A female Marine recruit is found dead on the obstacle course at Paris Island. Harm and Meg must investigate to determine if it was an accidental death or murder. While Harm works with the Provost Marshal in a direct investigation, Meg goes undercover as a Marine recruit MacIntyre. It's clear that the two female instructors and the Provost Marshal are hiding something, but it's not clear what.
"Boot" contains examples of the following tropes:
- Ambiguous Situation: Someone attacks Austin in the gas chamber, but it's impossible to see who. It's possible that Private Whitley was trying to kill her because she was on her trail, or that Private Johnson was trying to rough her up out of spite.
- Boot Camp Episode: Exactly What It Says on the Tin, with the added twist that one of the characters is an officer pretending to be a recruit.
- Cherry Tapping: Meg and Johnson are selected to fight each other with pugil sticks, with any blow to the head (and only a blow to the head) being counted as a kill. Johnson manages to disarm Meg and proceeds to repeatedly beat her without going for the headshot. Meg in turn manages to trip Johnson, get her pugil stick, and gently tap her in the faceplate.
- The Dreaded: According to Major Klein, Lt. Comander Rabb has a reputation as a "Heavy Hitter". It seems that it is considered rare for Harm to be assigned to anything routine.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: A pair of female instructors who are very strict, but who everyone is quick to defend as being fair.
- In fact, Carrington admits she was hard on "Private MacIntyre" because Carrington believed that she would be an outstanding soldier. She remarks she didn't know how right she was.
- Foreshadowing Austin finds a letter mailed to the deceased recruit, which included a newspaper clipping about her. On the backside is a clipping about a female suspected wanted in an armed robbery case, with a partial photo of the suspect (and the episode's villain).
- Also, the swamp around Paris Island is mentioned early on, and the movie the two D.I.s are watching was in fact made in response to an incident where several Marine recruits drowned in the swamp. The climax of the episode takes place in the swamp.
- Gas Mask Mooks: The recruits receive training in the use of gas masks. Specifically, they are subjected to the effects of tear gas for a short time before being allowed to don the masks, to demonstrate that the masks work.
- Genre Savvy: Major Klein knows something out of the ordinary is up simply because Harm has been placed on the investigation.
- Both drill instructors are quickly able to tell who the actual instigator is whenever the recruits have an altercation, even when they didn't see how it started. Granted, it's usually Private Johnson.
- Ironic Echo: "Semper Fi."
- Let's You and Him Fight: Between Johnson and Meg. Justified, since this was part of their boot camp training.
- Out of Order: The episode was meant to air after "Defensive Action", the episode where Harm is promoted to Lieutenant Commander. Due to being aired sooner, Harm gets a one-episode promotion before being promptly demoted again without anyone noticing.
- Red Herring: Private Johnson isn't the villain. She's just a Jerkass.
- The Reveal: Private Schuler's killer was Private Whitley, who appeared to be the nicest character in the episode.
- Secret Relationship: Between Sergeant Gonzalez and Major Klein. Harm decides to overlook it on the condition that they will turn themselves in if Sergeant Gonzalez is not accepted into the officer commissioning program, which she was previously mentioned to be a shoe-in for.
- Semper Fi: An entire episode based around Marine Boot Camp.
- Stock Footage: The instructors pass the time watching The D.I., an old Jack Webb film based on Marine boot camp, itself made in response to a training mishap that resulted in the deaths of several recruits at Paris Island.
- Theme Music Power-Up: During the Boot Camp training montages.
- Toothbrush Floor Scrubbing / Punishment Detail: Of course it's going to happen. It's practically a requirement in an episode like this.
- Training from Hell: Marine Boot Camp.
- Undercover Cop Reveal: Played for Laughs. After everything she has put her through, Staff Sergeant Carrington is stunned to discover that Private MacIntyre, a problem recruit she had been singling out, was in fact Lt. Meg Austin. Carrington immediately comes to attention, but Austin assures her she knew it wasn't personal (after smearing swamp mud all over Carrington's uniform).
- Unflinching Walk: Staff Sergeant Carrington and Sergeant Gonzalez slowly pace up and down the length of a gas chamber full of tear gas, singing the Marine Corps Hymn while the recruits are hardly able to breathe.
As you were...