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Band of Brothers Rewatch, Part 1: Currahee

Come in to talk about Currahee!
















All pictures from a picpam by totallybalanced



Poll #1290527 Currahee

What's the worst thing Sobol does?

Takes away everybody's weekend passes all the time.
0(0.0%)
Makes Gordon run Currahee alone.
0(0.0%)
The spaghetti thing.
6(23.1%)
Makes Winters mess officer.
0(0.0%)
Forces Winters into a court martial and risks taking him away from E Company for the invasion.
9(34.6%)
Reminds us of Ross Gellar in every damn scene.
2(7.7%)

So what is Sobol's damage?

His father used to make him run the sand dunes every time he got out of line. Which was a lot.
2(9.1%)
His mother force-fed him spaghetti before every big track meet.
2(9.1%)
At a critical point in his sexual development, he found his father's stash of S&M gay porn featuring men in uniform.
12(54.5%)
The war dashed his hopes of overtaking Balanchine as the premiere young choreographer in the country.
1(4.5%)

Best bromantic moment.

Winters and Nixon make a date for after the war.
3(12.0%)
The NCOs come out of Sink's office and salute Winters.
3(12.0%)
Nixon eyes the back of Winters' head as they ride the train.
2(8.0%)
Winters smirks almost imperceptibly as Nixon correctly identifies a can of peaches.
1(4.0%)
Winters helps each man to his feet as they board the plane.
6(24.0%)




RECAP: June 4, 1944, Upottery, England. The men are ready to board their planes for the invasion. Lt. Meehan, their CO, calls off the jump on account of weather. Oh, hi Dick! Hi, Nix! Look at them. :-D They chat and make a date for Chicago, after the war. They remember training. We flash back.

Two years earlier. Camp Toccoa, Georgia. Currahee is a big-ass hill. Lt. Herbert Sobel is in command of Easy Company. We find him inspecting his men and barking his head off. Revoking weekend passes like it’s going out of style. “Rust on the buttplate. Revoked!” (aunt_deen, he said “buttplate”! hee.) We got it. Sobel is an asshole with issues for which these men will pay with sweat and other things that come out of people.

At one point, Sobel singles out Gordon for a solo run up Currahee. Part-way up, three of his buddies appear beside him to run it with him. Like a band. Of brothers.

Col. Sink promotes Sobel on account of his company’s rock-hard thighs and impressive tolerance for getting shit on. Sink tells Sobel to promote Winters to 1st Lieutenant. First, Sobel celebrates with the traditional trashing of footlockers.

Sobel promotes Winters, makes him mess officer and suggests a nice spaghetti dinner where the men stuff themselves. Sobel then announces a surprise run up Currahee so they can do the purge part.

The company becomes certified as paratroopers. Five jumps in one day; no balking. Sobel is scared. The men celebrate earning their jump wings with chugging of beers.

Training exercise in the woods. Winters wants to hold position but Sobel orders them to move and his real platoon is fake-massacred.

Nixon is promoted to battalion staff on account of his brain is so very pretty. Lt. Harry Welsh replaces him.

On the train to New York, Winters worries that Nixon won’t be able to find booze in combat. Nix isn’t worried.

The men sail from New York to England, bunking in sort of awesome version of steerage in crazy four-story cots like out of some Terry Gilliam movie. We discover that Africa is hot, Guarnere is old-school with the ethnic and religious labels, and Liebgott is Jewish.

Training exercise. Sobel has gotten them lost. Luz fakes Major Horton’s voice and tricks him into cutting a barbed wire fence to move his men forward. English cows escape. Meanwhile, Winters is all through waiting for Sobel to join them and moves his unit to take the target, alone. Col. Strayer yells at Sobel about the cows.

Sobel sends a letter to Winters, detailing disciplinary action for some trumped up transgression. It’s 60 days with no passes or a court martial. Winters awesomely calls his bluff and opts for court martial. Sobel gulps hard. Winters is mess officer again while Strayer figures out what to do.

The non-commissioned officers realize that this means they might have to go into combat without Winters but with Sobel. They figure that this kind of death is slightly more certain than being shot for treason, so they resign en masse. Sink yells at them like I yell at my kids when I know I’m not going to actually punish them. He boots one, busts Ranney to private, and leaves the others alone because he’s just too close to the invasion to mess with the company.

