Friday, February 25, 2005

Straits of Malacca - 221

[Another episode with poorly defined new characters made worse by writers untrue to existing characters and insulting to viewers by telling us, directly, we should overlook what they've done so far instead of giving us a storyline that would develop our change of mind.] A ship, the Palau, became disabled and asked for the assistance of Captain Manning Donovan of the USS Condon. When they arrived assistance was refused making Donovan suspect pirates. Cresswell sent Mac to negotiate the release of the crew and capture Akay Anwar who had a reputation of killing the entire crew of a ship if any person resisted. Cr made her take Vukovic with her, explaining: 1- he is a surface officer, and 2- to "make a man out of him. He just needs direction and discipline." She said he was "too much a man and not enough lawyer." Cr said that V and Harm were "too much alike" (?) to be assigned together. Cr told M to "consider it a vote of confidence." She said it was "more like a plaque of locusts." Anwar couldn't get away with anything with M, so he turned the retoric into being an issue with a "woman." V just took the microphone, countermanded M, and said "just send the hostages and you can go." They set up a trap to capture Anwar when the pirates feigned being hostages and tried to take over the Condon. Anwar had killed the Palau's crew, except four which had escaped in a lifeboat.

Commander Sandakan, of the Indonesian KRI Mataram, shot across the bow of the Condon and demanded custody of Anwar. Donovan was ordered to "cease resisting" while an un-named white house lackey [instead of SECNAV] told Cr "my boss can beat up your boss." Then Indonesian Admiral Lutarno boarded the Condon to hold a "custody hearing." V arrogantly tried to force M into "clearing the air," saying he didn't feel comfortable in proceeding until they had done so. M said she wasn't concerned with his "comfort level" and he said he wanted to be "on the same page." She said we're not in the same book or even library!" She told him to just "listen" but instead he insulted Lutarno, then refusing to inform M (or anyone), walked out of the hearing, commandeered a boat and boarded the Pulau (without a sidearm). From out of nowhere, Donovan had a heart-to-heart about V being a "train wreck" and M should "cut him some slack." (probably directed to the viewers) M & V had deduced that the Pulau had made explosives from their fertilizer cargo and ships fuel. Capt Donovan, still suspecting treachery, found the Pulau had been repaired and was now heading for Singapore- and that V was on it. Indonesia finally wised up and accepted US help and M was "inserted," with SEALs onto the Pulau. She found and saved V, who then, with 15 min left, defied logic and grandstanded disarming a small cell phone detonator risking early explosion, (instead of simply moving it away from the room with the explosives.) M said "it's a good thing you were as good as you think you are."

Bud & Harriett held an open house so that people could meet their new twins (only the girls name was revealed - Nicky). H appeared at the party, "passing through" on his way to Florida, ostensibly to help with hurricane aftermath assessment. Mattie, he said, is taking flying lessons, coming to visit over spring break and is going to the prom with Kevin. Cr's wife Dora was introduced as a real "people person," counterbalance to Cr. Their daughter Cammie (18) is in her first year at Annapolis and flirted with Mikey until Cr introduced her as his daughter telling them to chaperone themselves appropriately. She told Mk, "don't even think about asking me out" as she was a plebe; and, he said he was third year so "don't think about it either." She dropped her books on the sidewalk at school and he, not at first knowing it was her, braced her up. As others were looking, she told him that he was supposed to be asking her questions so he asked her "what color underwear are you wearing(?!!)" She said "what part of sexual harassment DO you understand?" Uncharacteristically, Cr talked to Bud about having a daughter, raising her midst boys, and teaching them to "hold their own." Unbelievably, he told B that he thought he had "taught Cammie not to back down from anything and had probably gone too far." Dora appeared and told B that "only good parents have doubts. It's the one's who think they know it all that never learn a thing." Cammie was "killed" in paintball at the academy by Mk. She cheated by taking off her spattered shirt then, when Mk called her on it, she bargained for each of them to give fair passage and stay in the game. When he agreed, she shot him anyway and said "sometimes you've got to play dirty to win." Then, out of the blue, Cammie took a "day off" from the academy and told Cr she "was pretty much a social washout because you've raised me to see everyone as a rival." She didn't make friends "because I'm too busy trying to win all the time." She wants out of Annapolis because "you don't know how hard it is being a woman there!" She hadn't thought it through to make other plans. Dora told Cr "blaming yourself for the way our kids (also Cade-15) turned out won't change anything."

