Monday, August 2, 2010

The War at Home Push-Pull

Thanks to Marie’s comments about the elevator in my recent blog entry, I thought maybe it was a good time to examine the Goren and Eames relationship throughout The War at Home. What a mess of a story – on so many levels. Nobody had a good Thanksgiving weekend that year.

Goren is caught in between two incredibly strong forces, a dying mother who is his only connection to a much wanted and needed family life and his job which defines who he is and what he excels at. Pull-Pull

A third element pulls at Goren – perhaps unexpected to him. Eames is concerned for him. Not family and not really the job. Pull-Pull-Pull

Eames is caught as well. She tries repeatedly to be an ear for Goren and he continually brushes her off. Pull-Push. Perhaps it’s because she makes the mistake of always asking about his personal life in front of Ross. She could not have been more accommodating and concerned towards him in the first three-quarters of the episode. Then he walks out on the Deputy Commissioner and Captain Ross and sweeps everything off his desk. Eames has had enough and speaks sharply to him in front of the elevator.

Robert Goren doesn’t make mistakes very often, but angering your partner is a biggie and as far as she is concerned, it’s time to give him a good shake, so she challenges him for an explanation. PUSH and Pull. She’s worried that he’s jeopardizing his job. She really doesn’t want that. She has continued in a very comfortable (but dynamic) working relationship since she “acquired the taste” for his style.

Eames is saying “Just – I know….” when he cuts her off with “Back off”. What a pity we don’t hear what she’s about to say.

That “back off” was probably the comment that set her off. Boy, if they were married, he’d be eating cold shoulder that night. After offering him a warm shoulder, it got *really* cool. And he seemed to be baffled. What a guy! Goren is still all wrapped up in his own issues and had no idea he’d hurt her feelings. For a guy who can pick up subtle nuances in his suspects, he is so hopeless with Eames. Sometimes he treats her like a piece of furniture.

And what is she thinking as he walks out at the end saying “Fire me”. It was more than a message to Ross, it was a message to Eames expressing his displeasure with the cold shoulder.

We, the audience, are also feeling the Push-Pull. As Marie said, we want to hug Goren and make it better and we want to smack him to make him realize how obtuse he’s being towards Eames.
We feel for the loss of the daughter, but want to shake Dockerty for his stiff upper lip and high expectations he placed on her.
We know that Captain Ross insisted Goren work the case when he was the last person who should have been there, but Goren’s always the best man for the job.
Some of us will be annoyed at Eames for not being more understanding towards Goren. Personally, I thought she was perfect!

The War at Home is the 8th episode in Season 6 and was written by Warren Leight, Diana Son and Julie Martin. This is one of those episodes that leaves no one satisfied. Except maybe those of us who are happy catching glimpses of the intimate side (as my friend Susan so correctly refers to it) of the Goren/Eames relationship, however hard it is to watch.

Here is a video synopsis:


  1. This episode remains one of my favorites from S6. There is so much to chew on. And it is our first glimpse of Frances. Rita Moreno was a powerful presence in the three episodes she was in. Wow!

    The push/pull and the frantic pace of the episode tends to make the heart rate rise when watching. I wind up dizzy sometimes, emotionally. Which I'm sure is exactly what was intended.

    And that's an interesting observation of Bobby's parting shot. I never thought about it also being directed at Eames...and as usual, he does it in his passive-agressive way. Funny how he recognizes that behavior in others, but cannot see it in himself.

  2. I LOVE your analysis Suzanne. And this part struck me:
    "...a dying mother who is his only connection to a much wanted and needed family life"-- I know *sniff*
    And your push/pull-- nice, too cool!
    Me neither, I didn't catch that the "Fire me... I don't care" was directed at Eames too! :(

