“You never know what’s behind the door until you breach it.”
If one quote could set the tone of this entire episode, that would be it. Spoken by Clay, it’s a line that follows both he and Adam as they attempt to track down Brian’s family, and also Jason and the team as they run through practice drills of breaching a mock-up compound.
And it’s a line that’s in the back of our minds, right to the very last scene, when Jason perhaps finds more than he realized he was looking for, at the home of Nate’s mystery woman – Laila.
THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH
We like to think we know people. We listen to their stories, and, with no reason to think otherwise, we believe the tales they weave of the time before we knew them. But some of us create a different world, one we wish we had lived in, to get through the trauma inflicted upon us by reality.
It’s only in Brian’s death (from a faulty chute during a HALO jump in episode five) that Clay is truly getting to know the man he’d called a friend, thanks to Brian making Clay the authorized representative to notify his next of kin. While this is surprising at first, the more Clay becomes aware of Brian’s childhood as they attempt to track down his living next of kin, the more he finds he had in common with Brian.
We learn that Brian’s mother died when he was eight or nine, and he lived with his father until the man was sent to prison. From there he was moved into a state home, and, sadly, his closest family ends up being a woman named Denise who works at the diner Brian’s mom often left him at as a child. Free babysitting.
For Clay, who was mostly raised by his grandparents, this hits close to home.
Max Thieriot nails every scene, dragging our own emotions through the wringer with his as Clay first broods over Brian’s death, and then works through a deeper kinship with the man, one that was only allowed to truly be felt posthumously.
Clay’s journey through Brian’s childhood is an emotional story that breaks up the anger and conflict between Jason and Fuller in our SEAL Team’s storyline.
I’ve seen people speaking negatively of the home stories, the emotional aspects, the conflict within the team’s personal lives, and I think those who wish for less of it are missing the strongest aspect of this show. It’s these contrasting scenes that make this show so great. And watching Clay’s growth is one story that’s keeping me coming back every week.
I’m sad Brian’s gone, and often deaths can be written in solely for the shock factor, angst for the sake of angst. But in Brian’s death we get to learn more about this man who befriended Clay, we see that his childhood wasn’t perfect, like he may have suggested, and I think because of it Clay will strive to make tighter bonds with his team.
“Teams are all the family any of us need,” Adam tells Clay.
He isn’t convinced at first, but Thieriot expertly eases Clay to the moment he understands he needs to start seeing his team this way.
I believe in the coming episodes we’ll see Clay continue to grow, continue to build new bonds with his team, and work towards creating the family that he also never truly had growing up.
“It’s gonna get ugly real quick.”
Abu Hassan has been tracked down to a limestone ridge in Saudi Arabia where he’s believed to be hiding out. He’s the biggest fish the SEALs have gone after since Bin Laden, and to get the mission green lit by the brass, the team needs to demonstrate an assault plan that doesn’t risk a geopolitical catastrophe. A replica of Hassan’s compound has been built, and an assault plan has been designed. Unfortunately, it won’t just be in Saudi Arabia our boys will encounter conflict.
Beau Fuller (Sharif Atkins) and his team are there, to run them through the operation, and with them they bring tension as our SEAL Team – well, mostly Jason – spit their displeasure at not being included in the planning.
There’s more going on here though.
Seems Fuller and Hayes have quite the history of conflict. In a mission where “cooperation and communication will be essential”, it’s going to take a lot of work – and forgiveness – to get the teams to this point.
The initial plan, made by Fuller’s Charlie Team, is a “direct helo assault. Quick and dirty”. It means they’ll be compromised early in the mission in Saudi Arabia, as soon as they hit the guards, with the noisy helo drawing attention to their arrival. Our boys aren’t convinced by this plan.
The history between Fuller and Hayes has already made things ugly. Neither are men who are quick to forgive or forget. We see this often in Jason, as he observes Clay, and we know him forgiving himself for Nate’s death will take time. And Lisa gives us more insight into Fuller and Jason’s history, ending by telling Mandy that Fuller is, “a little bit of a dick.”
Oh yes, watching these two men verbally spar is going to be interesting.
The much-missed Cerberus (welcome back, Dita!) returns for the drill as the team works through getting this mission down to under fourteen minutes. He (because the character is a male dog, even if Dita is not) is seamlessly integrated into the mission once again. We do notice when he’s not there, but he feels so much a part of the team that when he is there he’s just slipped back in like he was never missing.
