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All pictures from a picpam by totallybalanced



Poll #1292640 Day of Days

Worst OMFG Moment:

Plane of men goes down in flames.
3(16.7%)
Plane of men gets shot in half.
0(0.0%)
Co-pilot gets his head shot open.
0(0.0%)
The platoon opens fire on Germans and German horses.
0(0.0%)
Winters yells at someone.
0(0.0%)
Spiers leads his men across open ground toward the German gun position.
0(0.0%)
Hall is killed.
0(0.0%)
What are you kidding me? Spiers and the cigarettes.
9(50.0%)

Guarnere, Translated. Malarkey, Percante and that poor dead POW are:

A guinea, a mick and a kraut.
3(17.6%)
A mick, a kraut and a guinea.
0(0.0%)
A mick, a guinea and a kraut.
13(76.5%)

Best Bromantic Moment.

Winters raises Hall's spirits.
0(0.0%)
Hall earns Guarnere's respect by using an ethnic slur.
1(5.9%)
Winters earns Guarnere's respect by taking a drink.
3(17.6%)
Nixon offers Winters a ride on the front of a tank.
5(29.4%)
Nixon looks helpless as he tries to make Winters feel happy about the map.
3(17.6%)




RECAP: The men are in planes on their way from England to Normandy for the invasion. We see many shots of nervous men, blank men, jittery men, smoking men. One guy is sleeping. Winters is sitting awesomely at the open door, thousands of feet over the English channel. I guess if you’re gonna jump out…

We are up in the air along with the planes. The clouds part and we see what is, in my opinion, one of the most startling, terrifying and beautiful shots ever on screen. Hundreds of planes in the air and massive anti-aircraft barrage. It’s like the Fourth of July in hell.

We lose one plane, then another, and it’s just sickening to watch. The co-pilot of Winters’ aircraft tells the pilot they’d better slow down because the men can’t jump at that speed, then gets his head blown literally open. Pilot freaks and hits the green light. The men jump, clearly somewhere in advance of their jump zone.

On the ground, Winters finds one man, Hall, from A Company. They were on the same basketball team during training. Hall calls Winters “coach”, so I guess he was the coach, which...duh, but it’s cute. Winters lost his rifle in the jump. Hall lost his radio. Winters leads him away through the woods.

I can’t resist giving you this whole conversation, cause it so illuminates Winters’ character without being heavy-handed.

Winters: “So you’re a radio man.”
Hall: “Yes sir. I was, sir, until I lost my radio in the jump. I’m sure I’ll get chewed out for that.”
Winters: “Well if you were in my platoon, I’d tell you you are a rifleman first and a radio man second.”
Hall: “Maybe you can tell that to my platoon leader when we find him. If we find him.”
Winters: “It’s a deal. But first, I need your help. Locate some landmarks to get our bearings. Keep your eyes peeled for buildings, farmhouses, bridges, roads, trees…”
Hall: (laughs) “I wonder if the rest of them are as lost as we are.”
Winters: “We’re not lost. We’re in Normandy.”

Hall is clearly scared. But Winters, man…
1) makes conversation, which makes Hall feel more normal in this crazy environment,
2) reassures Hall that he’s not a screw-up, so he feels stronger,
3) calls Hall a “rifleman first”, which makes an excellent point and teaches Hall something,
4) by calling him a “rifleman”, focuses Hall on his identity as a soldier (as opposed to a technician), which might save their lives if they run into trouble,
5) enlists Hall’s “help” to distract him from his fear,
6) makes him laugh, and
7) reassures him that they’re not lost; that Winters has the situation under control.

See that? It takes me longer to explain the awesome than for Winters to be awesome. That’s how awesome he is.

