Monday, June 29, 2009

'Army Wives' Monday: Incoming

*Warning -- Spoilers ahead from the recent episode of Army Wives.*

Denise got the boot. The Holdens officially moved back to Fort Marshall. Joan decided to go to Iraq while Roland got a full-time job.

Denise Got the Boot

I don't know why this particular storyline bugs me so much. Maybe it's because I feel badly for a character who mustered up the courage to try to follow her own path after dedicating most of her adult life -- since she was 19 -- to her family. The last two decades were about them. And with her husband serving overseas and her grown son also in the Army, Denise decided to make the rest of her life about figuring out things for herself. Sure, she made plenty of mistakes along the way, mistakes she now regrets, particularly the brief fling with a former patient (which got her fired from her nursing job) when she and her husband were separated. Denise was changing and her husband Frank didn't like that she was no longer the same woman he married when she was a teenager.

Frank -- who you might recall kissed a female colleague during his Iraq deployment -- has been humiliated by the fact that everyone found out about Denise's fling. And that seems to be all that matters to him: His pride. When he walked through the front door of his Fort Marshall home after being sent stateside to repair the wreckage that is his marriage, Frank said, "All I need to know, is it true?"

"It was a mistake," Denise said evenly, slowly. "And it's over and I regret it more than you can know. But, yes."

"In that case, I don't see any reason for you to stay here," he said brusquely, businesslike, as he told her he'd be calling his lawyers in the morning, presumably to start divorce proceedings. The woman who dedicated her adult life to her husband and son was kicked out of the house.

On top of that, Claudia Joy was insufferably sanctimonious when she ran into Denise in the PX parking lot. When Denise admitted that her feelings were hurt when Claudia Joy shut the door in her face the day Denise was fired, Claudia Joy shot back, "Denise, you are not the victim here . . . You brought this on yourself. You can't blame everyone around you for not knowing how to react. I've been trying to make some sense of what you did, but for the life of me, I can't."

"Well, I guess that makes two of us," Denise replied.

Make that three of us. The way all of Denise's so-called Army wives "friends," with the exception of Roland, have abandoned her in a moment of personal crisis still befuddles me. I can understand Frank feeling humiliated and taking it out on Denise (though I hope he comes to his senses), but for Claudia Joy to be so holier than thou? That, I don't get, particularly when Denise has admitted she made a mistake and wants to, for lack of a better word, atone.

The Holdens Officially Moved Back

The return of Brigadier Gen. Michael Holden back to Fort Marshall seemed awfully contrived. It didn't seem to make any sense that, after less than a month, Michael was booted from NATO and reassigned to SAME Army base and could keep the SAME house, even though another family had been preparing to move in. Clearly the whole "the-Holdens-are-moving-to-Brussels" was simply a season finale stunt that didn't quite work out in the long run.

Meanwhile, as Emmalin walked around like a ticking time bomb -- which her father is conveniently ignoring, wishfully thinking that her bad attitude and acts of rebellion (like attempting to elope at age 16, coloring her hair pink) will go away if he simply takes a firm paternal mien -- Claudia Joy is back in her crisp attire and spending all of her time unpacking. I, frankly, liked Claudia Joy a whole lot better when she was home without Michael, coping and advocating for Emmalin. I'm waiting for Claudia Joy to step up and deal with Emmalin, in other ways than simply serving tofurkey for dinner.

Joan to Go to Iraq

This was the most potentially dramatic story, I thought, of this fourth episode of the season. Roland had been feeling underused professionally while working part-time at night at the Army hospital in order to take care of his daughter during the day when Joan went to work on the base. He was talked into taking a full-time job, which has daycare, in order to partner up with a psychologist who's working with folks who've been traumatized after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and who aren't necessarily getting the care they need through the Army. Roland is clearly setting himself up for a clash with Army officials when he eventually advocates for a patient to get treatment which the Army denies. I think it could provide a great jumping off point for a larger discussion on soldiers' post-deployment health and mental/emotional care.

Then there was his wife Joan, who passed up the chance to remain on base with her family and work with Michael, in order to assume a battlefield commander post in Iraq. While turning down Michael's offer, Joan said: "As a wife and mother, I really appreciate the chance to stay with my family, but as a leader of a brigade, I feel obligated to lead my soldiers in Iraq and to get them home safely to their families. Sir, I am requesting the privilege to deploy."

I wonder how many parents -- dads or moms -- would make the same choice? Will Roland be as understanding as the Army wives are about their husbands' call to duty, like Trevor Leblanc's openly stated desire to return to Iraq? Or will this story play out differently because she's a mother instead of a father?

What say you, Army Wives fans? What'd you think of this episode?

Image credit: Lifetime.


Anonymous said...

The Denise/Frank storyline is quite frankly (no pun intended) dreadful. Even though I know Denise did wrong and I definitely feel Frank's humiliation, I'm totally on her side. At this point, I really want her to divorce Frank, drop her so-called friends (w/o a word of goodbye), move elsewhere, get a new job and just get on with her life. To hell with Frank and the whole lot of them!

Not that I condone any form of cheating from either man or woman, but this show has crucified Denise. What about her phony motivational speaker/lover? What about Frank's little near indiscretion? What about Roland's cheating? I'm not saying these situations are the same or should be treated the same - I'm saying where is the punishment for the male transgressors?

From the selfish simpleminded behavior of virtually all the men on the show to the astonishingly rabid anti-Denise comments of many real life army wives who watch the show, I can't help but wonder who would ever want to marry an army man - and become such a mean spirited harpy?

I know it's just a show, but like you, I'm really turned off by all this. Enough already.

Meredith said...

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who's bothered by this particular storyline.

It would actually be interesting to see how someone who was an Army wife for her adult life transition to a new life that no longer included the Army. Certainly that's an experience in which many former Army spouses find themselves. I wonder what happens to the divorced, former Army spouses when they no longer have the support system of the folks on the base.

Callie Durbrow said...

I am completely into this show and used to be a fan of Denise but they have pretty much ruined her character. It's actually getting kind of boring to see her not stick up for herself or really say anything at all!