After the tear-inducing season 7 premiere of “Army Wives” fingers were crossed for something a little less tissue-worthy in episode two, From the Ashes, which aired on March 17, 2013. In order to get beyond the tears, though, we had to work our way through the sob-fest that was Claudia Joy’s memorial service.
“Army Wives” second episode of season 7 was a series of, “You say goodbye, I say hello,” as we said yet another Pamela Moran farewell, an eventual Roxy departure, news of another kind-of-goodbye for one of our originals, and first introductions to the oodles of new faces. But to start it all, it was Claudia Joy’s memorial service.
The Memorial Service…
Was expectedly brutal as, first, Denise did some direct to Claudia Joy speaking about their friendship and how she would live on in her memory everyday, and then Michael’s contribution: a letter from Claudia Joy. This letter was written by Claudia Joy on the eve of her kidney transplant surgery. If ever you needed to pull out your box of tissues in From the Ashes, this was the moment. As Michael became overwhelmed with emotion, Roxy stepped in to read Claudia Joy’s message; each friend eventually reading a piece:
“So the worst has happened. And now you’ve gathered to pay your respects. I’m not gonna say, don’t be sad. Just…Don’t feel sad too long. As I sit here tonight, my heart is full of joy, thinking about all the happiness my family and friends have brought me through the years. I have enjoyed a life fully lived. I married a man I fell head over heels in love with when I was 24, and never fell out of love with. A man I admired as much as I adored. A man who made me laugh, made me think, made me curse on occasion, but always made me feel loved. Deeply, truly loved. Michael, no wife was ever happier. Together we raised two vibrant, beautiful, intelligent daughters. Amanda, whose time with us was much too brief, and Emmalin, whom I drew strength from, even when she didn’t know she was giving it. I have such faith in you, my darling girl…To embrace life and be a strong-willed, big-hearted woman in the Holden tradition. No mother has ever been prouder. I’m grateful beyond words for my friends. People outside the Army can never know just how much we rely on each other, how much we need each other, how much we love each other. I only wish we could’ve enjoyed it longer. For all of you, my family and friends, here is my last wish: live life to the fullest, continue loving one another. That is what makes life complete – love. Thank you for filling my life with so much of it. If hands can reach out beyond this world, mine will always be in yours.”
Later, we watched as Michael understandably struggled through his grief, and our hearts broke a little more when Emmalin overheard her dad sobbing in his bedroom. She turned to Denise, who in turn came to Michael, telling him that Emmalin needs to know that he’s okay. He’s okay? If ever there was a gross overstatement…I get that parents are their children’s rocks, but come on, he’s not okay, and it’s probably going to be some time before he gets there. This moment felt like we were rushing Michael through the grieving process. But maybe that’s just me.
But it was a moment worth having, as Michael eventually talked things through with Emmalin and convinced her that him going back to work and her going back to school would be what would eventually get them into the land of “okay.” My personal favorite moment of From the Ashes was this exchange between Michael and Emmalin at the airport:
Michael: “Call me when you get there.”
Michael: “Humor an old man.”
Emmalin: sigh “Okay, this once.”
Michael: “How much do I love you?”
Emmalin: “Bigger than the universe.”
At least we still have each other…
Yeah, about that…Roland dropped that particular bomb on Denise the day following Claudia Joy’s memorial service. While Roland’s goodbye is not quite as permanent as Roxy’s and Pamela’s, Roland has been offered the opportunity to be involved in a study at John’s Hopkins pertaining to suicide prevention in the military. How could he say no? Ironically Joan was not a fan when Roland first shared his news – relocating the kids, starting in a new school – yet it was a conversation with Frank that made her see she needed to get on board. Their families put much on hold to support their careers, it’s only fair to share that support and flexibility.
Our first glimpse of a new Army wife came with Latasha Montclair (Ashanti), chasing her runaway dog out the front door of Roxy’s old house – straight into meeting Roxy and Denise. Lastasha is TV mom to three, though we only got a brief peek at one kiddo in this mom’s harried morning schedule. At a “Town Hall” meeting we saw some of that “Southern charm” that this character has been touted as having in spades as she raised concerns with Jackie Clarke. She forged an instant bond with another new face…
Maggie Hall (Torrey DeVitto, “Pretty Little Liars,” “One Tree Hill”), who is a former Airborne, turned Army wife. We first saw her finishing lunch at The Hump Bar and heading to a motel, where it would seem she’s having an illicit affair. But no. She’s actually just meeting up with her husband for some alone time before their children (his 14-year-old daughter, her 11-year-old son) returned from school. They are very impatiently awaiting housing. Maggie’s second husband is Staff Sergeant Eddie Hall (Burgess Jenkins). Maggie encountered our next new face at The Hump Bar.
The next new face to grace this episode of “Army Wives” was fresh-off-the-farm Holly Truman (Elle McLemore). She also found her way to The Hump Bar, trying to sell her pies to Gloria. At first turned away, it was oh so fortuitous that when Roxy popped in she was starving for something sweet and gasp there was the pie left by newcomer Holly. Holly is the young pup, only 18-years-old and married for six months to Tim who is also deployed.
It was Holly’s return to The Hump Bar and subsequent interaction with some wayward truckers that began forging a bond between the new wives and the originals. (Although, now we’re dealing with Gloria and Jackie who aren’t “originals,” but we’re used to them now…Right?) When sweet, mild-mannered Holly got harassed by the less-than-gentlemanly truckers, it created a brawl that had you worried the Hump was headed back to another shut-down. Fortunately, the police weren’t called and Holly, Latasha, Maggie, Roxy, and Gloria all found themselves bonding over their collective injuries in the emergency room upon Denise’s entrance.
Well, there’s got to be a story getting them all together somehow, right? Let’s not forget our originals and their first meetings…
Aside from a few husbands that we have yet to meet, the main holdout in the land of new faces is that of Brooke Shields’ character, Air Force Colonel, Katherine “Kat” Young. Call me crazy, but either she’s going to end up being a love interest for Michael or a good buddy…
So far “Army Wives” fans are coping with the changes of season 7 with mixed reviews; some aren’t ready to let go of the past, while others are just thankful we’re in the midst of a seventh season, new faces or no. What do you think of season 7 of “Army Wives” and its new faces?
Tune in for new episodes of “Army Wives” Sundays on Lifetime at 9 p.m./8 c.
Cast of “Army Wives:”
Kim Delaney…….Claudia Joy Holden
Catherine Bell…....Denise Sherwood
Sally Pressman……Roxy LeBlanc
Wendy Davis……...Lt. Colonel Joan Burton
Brian McNamara.....Major General Michael Holden
Sterling K. Brown...Roland Burton
Terry Serpico……..Brigade Commander Frank Sherwood
Drew Fuller……….Sergeant Trevor LeBlanc
Katelyn Pippy…….Emmalin Holden