One of my favorite things about this season of Army Wives is the way the writers have so seamlessly been paralleling the action in Afghanistan with the lives of the military spouses back home. We’ve watched Holly and Gloria’s relationship develop at the same time as Tim and Hector are getting to know each other. We’ve seen Maggie struggle to keep control of her “troops” while Eddie establishes himself as a no-nonsense leader over his. Gloria’s relationship with Jackie was challenged by Gloria and Patrick’s budding relationship, which was ultimately cut short so as to avoid a challenging scenario with Hector. What’s great about these parallels is that it has created a sense of wholeness to these families, even as we haven’t had much time to see them as family units. In this episode, as the soldiers begin preparing to pull out of Afghanistan, their wives learn of their plans to return home. We watch what’s happening on both sides of the world, as all members of these families plan for their homecoming.
Tim and Holly’s love and innocence has been a theme throughout the season. Tim barely seems to register that he’s in the middle of a war zone and Holly doesn’t know that Long Island iced tea is packed full of liquor. They are young and in love and naive enough not to realize what the trauma of being at war can do to a person. And for most of this episode, it seemed like maybe they would get their perfect reunion. Holly bought her sweet but sexy lingerie and Tim had been told he was going home, and it looked like they were going to make it through their first deployment with relative ease. And then everything went wrong. And watching Tim strangle that man, it was as if we were watching the innocence drain out of his face. As the next few moments unfolded, Tim was transformed before our eyes into a different man. Who is this new man? How will he respond in the aftermath of this trauma? I expect that Tim will develop a severe case of post-traumatic stress. How will Holly handle her reunion with a suffering Tim? I think this storyline has potential to be very interesting and to explore a part of the military experience that we don’t talk about enough as a country. Holly and Tim are so young and so inexperienced at life, can they survive something this complex and difficult?
Meanwhile, Caroline is experiencing her own loss of innocence. Feeling driven by her desire to disobey Maggie and play by her own rules, Caroline gets herself into a scary situation. She locks herself in a room, avoiding an aggressive boy who does not want to take no for an answer. Not knowing what else to do, Caroline calls Maggie who comes to relieve her. I thought Maggie handled this situation skillfully, letting go of the instinct to reprimand and instead having a frank discussion about choices and responsibility and being careful with the decisions we make. “I’m giving it to you straight, because I want you to trust me,” Maggie says. “It’s not a game to see what you can get away with.” If only more parents sat down and had open and honest conversations like this with their children. I like that we’ve established this similarity between Maggie and Eddie – they are both kind and loving parents but they are also tough and unwilling to take crap from the people around them.
Gloria was already not happy about receiving Pat’s letter ending their relationship, but add that to the news of Penny’s death and she finds herself in a bit of a free-fall. When Jackie comes to inform Gloria of the good news – Pat’s coming home! – she is met with an ice-cold Gloria, who takes her anger out on Jackie. This scene reminded me why Hector and Gloria fell in love in the first place. They are cut from the same cloth. Hector has a hard time holding his tongue when he is angry, and we saw some of that hotheadedness in Gloria last night. She and Jackie are certainly friends, but Jackie is a General’s wife (and the mother of the guy she’s interested in), and even though Gloria is no longer married to a solider, snapping at her like that was pretty disrespectful. You have to give Jackie credit, though. After talking it over with Denise, Jackie realizes that Gloria is just going through a rough spot after Penny’s accident, and she makes it a point to find Gloria and work it out.
The girls have a great scene where the veteran wives are giving the new women the heads up on what it’s like when soldiers return from war. It is mostly talk of food and sex, but it is also an upfront and honest discussion, and it’s made clear that sometimes things are quite different and that it may take time for them to adjust. The whole conversation is a big foreshadow to what happens later in the episode – a defining moment for all of our families that changes the course of their lives forever. It will be interesting to see how each man responds to and processes the attack.
And then there are major questions – is Hector okay? Is Quincy? Who called LaTasha at the end of the episode and with what information? Was this ambush something that could have been prevented, and will Frank feel responsible? If Hector comes home injured, what role will Gloria take on in caring for him? How will this affect a possible reconciliation with Patrick?
-Maggie is the one member of the wives crew who is familiar with deployment. A fan on twitter suggested that this would be a great opportunity to explore Maggie’s military experience and allow her to give some insight to her friends. This could be an interesting way to connect Maggie to some of the wives like Holly who she hasn’t interacted with much. What do you guys think?
-Joan has reached a decision about the position in the Army College. What do you think it is?
-Hector is starting to regret his past decisions and wish he had made better choices. What does this mean for his future with his son? With Gloria? (assuming he is alive, of course)
-There was also a theme in this episode about the Montclairs’ financial situation. I’m slightly concerned that something may have happened to Quincy and this was setting the stage for how tight money is going to be. What do you all think?
What were your feelings on this super intense episode? Leave your thoughts in the comments. I’ll see you back here next week!