'Army Wives': War is peace

Brian McNamara Here's the scoreboard entering this week's episode of Army Wives: Joan is on the verge of dying, Claudia Joy is possibly getting raped, Pamela is being harassed by a stalker, Denise and Frank are probably getting divorced, and Trevor's on drugs and just wrecked his car. In other words: good times for all! No wonder Trevor and Jeremy and Frank and Chase all have seemed so eager to go overseas. Iraq sounds like an Edenic paradise right about now.

But by the end of the episode, most of those horrible situations are relatively cleaned up, leaving things pretty nice and tidy. Maybe too nice. Maybe too tidy. Maybe the writers realized how sadistic they were coming off with bad news befalling everybody, and they overcompensated by trying to sweep everything under the rug with one episode. But we'll get into that at the end.

Claudia Joy did manage to fend off Paolo's attempt to rape her. The wine bottle she wildly swung in an attempt to get him off of her worked, knocking Paolo out cold. Claudia Joy calls Michael and the military police, and an unconscious Paolo is carted off to the hospital and then to the police station. But Claudia Joy knows full well that Paolo isn't going to face any real repercussions for his act. Diplomatic immunity and all that. "The only punishment this bastard's going to get is a champagne bottle to the head," she observes. And since she knows that Paolo isn't going to face any real ramifications, Claudia Joy figures that she should try not to stress herself out about the whole ordeal more than she already has. "It could have been worse. Much worse. It's not. So, it's over. Just let it be over, OK?" she instructs Michael. Michael, as you might expect, has no desire to just let it be over.

Claudia Joy does explain the situation to her friends, but instructs them all that she doesn't really want to talk about it more than that. Everybody expects her to be traumatized, and she is, but she doesn't want to let anybody see that. Rape, she figures, is all about power, and if she breaks down, it will be as if Paolo won the power struggle. Moreover, Claudia Joy rationalizes that this is really only the second worst thing to happen to her this year, after Amanda's death and just ahead of her parents separating, and at this point she's pretty much cried out. "Talking about it is a waste of time," she ultimately vents to Denise. "It happened. It's over. Can we just move on?" she adds, repeating what she said to Michael. But she does eventually open up to Denise and admit how awful she feels and how irate she is at knowing that Paolo is going to get away with it.

Michael wants blood. He visits Paolo at the military police station, which is all of a sudden a very popular filming location for the show this year. Chase and his unit, Jeremy, Quinn, now Paolo, and by the end of the episode another character - it seems like somebody's getting arrested in pretty much every other episode this year. Paolo, knowing that he has nothing to lose, smiles at Michael and insists that it was all a "misunderstanding." Paolo knows that nothing bad is going to happen to him. His home country is going to sweep everything under the rug and not let anybody even know what happened. "So it is sometimes in world politics," he shrugs.

"When he gets home he's gonna laugh about it over cigars with his cronies," Michael furiously vents to a State Department official from Washington. The State Department official does assure Michael that Paolo will be banned from ever re-entering the U.S., but tells Michael that they're not going to push for anything else. Oh, and one other thing: Michael has to stand side-by-side with Paolo for a photo op at the signing ceremony to officially announce the lease agreement that Paolo came to town for in the first place. Michael is dumbstruck at that idea, but it's an order from the Pentagon, one he can't refuse. And he can't refuse Claudia Joy either - she tells Michael that they need to go to that signing ceremony, as a way of sticking it to Paolo and assuring him that he holds no power over them.

At the signing ceremony, Paolo approaches Michael to shake his hand, and Michael grimaces through it, no doubt resisting the temptation to squeeze his hands around Paolo's neck instead. Michael's diplomatic enough to know that he can't do that. He's our moral compass. As much as he wants blood, Michael knows that violence isn't going to solve anything here. In public, that is. He tracks Paolo down in private later on, and knocks him out with a single punch to the face. Well done, Michael.

Drew FullerElsewhere, Trevor returns home pretty much fine after wrecking his car. He tells Roxy that he knows he has a problem with the pills and needs to get help. "I've stopped. I'm not touching it again," he promises. Trevor makes a show of dumping a bottle of pills down the sink, but he refuses Roxy's suggestion of getting professional help.

