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Alright alright alright, I'll try to keep this one a little shorter because I gotta go prep one of my guys for the board*. One of my favorite new shows** this year is back from a short break. I can't really say it returns without missing a beat, though, since I've finally began to notice some side effects of having the episodes aired out of production order. Front loading the season with the best episodes may have helped foster an audience, but it can make the later episodes seem lesser in comparison. Viewers may also be put off by the break in continuity, as this episode features Derrick in his first encounter with the bartender Erin, even though we saw them already developing a relationship back in "Homecoming." Also, this week's episode plays more on the side of zany hijinks than it does balancing that with weighty emotional moments. Despite these detractions, Enlisted remains firmly planted in the "Good TV" zone thanks to its solid, reliable comedy backbone and generally uplifting and positive tone. Having Enlisted back on the air beats the hell outta watching curling at least, that's for damn sure.
When the annual Soldier Show comes to Fort Mcgee, Pete is forced to confront the show director Jeanie, an old flame he left high and dry. SSG Hill has a penchant for leaving his lovers hanging that stretches all the way back to his youth as an Army Brat, moving from base to base with a clean break (selfishly in his eyes at least). We learn he continues this behavior into his macho alpha male adulthood, but nowadays Pete uses his constant deployments to Afghanistan and elsewhere as an excuse to sever ties. I was particularly tickled by the scene where Pete describes "Afghanistaning" things, since I know quite a few guys who've used their status as combat veterans to enjoy a few perks here and there, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. For me however, no matter how many times I've tried, I could never catch a break. I've tried to play the old veteran of two Iraq tours/decade of overseas service card and couldn't get so much as a free beer or an extra cheeseburger at McDonald's. Couldn't even get a free ride on the Metro Transit subway. And my Dad works for the subway!
Anywho, though Pete realizes his mistake, he gets into deeper trouble when his refusal to commit comes back to bite him in the ass. This all leads to an intervention of sorts by SSG Perez, who coaches him on how to finally have The Talk with a woman without caving or refusing to put his foot down. I really enjoyed the chemistry between Cabral and Stults throughout this episode as they play around with the will-they-won't-they paradigm. The scene where they role-play as lovers breaking up was fun as you see the sparks of what might be. Ultimately I found the resolution satisfying, as Pete embraces her not as a potential love interest, but as a respected comrade, a friend and a sister. Just the same, although Jill has warmed up to Pete, she still maintains her edge. I'm generally not a big fan at all of romance subplots, but I am consistently enjoying the way Enlisted is handling it.
Speaking of romance, the other plot revolves around Derrick, trying and failing valiantly in his attempts to flaunt his game in an effort to not be upstaged by Randy. Little does he realize that the two have a perfect wingman setup, their brotherhood making a solid symbiotic relationship (an idea that Randy hilariously lets his mind run away with). As I indicated earlier, there really isn't any heavy emotional gut-punch in this episode, though it was nice to see Erin help Derrick come to the realization that he is not as much of a total jerk as he likes to think. I guess sometimes subtly peeling away the layers of comedy to get to the heart is just as important as dropping those dramatic bombshells. With this show at least, you always know the heart is there, and that is something I will always appreciate.
Jokes abound throughout the episode, and Keith David gets to let loose with the wackiness more than ever before as CSM Cody is seeking to tear down the house with his singing performance. The rest of the platoon features in helping the Sergeant Major in his endeavor, although they seemed to get a bit less screentime than normal. But hey, you can only do so much when you have to make room for a special guest star appearance by none other than the mighty '90s happy rap duo Kid 'n Play!*** All around, though maybe lacking a bit in certain aspects, this episode is another solid entry in the series' run. As always, let us know how you felt about the episode in the comments below. If you are just jumping onto the Enlisted bandwagon, let me know what you think overall so far. Peace.
*Army Boards are formal presentations where a soldier presents himself to a group of senior members and is subject to inspection and extensive inquisition on soldier tasks and military knowledge. Boards are required at certain intervals in order to be promoted. It can be a harrowing event, but like any trial by fire the experience gained is invaluable.
**I'm down with Enlisted4life, but that there new True Detective show.....holy shit!!
***I suppose Kid 'n Play has seen some better times, but at least they appear to be doing well, better than the Diff'rent Strokes kids anyway. Though their main claim to fame has been the House Party movies, my favorite of their films is actually Class Act. I must have seen this about 20 times growing up, and it maintains a special place in my heart. In honor of Black History Month, I recommend you give it a try - it's fun for the whole family!