Winters and Hall hook up with a couple other men and some of E Company, including Guarnere, Malarkey and Toye. A group of German soldiers comes through, on horseback and in a horse-drawn cart. The men lie in wait; Winters tells them to wait for his signal before firing. Guarnere jumps the gun and opens fire. They kill everybody and every horse. Winters is pissed at Guarnere. He actually raises his voice. Guarnere is pissed at Winters, in general, because he doesn’t drink or he’s a Quaker or something.

The men encounter a bunch of dead soldiers, from whom they retrieve ammunition. Nearing battalion, they pass a group of German POWs at the side of the road. Goofing around with them, Malarkey discovers that one of the Germans is actually an American, who grew up close to Malarkey. They chat. Malarkey moves on. He passes Lt. Speirs on the path. Speirs offers the POWs each a cigarette and then opens fire, off-camera, killing them all. Malarkey stares back down the road in horror.

Lt. Meehan is MIA, so that means Winters is in charge of E Company. Col. Strayer briefs the officers and tells Winters to lead a team to take out the a group “88s”, which I guess are anti-aircraft weapons, doing a lot of damage to incoming Allied planes. There are a number of guns and many men established at a place called Brecourt Manor.

Winters plans the assault and gives orders. The men take out the guns and soldiers under intense fire. The assault seems to take forever, bullets whistling past everybody’s heads. Popeye is shot in the keyster; Hall is killed, which makes Winters very sad. Winters swipes a German map at one of the gun positions.

At the last minute, Lt. Speirs shows up, all bouncy and high on death and danger, replenishes their ammo and asks whether D Company can take out the next gun. He leads his men to the gun, NOT inside the trenches, which gets at least two of them killed. Speirs takes out the last gun. They all retreat to battalion. Winters reports success.

Nix comes along, riding on the front of a tank, and gives his boyfriend a lift to the next town. They’re moving on to secure a town that sounds exactly like Cote des Villes. Google it yourself; I'm tired.

It’s nighttime. Some of the men, including Malarkey, Guarnere and Buck, are cooking over a fire inside a tarp-covered truckbed. Winters pokes his head in to say hi. Winters accepts a drink. Guarnere and Winters are buddies now. Winters says, “Oh, and I’m not a Quaker.” This gets a big laugh.

Nix catches up with Winters, who tells the story of Hall, who died in the assault that day. Nix tries to cheer him up by telling him that the map Winters found shows the position of “every Kraut gun in Normandy.” Winters is still sad and walks away. Nix calls after him, “I sent that map up to Division. I think it’s gonna do some good!” Aw. Boys are so cute.

Winters makes a promise to himself and God. That if he gets out of the war alive he’ll find himself a “quiet piece of land someplace and spend the rest of my life in peace.”

The tag says that Winters’ team were awarded medals, and that their attack on the German guns is still taught today as a classic example of an assault on a fixed position.

Comments

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aunt_deen
Nov. 7th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC)
The parachutes are gorgeous. And yes, terrifying too.

Winters rocks.

I feel so bad for the kid from Eugene.

And I know I have more to say but I'm tired. This week needs to be over.
tuesday_suit
Nov. 7th, 2008 03:52 am (UTC)
I loooooooooooved this episode! The parachutes, the planes, Spiers, and OH MY LORD, THE BROMANCE! It's everywhere! :-P

I agree with aunt_deen - the poor kid from Eugene broke my heart.

I think my favorite moment was Guarnere offering Winters the drink. I really like both of them, and that was great. Also Guarnere and Hall: "That kid's alright." Hee.

Spiers is just.....ew. What a horrible person. I was really scared for.....was it Hall? all by himself in the foxhole and Spiers walks up - I thought he was going to get whacked, just cuz Spiers felt like it. He just didn't seem like someone who necessarily stops when he gets to the good guys. *shivers*

Nix trying to cheer Winters up by saying the map might do good was adorable. Those two crack me up. :-)

See that? It takes me longer to explain the awesome than for Winters to be awesome. That’s how awesome he is.

