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****Sharkey's Review****
The Choice
 3rd Episode/8th Season (1997-1998)
Date Aired: 10/18/97   Encore: 10/24/97
Week of: 10/12/97 - 10/18/97 

The scene opened with Jack "J.D." Darius over a fire, making coffee near a tower. Donna Marco was jogging along the beach as part of her workout. She saw the fire and jogged toward him. They met and he offered her "expresso." She was surprised that he made expresso over a fire. Donna warned him to put the fire out, that it was against the law on the beach. He could be fined heavily. It was pretty obvious here that there was an attraction on both sides. Any lifeguard already knew that was against the law to even camp out with a fire on the beach. But he played dumb, as he didn't want Donna to know that he was a lifeguard.

He put the fire out as instructed, and packed up his things as Donna moved on. After he placed them in his bag and onto the back of his motorcycle, he noted a woman on the rocks who needed help with one of her children. The woman managed to pull the little boy to safety, but the little girl got knocked over by a wave. J.D. jumped in to save the little girl. Newmy was paddling toward the scene. J.D. managed to get the little girl to safety. She was O.K. After Newmy and J.D. got reacquainted, J.D. told him that he was applying for the vacant position. He knew Newmy and Cody from lifeguard competitions. 

Mitch looked very handsome as well as impressive as he got out of his wagon. In full Captain's garb. The team asked him what the occassion was, a meeting with the Chief? Mitch told them that he had to interview a guy named Taylor Walsh for the Lieutenant's position. Taylor had shown up before him and introduced herself as he spoke. They were all surprised that "he" was a woman. Taylor is a masculine sounding name, but it is a unisex one. Mitch should have anticipated the possibility that he could be interviewing a woman. A polished professional sent to try for the position at the recommendation of the Chief.

As they talked in Mitch's office, J.D. knocked and opened the door. He interrupted the interview. Mitch excused himself for a moment to talk to J.D. J.D. was upset about Mitch interviewing someone else for the position. J.D. thought that it was a "slam dunk." I had a problem with this scene. I thought this act in itself was totally out of character for someone who was as objective and as fair as Mitch. I couldn't understand why the position was "locked in." You'd think that Mitch would at least give the other candidate a chance to prove what she could do. Mitch planned to hire J.D., not because of his experience and creditials alone..but because they were friends. He was one of his favorites. J.D had presented himself in a non-professional manner. He wasn't dressed for an interview and he interupted the meeting Mitch had with the other candidate.

Mitch smiled and lowered his voice, telling J.D. that it was just a formality. He had to interview her because the Chief sent her over. But Mitch did want J.D. to go through qualifying tests with the rookies because of his absence. They had to get him certified. J.D. reluctantly joined the rookies for pier rescue training with a dummy victim. Skylar "Sky" Bergman was chosen to go first and was disoriented when she slipped off the pier. She got caught in a current which dragged her toward the pilings and had to use the dummy as a shield to keep from getting smashed against the pilings.

Mitch sent J.D. in to help her out. J.D. got under the pilings and suddenly froze. Skylar called out to him for help. They locked eyes. Mitch wondered what was going on, and sent Newmy to go in to rescue her. When asked what happened, J.D. said that he had lost sight of her in the pilings. That he didn't see her. Skylar took comfort from Mitch when he told her that she did everything right. He told her next time to swim with the current, not against it.

Later, Mitch looked down from the Headquarter's tower, noting J.D. punching a bag. When Manny passed by, Mitch told him to ask Donna to call the Captain at Daytona Beach. Mitch needed some information. He didn't buy J.D.'s story. J.D. didn't realize that Mitch knew when someone was lying to him. He's had plenty of experience with Hobie on that subject.

