Tuesday, October 13, 2009

'Army Wives' Season Finale: Fields of Fire

*Warning, spoilers ahead from the Army Wives season finale*

Y’all knew it’d end this way, with lives hangin’ in the balance. Clearly we knew that Jeremy’s future was precarious, Lifetime has been showing that scene of Jeremy staring at the service revolver for weeks. The health and future of Pamela and Chase’s marriage was likewise obviously precarious as the once truth-telling radio talk show host who lectured others about simply dealing with being an Army wife didn’t like it when her own reality turned messy. But did the finale have to have TWO characters potentially be (though not likely) dead?

This is why I’m not a fan of season finales. They artificially juice up the action and drama just to leave off on some big cliffhanger (or cliffhangers, as the case may be), which, nine times out of 10, get quickly resolved by the beginning of the next season. And if you pull the dead character card one too many times, viewers become jaded.

At the conclusion of Army Wives’ first season, it was the Holden’s oldest daughter Amanda who was shockingly and abruptly killed. At the conclusion of the second season, the Holdens were suddenly packing up and moving to Europe so Michael could serve in NATO, which caused their youngest daughter Emmalin to freak out and run away with a soldier to get married, while, at the same time, the Sherwood’s marriage seemed headed toward divorce.

When the third season concluded, the stakes apparently had to be raised exponentially. Not only is one marriage on the precipice of divorce (the Morans'), but two, count ‘em, TWO lives may have been lost, Jeremy’s by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Joan’s at the hands of a terrorist in Iraq as she was bravely trying to save her injured colleague. While it’s true that Jeremy was grieving the loss of his best friend in Iraq and wasn’t really getting any official psychological help from the Army, writers didn’t have to imply that, due to his post-traumatic stress, he committed suicide. They also didn’t have to suggest that the mother of a baby – who was shown in a pre-taped video reading Guess How Much I Love You to her infant daughter interspersed with footage from Iraq – was killed in action. AND then add to that Chase coming home to an empty house and what appears to be Pamela’s empty closet. Did they have to have all three happen at once?
Each issue is an important one to explore: Emotional estrangement from one’s family after sustaining a trauma in battle, survivor guilt when a combat buddy dies and mothers of babies serving in combat. They are all worthy of the inevitable discussions spawned by a dramatization on Army Wives, but seriously, all simultaneously on one episode? That just irks me, particularly when Army Wives has a habit of resolving issues too quickly, with the exception of Amanda’s death. If they’re going to do justice to these three subjects, I sincerely hope that they don’t just dispense with them in episodes one and two of their fourth season next year and move on.
As for the rest of the finale: Roxy’s pregnant with baby number three and her assistant Viola with the touch of gold has left The Hump Bar for the world of music. Michael Holden became a two-star general and there was precious little discussion of the specter of Fort Marshall perhaps closing. (Base closings are another important issue facing military families and communities which have sprung up around them, particularly in this economy, one in which I’d hope the writers, in season four, will sink their teeth into.) And Roland was left cleaning up the mess after the mysterious disappearance of his business partner, who’s wanted by authorities and goes by an alias. Work messes are going to be the last thing on Roland’s mind when the show returns next year.

What’d you think of the finale? Too much or just right?

Image credit: Lifetime.

1 comment:

Tara Read said...

I loved the finale. Very emotional and very riveting. I was on the edge of my seat...crying, of course...during the last 5 minutes.

Interesting note:

I just found out that one of the actors in the show is from my hometown, Marietta, Georgia.

His name is Jeff Rose and he plays Major Ogden, Joan's colleague in Iraq. He was in earlier episodes with Frank. He's the soldier who slipped up and told Frank about Denise's affair.

So, now I'm hoping neither Joan nor Ogden get killed in that firefight. Though I don't know the actor personally, I have friends who do. Sounds silly, but it makes me feel like a part of the Army Wives family.

Thanks for the review!!