Friday, January 16, 2004

Good Intentions - 195

[An interesting plot, even with more than one internal inconsistencies which weren't caught in editing. It does set up a substantial argument between Chegwidden and Coates; which, then was merely completely ignored in future episodes, as if it never happened. There were several un-named characters, annoying for a reviewer] Ensign Monica De La Torre (DLT) was found strangled at the Norfolk Naval Ship yard, and fingernail scrapings matched DNA of PO Luis Cumpiano (Cmp), who was found passed out on his ship with scratches on his arm and no memory of events since being forced to drink for initiation rites. Mac (M) met Chaplain Oliver Stephens, who said he'd been "working closely" with Cmp for 3 years. He started preaching to M and said that he was an alcoholic in recovery for 17 years and Cmp was a leader of one of his groups. M shut him off by revealing that she was in recovery for "5 years and 10 months." Cmp admitted he had been in recovery for 2 1/2 years, until shipmates wouldn't take no for an answer and forced him into the "Tequila Bowl." Literally, everyone anyone talked to said that Cmp "couldn't have done it" because it was completely out of his character. Harm (H) talked to the civilian detective who, except for DNA evidence, seemed to be operating on circumstantial evidence. The cab driver had said that "Cumpiano" (?DLT) was trying to get him back on base; but, insisted on coming to the pier, saying he wanted to swim back." Elisa, Cmp's wife, said he "wouldn't even talk bad about someone, much less try to hurt them." M tried, a couple of times, to convince H that alcohol impairs judgment and inhibition but doesn't transform personality. H refused to agree to any plea lower than unpremeditated murder and said he would go for capital aggravating factors. A fellow sailor told M that DLT attracted attention because of her looks and approachable personality. He also said that Cmp was bullied by his wife, Elisa, but seemed to be ok with it. He could see her busting someone's head more than Cmp. H, still questioning the detective, badgered him until he admitted that there was an unsolved murder a year ago, on the same dock, with same MO; but, told H to "just do your job and let me do mine." H revealed the prior event to M, and also that Cmp had been deployed on a ship at the time. They were notified that a marine guard had overheard Cmp confess to the murder while he was talking to the chaplain. M chastised Stephens for even starting the conversation where he might be overheard; but, he tried to turn it back on M. Cmp said he still had no memory of doing any harm to DLT, but Stephens had told him to pray and beg for mercy and the Lord would forgive him, which is what he was doing. M found that Elisa had called Cmp on his cell phone, while he was at the bar, and believed that she may have been the killer.

Coates (Co) interrupted C's meeting for a phone message from Meredith, and was pushy about getting him on the line. He told her that "he would take care of it" then took back all involvement with wedding plans from her. She kept on interjecting and interfering to the point he eventually had to shout: "stay out of it, that's an order." Then, softening, he added "and a personal request." Finally, when C was in his office late one night, she told him "Whatever happened between you two… I'm sure can be worked out." He told her "you don't have any idea what you are talking about." She pushed "only because you won't tell me"; and, stunned, he asked "why would I?" She said "it might make you feel better," which was the last straw he would take. He shot back "that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard you say. Get out of my office and leave me alone!"

Bud (B) was assigned to defend Cdr Michael Rainer, of the SEAL training team, for misappropriation of funds. Turner (T) prosecuted. Rainer told B that, with his degree and experience he wouldn't steal from the navy, he would have retired. He claimed that ammunition had been used before he had a chance to inventory it. B watched an extraction exercise from a catwalk and was surprised that it used live ammunition. Rainer said that had sacrificed his health, 2 marriages, and 3 kids he hardly sees, for the Navy. The job is my life and I wouldn't jeopardize it for $22,000. A weenie supply officer pontificated to B and T that there was an "anonymous hotline tip," and that they had found receipts didn't match vendor's documents. Checks cut for munitions had been fraudulently endorsed and cashed, but never actually ordered or delivered. B cleverly backed down his client saying: "you are either a forger or know the person who is," then mentioned the severe penalty he was going to get. Rainer admitted to forging the paperwork, but said he had used the money "to procure experimental ordinance which, for security reasons, he couldn't discuss." B said he "wasn't that gullible" and Rainer took him to see Russian knock out gas and vials of antidote(?). B showed T documents showing the purchase from Spetsgruppa Alfa, Russian special forces counter terror unit, and said that the purchase orders only claimed to be for "non-lethal hostage rescue operations." T was still unconvinced, but B only said that Rainer didn't think he'd done anything wrong and wanted to testify. On the stand, Rainer said that he'd entered into classified procurement deals without authorization from chain of command; but, he had the duty to disobey orders which he knew to be counter to the safety and security of the US. If he could rescue anyone without firing a bullet, it would be unlawful and immoral not to do so. The judge recommended general court martial and Rainer told B to "plead it out, I've made my point, no since taking this any further." T agreed to dismissal, restitution with loss of benefits and 1 yr confinement, suspended.

