SEAL Team 1×21 “The Graveyard of Empires” Review

The point of this week’s SEAL Team was…?

Mostly filler.

The episode felt weighed down by David Boreanaz’s less-than-stellar acting. Perhaps if Mr Boreanaz chooses to direct again, it might be wise to do so for an episode that’s light on Jason Hayes. And it’s difficult to say if the story was moved forward in any way, other than to bring Jason’s PTSD back to end the season where we began.

What did we learn this week about Echo Team’s death? Possibly nothing. With Jason spending all episode talking to a dead man, can we trust any interactions he had? Maybe he spoke with Nouri Halani, or maybe, like the dead solider, Halani had expired before the conversation with Jason took place.

There are hints they may have spoken, with TOC mentioning they hadn’t seen Halani at his location two minutes prior. But it’s difficult for Jason to trust if Halani was alive for their conversation after finding out that not a single word he thought the dead soldier spoke ever happened.

And Jason’s leg injury? Likely also non-existent. One of Jason’s PTSD tics from the pilot episode involved him rubbing at his leg, so the belief it was “burning up”,  and the morphine, all suggests we’re ending this season as we started it – with Jason psychologically compromised. This will all bleed into the finale, with Jason’s head injury from this episode clearly still an issue next week.


After the helo goes down, Mandy handles it all differently to Blackburn and Davis, and I appreciate the contrast, between those who are military trained, and those who are not. Whereas Davis and Blackburn are in recovery mode, Mandy is second guessing all her decisions.

This is one reason we need Mandy, to see that side of it all, and I’m pleased they utilized this character so well in the second half of the season because we need her perspective.

Photo: Erik Voake/CBS ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Clay is absolutely fantastic, taking control of the situation once the wounded are in the farmhouse, and making a solid plan. This character has come a long way this season with his growth consistently moving forward. Even his moments of jealousy with Stella are hard to fault him for, but I’ve been side-eying her all season anyway. He isn’t perfect, he’s still arrogant, cocky, and will still rile up Sonny and Ray at times. He’s a damn good SEAL, and further down the road, seasons from now, should Jason’s PTSD become a problem, and if Ray’s shoulder keeps him from missions, I think they will one day have an exceptional leader in Clay.

Photo: Erik Voake/CBS ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Sonny continues to speak without thinking and clashes with members of the team. He suggests to Ray they kill two men, because Sonny suspects they’re Taliban, while Ray sees their hunting rifle and deducts they are likely just goat herders. When Sonny says it will be “Operation Red Wings all over again”, he’s referring to a 2005 operation that ended with the team being ambushed and all but one being killed.
Despite the poor decision Ray made with his shoulder injury, as a leader he makes solid ones and I’m never sad to see Sonny’s emotional responses pointed out to him as just that, even if he wasn’t wrong to remind the team of Operation Red Wings.

Photo: Erik Voake/CBS ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved



We learn a lot about Jason through “Dave” (may or may not actually be his first name), the soldier who died after the helo crashed. Because Jason’s talking to himself. all of Dave’s stories are Jason’s. It was an interesting way to get stories out of Jason, who usually doesn’t reveal much, and maybe they’re slowly opening this character up, allowing more to be seen. If so, then I hope the PTSD, and the head injury, send him back to therapy in season two so that more of Jason’s character can come out as more backstory is revealed. I’d still like to see him sitting down and talking with Mandy, so they can both drag backstory out of one another.


SEAL Team doesn’t typically wow me with the writing, but it doesn’t need an exceptional level of writing because the cast and the action scenes make up for it and I enjoy the show. It does what it sets out to do: it entertains. This week, seeing David Boreanaz’ acting slip brought the whole episode down for me. The episode was competently directed, however, and I’m all for the man being behind the camera more often in season two – as long as he isn’t directing himself.

The season finale airs Wednesday, May 16, at 9/8c on CBS.

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