I’ve Got Questions
***Warning, if you have not yet watched Seal Team, please do not read. Major spoilers below.***
So, we are half-way through season 4 of the Seal Team show, and while it is safe to say that we are invested and will continue to watch til the bitter end, I have questions. I do realize that this is a TV show, and that drama and creative license are necessary, but there are some things that I am struggling with, and I am interested to hear the opinions of other fans.
Holy cow, these guys drink a lot of alcohol. In fact, it is extremely rare that you ever see them drink anything other than alcohol. Most of it is beer, but they are not shy about the hard stuff either. I know there have been many jokes over the decades about sailors and drinking, but this seems a little extreme. The effects of alcohol on the body are pretty well known by this point, not to mention the number of calories it contains. Not only would that amount of drinking cause some serious liver damage, I’m not sure any amount of daily exercise could completely overcome the calories they are consuming. Simply put, in my opinion of course, if these guys were really drinking that much, they would be overweight and would have difficulty performing their physically demanding job.
I realize that beer and meat are synonymous with macho tough guys, while tea and veggies are more “yuppie hipsters”, but I feel like these guys are going overboard here. Several characters, looking at you Jason, have outright refused to change their diet for a more health-boosting plant-based one, even though it was strongly recommended by the doctors working hard to keep them employed.
I’m not saying that they should completely give up meat and booze, I’m just saying that for guys determined to be life-long operators, it wouldn’t kill them to trade a beer for a salad once in a while.
Brock and Cerberus?
This might be nit-picking a little bit, but I just finished season 4 episode 2 and they’ve decided to retire Cerberus. Something I am heartbroken about as he was one of my favorite characters. What I find really odd, though, is that Jason ends up with him and they never once show Brock asking about Cerberus or visiting him. The only thing we know about Brock is that he is the “dog guy”. For three seasons, they went out of their way to show Brock and Cerberus together.
There were scenes with Cerberus climbing up onto the top bunk with Brock when they were stationed in Jalalabad. Scenes of Cerberus sleeping on top of Brock in the hammock on the plane. Scenes of them running together while on break. I mean, Cerberus obviously lived with Brock for the three years that they worked together, and while I get that Brock has had to move on with a new work dog, I can’t really imagine him being like “’kay bye,” and moving on without even a backward glance.
Besides, anyone who loves dogs knows that it is really hard to separate a man and his best friend like that. Especially for the dog. Cerberus may have known Jason for the three years that they worked together, but he was Brock’s dog.
As I said, this is nitpicking. They obviously made these decisions based on storylines and not real-life realities. At least I hope so.
What the heck is up with the women?
I understand that having Jason separated from his wife, right off the bat, was a character development choice for Jason, but dang they made Alana pretty unlikable. By not showing them together as a couple, it was really difficult to be invested in them and the outcome of their relationship, and therefore to really care about her as a character because we never really got to know her. All we ever saw was her complaining that he was never there. I get how she feels, but it seemed like she was making some pretty unreasonable demands.
For instance, she wanted him to talk about his missions, which he clearly isn’t allowed to do since they’re classified. She also talks about him leaving Bravo a lot and choosing work over family. Again, I get where she is coming from, but this dude is in the military, it’s not like he can just walk in and hand in his two weeks at a moment’s notice. He signed a contract, and while he obviously doesn’t have to stay in his position as Bravo One, he is otherwise stuck as a military man. I don’t understand what she realistically expected him to do. Worse, when he finally does start to open to her, she decides it still isn’t enough.
My final complaint comes in season one episode thirteen. Echo team has been ambushed and killed in Afghanistan, and Bravo team is not only mourning the loss of their friends, but their deployment has been moved up so they can go over there and find the bad guys responsible. It is at this moment that Alana decides to tell Jason she wants a divorce. Like, really? You’re choosing this moment? Of all people, she should have known just how much stress and pressure Jason was under. Would it have really killed her to wait until he got back to talk to him about divorce? It was just a really cruel and heartless thing to do.
Not long after that, Stella is breaking up with Clay right before he leaves for deployment. In her defense, he did try to force her to talk to him, but still. Clay ends up just as emotionally messed up as Jason was, maybe even more so, and has a hard time concentrating. I get the drama of it all, but dang, these guys are, once again, going off into danger. Can we really not wait until they’re back?
Are we supposed to hate Jason?