[The most incredible part of the script] M asked V if he was "always going to be this insubordinate?" He responded: "When I give MY respect it's because they've earned it … like you did." [oh, good grief!!]

Friday, February 18, 2005

Bridging the Gulf - 220

[Yet another episode with barely believable dialog and contrived conflict. New cast member touted as "the new Harm" (DJE leaving the show after this season) shown to be unethical, inconsiderate, full of himself- the complete antithesis of Harm; neither he or Cresswell are believable characters] Lt Vukovick (V) arrived at JAG, knocked into Mac flinging her papers, ogled he while he helped pick them up and announced that "I'm the new guy." Cresswell assigned him to second M in the case of Gunnery Sergeant Genuzzi charged with illegally commandeering a civilian vehicle in Iraq. He came in late, brusquely acknowledged Tali Mayfield (Mf), prosecutor, then led and directed Genuzzi in telling his story. Genuzzi said that his Lt Revere's vehicle had broken down and they had time sensitive intel so when a local, Azzam, came down the road after curfew in a SUV they commandeered it. Azzam became belligerent and drew a crowd so they drew weapons. Revere was killed in the vehicle by a land mine. V tried to push him to say Lt Revere had ordered him to take the vehicle, but Genuzzi refused. M asked Cr if V had "any experience with litigation" at all (he certainly was unbelievable to the audience) and Cr said "he's got something better, he's got fire in the belly, and we need that around here." Then Cr played his tiresome manipulation game of "can't you handle it M." Mf whined to Bud about being on the "wrong side" of yet another case because she believed Genuzzi wasn't being honest. B advised her to proceed with "zeal," which she did. V tried to elicit a bargain with Mf without even discussing it with M and was found out. She read him the riot act, commenting that he'd graduated "6th in class at Dickenson and still didn't learn anything about the chain of command." He patronizingly started to apologize but M called him on how "practiced" his apologies were. He had to repeat that he would "do nothing without Ms complete consent."

Cr shown "thinking" in empty court room when a "friend(?)"/acquaintance, sheik Suhaib al-Hassan came to demand that he "punish the man who took my son's car." Cr asked him if that was a threat and was told that if he wasn't "there would be consequences." M spoke to the Sheik in his language and asked him to request clemency. He argued so she said "forgiveness is the noblest revenge." He said "that's a woman's argument," and she replied "yet simple enough that even a man can understand." On the stand Azzam acted the expected spoiled-brat son of a Sheik. His father admitted son not harmed, and compensated financially- but "how can you compensate for loss of dignity." M said in court the real reason this was being pressed was to appease his politically powerful father. Cr got on her case about that. Even Genuzzi was admitting to M & V that he was ordered to take the vehicle but wouldn't "bad mouth" Revere, when in came a man announcing he was "Paul Revere" the father. He read a letter stating Revere had ordered Genuzzi and said either you tell the truth or I will. Mf reduced charge to wrongful appropriation and Cr asked the Sheik if he was satisfied. The sheik said yes and asked to have the sentence commuted. Cr went out of his way to commend V- and M happened to be there as well. When M got V alone she confronted him with using an actor- "do I look that stupid to you, that I wouldn't check?" Completely oblivious to his dishonesty he told her "whatever works." She landed on him for "fraud, unethical and despicable" and said "do it again and I'll have you before the rules council! I might anyway." He arrogantly said "you won't do it because you like what I did," and she told him "don't bet your career on it."

