The following contains spoilers from the April 24 episode of CBS’ SEAL Team.
SEAL Team‘s latest tragedy will launch one Bravo Team member on a very special mission, even as he sits on the sidelines.
In this week’s episode of the yet-to-be-renewed CBS drama, Clay (played by Max Thieriot) accompanied Brett “Swanny” Swan (Defiance‘s Tony Curran) to a VA clinic, where the clearly addled, retired SEAL went through a difficult, demeaning and rote review of his symptoms — including forgetfulness and the intrusion of harrowing memories. Tired of merely throwing meds at his condition, Swanny excitedly aimed to get to the root of the issue, the TBI (traumatic brain injury) he believes he suffered on the battlefield, probably when blasted by an IED.
After Clay finagled them an appointment with an overbooked doc, Swanny detailed the assorted, well-researched treatment options they might pursue. The doctor, though, said that he wasn’t authorized to order so much as an MRI, seeing as the TBI was not diagnosed at the time it happened, during combat.
Devastated by the setback, Swanny was found shortly thereafter, slumped over behind his truck steering wheel, having ended his life with a gunshot. Clay, though, will pour his newfound free time into seeing that the veteran gets his due, posthumously.
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“We were able to figure out how to pull one of our primary team members off of Bravo and yet give him a mission, a mission that is really critical,” showrunner John Glenn shared as part of TVLine’s May Sweeps/Finale Preview. “After the suicide of Brett Swan, Clay takes it upon himself to try to get Brett awarded a Purple Heart.”
That task is far easier said than done, however, due to the same reasons why Swanny was unable to have his TBI properly treated. “[Soldiers] would consider that a combat injury, but the military doesn’t unless it’s documented, and his wasn’t,” Glenn explains.
The EP notes, “We’ve taken a bit of license” with the storyline, as suggested by the PSA that followed this week’s episode. “But these are the sorts of things that happen to these guys. I’ve heard so many stories from real SEALs about things like this.” (Read about the story’s real-life inspiration.)
Not one to be bullied by bureaucracy, Clay will not surprisingly fight the good fight. “It doesn’t entirely go the way that he would want it to go,” Glenn says, “but in the end Clay is sort of heroic and gives at Swan’s funeral a beautiful eulogy.” And maybe something more.
“It’s a really powerful story,” says Glenn. And one that guest star Tony Curran isn”t done being a part of.
“I’m very selfish when it comes to great actors — ‘How can he live longer?'” reports Glenn. And in the next episode, “”Clay has these video diaries that he finds of Brett Swan, so Tony’s ‘alive.’”