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In Why We Fight, nobody that we know gets killed! That's the good news.

All pictures from a picpams by totallybalancedand tasteofblame.

RECAP: The open has veterans talking about what it was like to be in Germany. The last vet speaks sympathetically of a hypothetical German soldier. “...He might like to fish; he might like to hunt…Under different circumstances we mighta been good friends.”

April 11, 1945. Thalem, Germany. A string quartet plays. The camera pans in a circle and we see civilians in a heavily bombed area, sorting and hauling the fragments of their town. Some American soldiers stand around. We pan up a pile of rubble to a second floor corner room, completely blasted open to create a balcony.

Perconte, Liebgott, Luz, Bull and Webster watch the Germans work.
Luz: “Tell you one thing about the Krauts. Sure clean up good.”
Liebgott: “Yeah. All you need’s a little Mozart.”
Nixon comes in: “Beethoven.”
O, behold the power of Nixon. He’s all grave and smart today.
Liebgott: “Sorry sir?”
Nixon: “That’s not Mozart. That’s Beethoven.”

I try to describe the power of Nixon and I always fail. Here goes another one. Part of what I get here is his very un-self-conscious intelligence. He’s comfortable knowing more than everyone else (which is I guess a good thing in an intelligence officer). He’s beyond comfortable, actually. He’s not trying to prove anything. He’s not trying to embarrass Liebgott --- he’s not trying to win --- but he certainly doesn’t hesitate to correct him. He doesn’t flash it around, he wears it around. He doesn’t use it, he is it. It’s dead sexy.

And he’s in for a bad time in the flashback, so, you know... *hugs him*.

One Month Earlier: Sturzelberg, Germany. Cows.

Luz and Perconte are in the rafters of a barn or something, gathering chickens and eggs, chicken-first. A flushed and curly girl steps right out of a fairy tale and through the barn door. Luz says good day to her and she scurries away. He follows her into another barn.

Perconte follows Luz and tells him to knock it off. Luz is offering the girl chocolate and cigarettes. Though without full use of the language I don’t think Luz, in particular, has any traction. His cute really depends on the funny.

Whatever, he gives it a shot and Perco is irritated. Luz shoos him away. Perconte gets not 20 yards from the barn before Luz trots out after him. They see a jeep whiz by.

Luz: “That Cap’n Nixon? What the hell’s he doing in his harness?”
Perconte: “What happened? No dice with the fraulein?”
Luz: “No dice. She smacked me in the mouth. Looks like Germany is going to be pretty good fraternizing territory.”

In Ambrose’s book, he notes that, though the Americans (as we will see) didn’t respect Germans’ personal property so much, they didn’t take it to rape-and-ransack levels. He says that this same scenario, if you exchange the American soldiers for Germans, Russians or Japanese, might have ended in rape.

As if to illustrate, Janovec is in a German bedroom having some very consensual sex. This girl was, like, president of Future Fraternizers of the Fatherland in high school. More giggly than swoony, which is why I think it’s sort of a hobby for her. Janovec suddenly hears Speirs calling for him from outside the bedroom door. Speirs bursts in; Janovec jumps out of bed, stands at attention and salutes. Possibly twice.

And I want to kiss Matthew Settle on that mouth of his (even more than usual) because he plays this so perfectly. He doesn’t look at Janovec’s nakedness, he doesn’t look at the girl. He looks at one thing -- Janovec’s face -- and says,

“Where’s my stuff?”

Janovec: “I thought I’d leave it over there, sir.”
Speirs turns to the dresser, takes a tray full of sliver candlesticks from it, and departs, leaving the door gaping in his wake.

Speaking of lips, check out the pucker on Janovec. Very pretty. We don’t know him, so I’m a little pouty that he’s the one with the nude sex scene, but whatever. It’s not as bad as the utter buzz-kill of the Haguenau showers.

(Because let’s not forget why Spanks created Band of Brothers: to make me happy with bromance and pretty boys.)

Out in the street, Nixon’s jeep flies by and dings the silver platter hanging from Speirs’ hand. Nix turns back to look behind him. He’s not happy, but it might not be about Speirs.

Speirs takes his loot to Vest and asks him to box and ship it.
Vest: “Same destination? …Boy, your folks are sure gonna have quite a collection by the time you get...”

