Why Jason’s Decision to Stay With ‘SEAL Team’ Instead of Natalie Was Inevitable
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 4, Episode 7 of SEAL Team, “All In.”]
“I’ve identified the one job that makes me want to get up in the morning — being Bravo 1 again,” Master Chief Jason Hayes (David Boreanaz) says at the end of the February 17 episode of SEAL Team. Is anyone surprised he’s not going to San Diego with Natalie (Emily Swallow)? (And not just because of the episode title; as noted in the season premiere, he was “all in, all the time” for the team.)
His girlfriend, a research physiologist, has a very sweet job offer to return to San Diego (her old boss keeps making it even harder to turn down), and she even has a suggestion for Jason, who looks like he’s in hell every time he steps into the ops center since deciding he’s done operating. (He’s back behind a desk after briefly returning to the field to rescue Ray, played by Neil Brown Jr., following an overseas explosion and his subsequent capture.) Why not join her in San Diego and train the next generation of SEALs?
Maybe because that’s not where he belongs. Instead, the entire episode heavily foreshadows that decision of his in the final moments. There’s others getting on his case for his recent career move. “Mocking me because I traded in my gun for my radio?” Jason asks Sonny (AJ Buckley), who left a toy gun with his gear. “You think I’m not pulling my weight from the ops center?”
There’s Lt. Cdr. Blackburn (Judd Lormand), also making a change with a promotion and remarking on Jason’s recent transition: “Commanding Bravo has been my identity. Wasn’t my choice like it was yours. Just hope I can adapt as quickly as you have.”
But Jason clearly hasn’t been able to adapt that easily, even though he tries to convince others (and himself) that he has. “I’m just a guy in the ops center now,” he insists.
Then there’s Clay (Max Thieriot), back on Bravo but also the new guy again (after his punishment for taking responsibility for something Ray did), imagining how much the team would be “crushing once we got the whole lineup back,” and later suggesting to Jason that “maybe you’re not regressing if you’re returning to something you love.” That obviously applies as much to Jason as it does to Clay — as does Ray’s comment, “I’ll be back to being myself once I ‘m back in the sandbox again.” And as Blackburn reminds him, the mission is far from over.
Most telling, however, is everything Jason says and does when it comes to Bravo and teams in the field. It’s hard for him to watch his former teammates spinning out on a mission without him. It’s hard for him to be stuck back in the ops center when someone on a team he’s watching goes down and there’s “nothing you can do from here,” as Captain Lindell (Jamie McShane) tells him.
But, as Natalie puts it (yes, talking about Ray, not yet cleared after his captivity), “operators weren’t meant to stay on the sidelines,” and that’s exactly where Jason would be guiding the next generation.
“People understood what we’ve been through, they’d also understand that we need to stay in the fight,” Jason tells Ray. “Seeing the boys spin up yesterday just got me thinking that I quit the one job I ever loved: being a SEAL. And SEALs never quit. … I’m just realizing more and more as time goes by that I’m just more at home in a war zone. Warriors, they weren’t meant to survive the battlefield.” He’s not feeling useful in the ops center.
So it’s not at all surprising that he decides he needs back in the fight by episode’s end. It’s not like he can’t do the job; we saw that he can when he rejoined the team to save Ray. He wasn’t going to go to San Diego (sorry, Natalie — that relationship also was never going to last) and there’s no way Jason could have stayed at a desk for many more missions.
Plus, really, can you imagine Bravo without Jason leading it? Not for long.
SEAL Team, Wednesdays, 9/8c, CBS