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September 21, 2014

Army Wives: Would You Know My Name (season premiere)

by Allison Waldman, posted Jun 8th 2008 11:03PM
cast(S02E01) The season finale for Army Wives last summer was a cliffhanger. It was an explosive, shocking and dramatic conclusion to a season filled with the characters' ups and downs, the good times and the bad, the yin and the yang of the lives of military families on Fort Marshall in Charleston, South Carolina.

This season two opener is no less stunning. It was a powerful episode, as the tribe, as the Army spouses like to call themselves, deal with the aftermath of a suicide bomber walking into the Hump Bar determined to fulfill his mission and take all of them with him. The watering hole was filled with patrons, and the question fans wondered since then has been, who survived the blast?

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The new show begins four days later, using Pamela's radio show, Have At It, as a framing device to reveal what happened. It was interesting to hear the story told from Pamela's point of view primarily because she wasn't in the Hump Bar that night. However, as we learn later on, just because she wasn't there doesn't mean she's not traumatized. Her comments about watching the TV for news of the tragedy was reminiscent of 9/11, watching the news with hopes that somehow it won't be as bad as you know it is.

The episode unfolded like an onion, layer by layer, creating suspense as we wonder who made it out of the bar alive. As we find out, there were casualties.

When Pamela explains that someone as close as family has slipped away, and Denise is in the hospital and starts to cry, I suspected that we were going to hear that Claudia Joy was the victim. It would have been a hell of a shock considering that Kim Delaney is the biggest star in the show. So when her character appeared with her daughter Amanda at the train station to take her to college, it was a relief. Aside from some scratches and bandages, Claudia Joy and Amanda seemed fine.

Sally Pressman really stood out in this show. She's looks like Kristin Chenoweth and Reese Witherspoon's little sister, and she's one of the best things about Army Wives. As Roxy, who's usually such a happy, vibrant character, this episode was a chance to show her dramatic side. She was a complete wreck and desperately needed to know that Trevor, who deployed before the explosion, was all right. She's in her pajamas for most of the episode, not bothering to dress. It was a good touch, better than if she were shown swigging from a bottle. Basically, Roxy's incapable of moving from the house till she knows her soldier is safe. She's also reacting to the fear that she faced death herself at the bar; staying at home in her jammies gives her the feeling that she's safe when she knows that she's not.

Ever the therapist, it's Roland who counsels Pamela about her guilt feelings regarding Marilyn. In flashbacks, she relates what she wished she'd done for Marilyn, then what she actually did, which was giving her the keys to her car so Marilyn could meet Eddie at the bar. You can really see Pamela's point of view, if she had intervened, George wouldn't have found Marilyn at the bar. If he didn't find her, George may not have blown up the bar. If only...

So the trigger didn't go off the first time. Marilyn's lover Eddie struggled with George and in those few moments, Roland saved Denise. Betty forced Roxy out the door. Amanda wouldn't go without her mother. The scenes at the college took on a hazy, dreamlike quality then. "Why did you go into that bar, Amanda?" Claudia Joy asks, and her daughter answers, "For you, Mom." She then adds pointedly, "Show me the mother and I'll show you the child," a tribute to the kind of parent Claudia Joy had been to her daughter.

The tears shed by Michael, the ultimate stoic solder, says it all. The patient could not be revived, and when Claudia Joy comes to in the hospital, it's clear that Amanda didn't make it. The pain of Amanda's death is palpable.

This was a really sad Army Wives episode, minus the levity and good humor that balances most of the others. But for sheer emotional impact, this season opener packed a wallop. It'll be interesting to see the fall out in the weeks ahead.

Other points of interest
-- Pamela's narration underscore the theme of Army Wives, the kinship among the soldier families, the connection and the support that is continually reinforced.

-- Roland showed why he's a stand up guy, apologizing to Joan for the affair he had while she was away. It looked like the first step towards a reconciliation...perhaps. She's still not saying what she's going to do about her pregnancy.

-- Roxy mistook the CID investigators for U.S. Army reps there to tell her that Trevor's dead. Knowing that Roxy is new to being an Army wife, this made a lot of sense. She always rails against the rules and regulations.

-- They gave Betty a last name. The bartender who's dying from breast cancer was one of the most severely injured in the blast. Ironically, she had no medical coverage and couldn't pay for treatment of her cancer. The explosion landed her in a hospital bed. If she survives, will the doctors treat her breast cancer or not?