Agreed. On the scale of awesome, he's right up there. ;-)

Thanks for making me watch this, M. *smooch*
tomfoolery815
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:27 am (UTC)
The opening sequence is just incredible: Unbearable tension, followed by unimaginable terror. Anybody who's seen Saving Private Ryan knows that the Germans defended against this invasion just as fiercely on the ground as they did in the air.

I can’t resist giving you this whole conversation, cause it so illuminates Winters’ character without being heavy-handed.
The initial conversation with Hall was exactly as you characterize it, Mary. Winters is just preternaturally calm when you consider the situation they're in. It can't help but calm Hall.

I like another moment, just as illuminating and just as subtle. They're getting ready to take out the guns that, as was illustrated in horrifying detail in the opening of Saving Private Ryan (last cross reference, I promise), were slaughtering our boys on Omaha Beach. (Just about everybody was decorated for the assault on the guns because, I'm sure, their actions saved countless American lives. But I'm getting ahead of myself.)

Dick says "Lipton! When you see me take out the first gun, I want you and your TNT as fast as possible." It makes all the difference in the world that Dick tells Lipton "when you see me take out the first gun."

1) He's telling Lipton he's going to be literally leading the way
2) He says when I do this, not if and
3) He says it so matter-of-factly. There's urgency, but it's a calm urgency.

Winters inspires the men to be brave. The world of difference between preparing for possibilities and creating an expectation. It's true when everyone's sitting behind desks; imagine how important it was on that day, under those conditions.

There's no Sorkin soliloquy, as much as I love those with every fiber of my being. Just "This is how we're going to do this. Let's go."
tomfoolery815
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:38 am (UTC)
Winters tells them to wait for his signal before firing. Guarnere jumps the gun and opens fire. They kill everybody and every horse. Winters is pissed at Guarnere. He actually raises his voice. Guarnere is pissed at Winters, in general, because he doesn’t drink or he’s a Quaker or something.
I took Guarnere's gun-jumping to be his burning desire to avenge his brother's death bursting out of him. He seemed to want to kill as many Germans as he could by himself. Naturally, Winters is pissed at Guarnere going all cowboy because, as we learned in A Few Good Men, "We follow orders or men die."

As to why Guarnere is pissed at Winters? I would guess it's that, because he presumes Winters is a Quaker and therefore a pacifist, that he lacks the proper inner fire to lead them. The NCOs figured it out before they left America, but Guarnere isn't convinced until he sees Winters' incredible leadership in combat.

Which made their bonding over a bottle, complete with "I'm not a Quaker," all the more delightful and satisfying.
(Anonymous)
May. 19th, 2010 07:39 am (UTC)
Really, Guarnere was pissed at the Germans and as a result, everybody around him and Winters simply happened to be a non-drinker. Guarnere also thought Winters wouldn't give the order because Quakers are firmly set against killing.
marymary
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:48 am (UTC)
Spiers is just.....ew. What a horrible person. I was really scared for.....was it Hall? all by himself in the foxhole and Spiers walks up - I thought he was going to get whacked, just cuz Spiers felt like it. He just didn't seem like someone who necessarily stops when he gets to the good guys. *shivers*

You could argue that Spiers is the most interesting character of the series. Stopping there...we'll be talking about him again. ;-)

Nix trying to cheer Winters up by saying the map might do good was adorable. Those two crack me up. :-)

I know, right? I give Ron Livingston so much credit for the magic between the two of them. Nixon is almost the Jack Twist to Winters' Ennis Del Mar. (sorry, Brokeback reference) I'm not even talking about the ho-yay here, just the dynamic between the two friends. RL has to bring all the blood to it, you know? He's the one with the open face, the one who smiles easily, reaches out to Winters and cements the friendship. You'll see it even more as we go forward. And remind me of that when we get to "points" cause there's a great emotional twist that's predicated on this.
marymary
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:49 am (UTC)
I would guess it's that, because he presumes Winters is a Quaker and therefore a pacifist, that he lacks the proper inner fire to lead them.

