The Brave 1x11, "Grounded"
I really thought this would be an easy "rest" week, between the Hannah focus and the fact that "Case on a Plane" is one of my least favorite tropes on any procedural, even if there were some Jaz highlights, and I got roundly schooled. Amazing from start to finish.
As a result, I'm afraid this post is just as long as the last one, possibly longer.
From the moment ~Joseph~ drawled his greetings to Hannah, oozing charm and sex appeal in a way not seen since Sawyer on Lost, only to be immediately scorned by Amir for his transparency -- and Hannah immediately joined the side of "gang up on the little guy" while fitting right in with every member of the ground team on the spot and getting Preach-approved -- I immediately became enchanted by her? Ten straight weeks of being window dressing and now I love her. It was so great to see her show up and take charge, casually eviscerate misogynists, root out evil moles, team up with Noah for some Criminal Minding, and orchestrate some day-saving all in a single day.
*I am still kinda disbelieving that she hasn't met Jaz yet. They have things in common. I assume this was planned as a season 2 feature, then?
Loved the fuel-tank-runaround trick and everyone ragging on Amir's driving (it's all good, he's doing fine..."YOU ALMOST RAN OVER MY FOOT!"). Preach & Dalton's working relationship is also treat, and watching them argue over who was going to risk his life more to defuse the bomb was great. There is kind of a manic edge to the latter's trump card of "you have 3 kids" (which is only made better by Preach's, "respect, but also risking our lives is literally our entire job description, so try again maybe?"), and I love that, because Jaz might be the one who's grounded but he's clearly got a block to work through about, at least on this first mission back, being the one on the hook instead of waiting behind.
Speaking of bomb defusing, that is by far the tensest I have ever been while watching such a scene. Like edge of my seat, heart pounding, kind of trembly until it was all handled. Nice work.
Also, they mentioned on the radio show, to notice how dead level Dalton's head is when he's moving down the aisle and firing at the end -- "I'm gonna throw down the gauntlet, you will not see that on any show." Ha-hah! Are you trying to start something with Seal Team? Because, I mean, I'll back your play. I missed one new episode of that show and apparently it broke the spell it had over me, because without Survivor to lock me in, I have not been showing up, or even wanted to.
Lastly, shoutout to the awesome flight attendant. What a good fairly minor yet surprisingly memorable and impactful character.
Not sure if I'm surprised or not by the time jump -- I do appreciate the little hints in Jaz's fading bruises and partially healed cuts giving us a clue about the passage of time -- but I love everything about Jaz not being able to sleep and the guys coming out one by one with dwindling levels of sympathy. For starters: Grandma Carter's No-Fail Naptime Tea! Awww. Preach is the best dad. Followed by:
BONUS: Amir coming out with his best Indignant Mom face:
"Well, believe it or not, people speaking approximately two feet from where I sleep makes quality rest a little bit dificult."
"Dude, really? You call sleep 'quality rest'?"
Here is where I should note that Natacha, who is really still out here tweeting links to fanvids and filling my heart with gladness, mentioned yesterday, "These two are like this in real life. they lived together for the 6 months we were filming!"
Calling All Shippers, Round 1
This! This is the dynamic I loved in the early part of 1x09 -- the one that used to keep a lid on my shipping, where her hotheadedness gets rightfully dressed down for being out of line. You can't really warn someone you're dating (at least in a healthy relationship) about "running their mouth," but boy, you can sure use it in a lecture at someone whose welfare you're responsible for.
That said, he goes real fast from "reluctant bearer of bad news" to reactive, and I like to think there is a little bit of extra prickliness because she is not entirely off base to question his potential cautiousness, and I appreciate his annoyance that there is even the chance of a question.
I'll just leave that last line here. Maybe wait for the fanvidders to float it as a voiceover over certain faces he makes in 1x10.
Side note: boy her hair is super smooth and pretty here. Half the reason I've replayed this so much is just hair envy.
Jaz & Xander "Didn't Your Parents Like You?" Martin
when I saw this guy pop up in the promotional stills, my immediate thought was "who dis bitch," because I am a territorial jerk whenever I'm lucky enough to get a team I 100% love, and I am immediately threatened by anyone with the potential to upset the delicate ecosystem. If someone new shows up, that means less opportunity for my faves to talk to each other -- ergo, hackles up.