Skylar asked J.D. why he lied to Mitch. It was good to see that she wasn't gullible either. He tried to lie to Skylar too, but she pointed out that they made eye contact. He did see her. Finally realizing that he needed to tell someone, J.D. confided in Sky and told her that he didn't want this to get around. Two years ago at Daytona how he tried to save a guy who was showing off-"shooting the pier." Back up was nowhere to be found. He went by the book and placed the victim between him and the pilings. The rescue didn't come out as he expected. It crushed the victim, causing internal bleeding. He died in his arms. Skylar said that she wouldn't tell anyone. She was sincere when she said, "You have my word."

Later, Mitch confronted J.D. about the pier incident and told him about why he left Daytona. Mitch asked if he went into counciling. J.D. said that he took time off. J.D. blamed himself for the death of the victim. It was obvious that J.D. wanted the Lieutenant's position for the wrong be in the office where he could not hurt anyone. Mitch told him that it was the dumbest idea he had ever heard. That he was on the wrong, that he was on the wrong planet.

With controlled anger, J.D. confronted Sky since Mitch knew about the incident. Skylar said that she didn't tell Mitch. J.D. told her that she was the only one he told. No one else knew. That she had innocent charm to go along with stabbing him in the back. Angered, J.D. leaves the beach. Meanwhile, Taylor who really wanted this job for more reasons than just money, got Mitch out in a dory to tell him how qualified she was for the job and wanted to show him that she could row. He told her, "show me." She demonstrated with Mitch and was impressive. Donna and Newmy looked on with binoculars and were impressed as well. Donna bragged to describe her efforts.

While packing up his gear, J.D. noticed that a fisherman got caught in the surf. He shouted that he is too close to the rocks-to move away. But the boat's motor failed and a wave knocked the fisherman down. J.D. broke into empty tower 22, to phone for back up. Donna told Mitch, then he and Taylor responded to the call. Mitch noted that there was a vacant tower. There should never be a vacant tower. The area seemed too rough not to have at least two lifeguards at this point. As J.D. reached the fisherman, he offered the can. A wave overwelmed them, throwing them against the rocks. Breaking the rules, J.D. throws himself between the victim and the rocks. As a wave flipped the boat over them, J.D. sinked to the bottom, unconscious. The very thing that Mitch had pointed out earlier. If a lifeguard throws himself between the victim and an object of danger, who is going to save the victim if something happens to you?

When Mitch and Taylor reached the scene, Taylor went for the fisherman, who was desperately clinging to the rocks. She got him into the dory and pushed it to shore. She was one heck of a lifeguard! Mitch went after J.D. He had to struggle to free J.D., who was tangled in his rescue can's harness. Credit, however must be given here to J.D. for the courage to risk his own life for that of the fisherman. And how the fisherman kept his wits as not to panic when the lifeguard went under, to hold on to the rocks until someone could get to him. Mitch and two other lifeguards carred J.D. to safety. Mitch did chest compressions and Taylor mouth-to-mouth until J.D came to. The team looked on. Mitch and Taylor's first rescue together.

The decision was difficult for Mitch, who had an idea what the ideal person in the position should be like. After all, he held that position for seven years and had earned a lot of respect. Someone to lead by example and intellegence. One who will command respect from the other lifeguards. Mitch had to divorce himself from the friendship that he and J.D. had in relation to this decision in order to be objective. He needed someone he could count on.

J.D. had the experience and qualifications, but had too many problems to work out, which made him a less viable candidate. The polished and more professional Taylor was the one who he could count on, and she got the position. Taylor wanted to keep J.D. at Baywatch, as she was impressed that he risked his life for the fisherman, and asked J.D. what it would take to keep him at Baywatch. She hired him as a lifeguard as her first official act as Lieutenant. Baywatch needed him. Later, out on a Windjet unit housing two Waverunners, Mitch asked J.D. if he understood why he chose Taylor. J.D. said yes, that he had a lot to work out. Mitch then told him that he owed Sky an apology-she never told him anything.

Later on the rocks, J.D. thanked Sky for meeting him there. He apologized. Slylar told him that he should trust people more. J.D. responded by saying that he was working on that and if they could be friends. 


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