The Village: Showing the terrifying realities of PTSD

THE VILLAGE -- "Heart on Fire" Episode 104 -- Pictured: (l-r) Warren Christie as Nick Porter, Michaela McManus as Sarah Campbell -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC)
THE VILLAGE -- "Heart on Fire" Episode 104 -- Pictured: (l-r) Warren Christie as Nick Porter, Michaela McManus as Sarah Campbell -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC) /

The Village delivered a powerful storyline, focusing on the terrifying realities of PTSD.

Think you know everything about PTSD from the various military shows you’ve watched? The Village delivered a powerful storyline in Episode 4, focusing on another side. Sometimes you don’t know what’s causing it or why and the bravest thing you can do is just face your fear.

Nick isn’t coping. That’s clear. There are times that he still thinks he’s in combat. Just a dripping tap or old radiator will cause him to have nightmares.

Caution: There are minor spoilers for Nick’s storyline from The Village Episode 4, but no other storylines.

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There’s always this expectation that PTSD is caused by just one event. That it’s the same event playing over and over again, but that isn’t always the case. While Nick certainly suffered a traumatic experience and loss during his military career, there’s a part of him that is still there. It’s not the actual loss but everything he experienced during his time in war.

As he told Katie, he has a lot of problems with war. This wasn’t about war itself, but his time in Afghanistan, everything he saw, did, and experienced. And his multitude of problems have built to the point where they’re affecting his dreams in the real world.

Most TV shows won’t offer this look at PTSD. Look at how Grey’s Anatomy dealt with Owen’s PTSD. His mostly started from watching the blades on the fan spinning, reminding him of times with helicopters. Most shows will find one specific thing that brings back just one memory.

Nick doesn’t have that. His PTSD is made up of little things. A blown bulb reminds him of explosions and a dripping tap brings back memories of the not-so-quiet in battle. The noises just have to take him back to points when he was in the desert, big or small.

And this is a terrifying reality. Sometimes you can’t figure out why sounds are triggers. You can’t always think of what’s setting off the thoughts. All you can do is face your fear and deal with it head on.

Talking about it can help but it’s not an immediate cure. The Village has at least given Nick the opportunity to make a friendship outside of his initial group. He’s got the chance to talk to someone who may not understand war but does understand loss. Ben was that person Nick needed to discuss not the actual problem but how to deal with fear, survivor guilt, and loss.

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However, by the end, it’s clear that he needs other comfort and help. Even though he’s tried to face his fears, he can’t do it alone. Sarah found him on the floor of the kitchen, but Nick had thought he was outside on the balcony. Whether he was actually out there or not isn’t clear.

Is it possible he brought himself inside without realizing? If so, that could have been extremely dangerous if he went the wrong way over the balcony. Nick lost every sense of who he was in the moment the memories came back.

PTSD is a serious condition, one that we’re only just accepting. It’s one of the reasons I hate the term “shell shock.” It reminds me of the taboo and stigma surrounding PTSD in the past considering the term dates back to World War I, when so little was understood and accepted about it.

I’ll admit that I rolled my eyes at the idea of The Village using a soldier with PTSD, initially believing that it would be done in the ways so many other TV shows have shown it – and usually wrapped up storylines within an episode or two. PTSD doesn’t just go away. In fact, sufferers deal with it for years and decades even after treatment, using their coping strategies to deal with flare-ups (similar to how depression and anxiety sufferers deal).

However, I’m happy to be proven wrong by good writing. So far, it looks like The Village is willing to show the terrifying realities of PTSD, and I hope to see this continue.

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What did you think of The Village Episode 4? Which storyline has drawn you in the most? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you are suffering from PTSD, you can call the PTSD hotline numbers for support.

The Village airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.