At the door, Speirs turns to stare at Vest. Vest considers whether or not to keep speaking. I think his survival instincts have improved since Last Patrol.

“...home, sir.”

Speirs stares. Then smiles. “Finders keepers.” Ha! That was so very scary. I love him.

Nixon is in a bedroom. He pours a glass of Vat 69 and drinks it. He splashes his face with water from a wash basin in front of a mirror. Happy music from the radio.

Winters calls from outside the room. “Nix?”
Nixon: “I’m here.”
Nix undoes his suspenders and sits on the bed. Winters comes in. So far, I like this scene.

Winters: “You dog. Making combat jumps with the 17th while I’m in supply briefings all morning.” Heh. That is very adorable.
Nixon: “Yeah, lucky me.”
Winters: “Well, congratulations. You’re probably the only man in the 101st with three combat stars over his jump wings.”
Nixon: “Not bad for someone who’s never fired his weapon in combat, huh?” He unlaces his boots.
Winters: “Really? You’ve never...”
Nixon: “Nope.”
Winters: “Not even with all the action we’ve seen?”
Nixon: “Not a round.”

Winters sees that Nixon’s not well. Dick was on his way out, but comes back and sits against a dresser.
“So.” He turns off the radio. Nice touch. “How’d it go? This morning. The jump.”
Nixon: “Great. Fantastic. Took a direct hit over the drop zone. I got out. Two others got out.”
Winters: “The rest of the boys?”
Nixon: “Well they blew up over Germany somewhere. Boom.”

The director does a nice job here with the long shot of Nixon. He looks very thin and small and cute here, and it breaks your heart a little more.

Winters: “Yeah. I’m sorry.”
Nixon: “About what?”
Winters: “Well, tough situation for you...”
Nixon: “Oh yeah, the boys. Oh well, wasn’t me!”

Nixon is very ragged, almost confrontational. Winters stares. I’m staring too. When’s the last time you heard Nixon snark AT Winters? You haven’t, that’s when. This is a good choice as a way to show that he’s on the edge.

Nixon: “You know the real tragedy is they also lost their CO, so guess who gets to write all the letters home?” He tosses the empty bottle into a waste basket, goes into the next room, finds some whiskey and settles in a chair.

Winters follows him: “Had a talk with Colonel Sink this morning.”
Nixon: “And how is the good colonel?”
Winters: “Concerned. ….Still drinking the Vat 69, huh?”
Nixon: “Only the finest for Mrs. Nixon’s baby boy.”
Winters: “Is that a problem up at Regiment?”
Nixon: “What, this? Is that what he said? No, I just don’t like it up there.” Aw.
Winters: “Good. Cause you’ll be happy to hear that Sink is transferring you back down to Battalion S3.”
Nixon stares. “What do you think I should write to these parents, Dick?”
Winters: “Did you hear what I said, Nix? You’ve been demoted.”
Nixon: “Yeah, demoted. Gotcha. Cause I don’t know how to tell them their kids never even made it out of the goddamn plane.”
Winters: “You tell them what you always tell them. Their sons died as heroes.”
Nixon: “You really still believe that?”
Winters: “Yeah, I do. Don’t you?”

I love this scene because there’s so much character in it. All of it consistent with the guys that we now know. Nixon is an alcoholic. He’s not ambitious in the least. He cares, but he’s cynical. Whereas Winters, though he doesn’t like the war any more than Nix does, is more the idealist and the one trying to do good from within the system. He has no trouble describing the dead boys as heroes, but Nix’s reaction is less pure, undercut by his disgust for the war and the way the boys died. He feels that they died in vain, to some extent.

And, of course, the scene shows again how much they love each other. Winters’ concern is very present, though as understated as ever. And Nixon greets Winters by letting go of all the emotions he’s been carrying since he landed. And he’s not careful with his words. It shows trust.

I said in an earlier recap (maybe Crossroads) that one thing I love about the Winters/Nixon relationship is the roles that they play. Nixon, by virtue of his position and his personality, is the one who prepares Dick for battle, who stays behind, and then finds him -- reaching out to tell him what he needs to hear. You did a great job. You couldn’t have done any differently. You won. You’re a hero. Come on, get some rest. In this way, he provides a lot of the oxygen to the relationship. He’s the one always seeking Winters out, making it better where he can.

