Harm a wave off. Harm did land safely and saved both their lives.
In the hospital the CAG told Harm about being his father’s wingman on a similar recon flight over Vietnam. He said he “called the sandies and flew cap until he was bingo fuel.” 5 minutes later when the sandies arrived Rabb was down. He had a tail wind and landed with 80 pounds of fuel so he could have stayed about 4 minutes longer over Rabb’s punch out site, which might have made a difference to Rabb. He said he made a judgment call and has had to live with it; but, told Harm that his “eyes are not a judgment call and you have no need to 2nd guess.” Mace was also shown giving H some aviators wings as a token of his getting over his anger. De Palma played up Hs rescue of the CAG on television and Brovo called him a “hero.” Lindsey asked Brovo if he wasn’t still worried about their finding of murder and Brovo said the sharks couldn’t go after H because he was a hero. “If anyone goes it will be me,” he said, “or you teddy.” [Actually, and fortunately, when the show was finally picked up it was Brovo who left!]