Episode: Army Wives 3.17 – “Fire in the Hole”
Original Air Date: October 4, 2009
I cannot believe the highs and lows I’ve felt this season, both emotionally for the characters and as a viewer regarding my taste for the show. While I have loved most of season three, I did not like this week’s episode, “Fire in the Hole,” very much at all. Spoilers start now!
I can only feel that the whole golf tournament was just a sophomoric red herring, keeping us from plot developments we’ve been dying to see. The whole thing just seemed useless and silly to me. I’m sure a lot of viewers thought it was light and funny, but I have such an emotional investment in seeing more pressing matters through. I want to know what’s going on with Chase and Pamela! We know he’s been captured and tortured, leaving Pamela furious with his lying and the situation in general, but we still don’t know his reasoning or the whole origin of his injuries. His entire storyline has been alarming, and my heart hurts for his loving wife, who happens to be my favorite character now. I just can’t imagine being in her shoes. I would hate all of the worrying and not knowing; now with his trust being questionable, I can’t blame Pamela for being at this breaking point.
Claudia Joy has finally calmed down on the diabetes (not a moment too soon) and she was her usual O wife, FRG-y self, loving every minute of her country club attire and pleasantries. General Holden broke some bizarre (and classified, oops!) news to CJ about Fort Marshall possibly closing down. Ehh, I just don’t see that panning out at all, so I’m not worrying over this lame twist.
Denise was overly competitive and wacky, to the point of being a caricature of herself; Frank was just nonexistent. The main arc in the Sherwood family right now is the post-deployment unraveling of Jeremy. He’s home and while he made it back with a ridiculously hot body, he’s without his best friend who was killed in combat. He’s not doing so well with his grief, but I think his reactions are realistic and poignant. I hope eventually he’s able to cope, and I like the tie-in of Emmalin picking up on his sadness and difficulty readjusting. On a personal note, my deployed boyfriend has been faced with some very similar situations recently, and it’s made me see and feel Jeremy’s struggle with an increased amount of sympathy. The side plot about Lucky is cute, albeit totally unbelievable. Yet, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m willing to just go with it because I like the dog and his connection to our Fort Marshall favorites.
What I’m not willing to go with is Roxy’s Season Three character. She doesn’t know what golf is? Come on. The stupid humor is insulting to the viewer, and so was her classless, clueless display at the tournament. I see Roxy as tough, street smart and savvy in what she needs to know, not some embarrassing yokel. How can she transform the Hump Bar into Betty’s (and back into the Hump Bar?) and yet be so clueless in all other aspects of life? It’s just too unrealistic. Also increasingly difficult to believe about Roxy’s current character is her attitude towards Trevor’s job as a recruiter. I’m not sure why they’ve written in the constant griping and anger towards his hours; he’s home, and she gets to share a bed with him every night. I see no drama in this reality. Hey writers, reel it in, and give me awesome, strong, Season One Roxy back, please. Also, I don’t really care about the bar’s musical acts, and although Viola has a pretty voice, it was irrelevant and boring to me.
Two weeks ago in the 1940’s flashback episode I really admired the way the writers addressed the historical fact that the South was still segregated during the Second World War. It was hard to see the strong Joan as a waitress and the educated Roland as an enlisted Buffalo soldier, roles so far opposite of their 2009 counterparts. I mention this now because I was utterly shocked with the tactless comments and attitudes Eric and Roland displayed after getting arrested with Carmen (a drug addicted soldier that has been receiving treatment from Dr. Burton). The notion that this incident boiled down to “racist cops,” just seems so ill-fitting for a series that has always been so honest and thoughtful with its progressive approach to all civil rights issues in its three season history. I truly hope this was a comment said on purpose as a means of Eric covering up for what’s really going on and that next week’s episode clears up the motivation behind this sentiment. In my opinion race has been such a non-issue on the show that it must be some kind of distraction that Eric has given Roland to help hide the reality of a mess he’s in the know about. Eric did pack up and grab his passport in an awful hurry, so something’s definitely up.
Since I brought it up, I will say I loved the WWII episode and thought it was one of the best this season. I loved seeing a Roxy* who was savvy, articulate and fancy, while Claudia Joy* was a factory girl. Frank* honestly nailed the look best of all, and he was almost creepy in a way that reminds me of my grandpa’s old photos. Overall the costuming, make up, hair, and design were all just fantastic. I cried more during the flashback episode than I have all season, especially when the ’40s Pamela* received that dreadful telegram my heart skipped a beat and I just broke down. (*In the 1940s episode, I know the actors were playing different characters in the flashback, but I can’t even remember their names, so I keep referring to them by their regular character names to keep it simple).
In the past four weeks, the flashback has been the highlight for me, although at the time I was slightly miffed that it was happening so late in the season when the build up and tension are so high. After this week’s lame red herring and last week’s milquetoast episode, I now see the time warp as a gem!
Well, there’s only one episode to go this season, and I still have faith in Army Wives. Just because I’ve found a few recent episodes substandard, I’m not disenchanted by the series as a whole, not by a long shot. I’m gladly being a hopeless romantic, and I have my fingers crossed that all of my loose ends will be neatly tied up. I’m sure in the very least we’ll get some tear-jerking drama, but let’s be real. We know this show too well by now, and a dreadful cliffhanger has got to be in our very near future.