Steven Spielberg is a genius, and one of the many genius things he did was in the classic film, Jaws, when he uses the sinking of USS Indianapolis to create tension, give a memorable character a backstory and most of all, foreshadow that sharks are really, really, really scary.
Then, he gives us a big, giant shark being scary and exciting and eating people.
On SEAL Team Season 1 Episode 3, one of the crew members mentions that the team’s mission to rescue some scientists is occurring in the same shark-infested waters where the USS Indianapolis sank. This, naturally, foreshadows the team’s terrifying encounter with an actual, living thought-to-be-extinct megalodon.
Just kidding. Despite the explicit mention of the fact that the SEALs are in shark-infested waters, no sharks appear in this episode.
Writers should not tease sharks without giving the audience sharks.
The lack of sharks just set an expectation that the show didn't meet, which is a shame because the action sequences remain the best part of the show. The climax of the episode has some moments of genuine tension as the team searches a ship for hostages, shooting various menacing pirates along the way.
Jason having to make a decision about one hostage, who is being held at gunpoint, shows his competence, and it’s satisfying to see the SEALs successfully complete their mission.
Looks like the party got a lot bigger than expected.Jason
That said, I’m not sure how many sequences of the SEALs searching corridors and shooting people can be included in this show before things start to feel repetitive. That’s why I was hoping for sharks, but no, there were no sharks.
The team just rescued the hostages and escaped under gunfire. Just like they rescued the civilians and escaped under gunfire last week. Except for this week they escaped in a boat, not a truck. And, I repeat, no sharks attacked that boat.
Despite the lack of sharks, the quality of the show continues to improve in small but significant measures. It still suffers from clunky dialogue, underdeveloped secondary characters and an occasional burst of condescension toward its audience, but there are some bright spots.
Poor Mandy Exposition still has precious little to do but tell the team what their mission will be. Yet, someone must have pointed out that the show has thus far failed The Bedchel Test, so Mandy and Davis have a couple of pleasant “we’re two women among all these guys” bonding scenes where they talk about their jobs.
I keep my distance because I need to, not because I want to.Mandy
The scenes unfortunately just serve as a reminder of how little development those two characters have been given.
In fact, Stella the feminist grad student has been given more character development than the two female regulars. This is because she factors heavily into the Clay storyline. Poor Clay spends the episode being selfless while training and being a selfish dick at all other times.
You didn’t disappoint me. You just stopped surprising me.Stella
Granted, it appears that his superiors are tormenting him because of his father’s book and that’s not fair, so he has a point.
Eventually, Clay’s bro sets him straight and implores him to apologize to Stella, whom he has alienated in the most obnoxious and sexist way possible.
Post apology, Clay goes on a highly successful date with Stella. Proving that he’s smart enough to be a SEAL, he has read her thesis on Charlotte Bronte’s Villette.
Between this and some strategically delivered flowers, Clay earns SEAL Team’s first love scene, and it’s a doozy. There’s even a hint of chemistry there. I also appreciate that the writers went a little deeper than Jane Eyre for their Bronte reference.
Aside from the gratuitous lack of sharks, the weakest element of SEAL Team remains Jason’s god-awful, dull and cliched domestic drama. Yes, we get it, he’s a great dad. Yes, his wife still loves him.
Yes, it’s great that he’s loyal to Dead Nate. The introduction of a mystery surrounding Dead Nate, a burner phone, and a mystery woman doesn’t make all this any more interesting.
Buy some time, Ray!Jason
So, in summary, there are hints of the decent military drama SEAL Team could be in this episode, but the writers need to dial back on Jason's domestic drama and just work on gradually developing the characters in a way that's organic to the main story. The writers also need to learn not to invoke sharks if sharks aren't going to appear.
So, what do you think? Was anyone else utterly disappointed in the complete lack of sharks?
Do you think Clay and Stella have chemistry? Do you think Davis and Mandy have chemistry?
Do you think Dead Nate was cheating? Do you think Alana and Jason were the most boring couple on their suburban block?
If you missed the show when it aired, you can watch SEAL Team online.
Melissa Marshall is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.