This week’s episode of Army Wives was entitled “Damaged” but it easily could have been called “Life Goes On.” Now that our soldiers are back from Afghanistan, they need to remember how to live their day-to-day lives. After months of being away, they need to readjust to being at home and being reunited with their families. Most importantly, they need to find ways of putting their experiences behind them. However, the intensity of what they saw, what they did, and what they lost is not so easy to let go of, and for some, it is proving impossible.
As we saw last week, Tim is struggling most severely with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is experiencing flashbacks and nightmares and is finding it difficult to function. He is moody and prone to outbursts. His brain is not allowing him to move on and he feels he is responsible for the lives lost in battle. Holly is desperately trying to be there for him, but she is so young and doesn’t know how to interpret the behavior she is witnessing. It made me wonder about what kind of education is provided for Army spouses, and if there is any outreach done to make them aware of how to recognize the signs of PTSD. Holly was clearly upset about the way Tim was acting, but it seemed she was more angry with him or hurt by his pushing her away than concerned about what was behind the behavior. It seems Holly cannot deny there’s a problem anymore as Tim began strangling her while he was in the throes of one of his nightmares. It was a terrifying scene, one that Tim will have to deal with when he learns what occurred, but also one that could maybe have been avoided had Holly perceived what was happening sooner.
And it’s not just Holly. Last week, Eddie drove Tim home after he was too intoxicated to drive himself, and Tim is not a person who typically likes to drink. This week, Hector brought him home after he had a breakdown at the Hump Bar. The conversation that took place between Hector and Tim was one of the most beautifully written pieces of dialogue we’ve seen in a while and JJ Soria and Jesse McCartney really nailed their performances. But I do wonder why nobody is picking up on Tim’s distress. My sense is that PTSD is not discussed as much as it should be and that people aren’t truly aware of its prevalence. Tim’s behavior has been very erratic and so out-of-character and it would have been incredibly beneficial had somebody taken notice and taken steps to get him help before he almost killed his wife. It would seem that Holly will have no choice but to push the issue now, and my hope is that as they seek help, someone is able to explain the circumstances in a way that will help them both understand the disease and eliminate blame from the conversation.
I have wondered all season if and how Maggie’s previous military experience would become a focal point. Last night, Maggie was able to provide support and comfort to her husband in a way that none of the other wives ever could. Having returned home from a party for one of their fallen soldiers, Eddie was reflecting on his role as Sergeant and the responsibility he bears for the lives of his men. Maggie reassured him that he did everything he could, and reminded him that in combat, sometimes there’s nothing to be done to save someone. It was really special to see that bond that Eddie and Maggie have, and to understand that they have a shared experience that makes them unique on this show, and that is invaluable at times like this.
Eddie’s sadness this episode also served as a good reminder of the line between healthy responses to trauma and PTSD. It was an important and helpful contrast to see Eddie struggling with the loss of his men without losing control of his functionality. It helped to highlight the severity of Tim’s struggle and to emphasize what it looks like when someone is fighting to survive.
On a lighter note, things seem to be heating up in Gloria’s world. In the literal sense, a fire started in the bar while she was sleeping in the back. Luckily, Patrick, her knight in shining armor had come to talk to her at just the right time and was able to put out the fire before any severe damage was done. He explained to Gloria that he wasn’t ending their relationship with his letter, he was merely putting things on hold for the good of the platoon. Gloria isn’t particularly interested in this explanation, although I think maybe she needs to give him a bit of a break. Meanwhile, Hector is trying to convince Gloria to go on a follow up date after their successful night out last week. Gloria is pretty confused and unsure how she wants to proceed. Patrick decides it’s a good idea to give her something to think about and kisses her before he leaves the bar after the party. Gloria seemed pretty impressed with the kiss, though not necessarily any less confused. Being that we’ve already seen a divorced couple on this show get remarried, I’d really like to see Gloria take the road not yet taken. Hector has shown tremendous growth and can apparently be a really good guy, but I think he needs to move on and start fresh with someone new.
Quincy and Latasha continue to struggle with financial issues. As Quincy’s future remains in question, Latasha has been forced to sell her grandmother’s pearls to make ends meet at home. Their son, Gabe, who has cystic fibrosis, has come down with another infection. Things really seem to be coming apart at the seams for the Montclairs. Maggie offered to lend them some money, but Latasha refused, explaining that she’s never borrowed money from anyone before and she doesn’t intend to start now.
Perhaps my favorite part of this episode was watching Joan and Jackie at the park and subsequent playdate. With an ensemble cast like Army Wives the characters typically interact with the same handful of people each episode. It’s always a nice breath of fresh air to get a scene between two actors who don’t usually share screen time. I also enjoyed hearing Joan talk about some of her aspirations for after the Army. It’s comforting to know she’s thought this plan through a bit, even if it did seem like she was bluffing and was really a somewhat sad about the change.
And finally, romance is in the air for our dear ol’ General Holden. It looks like Denise is picking up on what’s happening between Michael and Kat, and she’s not too happy about it. It does seem like it’s a little fast, but I hope Denise will come around. Michael was a loyal and loving husband to CJ for the entirety of their marriage and he would have continued to be for decades to come had she lived. Her death is tragic and he would trade anything to have it differently, but being alone isn’t going to bring her back. My one concern is if Denise is going to have a hard time with this…what will Emmalin say?
Meet me back here after next week’s season finale! As always, leave thoughts and comments for me below or come find me on twitter @writertqb.