It is the sixth episode of CBS’s SEAL Team and the show is still trying to figure out what it wants to be. Are they going to question if we’re the good guys or are they going to show us as the good guys, because this back and forth isn’t working. In Wednesday night’s episode "The Spinning Wheel," they come right out of the gate playing the race card … then fold.
This week we are introduced to Charlie Team Leader Beau Fuller (Sharif Atkins) who butts heads with our hero Bravo Team Leader Jason Hayes (David Boreanaz) on an important mission they are training for together. Jason is quite annoyed that Beau has been brought in help plan the mission and he makes his displeasure known to everyone. It is also made clear that Beau just wants to rush through to complete the mission while Jason wants to complete the mission while also sparing innocent lives. Maybe he has a little bit of an attitude about it, but his heart is in the right place and, as always, Jason is morally in the right.
Lisa helpfully explains their history, but then bizarrely brings race into it: “They went through Green Team together. And Jason made team leader first. Plus, now, there's always, ‘How many black team leaders does it take to screw in a light bulb?’ ‘Both of them.’ I'm just saying, I'm sure it hasn't been easy for him. But that does not excuse the fact that he is a little bit of a dick.”
A black man and a white man have a dispute, why does it always have to be about race? I didn’t think twice about the fact that Beau is black, but apparently that is super important. A few scenes later it becomes clear - they are going to try to use Beau’s character to call out racism within the Navy SEALs.
After the Bravo and Charlie Teams fail in another mission practice attempt, Beau and Jason go at it, with Jason criticizing Beau’s faulty plan and Beau criticizing Jason for not sticking to the plan. But it really gets out of hand when Beau implies that Jason’s best friend and fellow SEAL Nate was killed because Jason went off script.
After they tussle, instead of backing up his team leader (who is in the right), Bravo Teammate Ray (Neil Brown, Jr.) pretty much tells Jason to check his white privilege.
Ray: You know, when I was getting out of selection, Bravo Team was deciding which candidate from my Green Team class they were gonna pick in the draft. You remember any of the conversations they had before deciding it ought to be me?
Jason: I don't, okay? I was a 3IC back then.
Ray: Okay. All right, well, let me ask you something. You ever consider the color of my skin?
Jason: Come on. No, it's not about that. It is not about that, do you understand me? As far as I'm concerned, jackasses come in one color.
Ray: Yeah, but this particular jackass is black.
Jason: Yeah? And, so?
Ray: Look, I get it, man. I never could stand Beau myself. All right? He's an arrogant, uptight perfectionist with no sense of humor, and he won't think outside the box. I get it. He drives you crazy.
Jason: Good. I'm glad that we see the same way.
Ray: Okay, well, how do you think he's seeing you?
Jason: Better question-- do I care?
Ray: He's seeing a white guy with slept-on hair, couple days' growth, and your shirt flapping almost as much as your mouth.
Jason: Thanks for that, Ray. Really appreciate it.
Ray: Look, man, the point is, he's seeing a guy go through life the way he wishes he could.
Jason: Look, what do you even know about this guy?
Ray: I know enough! I know what it's like starting BUD/S - 150 guys, first day of Phase 1, I'm the only black face. Nighttime surf torture, everyone laid out side-by-side on the beach, eyes stinging, mouths tasting like puke, salt and sand. Every time a wave comes in, everybody's trying to cheat, right? Keep their head up so the seawater doesn't go back in your nose. Instructors yelling at you to get back down. The thing is, in the dark, Jace, it's hard to tell one white face from another. So who do you think they call out by name? Huh? "Perry, you get your nappy head back down in that sand!"
Jason: We chose you because you're a great operator.
Ray: No, you chose me because I was the best operator. It's what you're not understanding, brother. For me, for Beau, being great's not good enough. You go outside the box, you're innovative, a self-starter. If we do it, we can't follow the rules. I'm not saying that excuses the way Beau is at all. I'm just saying it's something you ought to at least take into account.
Jason: Got it, man. I got it, all right? Look, I appreciate you talking to me but did you hear what he said about Nate?
Of course, good guy Jason concedes Ray’s point, but oddly, that’s where it ends. I figured they’d have Jason talk to Beau, learn his history, they’d have a racial kumbaya, then become best friends but no, Beau apologizes to Jason for bringing up Nate, agrees that Jason has come up with a great plan for the mission, they confirm they don’t like each other, and that’s that. Oh, and then the mission gets canceled at the last minute because their target has moved. Nothing else ever comes of the race discussion, so what was the point of bringing it up in the first place?
I suppose the show wanted to bring awareness to the real life “problem” of the Navy SEALs being “too” white. Of course, any time there’s any type of racial disparity that doesn’t favor blacks liberals say it must be the result of institutional racism. But this black SEAL member disagrees and attributes the disparity to lack of awareness of the program and swimming skills in the African American community. Blacks also aren’t going into the military at the rates they used to and aren’t going into the positions that lead to a career in special ops – they are more likely to go into service support roles than combat.
It would be nice if, instead of having the black characters complain about how few of them there are and how hard it is to be black in an already impossible job, SEAL Team would find ways to encourage black youth to want to become SEALs.
This show has a lot of potential, they just need to stop with the divisive liberalism and stick to the colors that unite us - the red, white, and blue.