Complicating the issue is the fact that Trevor is scheduled to formally receive his Silver Star for valor in battle. Roxy fears that he'll be strung out and messed up in front of everybody and destroy his career by publicly embarrassing himself in front of the military brass. Trevor does look like hell, as he's twitchy while he's going through withdrawal. And despite his promises to Roxy, he's not quite done with the pills. When Roxy is gone, Trevor stares longingly down the sink drain, and then pulls out a pipe wrench and tries to find his pills among the drain sludge. Ew. Trevor does quit before he goes through with it, though.

Meanwhile, Joan has awakened in the hospital. She seems fine, and she is for a while, but then while she's sleeping Roland sees that she's starting to bleed out again. Everybody is once again summoned to the hospital. The doctors tell Roland that Joan needs surgery, but first, she needs a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, Joan has O- blood, meaning she can only receive blood from O- donors, a small percentage of the population. Roxy happens to know somebody with that blood type, though: Trevor. But when Roxy drags Trevor to the hospital, Roland says no way. Trevor's a druggie, and Roland doesn't want Trevor's drug-laced blood going into his sick wife. And with that, Roxy returns to being incensed at Roland.

Joan eventually does get enough blood from elsewhere, and she has the surgery and is back out of the woods. With Joan OK, she and Roland officially announce to everyone the name of their baby, Sara Elizabeth, which is a completely normal name and in no way insect-y at all. Roland apologizes to Trevor and tells him how important Trevor has been to Joan in the past few weeks. Trevor pays Joan a visit, and tells Joan how he's cleaning himself up - and then promptly proceeds to pilfer a package of Vicodin from a nurse's station on the way out.

Trevor heads back to the house and is ready to dig into his new Vicodin stash when he gets stopped by T.J. and Finn, who lay a guilt trip into him about how much they love Trevor and they want to be like him, except for the times when he's being angry and scary. Trevor knows he's messed up. He confesses to Roxy that he stole the pills, and admits that he needs help. The LeBlancs then head to Trevor's ceremony, where Michael formally presents Trevor with the Silver Star in a small ceremony in front of several dozen soldiers and family members. The Silver Star appears to be gold. Hmmm. Trevor then decides to give away the award, though not because it is seemingly discolored. He thinks somebody else deserves it more. Trevor meets with Dalton Wilkins's wife and gives her the medal, an act of trying to close the book on this dark chapter of Trevor's life.

Brigid Brannagh Pamela, meanwhile, is getting to know her new gun, while she continues her investigation to find out who Stalker Tim is. Tim calls the radio station again, and Pamela threatens to shoot him if he ever comes near her or her children again.

But then after all this buildup over three episodes, things seem to get wrapped up awfully fast. A man named Dean calmly approaches Pamela at Betty's and says that he's a big fan of the radio show. Pamela instantly knows that Dean is in fact Tim. She chases him out to the parking lot, and the pickup truck that proves that this is indeed the guy. Pamela knees him where a man definitely does not want to be kneed, and keeps him on the ground as the cops are called. That ended all of a sudden.

That's the last of several happy the-worst-is-over endings here. You could be forgiven for assuming that this was the season finale, because the final scene of the episode sure feels like a conclusive ending. With Frank having departed for Iraq - Frank and Denise share a good-bye earlier in the episode, but it's nothing we haven't seen before, as Frank notes that Denise has changed, he hasn't, and that's just too bad - Denise treats herself to a stay at a vacation house on the harbor. And in the last scene of the episode, Denise and the ladies are sitting out on the porch of this house, sipping mojitos and saying how grateful they are to all have each other in their lives. Things seem awfully tidied up after all the chaos that was present entering the episode. What's left for the final four episodes of the season?

For starters, I'd imagine that Pamela's plotline isn't really over. Considering how the military police didn't really care about her story to begin with, it's easy to imagine "Tim"/Dean walking off and then seeking out revenge. Either that, or that whole plotline might have just been foreplay to the main event, which would be Pamela getting that gun. Anton Chekhov doesn't think that gun's going to remain locked up forever.

What did you think of the episode? Is Trevor going to really get clean, or might a setback in his shoulder rehab also set him back with the drugs? Is Pamela stalker-free, or is Dean bound to come back for more? What does Denise do now as a semi-free woman? And what horrible event will befall Claudia Joy next? Rototiller accident? Giant sea serpent attack? Black plague?

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