Admittedly, I went into Army Wives Season 7 with very low expectations.
There was a serious debate playing in my head as to whether or not I would even give the seventh season a shot. What a pleasant surprise. By the end of the season we were left with only three original characters to lean on, and yet it felt more like the Army Wives I fell in love with than it had in years.
The Least Surprising Moment: The death of Claudia Joy came as a surprise to no one, but it was heartbreaking nonetheless. After the complete gutting of the cast during Army Wives Season 6, the realization that Kim Delaney couldn't get her personal issues together to keep Claudia Joy alive hit viewers hard. In return, they got a mini reunion of Roxy, Pamela, Roland and Denise as they all shared time grieving with Michael over the loss of their friend.
Best Episode: It was a tough choice between "From the Ashes" and "Reckoning" but the latter won out due to the realistic depiction of soldiers in action and the way the action propelled the story forward, whereas the former was more of a goodbye to the past. In "Reckoning" we witnessed the harsh realities of war when young Tim Truman saved his entire battalion. That came back later to haunt him and Holly showing the effects of PTSD. It was the best depiction of the other side of the army we had ever seen in Army Wives.
Best New Character: If you read my review of "Brace for Impact" then you know I wasn't exactly gleeful when Kat Young first came to Fort Marshall. I also knew that was a plan set up by the writers and I had fallen into their trap, as I fully expected I would be in love with her by the end of the season. Like a fish, I fell for the bait. As devastating as it was to watch Michael grieve for Claudia Joy, it was just as thrilling to see him fall in love with Kat who was a perfect match for him both mentally and (from the looks of it) physically. They challenge each other and Kat is respectful of his friends and the military.
Worst Episode: "Blowback" seemed like it was going to be the challenge for the people back home as Kevin had just returned to Afghanistan and he, Frank, Joan and Patrick were all within damage distance of bomb that went of on their base. Instead, it was merely a chance for the wives to get together around the couch to chat about how they all met their husbands. Even though it was the worst episode of the season, it still wasn't bad, it just wasn't up to par with the other goodness we had come to expect.
Biggest surprise: With so many other characters leaving Fort Marshall, I really didn't expect both Joan and Roland to leave. At the very least I thought their marriage would fall apart and Joan would stick around. While that wouldn't have painted her in the best light as a parent, to be left with only Denise, Frank and Michael at the end of the season seemed unfathomable. Yet, Joan made the choice to retire from the army, focus on her family and support Roland's dreams. While it was an admirable decision, it was another great loss for viewers.
Grade: B+. All of the characters felt like family by the time the show ended (far too soon for my taste) on June 9th. That they were able to pull off a complete reboot of a show in it's seventh season while maintaining the heart and soul of it felt like a miracle. Welcome to the Army Wives family Maggie, Latasha, Holly, Kat and all the new extended family members that made this such a success!
Hopes for Season 8: I haven't heard of an official renewal, so that's up first. If ever a show proved it can be refreshed, it's Army Wives. I'm looking forward to getting to know each of the families as a whole now that we've had more time with them individually, and then as friends with their groups. Let's see Fort Marshall events, Kat and Michael interacting with Frank and Denise, people moving on and embracing the challenges that army life throws your way. Gloria, Patrick, Tim, Hector, Jordan, Eddie, Quincy, Jackie and Kevin - they all have stories to share and we want to watch them play out.
Now it's your turn. Grade it!!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer 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.