But here, and in one or two other places, Winters is the supportive one. Because it looks so awesome on him -- and because I have such a weakness for the very gorgeous mess that is Nixon -- I almost like it better.

Now it occurs to me to show you the passage about Nixon’s demotion, as described in Winters’ book, “Beyond Band of Brothers.” Read this and then observe my restraint

Nixon’s return to battalion staff was the result of his repeated drunkenness. Colonel Sink recognized Nixon’s tactical brilliance, but he was fed up with his excessive drinking. One day, Sink visited me and asked me point-blank, “Can you get along with Nixon?”
“Yes, sir, I can get along with him.”
“Can you get something out of him?”
Again, I responded, “Yes, sir, we work very well together.”
“Would you like to have him back?”
“Yes, sir, I would.”
“You’ve got him.”


Nixon is outside, reading news and war updates to the boys. Oklahoma is still on Broadway; as Nix conducts with his finger, Luz and the boys break into song, then cut out abruptly and leave Tenor Replacment Patrick O’Keefe hanging on the high note.

Rita Hayworth is getting married, Nix reports sadly. Normally, expressions of dismay when famous people get married seem ridiculous to me. Really? You had a shot? See, I did not know that. But with Nixon…I don’t know. I can almost see it. He’s good rich playboy material. *imagines him in a dinner jacket again* Nixon also reports success for the 17th Airborne, the division he jumped with the other day. He seems to be feeling a little better. That makes me happy.

O’Keefe and Perconte trudge out to relieve Garcia and Hashey at the OP. O’Keefe wants to know when they’ll be jumping into Berlin, but Perco is not having it.

Garcia curses whatever’s in his tin cup, en Espanol, and flings it into the grass. Hashey leaves Perconte a copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which Perconte is willing to read despite its G rating. As he starts the book, O’Keefe rattles around, preparing for their shift. O’Keefe hums “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain”. Perconte asks him to chill, calling him O’Brien. Twice. He says his name is O’Keefe. His friends call him Paddy.

“You know why no one remembers your name? Cause no one wants to remember your name. There’s too many Smiths, D’Amatos and O’Keefes and O’Briens who show up here, replacing Toccoa men that you dumb replacements got killed in the first place. And they’re all like you. They’re all piss and vinegar. ‘Where the krauts at? Lemme at ‘em! When do I get to jump into Berlin?’ Two days later? There they are. With their blood and guts hangin out. And they’re screamin for a medic. Beggin for their goddamn mothers. Dumb fucks don’t even know they’re dead yet.”

“Hey, you listenin to me? Do you understand that this is the best part of the fuckin war that I’ve seen? I got hot chow. Hot showers. Warm bed. Germany is almost as good as home. I even get to wipe my ass with real toilet paper today. So quit askin about when you’re gonna see some action, will ya? And stop with the fuckin love songs!”

And now Perconte feels bad. Nice job in this scene by James Madio. He abandons his book and slumps over the sandbags next to O’Keefe. He wants to explain.

“When you ship out, a few weeks ago?”
O’Keefe: “Yeah.”
Perconte: “It’s been two years since I saw home. Two years. This fuckin war.”

First, I’m feeling a little woozy from the déjà vu. Didn’t they make this point, eloquently and at length, back in Replacements? I mean, it’s a good scene, but it feels redundant. I guess the point is that it’s nearly the end now and guys like Perconte are sick to death of war and can’t stand the cheer of the nuggets. Like, some more.

The one new note is about how Perconte likes it in Germany. The Ambrose book talks about the mixed feelings of the Americans as they moved in. On the one hand, they felt that it was the German people, to some extent, who had allowed the Nazis’ rise to power, allowing the Nazis to drag the Americans across the ocean to fight and die. This is best represented by Webster, especially later in the episode.

On the other hand, they admired and liked the Germans as much as anyone except maybe the Dutch. Whereas the French (according to Ambrose) left their cities and villages in ruin, the Germans were out in the streets the morning after a bombing, cleaning up. The Germans were also the only group who shared the American insistence on toilet paper. German homes were warm, comfortable and had great food. And the comely women and dearth of young men made for, as Luz points out, good fraternizing territory.

