I would have been a lot more concerned about this season of Army Wives if I weren’t a die-hard Friday Night Lights fan. But, what I learned from FNL is that it is actually possible to have the core ensemble of a cast evolve and still love the show and care about the characters. So, I approached season 7 of Army Wives optimistically, even though four out of the five original army spouses (really 4 wives, 1 husband) were no longer principal characters and a whole slew of new characters were being introduced. We already knew that Pamela (Brigid Brannagh) and Roxy (Sally Pressman) were leaving Fort Marshall to follow their husbands to their new jobs, but we had yet to learn how Roland (Sterling K. Brown) and Claudia Joy (Kim Delaney) would find their way off post.
Within moments of season 7’s start, we learned the answer to one of those mysteries. Claudia Joy had passed away due to complications with her diabetes while traveling the world with the First Lady. This was devastating news for all the characters on the show, but fantastic for Kleenex, as I single handedly went through three boxes of tissues over the course of 60 minutes. The first two episodes of the season were devoted to saying goodbye to CJ. Army Wives is a show about soldiers at war, and knowing that, we expect to experience some tragic loss, but the irony of burying an army wife who was nowhere near a battlefield was particularly brutal. On the positive side, CJ’s death provided a chance for us to be temporarily reunited with our friends, as Pamela and Roxy returned for the memorial. (Without their husbands, much to my dismay – Jeremy Davidson’s Chase will always be my favorite).
We also learned early in the season that Roland would be taking a job in Baltimore working at Johns Hopkins University, conducting research on suicide and the army. So now we know where all 4 of the original army “wives” would be this season, but who will be filling their shoes?
Catherine Bell’s Denise is holding down the fort (!) as the only remaining original army wife. She is joined by returning wives Jackie Clarke (Kelli Williams), wife of General Clarke, and Gloria Cruz (Alyssa Davis), who is in the process of divorcing her husband, Hector. We are introduced to a group of new women who have been transferred to Fort Marshall due to a merging of posts. Maggie Hall (Torrey Devitto) is an army wife who is used to deploying herself but has now taken on the role of stay-at-home-mom to her son and step-daughter, so her new husband, Eddie (Burgess Jenkins), can remain active. Latasha Montclair (Ashanti), is the sassy mother of three trying to keep it together while her husband, Quincy (Joshua Henry) is in Afghanistan, and Holly Truman (Elle McLemore) is the timid 18-year-old newlywed who bakes pies to fill her time while her husband, Tim (Jesse McCartney) is away.
And of course, we’ve still got our regular Army personnel over in Afghanistan – Brian McNamara and Terry Serpico as the fabulous General Michael Holden and Colonel Frank Sherwood, respectively, and Wendy K. Davis as Colonel Joan Burton.
It seems that we are going to watch parallel relationships unfold this season as these wives at Fort Marshall become friends on post and their husbands are getting to know each other over on the other side of the planet. It is interesting to watch as the soldiers take orders from their superiors while their spouses back home are attempting to break down some of the class lines that exist due to their partners’ ranking.
This Sunday’s episode will be my first live recap, so here’s a quick reminder of the big things that have happened through last week’s episode.
-Gloria met a new guy named Patrick (and slept with him on the first date!), before he found out he needed to deploy immediately. After some hesitation, she met him at the assembly to say goodbye, only to discover her new boyfriend is Jackie Clark’s son.
-Maggie’s step-daughter Carolyn has no interest in being stuck at Fort Marshall with Maggie while her father goes off to Afghanistan. She tried to get her mother to come get her, but her mother is an alcoholic who got arrested for driving under the influence before she could get to her daughter.
-Denise is having a rough time coping with CJ’s death and has been taking it out by badgering ladies at clothing drives and in her examination room. Michael suggested they build a garden in Claudia Joy’s memory.
-Roland has left for JHU and Joan is learning the ins and outs of single parenting while holding a full-time job
I’m not sure yet how I feel about these new folks. I’ll keep watching and sharing my thoughts, and we can decide together what we think of season 7. See you back here Monday.