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Brig Break
Episode 1.8 - Dec. 2, 1995

Lee Tergesen played Gunnery Sgt. M. Gentry in one of the first episodes of this long-running series.

In this episode, the main JAG man, Lt. Harmon Rabb (David James Elliott), is partnered with Lt. Meg Austin (Tracey Needham). The two Navy lawyers are investigating the theft of missiles at Seatac Naval Base. 

While Harm goes off to flirt with yet another lieutenant -- Lt. Kate Pike (Andrea Parker) -- Meg meets with a prisoner in the brig to question him about the theft.  While there, Gunnery Sgt. Gentry and a pair of inmates stage a brig break and take Lt. Austin hostage, along with the prisoner she was questioning. 

Gentry and the escapees hijack a bus and hit the road, with the Marines from the base and Harm and Kate in hot pursuit. The Marines think the brig break was just a spur-of-the-moment thing, but Harm is convinced it is a carefully planned caper. He turns out to be right, as well-placed and well-armed accomplices meet Gentry and the others at every turn.

One such group is a band of Aryan Nation militia men who are in cahoots with Gentry to steal weapons from another military base. (It's a bit bizarre to watch Lee's character -- not Beecher, but kind of a crazed, evil Chett -- pal around with the leader of the Aryan pack.)   

Gentry's cohorts from the brig break have a high attrition rate, as Gentry is generous with the gunfire. By the time he's breaking into the weapons base, he has only Lt. Austin in tow. Lucky for him she's not just a lawyer, she's also a munitions expert. That comes in handy when they reach Gentry's goal -- stealing a roomful of SADMs. SADM is short for Special Atomic Demolition Munition -- kind of a portable nuclear bomb. 

Gentry arms one of the bombs to detonate -- just to create a diversion while he makes off with a dozen more. Although he sets it go off in 20 minutes, the bomb starts counting down in a matter of seconds. When the lawyer/munitions expert tells him how to re-set it, he puts quite the lip-lock on her. Then he shoots a couple more accomplices that come barging in. "The Iraqis pay better than the Aryan Nation," he explains. 

As he leaves Lt. Austin handcuffed in the room with the porta-nuke, he gives her one hint to the five-digit code he set to disarm it. "One of the numbers is a seven," he grins maniacally. "I know, call me crazy."

Yup. We will. 

He doesn't get far, though, as Gentry quickly runs into Harm and Kate and a hail of bullets. That leaves the trio of lieutenants to figure out Gentry's code to stop the SADM from exploding. They call up his personnel file to look for important numbers that contain a 7. All the file divulges, however, is Lee's agency head shot.

The heroes of course figure out the numbers and save the day. It was a little tense for a while there, though.

About the Series

"Brig Break" originally aired on NBC, JAG's home during its first season. NBC canceled JAG, which was then picked up by CBS. The series continued for a successful 10-year, 227-episode run. USA Network airs re-runs in syndication; there is no official DVD release of JAG yet.



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