I’m calling The Exchange the weakest episode this season (so far). It wasn’t a bad episode, not even close, but I didn’t feel the tension like I was meant to. There were moments of unease, but too much concern from Sonny that something would go wrong left me feeling this would be the mission where everything goes to plan.
In Afghanistan in 2014, Pvt Lucas Garner leaves his post, wanders out into the desert, and is captured by the Taliban. The why is left vague, to add to the tension of the mission itself, but there’s something so blank in his eyes as he deserts that I never found his actions suspicious, only sad.
Now, Garner’s been found, and the Taliban are willing to do an exchange for three of their own men currently held at Gitmo. Politically, it’s a complicated situation, in a complicated area of the world, leaving plenty of room for things to go wrong.
Sonny thinks they’re being set up for an ambush, and puts another option out there: leave Garner to rot. But that’s not going to happen. So off to The Tribals of Pakistan we go.
Lisa packs the boys extra gear in case the op goes sideways. With so much emphasis being placed on things going wrong, I feel my fear dissapating. The team feels over-prepared, and I feel underwhelmed.
One of only two real moments of tension I felt all episode was when the prisoners were being walked onto the plane. The score, coupled with the team silently watching, left me wondering what the fate of these three men would be. And by whose hands.
Davis watches everything, including Sonny. We’re used to Sonny being vocal about his dislike of something, but it feels deeper here. There’s something in his eyes, an intensity, that’s concerning. Lisa sees it too. But Lisa also knows more than most of the team. She knows that Sonny had a friend named Danny Cooper who was medically retired after an injury. That injury occurred while searching for Lucas Garner. Lucas cost Danny his dream job. Jason assures her that, “Sonny’ll keep it together.” But I’m not sure I one-hundred percent agree that Sonny manages to keep it together this episode. Jason gives him a pep-talk, that’s a warning, but Sonny harbors too much anger. He’s slow to help Jason when one of the prisoners, Amir, collapses, and he casually suggests murdering Garner while on overwatch with Ray. This is the second time all episode I feel real tension, and it’s solely because I’m wondering if Sonny’s going to snap.
Ultimately the exchange takes place, they rush Garner into the vehicle, and exfil the Hell out of there.
Clay’s moving into a new apartment, and Stella’s helping him. I begrudgingly admit I began liking her a little more in this episode. She’s quite a guarded character, and – unlike Mandy’s wall which I understand – it makes me distrust her. Having moved the couch into the apartment, they’re mid-makeout when they meet the neighbors: Derek and Trish.
Derek’s arm is lined with deep scars, and Trish notices they’ve caught Stella’s attention.
“I didn’t mean to stare,” Stella apologizes.
“Are you kidding?” Trish asks. “I stared so much that first year I forgot the color of his eyes.”
It’s difficult listening to Trish recount Derek’s injury, his recovery, and how it affected both of them. She’s almost flippant about it, which must unnerve Stella even more, because for the first time it seems like the reality of a SEAL boyfriend is starting to sink in here.
“Thought it would have been a dream come true to have him stuck at home with me for a while,” Trish says. Stella laughs, but there’s no mirth here. “Instead, he was like a dog, chewing up the furniture.”
Stella doesn’t brush these new fears off, which I appreciate. They’re going to linger within her now, and it will be interesting how she copes with this new reality. Will she work through her concerns and adapt as life changes? Or will she run, unable to deal with the stresses, the fears, Clay being injured…
She keeps it all inside for now, quietly processing what she’s seen, heard, from Clay’s neighbors. Soon to be her neighbors too, after Clay scares the bejesus out of her by handing her a key to the apartment like he’s about to propose.
Stella talks tough, but life’s tougher sometimes. Talking to Trish and Derek will either help her prepare, or send her running.
“What do you think of Clay Spenser?”
Another aspect of this episode where I felt let down a little was the drafting of Clay into a Tier One team. Personally, I’ve never had any doubt he would end up with the Bravo team. It felt like a sure thing Jason would choose him, despite some of the doubts he’s voiced. Clay butted heads with Jason in the first episode, but he’s come a long way since. It’s fair Jason would still have concerns, but the audience has seen Clay’s growth, so not once did I worry Clay would end up somewhere else – even if just for an episode or two.
At the very end of the episode, once Clay’s fate was decided, it was good seeing Jason smile. Jason’s pleased with his choice, and with Clay’s response to the news. It’s a nice moment. I think Jason sees a lot of himself in Clay, and I can’t wait to watch these two interact as team members.
Overall, not a bad episode, just one that didn’t quite plant all the fears in me as a viewer that it was aiming for.
I’m thrilled Clay has officially finished Green Team and will join the Bravo Team, and I’m fully invested in how his relationships with Stella and Jason will change throughout the rest of this season.
I also hope we see Clay’s neighbors again. I think Stella’s going to find she needs Trish to talk to, until she’s able to properly talk to Clay about her concerns.
The Fall Finale, Rolling Dark, airs Dec 6th, 9/8c on CBS.