Sink’s clue arrives from Division with the next jeep. He takes Easy away from Sobel and sends him to head Chilton-Foley, which trains non-infantrymen to jump from planes. Replacing Sobel will be Lt. Meehan. Sobel leaves. Winters salutes him without expression. Even for him.

May 31, 1944, Upottery again. Winters visits Lt. Meehan with data gathered on their last training jump, during which he had a compass. Meehan determines that they’ll jump into Normandy.

Nix briefs the officers on the invasion, saying that their objective is to take the French town of Carentan (that’s “Karen-tann” to you. Hee. I love Nix.) which will unify Omaha and Utah beaches into one Allies-held beachfront. Easy Company will take out the German garrison at Ste. Marie du Mont. After the officers briefing, Meehan delivers the same speech to the troops.

They get ready for the invasion; the invasion is scrapped due to weather. The flashback loop is closed.

Martin gets a letter from home saying that Guarnere’s brother, Henry, has been killed at Monte Casino. He wonders what to do, then makes sure Guarnere gets the letter and reads it.

The next day, they get on the planes and take off for Normandy.

Comments

( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
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marymary
Nov. 3rd, 2008 06:47 pm (UTC)
I know it's SO hard for the new people --- even the old people --- to keep the characters straight. It does get better, I promise. But asap I'm going to do a separate entry with a cast of characters, hopefully with pictures, so it will be easier to make sense of them.

And note that attached to every ep on the DVD is a list of characters for that episode, with photos. You might want to look at that before you watch each episode. It's really only the featured players, so it's not gonna give you, like, Hoobler for a long time ;-) but it's better than nothing.
tomfoolery815
Nov. 3rd, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks for such a detailed recap! That was really nice of you. :-)
tomfoolery815
Nov. 3rd, 2008 07:56 pm (UTC)
In all seriousness, I have to give Schwimmer credit for, at the height of his popularity (1999-2000), taking on such a loathsome character. It's a career risk, and therefore brave. Like Janel with her "Brotherhood" character.

The men don't hate Sobel because he's a petty, jealous sadist. These are men born during or right after the First World War; stern taskmaster father figures are nothing new to them. They fear Sobel's incompetence in the field will get them killed, and they know, in their guts, that Winters' ability to think, and remain cool, under fire -- not figurative fire, actual gunfire -- will keep them alive.

might have to go into combat without Winters but with Sobol. They figure that this kind of death is slightly more certain than being shot for treason, so they resign en masse.
*points to notes which read:*
Why do the NCOs risk going in front of a firing squad? They've calculated that if Winters is gone and they're left with Sobel, they're dead men walking.

Winters awesomely calls his bluff
Such a great moment: Winters yanking Sobel's pen out of his hand and endorsing. It shows on Sobel's face that he knows he's overplayed his hand.

sort of awesome version of steerage in crazy four-story cots like out of some Terry Gilliam movie.
It does have that "Brazil" feel, doesn't it? :-)

Guarnere is old-school with the ethnic and religious labels, and Liebgott is Jewish.
Love the two guys undeterred from their card game by Liebgott and Guarnere fighting. "Idiots. Fighting over Sobel."

Sobol leaves. Winters salutes him without expression. Even for him.
Note that Sobel does not return the salute, and file that away for later. :-)
tomfoolery815
Nov. 3rd, 2008 07:58 pm (UTC)
At one point, Sobol singles out Gordon for a solo run up Currahee. Part-way up, three of his buddies appear beside him to run it with him. Like a band. Of brothers.
If that poll were a meme, I could pull a Mary and rewrite it to vote for this moment. ;-) That's my bromantic moment. :-)
zommbie1
Nov. 3rd, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC)
Can I just say I love the scene with the old man on the bike. :D
marymary
Nov. 3rd, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC)
In all seriousness, I have to give Schwimmer credit for, at the height of his popularity (1999-2000), taking on such a loathsome character.

Oh yeah, and in further seriousness, he does a fantastic job with this role. I mean, we all get, from his performance, that Sobol is a bully who is hiding deep fears and insecurities. He's not only afraid during the training jumps or the other exercises, he's even afraid in moments where he should be in control. Watch him in the office scene with Winters. The second he gets that Winters is hesitating, he's terrified. And look at him in the scene with Sink. Sink's being a pussycat for a sec and still Sobol is like a terrified little boy.

