Army Wives: Episode 1.5, "Independence Day" Recap
Army Wives: Episode 1.5, "Independence Day" Recap
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Episode Overview: After last episode's hostage situation and eventual shooting of a troubled fellow soldier, Claudia Joy plows ahead with the annual July 4th celebration, but crosses a line with her husband Col. Holden when she asks him to do something against the Army Code. Denise anxiously awaits news of whether or not her husband survived the helicopter crash, while Pamela anticipates her husband's Delta Force unit being called up at any moment. Roxy learns a secret about the ever-bitchy Marilyn, but then learns about something more important – the Army Wives' code.

A show about the wives of our men in the military – isn't that what The Unit is about? Lifetime's newest original drama series, Army Wives, is a bit like that, but while The Unit's weakness is in the female characters, the Lifetime show, naturally, does not suffer from that same failing – the show is tight. This week's Army Wives episode swirled in and out of the lives of the Army wives (and one Army husband) with enviable ease. It is too bad there aren't more drama shows out on the television airwaves taking this much care when telling interweaving stories.

"Independence Day" picks up where last week's episode left off, our central characters dealing with the aftermath of the hostage situation, wherein a soldier under Lt. Col. Joan Burton's (Wendy Davis) command in Afghanistan was shot and killed while he was holding Burton's husband Roland (Sterling K. Brown) and army wife Claudia Joy Holden (Kim Delaney) hostage. Joan's odd behavior since returning from her tour of duty is brought into a harsh and glaring light – almost too bright for those around her to admit to seeing.

The realization that she suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder hits her psychiatrist husband, and their marriage, hard – it's his job to treat other soldiers, yet he failed to do just that in his own home. The scenes between Joan and Roland feel incredibly genuine and heartfelt. Joan decides to give up her 20-year military career voluntarily, rather than face a court martial, which prompts Roland to speak to Col. Michael Holden (Brian McNamara). But Holden sticks by the military's long established rules of conduct.

Claudia Joy continues planning for the big Fourth of July celebration she hosts every year, but an encounter with the hostage taker's widow leads her to cross a line with her husband that she had never crossed before – she asks him to essentially forgo the Army rule book and allow the soldier's death to be considered "in the line of duty" so that he will receive a military burial and his widow can receive full benefits. Holden is disappointed that Claudia Joy would even ask him to do such a thing.

The scene between Holden and Claudia Joy, and the one between him and Roland, finally brought this character to life for me. Col. Holden is not portrayed as an overtly military hard-nosed officer, like Major Frank Sherwood (Terry Serpico), but these scenes revealed that his strength is in his dedication and integrity as a soldier. Holden is comparable to the Captain John Miller character played by Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan, a huge compliment to the relatively unknown Brian McNamara.

For Denise Sherwood (JAG star Catherine Bell), the wait is finally over – Col. Holden and Claudia Joy both come over to tell her that her major husband survived the helicopter crash. Her abusive son Jeremy (Richard Bryant) stepped up during this anxious time, supporting his mom rather than hitting her, but it is unclear whether or not that will last. Jeremy's relationship with Amanda Holden (Kim Allen) is also creeping forward, but her parents know what he did to Denise and may be resistant to letting their daughter spend much time with him alone. This could lead to a potential hidden romance down the line.

The third Army wife of the show, Pamela Moran (Brigid Brannagh), witnesses her husband Chase prepare for his secretive Delta Force mission throughout most of the episode. This couple has finally reconnected after a rocky time, and it is evident on Pamela's face that she is fearful of her husband's mission, hard to believe as Pamela was once a tough Boston cop. But now she is an Army wife with two kids to look after, while she wonders whether or not her husband will return. During the Independence Day celebration, Chase and the other Delta Force members get called up and leave the ceremony quietly. Pamela realizes he is gone almost too late, but get the chance to wave goodbye to him.

The last Army wife is newlywed Roxy Leblanc (Sally Pressman) also prepares for her husband PFC Trevor Leblanc's (Drew Fuller) deployment, but she is still new to this Army life, so the real fear hasn't set in. While working at the Hump Bar, she does happen upon a juicy bit of gossip, when she sees Marilyn Polarski (one of the biggest gossips on the base) canoodling with a man who is not her husband. Roxy approaches her table and offers drink refills, and Marilyn's face is priceless. Roxy later tells Pamela what she saw, but after savoring this news for a moment, Pamela then tells Roxy that she cannot tell anyone else. This is an important part of the Army Wives' own code of conduct, especially for the wives of the men who are being deployed. Life on the post is not like civilian life – they have to protect each other.

The last part of the episode is centered around a speech by Claudia Joy at the Fourth of July celebration. While she speaks, there are various intercuts: the Delta Force being called up; Pamela coming home to an empty bed; Roxy packing up Trevor's uniform; Col. Holden ripping up Joan's voluntary separation from the military; Denise and Jeremy waiting for Frank's return; and the biggest surprise – Belgrad, the dead soldier, being given a full military funeral. All-in-all, a well done and enjoyable episode. There were so many times when this show could have gone soap operatic, but remained steadfast and as true to life as it possibly good. It is definitely a feather in Lifetime's cap.

-Amy J. Johnston, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image courtesy of TV Guide)