‘SEAL Team’ episode 1, season 3 ‘Welcome to the Refuge’ — Is Jason in the dumps?

The start of “SEAL Team’s” third season finds everyone’s favorite Tier 1 operators in Eastern Europe — Belgrade, Serbia, to be exact — hunting a bomber.

Jason schmoozes at a fancy bar, casually hitting on a bartender while keeping an eye out on one of the establishment’s patrons. When his quarry heads out, Jason is hot on his tail, and soon links up with Ray in a taxi cab to follow the still-unnamed man.

In a matter of minutes, the tail turns into an all-out chase, and Bravo Team flexes their muscles with two blue-team cars pursuing a slick Mercedes through the streets. As much as the bad guys try to evade the team with some hellacious driving, they’re no match for Clay perched in a nearby helo. A shot takes out the car, and the team swoops in to capture their HVT.

Back at Bravo’s TOC, the team runs a quick debrief and the operators post up for some rest. While Jason tries to rack out, Sonny quietly links up with now-Ens. Davis, who’s back with Bravo after receiving her commission in Season 2. After a brief discussion with ever-wise Ray, Jason — always haunted by the demons of his past — still can’t get himself to sleep and heads over to the HQ’s makeshift gym to get a few reps in.

Clay, still recovering from the bombing in the Philippines that nearly killed him last season, bumps into Jason while the latter scrolls through a list of his KIA teammates on his phone. Prone to overthinking but coming from a place of concern, Clay confronts Ray about Jason pushing himself too hard but is cautioned that this is simply just how Jason deals with stress and adversity.

Mandy, in the field but no longer the CIA’s liaison with Bravo, questions the man the team snatched and unravels a thread. A reunion between Jason and Mandy, and a stroll through beautiful Belgrade, quickly turns into the team getting “spun up" and deployed.

The new HVT is a veteran of the Balkan conflict and a bombmaker, and with shaky intel from Lisa, they deploy for a risky daylight takedown.

The mission doesn’t yield much except a truck that could be tracked to the HVT in a high rise tower. When Bravo goes in after the new target, the mission goes awry when local cops inadvertently crash the party.

Cerberus, the team’s hair missile tracks the target to another apartment, and the team narrowly avoids disaster when the HVT detonates a suicide belt.

Bravo has to exfiltrate without the man they were hunting while leaving an uncharacteristically overt footprint behind.

Christian’s take:

Since I’m the GearScout editor, I guess it’s fair that I examine the realism, tactics and gear Bravo team uses to get its work done.

On location —

One of the things that makes this show amazing is that it’s increasingly shot on location — around the world. In Ep1, the team shot on location in Belgrade, Serbia. Pretty cool for a Wednesday night show that barely made it into S3!

Surveillance team —

I like the attention to detail here, where Jason is tailing a target and he’s got his team set up at surveillance points throughout his potential target path. Brock playing a panhandler with his dog is a nice touch as well, and harkens back to UK news stories saying SAS troops were going undercover as “street sweepers” and “pandhandlers” to guard against terror attacks on British streets in 2017.

Finger to face —

But then of course, Hollywood catches up and Jason does that damned typical secret agent “I’m talking into a secret microphone” crap by touching his face when he reports into Blackburn after his target gets into a car...PA-leeese…

Rolling low-pro chest rigs —

I dig how Bravo Team is rolling low-pro. Those minimalist chest rigs are cool and all, but man can you see they’re running with some firepower. I mean, it’s pretty clear to ANYONE they’re rolling past that this is a snake-eater convention. I’m told some of these special units on urban missions like this tailor their rigs in the same pattern as their shirts to make it harder to spot the kit. Might have been a nice touch.

How realistic is it that Lisa would be posted to the team? —

A boot Lt.JG or ensign assigned to a Tier 1 counterterrorism team right out of OCS? Not seeing it. Even if Blackburn by-name-requested her, I doubt very seriously a team of this caliber would rely on the advice of brand new intel officer to nab HVTs (and we kinda see that doubt later).

Glasses —

Nice to see Ray sporting Gatorz eyewear, a favorite of the West Coast-based SEALs and other special operators.