    I believe his abnormal childhood hugely reflects on his somewhat bumpy relationship with Eames (at the 'opportune' moments...).
    His parents, who were supposed to be his first mentors on relationships, didn't do such a good job :( ... I've always had a feeling that his past gfs did the breaking-up... Or he must of subconsciously pushed them away scared of commitment (terrified of becoming like his 'father'. Nicole once pointed this one out to us...). Yet, despite the monstrous tides (like you stated Suzanne), Eames on the other hand
    holds hard onto the vessel.
    He can't help himself but screw up once in awhile. He loves her (most definitely) but he falls short when it comes to relationships (CLOSE relationships)...
    This reminds me of "Vanishing Act" where Holiday (the bad guy magician) reading Eames said:
    "I think I'm sensing something here. Some issues with a man in your life. Some trust issues; a secret he's kept from you and it's not the first time. Poor thing." Yes, the "Poor thing" those behaviors stick to her and I (we) get a kick out of her 'strikes'. I believe "Purgatory" was a real wake-up call for him... He was kinda pathetic though when he was trying to make up, if you ask me (lol). But I did feel bad for him even though he totally deserved it...


  3. The 'Fire Me...I don't care' also directed to Alex? Really? So he doesn't care to loos her and that lifesaving constant in his world?

    He needs her, and you're so right. He knows it but can't find words for it. Therefore he is always so hopeless. Did he know that he created Alex's cold shoulder with his pushing?

    He can't be mad at something he self induced.

    Okay, maybe it wasn't diplomatic of Alex to ask for Frances in front of others, but also she and Danny missed their Thanks Giving.

    Boy, if they were married, he’d be eating cold shoulder that night. Thanks for that line.

  4. "The 'Fire Me...I don't care' also directed to Alex? Really? So he doesn't care to loos her and that lifesaving constant in his world?"-- Even if those words were solely directed to Ross, Bobby doesn't really mean that he doesn't care to get fired... Well, of course not; he loves his job! He was just feeling overwhelmed, in over his head. He was simply in a mess. And of course he loves Alex more than the job (unfortunately it's hard to tell sometimes) and I tend to believe that he might of been thinking "Oops I made a mistake here"... however, he surely didn't want to deal with those issues right then. At that moment, all he wanted was to be by his mother's side. Her 'threat' to walk out was the last straw. We could see that after her last phone call, little bursts of anger submerged til that huge show of frustration.
    I understand that he's overwhelmed and all.. and like havers put it everybody lost their Thanksgiving. But it was worst for Bobby; his mom was undergoing surgery and he couldn't be with her :( Nonetheless, that huge burst of anger was actually... childish, I could say. And again Eames deserved an "atta girl" for calling him on it.

    One more thing I need to point out (I know I'm talking too much, but I can't help it sometimes *rolleyes*... and I think this is a nice little discussion :D ) :
    Yes Suzanne, that's true; Eames asked him those personal questions in front of the Captain... Never took note of that. However, I don't think that's why (or the only reason why) Bobby chose to ignore her. Remember in "ITWSH 2", when Goren was done talking on the phone, Eames concerned, asked him how his mom was doing. His first reflex was to dodge/ignore her question. There were no colleges or superiors around them... Well, at least there he finally gave in (maybe 'cause it'd have to come out anyways...). It could be that in "The War at Home" Ross' presence encouraged him to shut down even more but I don't think it's the only reason. It might also be 'cause he doesn't want to seem vulnerable in her presence *shrugs*... whatever he's thinking. This reminds me of "Blind Spot", how he was freaking out for her and when he was by her beside, you could never guess he was so distraught (*shakes head* what a guy)

  5. I have a "Push-Pull" relationship with this episode! And for all the reasons you mentioned. It's a tough one to watch. And so aptly named for ALL the characters - so many battles going on within and without each one.

  6. It's funny, Bobby can act like such an insolent little boy and everyone seems to appease his behavior...including Eames. I can't imagine how he could have worked with his mother weighing so heavily on his mind, and I think that he was so indignant about having to work with that situation going on that he just blew. When I saw that you had used the word "obtuse" in your copy, I immediately thought of "Shawshank Redemption," one of my favorite movies. Another great post!

  7. Great write-up!

    I definitely agree with everything you said here, especially about how he treats her very coldly when she's trying to comfort him. Of course, if he didn't have flaws, he wouldn't be interesting to watch!

    It such a contrast in seasons 8 and 9. In Faithfully, he even volunteers information unsolicited, telling her about his niece. In Loyalty, he shows such concern for her when she's upset about Ross (rubbing her back, attempting to put his arm around her even though she shrugs him off), and then the hug and kiss at the end. It was great to see them come full circle.


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