Marine F/A-18 Hornets are conducting a test of the new AMRAAM missile, when a North Korean aircraft squawking an airliner transponder code blunders into the area. Right after it is warned to bugger off, a missile "inadvertedly" launches off an aircraft and shoots the plane down. Tensions erupt between both sides, resulting in a standoff as the USN tries to salvage the downed aircraft.
Harm, Mac and Bud are sent to the carrier Reprisal to investigate. Mac clearly doesn't want to be there, as she seems intent to quickly determine the cause as pilot error and go home. She also becomes sympathetic to the plight of a galley crewman Seaman Alice Tupenny who just can't seem to catch a break. Harm on the other hand, digs deeper and uncovers a potential spy onboard.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Alice Tupenny.
- Dead All Along / Kill and Replace : The real Seaman Alice Tupenny was murdered before she could even get to the ship. A freelance spy offed her and took her place.
- The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: The marine fighter pilot who "inadvertedly fired" the missile had a brother who was diagnosed. His own flight performance suffered as a result, improving only when his brother was in remission.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The North Korean "airliner" was a spy plane with an extremely powerful radar. That radar caused electrical systems to surge and ignite the AMRAAM on the Hornet, when it scanned the aircraft to discern details about the missile. The AMRAAM being a fire and forget missile found the spy plane and hit it, bringing it down.
- He Knows Too Much: Ostensibly why the Migs fired at Harm's F-14.
- Stay in the Kitchen: A literal case - the galley senior chief wants Seaman Alice Tupenny to focus on her duties in the galley and berates her for leaving her post on watch to get some training elsewhere.
- Villain Ball: The North Korean Mig pilots just open fire on Harm's Tomcat, killing Alice Tupenny in the backseat, neutralizing the grenade that threatened him and allowing him to escape. Had they responded to their spy's request to be escorted to land in Pyongyang, they'd have pulled off a major coup by acquiring an F-14 Tomcat with all its advanced missiles, and a pilot who could either be exchanged or just interrogated.