Season 4 Episode 16

Silent Service

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Feb 23, 1999 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
49 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Harm and Mac find themselves too close for comfort when they are sent to investigate an international incident on a nuclear submarine.

When Harm and Mac, who are already getting on each other's nerves, find themselves in the cramped quarters of the submarine, their relationship is stretched to the absolute limit. Their attempts to stay out of each other's way as much as possible are futile since they must work together to find out why the sub surfaced miles off course, sinking a Norwegian boat in the middle of a regatta.

Initially, it seems that the incident was the result of reduced staffing due to a breakout of E. coli. However, as more health problems begin to arise aboard the sub, Harm and Mac suspect a more criminal element than disease.moreless

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  • Silent Service is a fun, exciting, and adventurour episode with personality conflicts and defects providing the drama. This is one of my favorite JAG episodes.

    This is a fun, exciting, and adventurous episode with personality conflicts and defects providing the drama. This is one of my favorite JAG episodes of all time for all those reasons plus it takes place on a submarine, which for some reason I find to be a cool place. What can I say some kids grow up wanting to be a policeman or fireman; I wanted to be a submariner.

    The Harm and Mac personality conflict, which had been developing over the last few episodes, finally exploded. They found fault with the others words and actions every time they turned around. In some ways it was painful watching them step over each other and yet sinful watching each encounter. The writers resolved this situation by having Mac and Harm depend upon each other to save their lives. Yet, they never got the opportunity to discuss the underlying conflict. You’d say they have a cease fire / truce instead of a resolution.

    The sets were larger than one would expect on a real submarine, but reality and good TV don't always mix. Besides several overly large rooms, I found it surprising Harm, Mac, and the seamen were wearing Sperry Top-Siders while the officers were in leather shoes. I was expecting everyone to be in sneakers, but wearing different ones. I know during the cold war most everyone on the submarine would wear the same Navy issued sneaker (made by Jimmy, I believe), even the officers. Don't get me wrong, the wardrobe department did an excellent job in choosing the jumpsuit, officer uniforms, and sneakers. I'm surprised they did such a wonderful job, instead of taking the cheap route by having all the actors use their personal sneakers.

    Using the two main plots to resolve each other is commendable for it gives the viewer exactly what they desire adventure, excitement, along with Harm and Mac. The writers, producers, and actors gave us a prime rib meat dinner with this episode.moreless
Catherine Bell

Catherine Bell

Major Sarah "Mac" Mackenzie

David James Elliott

David James Elliott

Lt Commander 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.

Tom Amandes

Tom Amandes

Cmdr. Flagler

Guest Star

David Quane

David Quane

Chief Basilio

Guest Star

Patrick Day

Patrick Day


Guest Star

Chuck Carrington

Chuck Carrington

PO1 Jason Tiner

Recurring Role

Karri Turner

Karri Turner

Lt. Harriet Sims-Roberts

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • Goof: When Harm and Mac leave the Corpsman's room water is running from the sink and is very audible. But when Hodge enters the room there is no sound of running water.

    • Nitpick: Hodge sprays ammonia into Mac's eyes when Harm warns her via the PDA. But she and Hodge are walking down a corridor on their way to the bridge, so where did he get s spray bottle of ammonia small enough to conceal to use on her? Are we supposed to believe that he keeps one on him at all times in case of emergencies?

    • Nitpick: Hodge lies and tells Mac that Harm got hurt tripping over a knee-knocker, but Mac is skeptical because she says Harm "has been negotiating ships all his adult life." But Harm is not used to this class of submarine and Mac has already seen him hit his head on a pipe. Mac is right to be suspicious of Hodge, but her reason doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

    • Admiral Chegwidden mentions that Harm and Lt. Austin investigated a case on the submarine USS Tigershark; this took place during the episode "Shadow".

    • Harm says he's been thinking about the possibility of ghosts, and obliquely mentions being on the USS Hornet. This is a reference to the episode "Ghost Ship".

  • QUOTES (14)

    • Mac: You know, if you're wrong about this, we're going to be the most unpopular guests at the party.
      Harm: Well, as long as we dance together.
      Mac: And you lead!

    • Chief Corpsman Hodge: The last thing I wanted was to lose you. I had the same problem with Petty Officer Bluestein. What can I say, if you people work against me, how am I supposed to make you better? You know, it used to be that I'd lose sleep over my patients, but now I know I can't save everyone. It's a hard reality, but I know I'll be the stronger for it.

    • XO Eustis: (explaining why the crew didn't detect the sailboat) We were keying on large undersea targets like reefs. I don't imagine you see many of those at 15,000 feet.
      Harm: Depends on your air supply.

    • Commander Flagler (to Harm and Mac): I suggest you both lighten up on the bug juice. First my boat is cursed, now there's a madman aboard.

    • Harm: Watertown isn't spooked, Mac, and the fatigue factor is irrelevant.
      Mac: Then what is it?
      Harm: Someone aboard this vessel is deliberately trying to hurt the others.

    • Harm: I'll try to be more sensitive, and you try to be less.
      Mac: Good. You try to be more sensitive, and I won't have to be less.

    • Mac: While I'm on this boat, I expect you and your shipmates to maintain the respect due an officer. If I find this lacking in any way, I will haul you out the forward escape trunk and feed your ass to the crabs!

    • P.O. Dirking (to Mac): Welcome to hotel shoehorn, ma'am.

    • Chief Basilio: (about rumors that the Watertown is cursed) I've been a bubblehead for seven years, and I've never had an assignment like this. I'm telling you, there's something wrong when the Chief Corpsman's the hardest-working squid on the boat.

    • Chief Basilio: The sanitation regs on a sub are unreal. You could perform an appendectomy on my countertops.

    • Admiral Chegwidden: Major, one caveat. You'll be in tight quarters with 141 men. Prepare yourself.
      Mac: Sir, might I suggest you give that warning to the crew of the Watertown?

    • (Harm and Bud talk on the phone)
      Bud: You know, I've never been on a sub. What's it like?
      Harm: Well, you can experience it firsthand.
      Bud: I can?
      Harm: Yeah, after you go home tonight, throw out all your fresh fruit and vegetables, put lube oil in your humidifier, go to sleep on a shelf in your closet, and go to work before sunrise.

    • Mac: Harm?
      (Harm turns to look at her and smacks his head on a pipe)
      Mac: Um, heads up.

    • Mac: Can we do this [talk] somewhere else?
      Harm: What, you wanna go outside?

  • NOTES (2)

    • During the episode, Cmdr. Flagler mentions that the USS Watertown has "the finest 688 crew in the fleet". He is referring to the USS Los Angeles, the 1st Los Angeles' class sub: SSN-688.

    • Tom Amandes, (Cmdr. Flagler) was the lead in the 1993 syndicated TV show, The Untouchables playing Eliot Ness. Before David James Elliott was hired to play the lead as Harm, he was a supporting star in that show as a federal agent, helping to enforce Prohibition with Ness.