It’s been a while since an episode of a TV show broke my heart. SEAL Team‘s fifth episode, Collapse, decided I was due.
“When does it turn into stalking?”
Stella’s working extra hard this week to make me wary of her. Cell phones are a thing now, Stella. There was no need to go to the base. There was also no need to finger Clay’s ID. When she showed up at the gate to invite Clay to a graduation party, the whole situation felt odd. Granted, it could just be connected with them going public with their relationship, why she felt it okay to turn up, but I’m still cautious about her motives.
“It’s nice to see you in your element,” she tells Clay, who is hesitant throughout the whole exchange, making it clear he isn’t thrilled about her showing up.
Nate was creating fake passports for his mystery woman (who we now know was the wife of an interpreter murdered by the Taliban), and yet I still think that whole situation is more innocent than whatever Stella has going on.
Grad Student is synonymous with liberal, it seems, and there’s hesitation from Brian about the party, and meeting Stella’s friends.
“This is a mistake,” he tells Clay.
“Probably,” Clay agrees.
But they go to the party, and oh, hey, look! Evan, the Grad Student, is anti-military. Just like Stella! Or not? I don’t know, I can’t figure her out.
MANDY: As discussed, the elections were marked with wide-spread fraud. A lot of people in the opposition are blaming us.
SONNY: What did we do?
JASON: What, in Africa?
Our favorite Tier One team is sent to South Sudan this week, to be there in case post-election protests take a violent turn and the US embassy needs to be evacuated of more than just the nonessential personnel. The situation is tense when they arrive and soon deteriorates further.
Luckily there’s a stubborn jackass of an acting ambo in charge, named Crowley, who should have ordered the evac already. Luckily? That might not be the word I’m looking for. It comes down to: If he orders the evac, the diplomatic mission is a failure. It’s his failure. If he doesn’t order the evac, over one-hundred lives are at risk. Guess which one is more important to him?
Davis gets the transport sorted, and we’re off to Juba, South Sudan.
Once in the embassy, Ray sets up an observation post to keep an eye on the protestors, where he meets reporter, Stefan Bol. The exchange is tense, with racial implications, but it gives Ray yet another moment to shine.
“Those big white boys you’re talking about? They’re my brothers too.”
This episode showed us early on that for those opposing the election results it’s about the color of your passport, not your skin. For Ray, nothing he does is because of skin color, nor the politics surrounding it, in their current situation. Ray is there to do his job, for his country, but he’ll consider everyone while doing it and Bol can shove his race-baiting – of course, Ray is much more polite in how he suggests this.
Davis is finally given some brilliant scenes. More of this, please, writing room. She has a quiet, calm exchange with Crowley, reminding him that he needs to make an official request regarding the order of a rescue convoy, “so that the ground commander doesn’t get dinged for violating his chain of command.” It’s hard for Crowley, to request a rescue, but Lisa’s there to make sure he’s doing everything right, and remembering to thank his team for their good work in preparation of the evac. He responds to her. She even gets a “Thank you,” – before he throws out a “you’re dismissed”. But Lisa’s already on her way out, to help Ray guide the team back to safety.
One of my favorite things about this episode was Lisa and Ray working together. Ray’s the best friend everyone needs, and I hope to see this platonic relationship bloom, because I loved the Lisa/Ray interactions here.
RAY: Let me get on the comms. Now get to the convoy.
DAVIS: Are you coming with me?
RAY: Yeah, I’ll be there. As soon as I’m done helping our boys navigate back here.
DAVIS: Okay, I’ll leave when you leave.
RAY: This isn’t Virginia Beach and I’m not asking.
DAVIS: Ray I just want you to come—
RAY: Lisa, get to the convoy. I’ll be right behind you.
Lisa goes back in when Ray doesn’t show, and we’re blessed with more of them working as a flawless team.
“I know you’re strong,” Ray tells Lisa after she reminds him she’s not used to firing at targets that fire back.
I love these two a whole lot, but mostly I love that Davis got to cover Ray while he hauled the unconscious reporter out of the embassy. She’s level-headed and uses good judgement as she leads the way through the hazy hallways. My favorite character changes every week, and this week Lisa’s claimed the title. Show us this more often, writers. Not just quippy lines about her packing their parachutes, but real scenes like these.
Meanwhile, Crowley continues to be a douche, verbally swinging his dick around, first by questioning Jason’s decision to go rescue some American teachers holed up in a school, because he didn’t give the order, and later when he sends the team on an unnecessary evacuation mission that only puts their lives in further danger.
Finally, in case we thought maybe he had redeemed himself just a little during the exchange with Lisa, he ditches Ray and Davis at the embassy, leaving them behind after saving his own ass via the rescue convoy.
“He left the flag,” Jason observes once the team heads back to the embassy to evac Ray and Davis.
“Crowley?” Sonny replies. “He also left two of our people.”
Jason sends Davis in to replace the American flag with the South Sudanese one, to appear the control of the embassy has been switched, and allow the people entrance in through one gate, while Ray, Davis and Bol exit to safety through another.
“I’m not ready to pull down the flag just yet,” Crowley said prior to the evacuation order being given, which not only sowed the seeds for how Jason got his team out of the embassy, but is also nicely followed up post-evac.
While Sonny’s gearing to give Crowley a knuckle-sandwich once they’re in the safety of the plane, Jason ops for a quieter, patriotic slap:
“Got something for ya,” Jason says, handing Crowley the flag. “You must have left it behind by accident.” Off-screen, Crowley’s probably being handed cream for that burn.
It’s a less-than-subtle reminder that the Navy SEALs are out there, risking their lives to save others, protecting all that the flag stands for. Disrespect will not be tolerated by our boys.
“Jumper in distress, falling to 3,000 feet.”
Brian’s been Clay’s sage of sorts. He’s been giving Clay good advice, and guiding him through training. Even more so in recent episodes when Clay began to listen to that advice and guidance. He’s been the only real friend Clay seems to have amongst the Green Team, and Brian stuck with him despite how him interacting with Clay could affect his own chances of making it through training.
Alas, being buddies with Clay turned out to be the least of his worries.
During HALO practice, Brian’s chute fails to open. He detaches it, but never deploys his reserve chute. The words, “Jumper appeared to impact ground with speed” will stay with me. As too will Clay’s face, upon realizing his friend isn’t amongst the five jumpers who made it safely to the ground.
My heart broke in that moment. But, like I said earlier, it’s been a while since a TV show broke my heart. I was due.
How this affects Clay is yet to be seen, but my hope is that he connects with other members of the team now.
Or will they view him as a bad omen?
The mission to evac the American aid workers, from the team talking their way through the road block, through finding out the aid workers refuse to leave, to shooting their way through the return road block, and finally the tense drive through the violent city streets as they push through protestors towards the relative safety of the embassy.
In case you ever wondered what those handles above your head in your car are for? That’s the Jesus Bar (also known as the Oh Shit Bar), something to grip during dangerous car rides like this one.
There were so many great ones in this episode, it would be hard to not just transcribe it completely.
Forced to pick one, I’ll steer away from anything political, military, or emotional, and simply go with Sonny’s, “I’m always friendly.”
But many other stand out lines are weaved throughout this review.
To date, this might be the most edge-of-your-seat episode. The dialogue, the acting, the directing, the score, all came together in nail-biting beauty. The 43 minutes flew by. The ending was a sudden, painful stop.
And about that title, Collapse? Do you mean the fate of the diplomatic mission, or the state of my heart after Brian’s HALO?
Next week is going to hurt.
SEAL Team airs Wednesdays 9/8c on CBS.