-- When Denise and Pamela go to comfort Roxy with a bottle of wine, she opens the door and says, "It feels like I'm the wrong end of an intervention."

-- Wonderful moment with Claudia Joy and Amanda, when the mother admits she did regret leaving Harvard because she was pregnant with the daughter.

-- Joan isn't in uniform when Roxy confronts her, but she's wearing an Army tee-shirt, her hair is pulled back, and she swiftly takes charge reminding Roxy that she is a Lt. Colonel and Trevor's commanding officer. She then shows her Army Wives heart by assuring her that Trevor is still in transit to Iraq and that's why he hadn't contacted her.

-- Trevor is too damn perfect. That DVD Roxy finds from him was sweet and romantic -- and a complete fantasy fulfillment.

-- Actress Kim Allen as Amanda looks like a mini-version of Kim Delaney -- great casting.
What will Joan do about her pregnancy?
She'll reunite with Roland and have the child179 (48.1%)
She'll have the child and give it to Roland to raise41 (11.0%)
She'll have the baby and try to reunite with Roland108 (29.0%)
She'll have an abortion because the baby was unplanned44 (11.8%)

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Jim

I tried watching this show after reading all the hype leading up to this season and was disappointed. I thought the production values were pretty cheesy.

The cast is pretty good, but as an old fan of NYPD Blue, I found Kim Delaney almost unwatchable on this show.

June 10 2008 at 8:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Coronaboy

It sucks they killed Amanda off, I was hoping she would survive the blast.

Kim Allen is an amazing actress, hopefully she will land another series.I thought her role of Amanda was well played, she will be missed. I'm interested in seeing what becomes of this season. This will be a very busy season, without a doubt.

June 09 2008 at 9:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
RACT

As I laid on my couch this morning to watch my tivoed version... I was thinking the whole time... who dies and where (Iraq or the Hump Bar)? I didn't think it was one of the husbands (except for Roland)... because it would mean that one of the wives would have to leave... but if it were Trevor then Roxie could take over the bar or if it were Chase then Pamela could stay with the radio program... maybe. I also thought it was Betty... but I so didn't think it was Amanda once they showed them at the train station. Then the fact that they showed various seens all over campus and the talk about being able to do this on her own... it never hit me that it was Amanda... I was so thrown. I was so moved and shocked... it just goes to show you how good this show is. I'm normally the one who picks out the killer or the-how-they-did-it at the beginning of a show... so this was a very nice surprise.

I keep thinking of how the super three networks missed this awesome show.

June 09 2008 at 8:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jimmy

When I first sat down to watch this series last year I was thinking some of my political opinions (and the fact that I'm a guy) would turn me off to the show. That never happened. This reluctant viewer was hooked by the stories of these women, and military families in general. I know a few former military wives and they tell me the series is not an exact representation of military family life on the base (what series could be), but they say it gets enough right, especially the hierarchy that exists between the spouses.

As for this episode? Wow! I knew one of the wives wouldn't be dying since they were all back for the entire season, but Amanda was a shock and even though the dream/heaven sequences were a little hokey I still thought Kim Delaney and Kim Allen were great in their scenes together.

June 09 2008 at 1:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hannah

Great synopsis...Just wanted to clarify, it was Marilyn's husband George, who came into the bar to blow it up. Frank is Denise's husband.

Minor detail, but anyways, it was a nice emotional episode using Pamela to narrate and guide the replay of the events. And it ended with hope and love like Army Wives so often does. I'm so glad it's back for another season.

June 09 2008 at 8:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steffany

I was completely shocked with this premier! Being an Army Wife I felt myself pulled and drawn to the characters, especially Roxy. It was an amazing portrayal of what we go through and how we feel. I actually have a video of my husband reading a story to my daughter as though he were here. When Roxy got that one from Trevor, I LOST IT! Then to add to it, the whole Claudia Joy/ Amanda thing completely threw me, I am sitting here still reeling from it all. I actually sobbed, like I knew them. How could one show have so much power over me???

June 09 2008 at 1:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

It's my first time watching this show and it's great! I didn't expect such a well acted, not just for women show like this on Lifetime haha.

June 08 2008 at 11:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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