H went to Ms apartment and said he was worried about M - "allowing your past to jeopardize your judgment, especially your client." She reiterated that ETOH didn't change your true nature, only made it harder to control the one you already have. He said that sometimes a persons true nature is buried so deep they never understand it. Marcie Jones, the crime lab tech, said the only other evidence was one broken hair; but, they couldn't match it without a follicle. M asked if there was a way to tell if the person was on prenatal vitamins, thinking Elisa, but they would need more sample and a direct comparison with someone. M asked for a "discarded tox screen printout," just to "humor me." H interviewed the jailer who had heard the confession and found that they both had been talking very loud. The chaplain told Rainer that the Lord would have mercy on him… DLT was in a better place… and the Lord was behind the shack that night and "saw everything." M bluffed Elisa, with hints about tox screen, to finally admitting that she had followed DLT and her husband from the bar to the pier and saw DLT wrestling with Cmp (actually trying to prevent him from disrobing and swimming to the ship.) She flew off the handle, accosted DLT, kicked the unconscious Cmp, and wouldn't listen to any explanations. DLT left, saying she just was trying to help, then she left too, leaving her unconscious husband on the dock. H pulled up in his car, as M was accusing her, and told M that Elisa didn't kill DLT. They both went to see Stephens. At first he denied everything, even though they had record of his car getting a ticket on the dock at the time of the murder and a signed statement from his pusher who sold him cocaine. The body was found 20 yards from a shack that no one knew about, except the killer and the police. Stephens quoted scripture at M and she quoted them right back. He finally broke down and said he couldn't sleep, couldn't think and couldn't feel anything, but he didn't actually confess. Cmp was released and said thanks to M. H said that "he owed you more than a thank you. You didn't give up, sensed something was wrong and forced me to reconsider. Watching Elisa and Cmp together, M commented they've known each other since eighth grade and still have secrets." H said, "don't we all."

Friday, January 9, 2004

Girl's Best Friend - 194

[The first episode of the new year. Chegwidden (C) has, under the recommendation of the wife of a colleague, purchased a diamond engagement ring for Meredith (Mer) (so large the stone can easily be seen in several medium shots.] This episode rids the series of a poorly understandable, and annoying recurrent character.] Meredith made arrangements to wine and dine professore Selvaggio during his teaching trip to DC and was upset at Chegwidden for not wanting to be "the third wheel" in all her "outings" with him. She knocked the diamond out of its setting and demanded that Coates (Co) not tell the admiral "or he would think I'm clumsy." Selvaggio looked at it with a magnifying glass and implied that it might be stolen because it didn't have a laser etched serial number on it. Mer got upset with C, that it might be stolen, but completely ignored his question about Selvaggio. Mac (M) told C that it "looked good to her" and they wondered if Selvaggio was just trying to stir up trouble. C said he'd never met him but there was "just something about the guy" that he didn't trust. M said "at least you show you're romantic" which some guys "can't get right." C told her that he thought she and Harm (H) had "decided to forgive and forget," thinking it was H she was referring to, but she responded "I'm not talking about him." M said that after "living through operation Chaco Borealis" she had a little respect over at Langley, and offered to take the diamond to Agent Van Duyne, their diamond expert. The diamond store told C that they got the diamond from a local man who deals in loose stones. Van Duyne told M there was no way to tell if a stone was stolen, and that he was uncomfortable with diamonds as a token of love - knowing what they buy on the black market - "you tend NOT to hear a love song when you look at one." He said the stone's "symmetry was uncanny… no imperfections… no inclusions… clear as water… and growth structures were without blemish." Suspicious, he asked where she had gotten it; and, suspecting his suspicions, she refused to tell him where she got it, so he just told her, emphatically, to be careful! C went to a factory warehouse's upstairs' back room and grabbed Handy, a sleazy looking guy who called him "Popeye." He had to slam the guy against the wall then chase him through the factory before he "convinced" Handy to admit he had forged the authenticity document on a "blood diamond." C demanded to know where it came from and Handy said "you're not gonna like it." C personally went to the naval research lab to arrest Lt. Maravalis, who was a technician who made synthetic diamonds. M prosecuted and H defended with Bud (B) as second chair.