But he turned out to be wonderful. He has the most calming presence, and that's saying something for a show with Preach. I love that he lets Jaz take her shots at will and doesn't force a thing, he just pleasantly ignores all hints of dismisall and declines to leave until she's curious enough to engage. It is...very much the way natural horsemanship works to gentle a wild mustang, actually. I want to see more of him!
My absolute favorite thing I don't have a picture of is Jaz's expression when he asks, "Did they hurt you?" as a conversation opener. It is the most perfect "is anyone a bigger idiot than you right now / do you literally not see my face" look, and his ability to come back from that is the first clue he might know what he's doing.
Because damn, she admits to WAY more vulnerability than I ever dreamed she'd give up. Again, this show says a lot with very little dialogue:
"What is it that's haunting you?"
"I'm terrified that I could lose them."
I can't believe we got that flat-out in canon. That's the kind of thing you'd normally have to articulate in fic while the character in canon makes a stony face and changes the subject. For someone like Jaz, in a job like hers, to admit to fear of any kind is -- I don't know; it means a lot. It's really powerful to know that's what she's carrying around with her. This really is her family.
Speaking of, guess they decided to double down on the hints of an unhappy childhood after all:
"My dad hated me from the second I was born a girl. But when my guys came and rescued me?"
"That was the first time anyone came to help you. First time in your whole life."
As nicely summed up on the radio show: "This is a woman who was absolutely comfortable giving her life for this country, but then there she was being transported to her death, and suddenly she hears Dalton saying, 'Turn steel,'*, and her team has come for her, and that is a new experience. That draws back to a childhood where no one was looking out for her, and no one was coming for her. The things that don't happen for us as children, we end up confronting them as adults. That began with the decision to go in and kill Jarif and the unexpected consequences of that. In a way, getting captured was an expected consequence; getting tortured was an expected consequence; but reaizing that 4 people put their life on the line -- plus the gang at the DIA -- just to get her back, that is an unexpected consequence for her."
*man, was I gad to hear that, because for the life I me I couldn't figure out what he said on my own. I mean, I THOUGHT that was what I heard, but it didn't make any sense to me as an expression. It still doesn't, but at least I know the words are right.
Jaz & Her Guys
My heart was very full with just these few precious seconds of getting to see everyone relaxed and happy, pitching horseshoes, talking smack, and each finding a quick way to let her know how much she was missed without fussing over her. (look at that adorable fist bump with Amir! I think she has warmed all the way up.)
But then it morphs into this next thing, and my sensors went on red alert and I believe my exact words were, "AW YIS. SCATTER, PEASANTS*, AND LEAVE MY ROYALTY TO TALK IN PRIVATE.
*I love you guys to the moon and back but we can all agree you are second tier when Jaz & Dalton have a chance to be alone, right?
Calling All Shippers, Round 2
In the beginning:
SHIP SENSORS: *HEIGHTENING*
At the end: ...what the hell was that?
No, seriously. I was so geared up for shipper payoff and some kind of Serious Conversation, and what I got was such an introspective monologue with no apparent connection to Jaz that I made a whole Tumblr post asking for explanation, which no one really engaged with (although one other person also asked, "(why was that last scene about Dalton and his feelings) (no seriously I feel awful for him and I understand why he was giving her that story but it wasn’t consistent with what they had been trying to say earlier in the episode re: Jaz’s reaction, and I felt like he and the counselor were both trying to tell her how she was going to be feeling down the line by giving her their own stories and tbh i wasn’t interested in hearing how they felt at present moment when Jaz was tortured an episode before)", so here it is again:
I was listening to some of the So Many Shows podcast afterward, and I agree that it’s a really important speech articulating what some soldiers deal with – and Vogel sells the hell out of it – but I don’t fully get why it’s being used here. I assume it was meant to connect to his general level of making-people-talk-with-bullets unhingedness last week and how he absolutely went to that dark side in pursuit of getting her back, but…he never explicitly ties that in, and we have no idea if she knows all the lengths they/he specifically went to.
And without a verbal tie-in, it ends up coming across like “here’s what you can look forward to if you’re not already there: inescapable, irreparable damage to your psyche. Cheerio!” I’ve gotta be missing something here.
