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SEAL Team - Time to Shine - Reviews: "The Nightmare Mission Award"

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I don’t know if it’s right to say this episode was a mission episode or simply a field episode, because Bravo Team has no mission and we have no off duty scenes.

Apparently the most uncomfortable way to board a submarine is in through the torpedo tubes.

Not one member of Bravo Team is happy about having to stay in the tube while the pressure is equalized with the interior of the sub.

Everything’s going swimmingly: Blackburn gets the evidence Bravo Team retrieved uploaded to Havoc, all but one member of Bravo Team has emerged from the torpedo tubes (Sonny is two minutes from climbing out and ending the “Sonny Quinn Nightmare Mission”) when the sub suffers a malfunction that breaks the locking mechanism on the tube.

Sonny is stuck.

In the middle of his nightmare.

This is not good.

The episode went from ribbing Sonny to keep him from going nuts, to the rest of Bravo Team trying to figure out how to say good-bye.

At its root this episode was basically a ‘buried alive’ episode. The big difference being that in the typical ‘buried alive’ episode the search for the victim gives the other characters something to do; a way to fight the situation.

I loved the approach of taking a team, like an ultra active SEAL Team, and force it into a position where they can do nothing. Bravo Team can only sit and listen to a brother die…slow and afraid.

Jason’s reaction to his helplessness is to try and force Captain Edwards to make Sonny a priority.

After making it clear that if Jason didn’t stand down he was headed to the brig, Captain Edwards reminds Jason that “The Book” exists so that decisions can be made with unimpeded judgement.

(It didn’t escape my notice that most of the sailors in the room were actively attention to the confrontation between their captain and the Navy SEAL’s team leader. I'm used to background actors working hard to fade into the background.)

Both Sonny and Jason have full on panic attacks. It’s not the typical image I have of special forces teams.

In a way watching these guys reveal their emotional reaction, even when members of the sub's crew were in the room made me feel better.

I grew up listening to fathers/coaches/mothers telling their sons to shake it off; never let them see you cry. In my mind, soldiers who live as though nothing gets to them can, eventually, become dangerous. It's comforting to think this may be the reality behind the image.

We finally get to see Blackburn as a commander. We typically see him managing ops and people.

This week he had to exercise his command to keep Jason in line. I admire Blackburn's ability to know when to issue orders and when to apply logic. Does Officer Candidate School include psychology classes?

They did a great job of playing ‘how can we make it worse’. The fact that several of these situations were purely command decisions put more pressure on Bravo Team.

They finally had a way to save Sonny. It was right there. But they couldn't implement it because the captain said so. It drove the team to seriously consider mutiny.

As great as all of these aspects of the story were, unfortunately, I found I was unable to fully connect emotionally. I don’t think it was a fault of the writing.

I think it was because, I never doubted that Sonny was going to get out of that tube. If it had been Trent or Brock, I wouldn’t have been so convinced the character would survive the episode.

Having it be Sonny in that tube was the obvious (and only) choice, but because I wasn’t worried about him, my only question was ‘what Hail Mary plan is Jason come up with?’.

It also could have been that I couldn’t connect with either Captain Edwards or Master Chief Wilke. For me, there was too much humanity stripped from their performances.

I can understand that decision as well. Still, neither man felt like a real person to me. The Captain, especially, came across as though he didn’t give a damn, rather than as a man making a difficult decision.

I think I would have have been more interesting for me if I, as an audience member, could see that this wasn't SOP for the captain as well; that he was following the book because it was a such a difficult decision. I don't mean I wanted more scenes with the captain, but that I wanted some sense of that difficulty in his performance.

That said, I still though it was a terrific episode. A. J. Buckley was more than up to what was asked of him this episode. I’m intrigued by Clay’s doubt about becoming a SEAL. I hope we’re up for more on that. Also interesting was Ray's reaction to Sonny asking him to pray for him.

What did you think about the episode?

Sonny Quinn Nightmare Mission Award

  1. Swimming
  2. Freezing
  3. Climbing over Sharp Volcanic Rock
  4. Getting Shot At
  5. Sitting in a Tube that’s Tighter than Shamu’s Kiester

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