But none of that is on the page. It's all on Schwimmer's face --- every bit of it. So I give him a lot of credit for that work. Really great stuff. I think it was a casting risk --- I'm not sure he was able to overcome Ross for many viewers, but that's not for lack of skill.
marymary
Nov. 3rd, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)
Part-way up, three of his buddies appear beside him to run it with him. Like a band. Of brothers.

If that poll were a meme, I could pull a Mary and rewrite it to vote for this moment. ;-)


Yeah, absolutely. There are going to be a lot of touching moments and I won't make perfect polls, so suggest whatever you want.

That scene was nicely shot too.
tomfoolery815
Nov. 4th, 2008 05:33 am (UTC)
I think it's really cool that you added the poll to your discussion-thread repertoire. :-)
zommbie1
Nov. 3rd, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC)
But none of that is on the page. It's all on Schwimmer's face --- every bit of it. So I give him a lot of credit for that work. Really great stuff. I think it was a casting risk --- I'm not sure he was able to overcome Ross for many viewers, but that's not for lack of skill.

I do like the way so much of his acting is in his face. It is so telling how frightened he is of not doing the right thing when he is in that hole on the training exercise. As much as he reminds me of Ross, he does a great job with the acting.

I think that it is the fear that he displays that has the men so worried. They clearly see that he cannot handle pressure.
marymary
Nov. 3rd, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC)
Can I just say I love the scene with the old man on the bike. :D

You may! I love the contrast between that man's day and the soldiers' day. He probably served in WWI. "Is that the enemy?" Heh.

Every time I see that scene I think of somebody (Hugh Laurie, possibly) who said it's hard to stay with the fake accent when you're acting opposite someone with your natural accent. Though DL has only one line here, IIRC. And he'd been speaking American for, like, ever at this point.

SOW, after you get through the series, you ALL MUST watch Ron Livingston's video diary, a DVD extra. Fanatastic and so much fun. /first of many plugs
zommbie1
Nov. 3rd, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC)
SOW, after you get through the series, you ALL MUST watch Ron Livingston's video diary, a DVD extra. Fanatastic and so much fun. /first of many plugs

ahh but you are assuming that we are all watching it on actual DVDs ;-)

I will try and get a hold of it.
(no subject) - marymary - Nov. 3rd, 2008 08:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
aunt_deen
Nov. 3rd, 2008 09:21 pm (UTC)
Sobol is an asshole with issues for which these men will pay with sweat and other things that come out of people.

Okay, this is one of the lines that made me laugh out loud. I'd mention them all, but I have other stuff to say.

The men don't hate Sobel because he's a petty, jealous sadist. These are men born during or right after the First World War; stern taskmaster father figures are nothing new to them.

I don't think they hate him for the sadism, but they do hate him for the petty. Sobel could have been hard as nails and twice as sharp with them and they would have swallowed it without complaint. Because, as you say, men did not expect to be coddled in that day and age and this was before the politically-correct culture that now leads people to disrespect authority and insist on respectful treatment even from their superiors.

But when Sobel yanks their passes for non-existent creases in their trouser cuffs, in other words just because he can, they lose all respect for him. I think they can see that he is a martinet, but that he's not necessarily strong. He's a bully, not a leader.

Although I'm not sure how much of my interpretation is because of the casting. David Schwimmer kicks ass on what could easily have been a two-dimensional character. Sobel has layers that would not have been there with a lesser actor. But as mentioned, he can never completely shake Ross Geller's shadow and so mixed in with Sobel we see the gormless mope DS played so brilliantly for eleven years.
tuesday_suit
Nov. 3rd, 2008 09:39 pm (UTC)
"This man has two hundred prophylactic kits* in his footlocker. How in the name of God is he going to have the strength to fight a war?"

Funniest line on disc 1. Hands down.

*I originally typed "prophylactic kids", which would have been even funnier.

Can I just say I love the scene with the old man on the bike. :D

Me, too, Zee. :-)

I might possibly be in love with Damian Lewis. But I'm less in love with him than with CKR, and, you know, a certain viper pilot. Still, the love is there. I need to get other icons. I also need to comment more, but I just dropped The Family Suit off at the airport after three reallllllly exhausting days. I'll be back after I've had ten a drinks.