Daylight —

I’m having a real problem with two of these high-profile ops taking place in broad daylight. The vehicle takedown? Come on, it’s hard to believe the intel was THAT important that Bravo risk the inevitable exposure of its mission on the crowded daytime streets (and waters) of Belgrade.

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A couple notes on Clay —

Clay turns out to be, I think, the deepest character in “SEAL Team.” The Season 2 storyline of his help with Swanny was so spot on, it’s remarkable. Not overblown, not the “soldier as victim” narrative we get so often from Hollywood, but real, true-to-life issues and well written.

Coming back after a serious injury and rehab, there’s doubt in Clay’s team. This reminds of me an episode of an excellent podcast from West Point’s Modern War Institute where Special Forces soldier Ryan Hendrickson fights his way back to his A Team after an IED blast nearly cost him his leg. The same skepticism from Clay’s return maps Hendrickson’s real-world experience with his SF team.

Also, I noticed Clay mentioned paying attention to his “three-foot world." This is an allusion to Mark Owen’s “No Hero.” Owen is a pseudonym for a SEAL who was on the bin Laden raid and wrote a controversial book on the mission “No Easy Day.”

Owen’s second book on his path to SEAL Team 6 includes a rock climbing school where he’s so gripped, the climbing instructor has to calm him down with the advice that he only needs to pay attention to the world that’s three feet around him. Don’t be distracted by the height, don’t worry about how far you have to go, just focus on your “three-foot world” and get to the next one.

Owen is reportedly a technical advisor on “SEAL Team.”

MP7 sighting —

I, like many of you, am a huge fan of the MP7. That little blaster puts down a lot of hurt, and it’s cool to see it used and used properly on a special mission on TV (as opposed to a freaking nerd-fest video game). When the ground team spills out of its vics sporting MP7s, I got a little tingle up my leg.

Goat Rope —

Let’s face it, the mission was a full-on goat rope. This does not bode well for Bravo’s first mission off probation and Lisa could be in big trouble for her rookie moves.

Ingrid’s take:

“Maybe I need to make a change” were Jason’s last words spoken on the preview for the second episode.

The whole first episode led up to those words. He’s facing a big enemy – time. Well duh…everyone has that problem one way or another. That’s life. The big question is how is he going to fight this enemy? Since Jason is the key person in the show, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll go away. So…what will the transition be to get him out of this funk?

I thought maybe the blood on his nose at the very end might indicate some sort of health issue, but I don’t think that is it. He has to find something meaningful to give him purpose and keep him going. His kids? His team? He already has both of those. A woman? Yes! That’s it!

I liked the scene where Trent was under the truck of the bad guys that contained explosives and Jason was looking on. He indicated over the radio that Clay should be ready to pop the bad guy even if it would screw up the mission…that the lives of his team were more important. That was a really good human element for me.

There were a couple of scenes where Jason was looking at his phone and seeing names of all his fallen comrades…like he was obsessed with dead people.

Question to self…do we as a country really lose that many SEALs? Any loss of such a highly-trained special operator is severe.

I’m in love with Brock’s dog, Dita! “SEAL Team” wouldn’t be the same without (her?). I read that in real life, she is trained to sniff out narcotics so when the show is being filmed and Dita is sniffing out bombs, etc. that they place narcs where she is sniffing – like in that prosthetic leg – so that she barks as trained.

Good doggie! I wonder where they get the narcs?!

A big question for me and has been since I started watching the show…where are the local police/military when they are going after bad guys in a city either on the ground or from the air?

I’m in no way, shape or form a military or police tactician, but really…all that shooting and no police or military vehicles arrive on the scene, wheels screeching? Ok, perhaps in the middle of the night, but in broad daylight on a crowded urban street?

The bottom line, though, after watching the season’s first episode is that I’m totally stoked on the show…just love it and look forward to the whole season…especially to see how Jason is going to get out of his funk.

Stay tuned for the next episode of “SEAL Team” season 3 and keep checking back for more (Not a) SEAL Team ...fan blog updates. And please feel free to let us know what you thought of the episode in the comments or on social.