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Recap / JAGS 10 E 11 Automatic For The People

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"Automatic for the People" is an episode of JAG that first aired on January 7, 2005. Directed by Kenneth Johnson. Teleplay by Philip De Guere, Jr. based on a story by Darcy Meyers and De Guere.

Commander Rabb goes to China Lake, California, to investigate the crash of a fighter jet near a school. He is helped by Lt. Catherine Graves (Jordana Spiro), who has read the CIA assassination manual and knows how to pick a lock.

Rabb figures out that the plane that went down was unmanned but had a dummy in the cockpit, and that it killed an artist who was painting a nearby bridge. Rabb gets the artist's daughter, Megan Ransford (Kristin Bauer), a million-dollar settlement from Defense contractor Larmoss Industries.

Meanwhile, Lt. Roberts goes to anger management classes as ordered to in 'Camp Delta'. There he gets caught in the middle of an altercation between Lt. Korski (David Goryl) and Petty Officer Mooney (Christian J. Meoli) that results in the instructor, Lt. Harriman (Tom Wright), getting his jaw broken.

Concerned by this development, Major General Cresswell (David Andrews) asks Commander Turner to quietly investigate Roberts. Turner interviews Harriman, who confirms that Roberts was not an active participant in the scuffle that injured Harriman. Roberts should not be in the anger management class, Harriman tells Turner.

Lt. Colonel MacKenzie has no case in this episode. She must go to the shooting range for her annual rifle and pistol qualification. Cresswell decides he might as well also re-qualify and turns the thing into a competition.

This episode fails The Bechdel Test at the second question: none of the women in the story talk to each other. If there is a similar test for black characters, this episode would fail at the third question: Turner and Harriman are mainly talking about Roberts.


  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Harriman bears no ill will towards Roberts. But if he ever sees either Korski or Mooney again, he will do something profane to him, ending with "Do you understand me?". The joke here is that, because of Harriman's broken jaw, we don't actually understand the profanity he utters to describe to Turner what he would do to Korski or Mooney.
  • Titled After the Song: More precisely, after the album by R.E.M..
  • Tropaholics Anonymous: Lt. Roberts goes to anger management classes. Hilarity Ensues as he gets caught in the middle of an altercation between two other men in the class.
  • Truth in Television: Every Marine must qualify with the rifle every year, even lawyers like Cresswell and Mac. Furthermore, every Marine above the rank of sergeant (E-5) is also required to qualify with the pistol every year,note  as well as junior enlisted Marines in certain military occupational specialties. The rifle and pistol qualifications correspond to the rifle and pistol badges under the ribbons on some uniform shirts or jackets. There are three levels of qualification, each with its own badge: expert (like Mac), sharpshooter (like the average Marine) and marksman (the lowest level of qualification, but still pretty decent). At the rifle or pistol range, each Marine is technically only in competition with themselves, trying to score better than last year, but nothing prevents Marines from comparing each others' scores. In this episode, Mac scores higher than Cresswell, but they both get to keep their rifle expert and pistol expert badges on their uniforms.note 
  • With All Due Respect: Occurs quite a few times in this episode directed at Cresswell.
    • Twice in one conversation between Cresswell and Turner:
      Cresswell: My concern is that your fondness for Commander Roberts has affected your judgment.
      Turner: With all due respect, sir, you couldn't be more wrong.
      Cresswell: Oh, couldn't I?
      Turner: Sir, few have sacrificed to the degree that Commander Roberts has. I know you were shot down in Iraq, I know you were injured, but Commander Roberts did lose a leg, sir.
      Cresswell: Which has zero to do with the fact that the man has been involved in two felonious assaults in the past two months.
      Turner: With all due respect, sir, the commander was only defending his kid brother in that shoe store.
    • Cresswell tells Mac she must not hold back at the shooting range just to let him "win," and vows he will score higher next time. Mac replies "With all due respect, sir, like hell you are." This answer seems to satisfy Cresswell.