A full-size replica of the compound has been built, and the run-throughs begin. But not before more conflict as Hayes points out families are likely to be present in the compound. Jason won’t be so quick to blow a door if innocents might be injured or killed in the explosion. For every suggestion, Jason has opinions. They simply cannot guarantee there won’t be non-combatants behind a door – and dead kids on CNN is not an option.
Drill after drill fails and our boys grow increasingly frustrated. A two-ton door becomes a two-ton obstacle, a fire occurs thanks to a Broco torch on a plywood door, and they only inch marginally closer to where they need to be.
“They’ll get it,” Davis says. Like Lisa, we know they will – but this original plan won’t prove successful.
For now, the op’s off. The brass considers it too risky.
The simmering frustration between Fuller and Hayes boils over, and they lack restraint and professionalism as they argue in front of the teams.
“You devised a plan that would kill innocent people,” Jason shouts.
Fuller brings up Nate’s death in response, and the team gets between them before it turns violent.
These two are holding onto a lot. Be like Elsa, boys. Let it go.
Here’s your check for your white privilege, Hayes.
Thank you, writers, for Ray (and thank you, God, for Neil Brown, Jr). I feel like I say this every week, but every week he delivers a fantastic scene, well-scripted and spoken with heart.
It’s this scene, where Ray lays down white privilege for Jason, that’s my favorite moment of the episode.
“You ever consider the color of my skin?” Ray asks Jason.
Ray’s there, to help Jason understand that in him, Fuller sees a white guy who moved up in the ranks with ease, while he had to claw and fight for every accolade and promotion. This is why Fuller harbors the frustrations that he does, because of the injustice of what happens around him every single day. If Jason understands this, then at least the conflicts between the two men might be eased. It won’t make things easier for Fuller, but it will make Jason less likely to fire back at the man.
Hayes meets up with Pete in a bar, to attempt to gather further information about Nate’s mystery woman, Laila. It turns out Pete helped her escape Afghanistan after her husband was taken by the Taliban. He helped get her into the USA as a favor for Nate.
“Must be nice, being officers. Seeing everything from thirty-thousand feet where it all makes sense. Never having to be on the ground where people live, how messy it gets,” Pete reminds him when Jason gets a little judgmental over his decision to help Nate.
“Right. On the ground where people live. Sweat. Especially in the desert,” Jason replies, cogs turning in his head.
Pete has no idea his words have sparked a solution to Jason’s mission-related problems. But that’s exactly what’s happened, so Hayes heads back to his team with an idea.
“Nobody said it was gonna be easy.”
Hassan’s compound must have ducts drilled through it for air-conditioning – not on the original plans because the designers weren’t aware where the compound would be located – and ducts are unsecured. The team will be able to drop down through the ducts and bypass the blast doors.
Fuller admits it’s possible – so they agree to give it a shot.
There’s a nice moment of comradery when the two men make peace – of sorts. Peace enough to work together on the op. David Boreanaz plays conflict well, but is just as skilled at showing us Jason’s calmer side. This is a character with a lot of demons, demons that can make him seem like a bit of a douche at times, yet he’s likeable thanks to Boreanaz’s ability to balance out the character.
The teams get together for one more drill, this time entering via the ducts, and they get through in twelve minutes, shaving two minutes off the time they’re been allowed.
But the op is cancelled. Mandy gets intel that Hassan isn’t in the bunker, so the brass won’t green light it.
Next time, they’ll be able to head straight out and get their man. For now, it’s time for a little bonding. And food.
Tea and Sympathy
The episode ends with Jason visiting Laila. Ray gave him as big of a push as he could to talk to someone about the loss of Nate, and it’s in a back yard, over tea, that he may have found just that person.
I’ve had a good feeling about Laila since the beginning, and I’m pleased to see that seems to be the case. Perhaps the two can help one another heal.
Not every episode needs to have the team out, overseas, on ops, and the show recognizes this. We learn just as much – perhaps more – about these characters during training exercises. Jason and Clay had a quiet, subtle moment of bonding over the loss of a friend early in this episode, and once Clay moves up into the Tier One team (it seems inevitable), I feel like there’s real potential for a solid friendship to develop between these two.
For now, I’m brOTPing the hell out of Ray and Jason (and wondering how I can steal Ray away for myself…)
SEAL Team airs Wednesdays, 9/8c on CBS.