Harriet (Ht) was taking time off, after her USO show production, to chaperone little AJ's school trip so he would behave. H was absent, for personal reasons, taking custody of "that little girl." H told Mattie (Mt) he was looking for a two bedroom house in Falls Church and she said she wanted to live in the city, showing him an ad for a vacancy in his own apartment building. He told her that "we didn't go through what we went through just to be neighbors" and that she couldn't live alone. B told M that she "was looking well rested" recently, and "it's been a long time since I've seen you so content." When she seemed to give him the eye, he flustered on that he was just "happy that you're happy… and agent Webb (W) … if he's the reason you're happy." She just said: "don't believe everything you hear." C found Cotes' coat and other clothes in drawers around the office and told her to "solve your roommate problems." Co refused H's offer to pay for an apartment if she would have Mt as a roommate; but, changed her mind when he offered to let her put it in her name and pay for Mt's half of the rent. Mt called Co "the cheerleader type" so Co set her straight about her past. When they were moving in, Mt suggested that they might be able to share clothes and said "I could use one of those," pointing to a bra. Co said they needed to go shopping together; and, when Mt said she didn't have any money, told her "do what any girl does… ask 'dad' for his credit card." H took Mt to school and she told him that "you have no idea how navy brass boosts my rep." Her friend Andre, a math geek, "wanted to be a fighter pilot too" and saluted H. H told the boy to "loosen up." Mt asked Co "what made H want to take care of me?" and she replied "probably for the same reason he did me." He lost his dad and has a soft spot for kids who look like they need a father. Mt observed that they had the "same situation" and Co said "and the same guardian angel."

Ms opening statement was grandiose and she used inflammatory photographs without H or B objecting. She said mother and child slaves were forced to mine diamonds which were spirited to jewel centers and paid for weapons to arm other children so they can maim other children. Maravalis spent lots of time at Belgian diamond exchange, smuggled them into the US and, with help of a forger, pass them off as legitimate. Four months previous he opened an off shore bank account and lives beyond the means of a career officer. In B's opening statement, he used all the tricks that M and H had taught him. He used the photos from Ms desk and said Maravalis had no ties to Africa etc. He was recently married to someone who had money. Van Duyne pulled Ms car over and gave her a folder with documents which proved she had the "right guy but the wrong theory." Maravalis had been under CIA surveillance for 3 months but they could only look at foreign entanglements. He said he "never wanted to find out what it feels like to be tortured by the enemy - like W; and was giving them to M so he could nail Maravalis. The next step, he claimed, was going under cover to sell diamonds to scum like Sadik Fahd but he'd lost his nerve. He said he had given the same folder to an operative in Brussels. M interviewed Dr (name not given), the director of the lab who admitted he was Van Duyne's anonymous informant. He initially refused to talk because these were the "kind of guys who won't stop at you, but will kill your whole family." She threatened him and he eventually testified that he had seen 60 stones (120 carats) go missing from the lab. They made synthetic diamonds for "thermal management of semi-conductors" and cost almost nothing to make but sell for 1.3 million on the open market. You can only tell the difference from the natural stones by using spectrophotometry - they are too picture perfect to pass for natural. Cs stone, he said, "was definitely one of mine." M found that Van Duyne never contacted anyone in Brussels and had disappeared. Maravalis agreed to a plea bargain and admitted that he started with one but then started selling stones to a local dealer and to Antwerp. He wore his uniform to add "credibility" and gave a sob story about his mother being poor and never having an engagement ring etc. He said his new wife wouldn't stand by a thief so had filed for divorce. H said Maravalis would torn over his money and give back un-sold stones. The judge told him he didn't buy his sob story because: "guess what, my mother never had a ring either."

Discussing the case after the trial, H said "love can drive a man crazy." M said "that runs both ways." H invited her to Mt's new apartment for lunch. Mt answered the door in boxers and H admonished her saying he felt "like captain Von Trapp." M had to explain the reference to "The Sound of Music," and both Mt and Co just said: "what?" Co told H that "I guess we need a DVD player dad." C went to Mer's apartment after work and found her asleep on the couch with classical Italian music playing. The sleazebag Selvaggio came out of the bedroom in his underwear. Mer sat up, but just looked at C. Neither said anything, but C, without showing emotion, just turned and left.