“Army Wives” mini-cap: Iraq around the clock


I have to say this right up front: I’m worried about Army Wives.

The show is getting a bit too, well, Lifetimey, if you know what I mean (and I think you do.) First, though, a nice little tidbit about a guest star later this season: Ana Ortiz of Ugly Betty will play a “litigious waitress who gets mixed up with Roxy and Trevor.” Litigious waitress? Does she wait tables in a suit? (Think about it.)

Back to the mini-cap: Episode two is titled “Strangers in a Strange Land,” which makes me want to draw all sorts of highly politicized parallels between Army Wives and Robert Heinlein’s book. But since I doubt the writers had that in mind, I’ll resist. The story opens three weeks after the first episode so, thankfully, we aren’t subjected to the pain of Amanda’s funeral. But the grief is far from over for her family and circle of friends, especially Claudia Joy.

Did this show always use so much narration to tell the story? I kind of understood on the last episode, since the writers had a lot of ground to cover. But when the show opened to Kim Delaney in the tub – which should have been a treat – with a voiceover including, “I hold my breath, living in a suspended state of existence,” well, I cringed a little.

The other voiceover was from Trevor, in the form of writing a letter to Roxy from Iraq. He writes – and we hear – every detail of his life there. The point was to show the difference between what Trevor experienced and how he ultimately glossed over it all in what he told his family, but I felt like I’d been clichéd to death. And on what planet does a soldier in Iraq look this clean, cool and comfy after three weeks?

OK, I’m feeling overly harsh. So let me move to the character that was my favorite this episode: Joan. Although I have a hard time believing she would let three weeks pass without making a decision about her pregnancy, she had some great scenes showing her conflict about whether to keep the baby. Her main concern is that she’s on the fast track, career-wise, and doesn’t want to jeopardize that. She’s a woman of power and she likes it. I like it, too. Sigh.

This being Lifetime, Joan decides to keep the baby while on the abortion procedure table. General Holden promises her job will be waiting for her after pregnancy leave, Roland is ecstatic and all is right with the world. To make sure we understand the womanly glory of her motherhood, Joan’s hair is drawn back before she decides to keep the baby, then loose and feminine after. Subtle. I kept wondering how this storyline would differ on, say, Showtime.

In other developments, Chase comes home for awhile and cooks dinner for Pamela; we learn that Pamela’s brother was shot and killed when the two of them were in a gas station robbery; Roxy invites Betty the bar owner to stay with her after she’s released from the hospital; Emmalin stays with Denise to escape her parents fighting, but misses them and returns home; Claudia has a panic attach in the PX. Moment of trivia: the PX scene was filmed in the base exchange at Charleston Air Force Base, using extras from actual base families.

Denise again had little to do this episode other than to be kind and sexy and gorgeous. She also came very close to having a wardrobe malfunction. Life is good.

As usual, the chemistry between Denise and Claudia Joy was palpable. At first, C.J. rebuffs Denise’s affection, throwing off a hug in the PX parking lot. By the end of the episode, however, the vibes are back to normal and the looks Denise gives Claudia Joy as the group shares dinner are nothing less than pure sex. Damn — stuff like that never happens to me.

The music this week deserves special mention – Sara Bareilles, Jude Johnstone and The Kin, plus a gorgeous song, “I Will Think of You,” by Laura Browne Sorenson. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing much more from Sorenson soon.

What did you think of “Strangers in a Strange Land?” Is Army Wives close to jumping the land shark or is the show still going strong? Special points for naming the scene with an inside joke about new Emmalin.

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