"Casualties" was a taut and gripping portrayal of the stresses that face both the troops and their families as they deal with rapid deployment.
I'm going to show some bias with the title and all the new characters because I found myself hoping that Hector made it through the episode due to my enjoyment of Alyssa Diaz as Gloria. She reminds me so much of Roxy when she first arrived and I still have high hopes for them as friends.
One thing bothered me, though: Despite her determined questioning of Roxy, instead of using the opportunity to offer Gloria something to do to help out, she just said she supposed she would get through it by bugging her. What kind of an answer was that?
To be sure, this has been Roxy's season. Her growth has been so fun to watch and hasn't felt pushed upon us, a concern I had during dressing room scene a few episodes ago. She just naturally progressed from a willful young woman into a willful, responsible young woman. Sally Pressman made the progression believable without taking away any of Roxy's spunk. I'm really impressed with her work this season and can't wait to see where she takes Roxy next.
Did anyone else sense a romantic encounter brewing between Tanya and Dr. Hanson? I felt it when they were at Fort Marshall, but the undertone coming out was less hostile once he saw how competent she was at her job. She can't hold her heart back for Jeremy forever, and Hanson seemed like a nice enough fella. I hope they explore the possibility.
Speaking of possibilities, I was glad they decided to show us the softer side of Jackie as she and Denise went on home visits to families whose loved ones had been injured in Africa. We had to see the qualities that attracted Denise to her eventually, and her ability to sooth the families was certainly impressive. Underlying that was some sort of jittery anxiety, and eventually she stole away to a room and popped some pills. It looks like there is a bigger story to be explored.
I really like some of the new elements that have come into play this season, such as Roland helping at the youth center. Roland's work with teenagers is a way to examine what it means to the kids of soldiers when they deploy. Sure, we always had the children of our characters, but their experiences only go as far as they are willing to take, or injure, the main cast. As it turned out, the children themselves came out on the bad side of that equation, so this is a welcome change to explore more lifelike situations.
As it turned out, there were no actual casualties in the episode, although some could be surmised. I was trying not to talk about Mingie (because I have no idea how to spell her name), but I knew from the moment she answered the door for Roxy that suicide was on her mind. That those rotten FRG volunteers treated her so horribly even when Gloria stood up for her was just icing on the cake. How could I not mention the possibility of her dying when Roxy was left standing in front of a garage filling with carbon monoxide?
At the same time Roxy was faced with Mingie's possible death, Trevor was in Africa facing a band of rebels with guns trained on his entire squad. The only thing between them and death was the hope that Nicole Galassini might make it in time to talk to the rebels and save everyone's lives. So no causalities, but about as close as you can get without going the distance.
This was the first time this season where the action was spread across the world and not focused on the intimate day-to-day issues of our main players. What did you think? I thought it was well done. It kept me on the edge of my seat, even if I did see some of it coming. Never would I have guessed at Charlie and Nicole. What about you?
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.