Harm completed his field quals in the F18 and told Cr he only needed 16 carrier traps until he was F18 qualified. Cr offered an investigation on the carrier JFK to Turner who deferred to H. A Huey pilot Lt Gutierrez shot the stern of the fishing boat of Jalal Sharif who was heading for an oil platform and refusing to stop when orders were broadcast in his language. The CAG authorized him to shoot warning shots across his bow which caused him to run and still not stop. The government was complaining. Iraqi commando battalion leader Colonel Fadil Najijar, Masters of engineering from MIT, was Hs counterpart. The CAG clearly held "seeing it my way" over Hs head to get on the schedule for his quals. H found he had acted within ROE because Sharif could speak English and didn't stop. The CAG gave him the flights, with bullets but no missiles, where he was diverted to intercept a small aircraft that was heading directly at the oil platform. The two occupants appeared unconscious & Hs getting in front of them then lifting their wing was still ineffective. At 5 seconds before impact H saw the pilot's lips moving before deciding to shoot. It was reportedly Hakim Ma'mun, an Iraqi minister, on a fact finding tour. T was sent to investigate and after perfunctory greetings H said "I guess were exchanging lies" and T agreed. T railroaded through a perfunctory "investigation" and charged H with negligent homicide because he didn't ask for permission to fire- despite 5 seconds to impact. H & T had it out. T accused H of jealousy & undermining his authority during his temporary JAG appointment. H said he was a "tight ass, pompous, sanctimonious prig or he would have had everyone's support." Najjar overhead them arguing and told H "best friends make the worst of enemies." H asked, "from the Koran?" He said, "no, John Wayne." Najijar discovered that two men speaking Arabic with Jordanian accents had spoken to Sharif on his boat and afterward Sharif had thrown up over the side. He admitted that he was forced by "Zarqawi's men" to head to platform to test security. They got him to wear a wire into the terrorists. Troops then entered the house killing all but one including Sharif. They also found the bodies of the minister and his pilot who were killed before their flight which exonerated H. T flew back with Sharif, who's death was staged to avoid retaliation, and said "it turned out well. I'm glad." H said "yea, I believe you." T said, "we're still swapping lies."

Sunday, February 6, 2005

Fit For Duty - 218

PFC Jeff Kilpatrick was killed when his unit was ambushed and taking fire from all sides and he stood up in a daze walking toward insurgents firing. His COC blamed navy psychiatrist Cdr Lucy Maron for "incompetence." M was antagonistic from the beginning, even Cr told her she looked like she was "on a mission" against psychiatrists. H got Dr Elgin (Jordan's friend) to review the case. When H asked her to be a witness she told him that M had already asked her. On cross examination H had to discredit her. Then Maron's private diary was found on a navy computer she used and forgot to erase which revealed SHE was under "secondary stress" as well. Kilpatrick had "combat addiction" with adrenalin rush and wanted to go back to the fighting & "it was so easy to let him" Maron told H.

Maron in her own stress "felt" responsible and cried in front of cpl Dominick who then blamed Maron as well. Maron was following the "3 hot's and a cot" protocol that she was under orders to follow. Elgin described that there was an Omni-present threat, no front line, supporting roles to independent contractors, and a greater % of troops now see action than in years past. She described Marons caseload as completely unrealistic. H showed that Kilpatricks CO, Capt Damon White, had disregarded ALL of Maron's many prior suggestions for prevention. He called them "touchy feely" but he was overwrought in his condemnation of Maron. Maron was found guilty of Dereliction but judge Blakeley thanked her for her courage and delayed sentencing 60 days for stress counseling and assessment w/ "possible return to full duty." Elgin told H that Maron was in a daze & didn't even hear judges "no confinement." They make arrangements for dinner in Ms hearing & H, uncomfortable, asked M to join them although she declined.