P.S. David Schwimmer as hard ass? Precisely as believable as I thought it would be, which is to say, not very. I kept kind of squinting at the screen and saying, "Really?". But as Tommy says, very brave of him to take on the role.
marymary
Nov. 3rd, 2008 11:31 pm (UTC)
I loved the peaches moment too. Hee. I'm glad you chose it.
(no subject) - anatolealice - Nov. 4th, 2008 06:02 am (UTC) - Expand
olsonm_raymond
Nov. 3rd, 2008 09:45 pm (UTC)
They fear Sobel's incompetence in the field will get them killed

I agree with Tom here. Nothing Sobel did to them in training could compare to what they would face in the war. Which is why they needed a good field commander. Which is why the rebelled against Sobel.

Hi All!
marymary
Nov. 3rd, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)
Hi, ray! I'm glad you're joining us --- I didn't know you were comin'.
(no subject) - olsonm_raymond - Nov. 3rd, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
marymary
Nov. 3rd, 2008 09:51 pm (UTC)
I don't think they hate him for the sadism, but they do hate him for the petty. Sobel could have been hard as nails and twice as sharp with them and they would have swallowed it without complaint.

Yeah, I think you and Tom have parsed this nicely. It's the harshness combined with the arbitrary and mean. Plus the incompetence.

Which is why it was so wise of Spanks* to put Winters and Sobol side by side in this first episode. Winters is everything that Sobol is not. Quiet, resolute, fair, smart and talented.

I think one of the unsung moments in this ep is where Winters is giving Buck a ride, just after Buck has joined the company. He tells Buck not to put himself in a position (gambling) to take anything from the men. Buck has installed himself as their pal and Winters doesn't approve. It exposes his feelings for the men in a way that you don't get when he talks to them directly. THEN he walks into Meehan's tent and drops that he's the one person who can help Meehan figure out where they'll invade. WITH MATH. *sigh*

* Spielberg and Hanks. TPTB. I stealed this from TWoP.

Wow, I need icons.
anatolealice
Nov. 3rd, 2008 11:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the detailed recap Mary!

I am a brand new viewer. I watched Currahee on Sunday night and I was kind of distracted in the first half hour so I will have to re-watch to get stuff straight.

Sobel's incompetence was scary. The petty and hard ass, mean as they were, I could handle too. Part of the whole military stripping people down and rebuilding as soldiers thing. But that incompetence, in battle? I'd have rather faced a firing squad too. At least you'd know they'd be able to do their job right.

Also it was interesting seeing the training. My dad was a paratrooper in the British Army and I'd heard quite a bit about it.

Edited at 2008-11-03 11:40 pm (UTC)
marymary
Nov. 4th, 2008 03:38 am (UTC)
Also it was interesting seeing the training. My dad was a paratrooper in the British Army and I'd heard quite a bit about it.

Wow, ana, that's cool. So great that he's talked to you about it. I understand that a lot of vets don't.

Yeah, one of the things you get more than once in BofB is how helpless the men must feel when they're serving under someone who's incompetent. They have to follow orders and when they're actually in combat, it's just painful to watch.
(no subject) - anatolealice - Nov. 4th, 2008 05:42 am (UTC) - Expand
tomfoolery815
Nov. 4th, 2008 05:45 am (UTC)
Buck has installed himself as their pal and Winters doesn't approve. It exposes his feelings for the men in a way that you don't get when he talks to them directly.
He loves his men, and they respect him. Well, at least the NCOs do at this juncture. They get Winters already; that's why they're the NCOs.

But it's never expressed directly. These men are pre-verbal compared to us. In fact, Winters makes a point of doing the opposite of the thing he's scolding Buck for: Getting close to them. He maintains a certain distance.

He tells Buck not to put himself in a position (gambling) to take anything from the men.
It was such a great moment, Mary. Here's Buck, shiny and new, all bleached-blonde hair and 50,000-watt smile, wondering why Dick won't just chillax. Dick responds with utter seriousness, the kind of seriousness that gets Buck's attention.
ok_with_that
Nov. 19th, 2008 03:05 am (UTC)
Admission:

I've never seen Band of Brothers before. I haven't read anything here yet.

I am at this moment still in the early opening credits, two minutes into watching this first episode. Courtesy of Netflix.

And I may just have to stop and order the boxed set right now, just for the *music.*

It's gorgeous. I needed to say so.

Back later.
tomfoolery815
Nov. 19th, 2008 03:12 am (UTC)
The music is damned near perfect, C. But it's just one of many aspects of the series meriting that adjective.

Good to see you here. :-)
(no subject) - marymary - Nov. 19th, 2008 04:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ok_with_that - Nov. 20th, 2008 04:36 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - marymary - Aug. 14th, 2010 10:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
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