“Army Wives” mini-cap: Season Two picks up right where the bomb went off

Somebody died. I knew going in that it was going happen. I even had a pretty good idea who it would be. But they tricked me and, even though I figured out the trick before the very end, I still got caught off guard and shed a tear or two. But we’ll get to that.

When we last left the Hump Bar … (OK, an Army brat friend of mine told me that “hump” means “marching over land.” But The Marching Over Land Bar? I doubt it.) The first season of Army Wives came to an explosive finish (it had to be said) when a crazed soldier strapped bombs to his body and blew himself to Humpdom-come in front of his wife. (Yes, the cut to white was the bombs detonating.) Of course, some of our favorite Army wives (and Roland) were in the bar at the time.

We don’t get to jump ahead in time in order to avoid the explosion’s fallout. Season 2 opens four days after the finale as Pamela Moran (Brigid Brannagh), who found her voice as a radio host last season, goes on air to talk about what happened.

One thing that happened is that Kim Delaney, who plays Claudia Joy, seems to have gotten her lips puffed. But I digress. Pamela’s narration leads into flashbacks of the days since the explosion, starting with Joan (Wendy Davis) holding a press conference at which we learn that four people were killed and 15 injured – three critically.

One of the most critical is Betty “I just learned your last name” Camden, owner of the Hump. (No way to say that without it sounding dirty. Sorry.) Roland is hospitalized as well, but he’s not seriously injured. Of course, after such a close call, he’s all sorry about the adultery and Joan’s all ready to work things out and, whatever. IMO, the only thing that reforms a cheater is taking the “near” out of “near death experience.” Dump him, Joan – we’ll get you Tasha’s number.

Claudia Joy and Amanda (Kim Allen), meanwhile, are off to University of Virginia to get Amanda enrolled, since classes started a few days earlier. Both are burned and cut and generally scuffed up, but seem fine, other than apparently thinking they have to reveal every intimacy and resolve every difference before Claudia Joy goes home. (You know, every time Kim Allen has been on the show, I’ve checked iMDb to see if she’s related to Kim Delaney. Kudos to the casting director.)

Since Roxy (Sally Pressman) hasn’t heard from Trevor since he was deployed, she refuses to leave the house and won’t let her boys go to school. She can’t stand the war news, but can’t quit watching it. We know everything is going to be fine, though, because Roxy is just too adorable to put through something like becoming widowed.

We didn’t see enough of Denise (Catherine Bell) this episode – as if that’s even possible – but she glowed in the scenes she was in and I suspect she’s going to become the strongest one in the group this season while Claudia Joy deals with her loss.

What? Oh, right. The whole thing with Amanda is a dream that Claudia Joy had in the hospital while still unconscious from her injuries. As we see mother and daughter saying goodbye at UVA, we realize that Amanda is walking, not into her dorm room, but into the light. Amanda saved her mom’s life in the bar, but sacrificed her own. Sniff.

This was not a fun episode of Army Wives and even though I cried at all the right places, I thought it was a bit uneven. At first, I thought perhaps the writing was just too heavy-handed, because some of the things that Pamela said during her narration seemed about as far from spontaneous and moving as you can get: “Must be a military thing, this capacity to press on despite the obstacles, to see a mission to its completion.” You know, I was just saying that.

On second viewing, though, I realized that some of Catherine Bell’s lines were equally cheesy, yet she said them so naturally that I didn’t notice. So perhaps Brannagh’s acting just wasn’t up to the weight of Pamela’s task. I know the characters have a lot of serious you-know-what to deal with, but I do hope the show lightens up before Renee O’Connor makes her guest appearance. The last thing we need is another depressing lesbian storyline.

What did you think? Did the Season 2 premiere of Army Wives fulfill its mission? Or was this episode, well, a bomb? Will you keep watching?

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