B defended Cdr Stefanopoulis who refused to vacate his command of the USS LeGrande when relieved of command after a pilot hit a pier. He had to keep encouraging B as he wanted his "day in court" even though he "knew he was done." Lt Tali Mayfield, an arrogant new JAG prosecuting attny, was introduced and "psyched out" B. Stefanopoulis had been summarily dismissed w/o ANYONE, including his arrogant strike group commander Admiral Renfield. He had just been summarily dismissed for "lack of confidence" and had absolutely no recourse so he chose to refuse to stand down to get his "day in court." During Bs questioning Adm Renfield was cocky until B showed that in the past 3 years Renfield had only taken action on TWO (of TEN) officers who had committed infractions which rose to level of court-martial and they were the ones who were over 40 years old! Then he showed that Stefanopoulis had been ordered to turn over piloting of the ship to a private pilot who had LIED to the navy about his amount of experience because of his companies pressure. Stefanopoulis still relieved of command but was grateful to B that he had his day in court - "I'm not too old to serve my country."

Friday, February 4, 2005

Heart of Darkness - 217

Capt Jack Ramsey who went UA (after the battle of Tora Bora & bin Laden was "allowed" to escape) was leading a mujahadeem and trying capture bin Laden. He was charged with killing 5 Zaran village men after they lied to him about the whereabouts of Fahim Khalili a pharmacist in Moquot who Ramsey believed was tied to bin Laden. After the incident the Afghan people turned against Ramsey so his sources dried up. He offered to clear his name of deaths if he could speak with US legal personnel first and avoid Afghan trial.

Cresswell sent Mac & Harm who got an agreement with Zabi, the Afghan prosecutor general, to allow a US militarytrial; but, then he double crossed and captured Ramsey. Wahid (who's mother & father were killed by Taliban) was sent to "fetch" H & M. On the way they stopped to see Mazin (who was blinded by the Taliban after helping Ramsey). Mazin said that he had seen Ramsey at the same time the villagers were killed, so he couldn't have been in Zaran during the killings. The Judge, without any sense of fairness, didn't allow H or M to see any witnesses or evidence; but, was shown as an honorable person at the end. The only evidence was that: Ramsey had been in the village earlier, been lied to about where Kalili was, the men were killed at night by masked persons, and that a US flag patch was dropped at scene - all circumstantial! Wahid brought Khalili's wife to the trial "so Ramsey could be tried on one that he did, not on the 5 that he didn't do."

Ramsey finally admitted that they had found the pharmacist, Khalili, carrying kidney failure medicines (bin Laden has renal failure) and wanted him to lead them to bin Laden. Before before they could make him, Khalili had killed himself by running off a cliff. Zabi had to choose which crime to try for, he warned that slaying unjustly (?suicide defense not even addressed?) got retaliation at the hands of the family - loss of Right hand & Left leg. Ramsey admitted Khalili's "accidental" death. M talked to Mrs. Khalili who, the next day, was shown ready to cut off Ramseys hand but then changed her mind accepting "blood money" instead: a pickup truck, a well for the town and 100 goats. Zibi was extremely upset. Ramsey was given 60 days brig time & discharge from service.

Big B owns a bikini-wrestling bar but was called back to active duty as one of a few "old timers" who knew the old paper and pencil system - needed in Iraq. He got B to try and help him escape from the recall. His girlfriend Doris got OTC ephedrine and blood pressure pills but they didn't have any effect on preventing his acceptance. He claimed he was gay to the corps wave but she talked dirty in his ear and he had "a hard day." B helped him plead before Capt Curry at NAVSUP who didn't buy all his excuses but told BB that he found 12 other retirees, some older with families, who were willing to go so "we don't need you or want you and won't call you again." The rejection upset BB. B later chided him for malingering over a "broken ankle" he received from being thrown out of the ring by his two female wrestlers but not caught as it was scripted. BB advised that his recal had been recinded but that he had "volunteered" and was going to Athens Georgia to teach at the naval supply school.

The Final shot was of Ramsay offering to give H & M a "home" in his unit and M asking H "you'd like to be joining him wouldn't you?" to which H replied "wouldn't you?" [This was a refreshingly good episode which was well written and where no "short man" crud came from Cr; but, the "elephant is still in the room," although H & M are dealing with it in their usual way - by ignoring it. Even with that, however, it was good to be "back on track," for a bit,with the series!]