[apparently this was supposed to be an important episode on several levels] Cresswell (Cr) held his annual JAG conference in San Diego instead of Washington and relied on Cathy Graves (Gr) as his "advance person" and Lt. Tali Mayfield (Mf) as a keynote speaker on "the JAG involvement in combat operations." Turner and Bud were left behind "for trials" but then not seen again. Harm was made "acting" JAG and stayed behind. He was shown exibiting much more trust for Ts opinion than T ever showed for his. Mac prosecuted Corporal Caden Duran who was accused of manslaughter when a civilian in a mob he was trying to control died. Vukovic defended and Mf was assigned as 2nd chair. Cr told them "you have a history" but "consider this a test that neither of you wants to fail." V was his usual arrogant, smug and pontifical self throughout, demanding his client not to accept a settlement M had offered. Mf had to back V down just to be able to even hear the client get a chance to talk! Disagreements and condescending attitudes got to point where Mf told V "I don’t' know which drives you more your ego or libido," "It's one thing to be cocky with your own life but quite another to showboat with someone else's," and "You don't just use people, you use people UP."
V couldn't even see that M was "wiping" him in court. V, in his arrogant way, even tried to seduce M into accepting a plea bargain! Gr, smitten with V, had to point out that M was beating him and then spoon fed him forensic clues. It was actually Gr who defended Duran, not V or Mf who acted like she was just along for the ride. The victim was hit on crown of head (marines use gun butts on the side) and no one had even checked the blood type to match the victim and gun butt! V flew off to Nicaragua grandstanding instead of testing the blood. He brought back Fonseca Godoy who saw the man, Carlos Trjerino, killed when he had slipped and a crate fell on top of his head. Everyone,he said, knew that he had a "soft head." Godoy said that Duran couldn't have hit Trjerino because he was the man who Duran hit. Ashamedly, he said he had stepped on a child trying to get the food being distributed. M believed that V was using another actor like he had done before and asked for time to check credibility. Mf said "I know better than anyone the deception V is capable of" but she vouched for the truth of the witness. M got the blood analysis that V should have gotten at the beginning of the episode, and then cut off the trial reccomended to the convening authority that charges be dropped because of lack of evidence. Mf screwed up her face and told V, "now, that's integrity."
When V condescendingly complimented M, she began to believe that he had set her up, knowing she would do the blood test and drop charges; and then wondered if V had tampered with the blood samples too. She told him, "hope I never find out there was tampering" and he replied, "you won't" (he never denied it).
Meanwhile Mattie was on a respirator in intensive care after she hit a taxiing plane during a flight lesson which killed her instructor. The specialist doctor was portrayed as uncaring and delayed coming to the hospital. Tom began drinking again and when H tried to rally him, he completely broke down - "she's all I have, the only reason I stopped drinking." Dr Michael Rosenbaum said Mattie had a SUSPICIOUS "a white spot" AROUND C4 - a POSSIBLE spinal cord transection - and COULD be paralyzed from neck down - and that they MAY need to think of discontinuing life support - IF she doesn't wake up. Hs emotional involvement was suprising to the doctor (and frankly hadn't been developed in previous episodes to that extend.) H was upset and projected Mattie's future: "we're going to fly Mt McKinley, sail Mediterranean, ski Aspen. You've got college, love and babies."
Cr seemingly had a personality transplant, (reversing what the writers have inflicted on us to date). He was acting grateful, and amiable - even complimented Gr stating he "would like her to join JAG." Gr wouldn't listen to M & Mf warning her about becoming involved with V. [The "tone" of the episode is glaringly different. Vertiginous camera movement even on an increased number of tight shots, barely understandable rapid fire dialog, and more intrusive (loud), boinky, space-ship type background music. The scene of the L-CAC flying up on the beach was impressive however.]