I WANT to read Jaz’s expression as empathetic, I want to read this scene as him opening up to her in a significant way and her recognizing that, but I just keep seeing her go from smiling, happy and content to devastated in two minutes flat and like, Dalton. What r u doing. What is the purpose of this.
This speech really sounds like it was written for a counselor/therapist’s couch. Despite one clunky mention of her name that does little beyond interrupt the flow, none of it feels directed to her, specifically. I was really expecting something that would address his earlier temper toward her, or for her to take at least a baby step toward talking about her experience, and this…just feels like it’s missing, at the very least, a clear bridge between two lines of thought. Even a “and that’s why talking to Xander helps” summation at the end would have helped round it off.
tl;dr explain it to me like I’m five. I’m in a rare mood of being willing to sacrifice my dignity and look dumb in hopes of a clear explanation.
There is a a radio show quote (from Dean, maybe?) that I thought was starting to explain it, but in the end I just returned to my frustration with "BUT WHY. Why like this, why now, what is the significance of him saying these specific things at this moment." Including it here anyway:
I wanted to present these people as larger than life, almost too good to be true, because in real life a lot of ways they are, but then start to peel away layers of them and see that it's much more complicated than you think. And in the aftermath of what Jaz went through, and seeing her interact with the counselor, it was a perfect opportunity for her to...in a way that's a bit surprising, but very much a progression, to suddenly have Dalton open up to her about a side of him that he hasn't necessarily talked to people about.
AND IN LINKING IT I REALIZE SHE HAS, IN FACT, DONE EXACTLY THAT. She has unlocked the locks, at least enough for me.
(1) Dalton didn’t often talk about himself. He was a lot like her in that he wouldn’t open up until he wanted to. But he was opening up now, so Jaz just waited patiently for him to continue.
(2) Jaz knew how he felt. She could feel all the blood on her hands from all the people she’d killed. She could see Elijah’s blood spray as she caught his falling body. Could see it coating her hands and welling up between her fingers as she desperately tried to staunch the flow, even as his eyes went dim.
(3) Dalton looked at her again, and what she saw in his eyes she felt all the way down in her bones. It struck her then how similar they were. That what haunted him was similar to what haunted her.
I don't know if it will still make sense in the morning but it does now, and I am so very grateful, because it's 3 AM and I was legitimately this close to going on an "I will deconstruct this puzzle or skip sleep trying" bender. I am also too tired to give the update proper recognition just now, so I guess I can add that to my things-to-do-before-9-pm list.
Things I Really Love About This Scene Really, In Spite of My Whining
* The fact that Jaz has moved to sit next to him on the picnic table bench
* Dalton endorsing Xander as good people, upending the typical alpha male "rargh therapy is DUM" trope (SEAL TEAM) (I can start this war on my own), and Jaz's surprised but pleased reaction to this reveal
(I WANT THEM TO TALK ABOUT THIS COMMON GROUND MORE. LOTS MORE.)
* My suddenly maddening curiosity to know how old Jaz so I can track what she's thinking when he references being in Faljuah in the fall of '04.
* His discreet swipe at a tear
* How damn pretty they are by firelight. Like, they are already a very high level of pretty between them, this is an A/A pairing in the face department, but the firelight enhances everything
* The very pleasant parallel with "talk to me" -- he'll talk to her
* My one lil' headcanon I would like to insert here: She starts to wonder what he did to get her back, what was left off the record.
TY for that gratuitous bit of Dalton shirtlessness at the beginning (though alas, I see I'm gonna have to ignore one ugly-ass giant shoulder tattoo here. I'll assume it's a character thing and not a personal flaw, but you know what, I did not have to endure this on Under the Dome. A fact I confirmed with methodical, extremely scientific research all week via the DVD sets)
On the radio show, someone asked if we would learn how Jaz got those scars on her legs (no, at least not in this season). Most of the response dissolves behind a buzzing cell phone and microphone shuffling and it's MADDENING, but I gathered was that they're Natacha's real scars, actually, and there was also a mention that "we hinted at it tonight," so I guess we're definitely supposed to infer her father had something to do with them?
...oh god there was a whole episode that aired after this still. I almost forgot. I mean I watched it, and it's mostly written about because I swear the reaction is short, but... I just don't have the energy to tack it on to this post yet.