Army Wives‘ classified Season 7 battle plan has leaked, and if you’re a fan of the show, believe me when I tell you it will have you standing at attention. Not only does it include (at least!) one major casualty, it also includes a handful of new recruits and contains a dozen other bits of top-secret intel. So proceed with caution…
First, the big news: Leading lady Kim Delaney, who has played Claudia Joy Holden since the Lifetime drama launched six years ago, will not be returning — like, ever. Exec producer Jeff Melvoin confirms to TVLine that her character (who is currently travelling overseas) will be killed off in the season premiere — a tragedy that will serve as a launching pad for an almost rebooted program.
“The first two [episodes] will be very emotional, and it will confirm that Claudia Joy is no longer among the living,” he says. “It’s been very wrenching for us to write, and I think it will be very wrenching for the audience to go through.
“Kim and Claudia Joy have been the rock upon which we based the show,” the EP continues. “But we [have to] continue to move forward and keep the show fresh and unpredictable.”
WHAT ABOUT ROXY? | Original cast member Sally Pressman (Roxy) will be back — but not as a series regular. “Sally, just like Kim, has been a huge part of the show’s success,” notes Wives‘ boss, adding that Pressman’s real-life pregnancy will likely limit her participation to the first couple of episodes.
WHO’S STICKING AROUND? | Melvoin confirms that Catherine Bell (Denise), Wendy Davis (Joan), Alyssa Diaz (Gloria), Kelli Williams (Jackie), J.J. Soria (Hector) and Terry Serpico (Frank) are all back as series regulars. Additionally, Claudia Joy’s widower — Michael, played by Brian McNamara — will also remain a full-timer. Beyond that, Melvoin is staying mum, in part to maintain some suspense, considering Season 6 ended with a plane carrying practically half the cast possibly crashing. “Who survives the cliffhanger and who doesn’t is going to provide a lot of the juice of the first two hours.”
NEW BLOOD | Three new female characters will be introduced, including an “18-year-old farm girl from Illinois,” an African-American mother of three who “runs the kind of house that kids and adults want to hang out in,” and a drop-dead gorgeous bad girl named Maggie who is a member of the Airborne Division. She’s also on her second marriage. “It’s the first time where we’ve done a blended marriage,” notes Melvoin. “Her second husband, who is a soldier, has a 14-year-old daughter who resents Maggie. And she’s got an 11-year-old son who’s trying to fit in.”
NEW SETTING | The common thread tying the new (and some of the existing) wives together is that their “husbands all serve in the same platoon that’s stationed in an outpost in Afghanistan,” explains Melvoin, who drew inspiration for the new setting from the acclaimed 2010 war documentary Restrepo. “The war is winding down, but that doesn’t mean what they’re doing is any less dangerous or risky.”
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE… | “We’re trying to return to the show’s roots,” Melvoin says. “The central conceit of the show is friendship that transcends rank [featuring] women from different walks of life and with very different outlooks. But it’s not going to be like you just flip the page and suddenly you’re looking at a different show… It’s the same show with some fresh new colors.”