(This review contains spoilers from Amazon’s Modern Love, Season 2, Episode 6)
In this episode of love and loss, we find ourselves at a Sunday barbecue. Shane (Garrett Hedlund) is a Marine awkwardly fielding questions about combat over light beers and burgers, as a neighbor with a newborn in a sling jokes that a VA home loan seems like a fair trade for risking his life.
Some suburban Kyle with tall hair then asks (cringe) if he’s ever killed anyone.
“My first time downrange I started as a gunner in Ramadi,” Shane replies. “After BRC I got deployed with 1st Marines to find a terror cell so embedded with civilians we couldn’t tell the difference, so what do you think?”
His wife Jeannie (Jeena Yi) is horrified. Shane wants to leave, but she wants to say. He agrees they can stay until 21:20 (just to add to the cliché military trope).
Jeannie then takes off to help a neighbor, Nick, get more sparklers for the kids. But at the mention of fireworks, Shane embarks on a hallucination of Marines carrying out a combat mission in the suburbs and promptly throws the sparklers into a fiery garbage can.
“She wouldn’t do that. That’s not part of the plan,” Shane replies, all while staring into the fire.
But Jeannie is indeed doing that, plan or no, which, according to math, makes Nick a Jody.
In another spectacular hallucination, Shane imagines he and Jeannie are characters in a Samurai video game where she knocks him out, holds a Katana to his neck, and asks him to sign divorce papers.
But surprise! This vision occurs as Shane is flipping his car. While upside-down, he begins Googling therapists. Odd timing, but a step in the right direction nonetheless.
Because this is the smallest town in history, Isabelle happens to be in his therapist’s waiting room, in a scene that lends itself to the creatively-named title of the episode, “In the Waiting Room of Estranged Spouses.”
The recognition of one another is enough to make them bail on their respective appointments in favor of coffee. Now, the relationship we all saw coming a mile away is suddenly off to a very healthy and not at all toxic start.
Over a cup of mud, Isabelle calls Shane out for trying to plan his life so stringently and treating everything like a mission.
At a bar later, a battle buddy encourages Shane to try out a dating app. Who else should Shane stumble across in his batch of swipes but Isabelle! Serendipity thy name is “Modern Love.”
They go out, which Shane says isn’t a date, of course. Probably wasn’t the plan. Their small talk is terrible: She mentions that a storm knocked out some of her lights, and in a spectacular gesture reminiscent of the 2003 cinematic masterpiece “Holes,” Shane says he can fix that.
Shane goes on to repair a number of things in the house while telling Isabelle he learned to be handy when he was trying hard to be the best “soldier,” which no Marine would ever call himself.
After fixing her sink, Isabelle gives him a haircut. Shane, clearly overwhelmed by the quality of the haircut being better than the barracks variety, proceeds to invite her on a real date.
But in the midst of buying Isabelle grocery store flowers, Shane gets a call from her with news that she’s canceling because her baby, Charlie, is sick. And of course, her estranged husband Nick sees Shane at the store while shopping for medicine for the ailing child.
Nick asks Shane and if they’re good, because he’s no longer an active-duty Jody. Shane’s PTSD-induced hallucinations once again kick in. This time he imagines a can of ravioli is a grenade. He strips off the pop top, throws it at Nick. Boom! He picks up another can, then another. Boom! Boom! The entire aisle is decimated. Shane then walks over and rips Nick’s heart out, Lloyd Christmas style.
“Now we’re good,” he says.
When Shane finally snaps back to reality from tossing ravioli bombs, he offers Nick some advice — take the baby to the hospital. Turns out it’s a good call, because it’s meningitis.
Isabelle calls Shane to the hospital, and as he arrives, he spots Nick and Isabelle together as a family, a sign that he needs to step away and let them be. Shane leaves the hospital and tries calling Jeannie, but she doesn’t answer.
As Shane wanders through suburbia, he strips off his wedding ring and once again enters a flashback. Suddenly he’s stripping off his cammies, then a construction uniform, discarding, metaphorically speaking, all the items tethering him to “plans” and “missions.”
Shane is free, y’all.
The next morning, Jeannie meets with him.
“I’m not a mission,” she said.
They profess that they want each other to be happy. Shane agrees to sign divorce papers and they hug.
Flash to another neighborhood barbecue scene. At Charlie’s birthday party — he’s all better now — Isabelle reveals to Shane that she and Nick are no longer together.
Isabelle asks Shane on a date, and he makes a joke about not making plans. We’ve come full circle.
The episode ends as Isabelle takes Shane to therapy ... finally.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digital Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.