I’m going to give the producers of SEAL Team full credit. Based on the writing of SEAL Team Season 1 Episode 2, they are likely aware of nearly every issue over which I slowly barbecued them in my review of SEAL Team Season 1 Episode 1.
Although this hour doesn't do a 180 or anything, it's taking baby steps to not be so cynical or patronizing to its own audience. I still have some notes.
The action begins in Syria. Young boys with guns stumble on a mutilated cow. Cut to Jason and his ex Alana talking about dead Nate’s wife and the great sex Jason and Alana had. Alana says sex is not the problem but other stuff.
Flashback tells us Dead Nate was a better husband than great-in-the-sack Jason.
Note to producers: Jason is a Navy SEAL played by David Boreanaz. It is understood he’s great in the sack. No need to be that obvious.
Training obstacle course montage with Clay, who really wants to get promoted to be a full member of the SEAL Team.
Ray and his wife and their OB-GYN. Banter. Doctor probes the wife’s womb and Ray about his duty, which is classified. His beeper goes off.
Basil Mandy Exposition tells the team they are going after a chemical weapons factory in Syria. The cows from earlier revealed the presence of very, very bad chemicals. There’s also no way to fly a drone in because reasons. Mandy Exposition gazes at Jason. The SEAL Team must go in and get evidence of illegal chemicals.
Note to producers: We get it. Jason is irresistible even to women who have been trained to resist torture.
Meanwhile, Clay is still trying to get promoted to be an official team member. People don’t like his daddy's book.
Back with the team, Ray assures Jason that Ray’s baby isn’t coming until the end of the month and even if it doesn’t his mother-in-law can hold the ice chips.
Note to producers: Flippant childbirth dialogue by bros could be pulled off by very deft writing. Your writers aren’t deft.
The team on its way to Syria. Parachute scene. Night vision.
In a bar, Clay is talking to his bro about what the SEALs are looking for in a top-tier SEAL/Bro. Clay then hits on a hot girl name Stella. She’s a feminist grad student and he’s sort of sensitive but still manly. There’s some banter and he knows his Tennessee Williams.
Note to Producers: You haven’t really nailed the Tracy/Hepburn thing but I give you points for trying.
Night vision and the SEAL Team shoots someone. The team navigates the maze of the factory. There are some complications with the chemicals.
Mandy Exposition calls into the team to say the bad guys are coming and they don’t have much time. The team finds civilians, including children, suffering from exposure to the chemicals.
Scenes of the SEALS comforting wounded children as they are treated. They were apparently factory workers.
Note to Producers: It’s good that you are acknowledging non-westerners can be sympathetic victims of conflict but bad it took until the second episode.
Jason is going to make sure they save the kids. Ray reminds Jason that the US makes the chemicals that hurt them, too, but Jason reminds him that the US doesn’t use them.
Note to Producers: That fact that we, the audience, can’t be fully assured of Jason's point anymore is really sad.
A SEAL named Sonny (A.J. Buckley) tries tell Jason that it’s better to let wounded kids and other civilians die because they’ll just end up in refugee camps, and Jason is risking the lives of his team for them. Jason says he won’t let the civilians die.
There’s also no approval from above. Jason is told leave the children to die. Nope. He won’t do that. He offers some of the men a chance to leave but even the chemical doctor says he doesn’t want to live with the faces of those children for the rest of his life.
The team decides to hold their ground, hoping the Green Berets will come to their aide.
Mandy Exposition tells us that there are too many enemies approaching.
Jason realizes that if the lab equipment has been scrubbed it won’t test positive for banned chemical agents, but the civilians still will. If they tell the brass that the equipment has been scrubbed, the people are the evidence the team needs to collect. So, they have to rescue them in order to complete their mission.
Note to producers: It’s really satisfying to see Jason being clever and no one messing up a mission. There’s no such thing as a stupid SEAL, and so more times where Jason and the team uses their brains, as well as brawn and training, would be welcome.
The bad guys arrive, and our heroes get out as bullets fly. Slow-mo.
Ray’s kid was born. Healthy. Bro moment with Jason.
Clay doesn’t get his promotion.
Ray with his wife and newly born kid.
Jason goes to see Alana and is seen being an awesome father to his own kid.
That’s the episode.
Overall, it’s an improvement on last week. The weakest part of the show remains Jason's domestic drama. It’s pretty clear that these episodes were written before Boreanaz was cast, and the writers felt they needed constantly prop their hero up with domestic woes to make him likable.
Ray’s baby and wife drama didn’t really add much drama to the episode, either.
I appreciate the Clay-as-woke-guy stuff, but it needs a little script polishing.
Sonny as “dark” SEAL has potential to create drama and conflict that actually has something to do with the main plot.
I also realize in hindsight that the pilot was annoying in that both missions we saw had major problems and bad outcomes.
The show is at its best during action scenes and when the SEAL Team is being excellent at their job sans pandering to the audience or propping the characters with extra drama.
To catch up on this new series, be sure to watch SEAL Team online right here at TV Fanatic!
Melissa Marshall is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.