JAG

Season 3 Episode 5

King of the Fleas

1
Aired Friday 9:00 PM Oct 21, 1997 on CBS
8.4
out of 10
User Rating
50 votes
3

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Episode Summary

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King of the Fleas
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When a former Vietnam POW arrives at JAG headquarters to report a murder he's just committed, Harm confronts a very complex individual who may know something about his MIA father. When Willie relates the fact that he was imprisoned with Harm's father and then blindsides Harm by claiming that his father was a turncoat, the information has a profound effect on the JAG lawyer. Willie, a very complex individual, has been waiting 30 years to tell his story in his own way. Ultimately, Harm finds out that Willie's murder victim was the contemptible, sadistic commander of the POW camp where Willie had been -- but that's just the beginning of Willie's incredibly sad war story.

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  • One of the best!

    10
    I really though this episode would be boring to me! I was wrong! This was one of the best JAG episodes ever! There isnt one part of this episode that should be different and David James Elliot should win a award for his acting in this episode(as well as in the episode Ghost Ship!) This is a very enjoyable episode that I think anyone would love I cant see how you couldnt like it! It may get confusing at some parts but in the end everything pans out and it all makes sense! This is one episode that I would 1 million % recommend!moreless
  • An extremely well-crafted episode in all aspects: writing, acting, sound design, cinematography, editing, and direction.

    9.5
    The brilliance of this episode may not be immediately apparent until you consider this: Willie's entire story is told in words. There are no flashbacks.



    How, then, is it that we as viewers still feel the full brunt of Willie's story? Several factors combine to create the incredibly intimate, almost claustrophobic effect.



    First, the writing. The episode itself is well-crafted, the dialogue well-chosen. We are pulled away from the main plot only a few times in the beginning before Willie's story becomes the sole focus. Mac, A.J., and the detective all take very minor roles; our focus remains on Harm, Willie, and Bud, who plays an essential supporting role. This structure is well-designed and very effective.



    Second, the acting. Most of the story is told only to Harm and Bud -- and each of them has a particular viewpoint that allows us to be drawn into the story. Harm, of course, cannot help but be drawn in, once he realizes that this man might lead him closer to finding his father. But Bud is really closer to most of us as audience members, because of his innocent, naive, and almost idealistic view of the world. Harm brings his own baggage to his views of Willie; Bud has no such preconceived ideas -- and for that reason, he is a good conduit for us as viewers.



    Third, the sound design. While there are no flashbacks, there are moments when non-diegetic sound (sound not coming from events onscreen) supplements Willie's story and enhances the images our minds form from Willie's words. The added sound is not overpowering, nor does it run through the entire story; instead, it is thoughtfully added at certain points, where it does its job with subtlety and brilliance.



    Fourth, the cinematography. Once Bud, Willie, and Harm enter the courtroom, where Willie finally tells the true story, the color shifts to sepia, enhancing the "time gone by" feeling, allowing us as the audience to forget the present and be drawn into the past -- Willie's past -- with Bud and Harm. It is a brilliant and incredibly effective choice.



    Finally, the editing and direction. The final choices made that make the episode what it is are good, solid, and well-chosen. Nothing detracts, and we are only distracted when we need to be, in the beginning of the plot. The choices of location -- Harm's small office, which gets even smaller as more people crowd in -- and the courtroom, which, while empty except for the three people in it, still manages to feel strangely claustrophobic as Willie's story builds -- enhance the trapped feeling that Willie himself carries. He is trapped by the story, trapped by his past until he is finally able to admit it and get it out into the open.



    In fact, the courtroom is a brilliant choice for that confession. Though Willie is never on the stand, never takes an oath, it is only in the courtroom -- one of the few places in the world where people are expected to be completely honest -- that he finally allows the full truth to be revealed.



    By the end of the episode, we have been thoroughly drawn in to Willie's story -- and as an expected topper, we understand Harm's naturally heroic decision that ends the plot.



    But what continues to amaze me is that Willie's story is told without a single flashback. The episode almost feels like a well-crafted stage play, especially in the courtroom -- three characters in a single location, telling a story in words. And we, as an audience, sit entranced, unable to tear ourselves away. It is brilliant, brilliant work.moreless
  • Great quality!!! Emotional and dramatic!!

    9.0
    It's a great episode; Harm is pushed almost to the limit about his father by Roscoe, he cries, he yells and shouts...

    We can see a good story in this episode, well written, allthough we have to wait a little bit to the evolution of the story.

    I hated the kiss between mac and Dalton, because I want harm and mac together!!!
Catherine Bell

Catherine Bell

Maj Sarah "Mac" Mackenzie

David James Elliott

David James Elliott

Lt Cmdr Harmon "Harm" Rabb, Jr.

John M. Jackson

John M. Jackson

Rear Admiral Albert Jethro "AJ" Chegwidden

Patrick Labyorteaux

Patrick Labyorteaux

Lt (jg) Bud J. Roberts, Jr.

Aki Aleong

Aki Aleong

Li Trang

Guest Star

Kirk Trutner

Kirk Trutner

Passerby

Guest Star

Michael David Lally

Michael David Lally

Det. Frank Coster

Guest Star

Larry Poindexter

Larry Poindexter

Dalton Lowne

Recurring Role

Karri Turner

Karri Turner

Ensign. Harriet Sims

Recurring Role

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Harm: How were you discharged?
      Willie/Roscoe: Honorably. Under my own name. When I got home I took Willie's.
      Harm: Why?
      Willie/Roscoe: I just didn't want to be Roscoe anymore.

    • Harm (about Dong Ha): There was a prisoner of war camp there in '70.
      Willie/Roscoe: Now how would you know that? You'd be barely old enough to tie your shoes.
      Harm: My father's MIA. I've been searching for him SINCE I was old enough to tie my shoes.

    • Willie/Roscoe: I am, if anything Commander, a survivor.
      Harm: Yeah, but at what cost?

  • NOTES (2)

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

    • Harm says to Bud, "You're Cerberus at the gates of Hades, Lieutenant," meaning he doesn't want Bud to let anyone into the courtroom. In Greek mythology, Cerberus was a huge dog with three heads who served as a guardian of Hades (the underworld where people went when they died).

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