Yeah, that's what I got from his comments about Winters on the ship to England.
tomfoolery815
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:57 am (UTC)
RL has to bring all the blood to it, you know? He's the one with the open face, the one who smiles easily, reaches out to Winters and cements the friendship.
That's certainly true, Mary. Especially at the end of this episode: Nix is trying to get across to him what a great thing Dick has done in finding the map, and says, without saying, that this will save lives. He's really emphasizing the point, in part because Nix's job is to see the big picture. But also because it's important to him that Dick feel good about it.

But Dick can't think about lives potentially saved at that moment; he's wrapped up in the life lost under his command. Which is really how you'd want him to be, right?

Edited at 2008-11-07 05:32 am (UTC)
tomfoolery815
Nov. 7th, 2008 05:06 am (UTC)
You could argue that Spiers is the most interesting character of the series.
It's so hard not to spoil Tuesy or anybody else, knowing what we know about Spiers. :-)

Speirs is ... well, there's no other way to put this: He's a fucking madman at Normandy.

I know that finding out that the POW grew up near Malarkey is supposed to humanize the POW, and it does. But that kid did decide to take up arms against America. If he'd had a chance to kill Malarkey, he would have. It doesn't excuse Speirs executing him and all the other POWs.

There's something darkly funny about Spiers when they take out the guns ... what's a good way to describe it?

all bouncy and high on death and danger
There it is. He's downright chipper. "Mind if we take out the next gun?" How polite. ;-)

Then he attacks the gun position at ground level, instead of in the trench. Which was funnier when I didn't realize that it got two of his men killed.
misreall
Nov. 7th, 2008 06:59 am (UTC)
"I know that finding out that the POW grew up near Malarkey is supposed to humanize the POW, and it does. But that kid did decide to take up arms against America. If he'd had a chance to kill Malarkey, he would have. It doesn't excuse Speirs executing him and all the other POWs."

Thank you, Tom, I always feel like the princess of freaking darkness because I don't think that the kid from Eugene is worth caring about that much. It is an interesting bit, and points out something from the war that most people don't know that much about, but still.

Speirs is utterly facinating, like a cross between a cobra and a Cezanne.
misreall
Nov. 7th, 2008 06:59 am (UTC)
And I STILL can't use tags. Sorry.
olsonm_raymond
Nov. 7th, 2008 07:47 am (UTC)
I know that finding out that the POW grew up near Malarkey is supposed to humanize the POW, and it does. But that kid did decide to take up arms against America. If he'd had a chance to kill Malarkey, he would have. It doesn't excuse Speirs executing him and all the other POWs.

I think the point of humanizing the POW was that no matter what we think of the Nazis (or the german people under their rule) there is one thing about them that we know for sure: they were human. Sucks, don't it?

We can't lose sight of that fact for two reasons:

1) Dehumanizing the enemy was a core tenet of Nazism. It's important that we recognize their humanity, even when there is scant evidence of it. We're better than them.

2) There wasn't anything unusual about the germans. Which is the most terrifying part. It could have happened here. How do I know that? Because it did. (Ask an indian.)

Of course, all those niceties tend to get thrown by the wayside during war. "All wars are crimes.", after all. However, I do think it is worth noting that whatever crime Speirs committed, it was a direct result of the initial crime of aggression committed by the Nazi government. He didn't start the war. It is also worth noting that whatever crime was committed by the german POW was also a direct result of the same aggression by his government. He didn't start the war either. This doesn't excuse either of their crimes. We just shouldn't confuse them with their governments.

"He was glad he could not see the dead face. He wondered what the man's name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led hin on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace."

This is a good series.


misterreal
Nov. 12th, 2008 01:53 am (UTC)
1) Dehumanizing the enemy was a core tenet of Nazism. It's important that we recognize their humanity, even when there is scant evidence of it. We're better than them.