Speirs and Winters are at CP, looking at a wall map and planning patrols. Nix comes in. “The president’s dead.” They turn to look at him. Damn, they’re pretty. Look at those two. If Speirs and Winters would give me an inch, I’d totally ship them.

Poker game. Welsh, Lipton, Speirs and Nixon. Nix’s bottle is empty. He tells them to deal him out and goes out into a rainstorm to find more. Harry can’t believe they won’t be jumping into Berlin and that “Ike’s gonna let the Russkies have it.” Speirs, a bit anvilistically considering all the silver he’s carrying around in episodes 9 and 10, says, “This war’s not about fighting anymore. It’s about who gets what.” Ha, that man. He has one job at a time, and he does it well.

On a sheltered sidewalk, Nixon lights a cigarette and then steps into the rainstorm. I’ve always assumed that was mostly CG rain, because he continues smoking. But I just now notice that when he stands on the sidewalk and blows his first puff of smoke into the rain just in front of him, the smoke is dragged sharply downward. So maybe there was plenty of real fake rain. I don’t know.

Geez, me and the tangents today. Nix finds a store --- an apothecary? Hard to know. He grabs a barrel and throws it through the plate glass front. Germans wake and yell from above. Nix finds no whiskey to his liking and moves on.

Morning. Nixon sees Vest and asks him to help him find some Vat 69. Difficult for Vest, but Nix assures him money is no object. Janovec runs in. “300,000 krauts just surrendered. We’re moving out in an hour.”

An hour is not enough time for Nix to score anything. He’s pissed. Vest reminds him to take his mail with him.

As they ready to move out, Nixon reads his letter.
“Jesus Christ, the dog?”
Winters: “Lew?”
Nixon: “Cathy’s divorcing me.”
Winters: “I’m sorry.” He doesn’t sound that sorry. What, he doesn’t!
Nixon: “She’s taking everything. She’s taking the house. She’s taking the kid. She’s taking the dog. It’s not even her dog! It’s my dog! She’s taking MY DOG!” Nix throws his helmet.

Ron Livingston is a genius at this stuff. There’s that comic note in his voice, but he never takes it over the top. Winters and Lipton look at Nixon with concern, but they are sort of laughing inside. They’re making an effort not to look at each other. Aw, look at Lipton’s cute squinty face. Not enough of him in this episode.

Speirs borrows Perconte’s lighter. Perconte knows to whom he’s lending, it looks like. He asks Speirs where they’re headed. “The alps.” Speirs says no, that’s not near Berlin.
Webster: “That’s in Bavaria. Birthplace of National Socialism.” Hee. I’m sure it is, hon.

Luz concludes no drop into Berlin, and Speirs confirms it. “Hitler ordered the Waffen SS to hole up in the mountains, repel all the invaders. He wants to start a guerilla war.”
Bull: “Invaders. Damn, I like the sound of that.”

Perconte asks for his lighter back and Speirs gives it up very reluctantly.
Perconte is on the truck next to O’Keefe. “Waffen SS, huh? Looks like you’re gonna get your wish anyway, Flannery, cause those guys are fuckin crazy!”
O’Keefe sounds defeated more by the name thing than the fear of elite forces: “It’s O’Keefe.” Webster looks at him and smiles a little.

I do love the immaculate consistency of this production, you know? Eion Bailey plays Webster in every scene, even when he has few or no lines, as the observer and commentator. You can see him taking notes in his head. And look, Perconte’s gonna start brushing his teeth again. No really, he is.

As they move out of town and across the countryside, the men sing a cheeky version of Glory, Glory, Hallelujah.

Winters is riding in front of a jeep. Nixon and his sour puss are in back.
“Ok, Nix?”
“Yeah, I’m fine... She hates that dog!” Ha. Winters allows himself a tiny smile. Better lost dogs than dead boys.