Like most kids who grew up in the nineties, I was a big fan of David Boreanaz. What teenage girl didn’t love Angel! So, the fact that he is the star did have some bearing on my decision to watch Seal Team. Unfortunately, Jason is not a very likable character. From season one, episode one, he is selfish, arrogant, and refuses to listen to any opinion that doesn’t match his own. He won’t admit he needs help or ask for it, he constantly challenges authority (something I honestly don’t think would be allowed in the real navy), and he just kind of comes across as a jerk.
There are some moments when you are able to catch a glimpse of his humanity and vulnerability, hiding just below the surface, but those moments are few and far between. I get that he is supposed to be a hardened soldier. One who is going through a lot of emotional drama, but this guy is a powder keg just waiting to blow. He has serious anger problems and is barely able to control himself.
I want to like him, I really do, I just find that most of the time I don’t. Which is a weird position to be in in regard to the star of the show. He isn’t a villain. There is no reason to root against him or anything, there just doesn’t seem to be any reason to root for him either. I find myself, most episodes, questioning if the real navy would really allow someone with that type of personality to keep leading “one of the best” units in the world.
*Update* We just finished watching season 4 and I am very excited to say that Jason has finally undergone a major character transformation, for the better. The scene where Jason and Ray are at the counselor’s office, finally admitting they need help, was a huge and worthwhile payoff. Jason has finally shown himself to be the friend and leader worthy of the Bravo 1 title.
I do see that they have decided to give him a traumatic brain injury in season 5, so I am really crossing my fingers that they don’t use that as an excuse to undo all of the growth he’s done. After everything that happened with Swanny, it would be really nice to see Jason be honest about his injury and get help immediately, instead of trying to “ignore and override” to the detriment of both himself, and his teammates. Especially since we just saw that with Ray, and it almost ended with Brock getting hurt or worse.
Are all navy seals that emotionally challenged?
I just discussed Jason’s lack of emotional control, but he is sadly not alone. Sonny Quinn’s character description literally calls him self-destructive. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to be going into war with a guy who is self-destructive. Ray is a hot mess. He goes from one extreme to the other often. Either he is calm and cool and leads the team from the passenger seat as the “voice of reason”, or he becomes self-destructive.
Clay, despite his apparent daddy issues, is fairly levelheaded but struggles to deal with personal issues while on the job (see Stella). I do feel like Clay’s is the most honest representation of a true seal. It cannot be easy to do what they do. Most of us would probably struggle if we were in their positions, it just seems unrealistic that men that have that much training and that much experience would be fit for duty with that many emotional problems. I mean, they’re getting in bar fights pretty much all over the world. That cannot be considered acceptable behavior for people of their rank and position.
*Update* After I wrote this, it became pretty obvious that Ray was suffering from PTSD, or PTS. So, this time he had a pretty good excuse for his swing to the extreme. His behavior, however, was not much different than the last time he went through something traumatic. I did appreciate him finally admitting that he views asking for help as a sign of weakness. So many people, in the real world, share that view, and it was nice for them to show how damaging that belief can be.
It is not up to this show, or these characters, to be role models, but it’s nice when they are.
Storylines for Supporting Characters
Seal Team has five main characters, which is a lot to write for on a regular basis. Especially for a show that is a drama. I get that giving the supporting cast members their own storylines would be a lot, but it would be nice if we could get to know them more. Full Metal just died at the end of season 4, and while it was sad, there was not much of an emotional impact. We simply didn’t know him well enough to be affected.
In season 2 we were allowed to get to know the character of Swanny through his interactions with Clay. Because of that, Swanny’s death carried much more weight. Not only did we get the chance to get to know him, but we were also able to see his relationship with Clay. We were affected, because Clay was affected. It would be nice to see some of that with Trent and Brock. These guys are on every mission that Bravo goes on, and we know nothing about them.
It would have been nice to know what was going on with Thirty Mike as well. That guy appeared out of nowhere, but his dynamic with the group made it feel like we came in in the middle of a story. Why was there so much animosity between him and some of the group? Why was he made Bravo 1 when Jason left? Did Bravo really become “undeployable” because Jason left, or because a guy everyone seemed to dislike was made the new leader?
Now that Thirty Mike has gone back to Charlie Team, it looks like we will never get the answers to the questions above.
All that being said, I do love this show and will continue to watch it. I’m excited to get caught up to the current season, so I can finally stop worrying about accidental spoilers! Knowing that there are two more seasons, and that all of the main characters are still there and still on bravo, has lessened the drama a tad bit.
If you are interested, I would love to hear your thoughts on the show and the topics I discussed above. I know there are probably some reddit forums dedicated to Seal Team, but it would be awesome to be able to talk to people on a smaller scale. Kind of like a book club but only for TV!
Thanks for reading!