Nazi's and German's are two different things and I saw nothing to show that the guy was a nazi.
(no subject) - olsonm_raymond - Nov. 12th, 2008 02:05 am (UTC) - Expand
aunt_deen
Nov. 7th, 2008 09:47 am (UTC)
I realize that the kid (I'm just gonna call him Eugene) took up arms against America. And I realize that by doing that, he made himself the enemy. But I can't help but feel for someone in such a near-impossible situation.

Eugene's father brought the whole family back to Germany "to serve the Fatherland" and suddenly Eugene is trapped as a young man of draftable age in the Third Reich. Did he have the option to say, "No. Thanks, but I have philosophical objections to this war. I can't serve in the army. Would it be okay if I sat this one out?" He would have been imprisoned or worse. His family likely would have suffered. There might have been younger siblings to think about. He had to do his duty and I'm sure he had to make a bigger show of doing his duty, having been raised in the U.S., than young Fritz next door who's a native Berliner.

I can so easily imagine him being utterly relieved at being captured by the Americans. He seemed so wistfully grateful that Malarkey wasn't treating him like an enemy. He gave Malarkey a sad little smile and listened to him talk about the old homestead. Eugene was probably hoping to spend the rest of the war in a POW camp, maybe hoping it from the moment he strapped his Luger to his hip. That way he could keep his family safe from disgrace and suspicion and still avoid fighting the Americans. But here comes Spiers with the cigarettes and he gets slaughtered by the side of the road. It makes me sad.


Edited at 2008-11-07 09:47 am (UTC)
tomfoolery815
Nov. 7th, 2008 03:23 pm (UTC)
That's an excellent perspective, aunt deen. I'm glad you shared it with us. Having read it, "decide" doesn't seem like the best verb choice on my part. I'll amend: He took up arms against America, which makes him the enemy. Before he was captured, he would have killed Malarkey, Speirs, Guarnere, Nixon or Winters if he'd had the chance. Because war, of course, is kill or be killed.

I'm glad Spanks included Eugene's vignette. They could have opted to have all 20 just men saying "Danke" for the cigarettes, polite but faceless. It still would have been shocking to have Speirs gun them all down, but to we Americans (and Brits and Aussies) they would have just been The Enemy.

Does Speirs give all the POWs cigarettes because he's summarily executing them? I think he might be. It could merely be horrifyingly tactical; they're still establishing a foothold in heavily fortified enemy territory, so he calculates that they don't have the manpower to spare for guarding POWs.

Or it could just be that Speirs has found enemy soldiers he can kill, soldiers in an army that's been rampaging across Europe, raping, looting and killing for almost five years. And in that moment he doesn't give a fuck about the Geneva Convention.
olsonm_raymond
Nov. 7th, 2008 03:47 pm (UTC)
Good post Aunt Deen

The reason we care about the kid's humanity isn't for his sake. It's for ours.
tomfoolery815
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
Exactly.
aunt_deen
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
It could merely be horrifyingly tactical; they're still establishing a foothold in heavily fortified enemy territory, so he calculates that they don't have the manpower to spare for guarding POWs.

Of the reasons offered, I lean toward this one. My take on Spiers is that he's just cold-bloodedly practical.

The reason we care about the kid's humanity isn't for his sake. It's for ours.

As for me, I care about the other German soldiers for the sake of my own humanity. But I care about Eugene for himself.

I looked at that kid and I saw unhappiness and resignation and a complete lack of any alleigance to Germany. He was in a difficult spot (*understatement*) and while I'd admire him like hell if he had chosen to defy his family and had been executed for cowardice and/or treason by the Germans, I can't find it in me to despise him for putting on that uniform.

tomfoolery815
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:17 pm (UTC)
I can't find it in me to despise him for putting on that uniform.
I don't despise him either, Deen. I agree that he felt trapped, and my sense of justice says that he and the other Germans should have spent the rest of the war in a POW camp.
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