Lieb and Webster are totally boyfriends now! Watch this. Riding in the truck, Liebgott lists the things he’s gonna do when he gets home: 1) taxi job; 2) Jewish girl with certain frontal attributes; 3) big house; 4) little Liebgotts. Web says he’s gonna finish school. Liebgott starts giving him shit, as they all assumed Webster was a Harvard graduate, not an undergraduate. Web pushes back, a bit pissy and defensive, saying he never said he had graduated and what if he did?
Liebgott reconsiders: “You know what? You’re right. So the fuck what?”

Then the actors actually make a mistake --- it’s so cute --- but they keep rolling. Bailey steps on McCall’s line as Liebgott asks what Webster studied in school. McCall waves him off and they don’t break, so they keep going.
Webster: “Literature.”
Liebgott: “Get outta here, you serious? I love to read!”
Webster: “Do you?”
Liebgott: “Yeah! Dick Tracy, Flash Gordon mostly.”

Webster smiles a little, but so Liebgott can’t see. I love this scene. Both the buddies of it (cause they’ve come so far) and that hilarious “I love to read” line. One of the funniest lines in the series, IMO. And the very gentle way Webster reacts. He gets that it’s funny, but he’s very careful not to let on.

You can see it as condescension, if you choose to. I choose not to. The RL Webster wanted to be there, among those men, and not to make fun of them. In The Last Patrol, he was absolutely cowed by their disdain and desperate to regain their respect. If anything, he’s always trying to measure up to them. And we’ve never seen him act superior or snarky. In fact, he seems clueless about the effect all the big words and factoids he spews might have on the other men. He doesn’t think he’s better than they are. Witness his defensiveness here, about not finishing college. He’s not pointing out that Joe never went to one day of college. He’s not comparing himself to Joe at all. Webster’s worried that Joe thinks he lied to make himself look good. Webster’s worried about Joe’s opinion of him.

So if he’s amused by Liebgott’s taste in books, I don’t think it’s in a mean way.

Also, you know how when you rewatch you sort of experience the story as a whole? I’m feeling the Liebgott of those harrowing scenes, coming up, so I love seeing him here, all carefree and adorable.

Janovec is also on a truck, reading the paper. An article about why they’re fighting the war. “It seems the Germans are bad. Very bad.” Luz likes this and passes the breaking news to Perconte.

In town, the guys roust Germans out of their homes for the night. Speirs is irritated, possibly just impatient for the pilfering to begin. Germans protest.
Perconte: “You get this? This guy says he ain’t a Nazi. Why is it in all of Germany, we ain’t met one Nazi yet?”

The next day, trucks and jeeps and tanks ride in one direction down a four-lane highway, as columns of German soldiers march up the median, in the other direction. Winters looks at them. “Even in defeat, they still know how to march with pride.”

And here it is. In all its cringy magnificence. Webster unleashes his considerable vocabulary on the defeated enemy. He yells from the back of the truck at the Germans marching away.

“Hey, you! Hey, you! That’s right, you! You stupid kraut bastards! That’s right! Say hello to Ford! And General Fucking Motors! You stupid fascist pigs! Look at you! You have horses! What were you thinking?!” The guys want him to give it a rest, but he just lowers his voice for a line or two. “Dragging our asses halfway around the world. Interrupting our lives...for what?!! You ignorant servile scum! What the fuck are we doing here?!!”

Ok, unleashing a scathing rant is not Web’s thing. He’s more about giving chocolate to children and looking like a big dorky angel. But whatever, it’s fun. That’s how someone with virtually no malice in his heart attempts to rip your guts out. Which is to say, not very effectively. My one defense of it is that it is, in fact, how the RL Webster felt about the Germans.

Nixon, riding in the jeep, stares straight ahead as if he’s way past wanting to yell. Dead somehow.

The men drive by two soldiers executing German soldiers by the roadside. As O’Keefe sees them shot, he turns sharply to Perconte. Perconte isn’t happy about it, but he shrugs.

Liebgott, facing O’Keefe on the truck bed, smiles at the blood draining from O’Keefe’s already scary-pale Mick face. Ha. Liebgott is a complex little fucker, all credit to Ross McCall. He’s got a face to die for and this is the sweetest smile we get from him in the whole series. But he’s smiling because a replacement has just witnessed an execution! O’Keefe has just seen something so horrible that it’ll haunt him and that amuses Liebgott. That’s a little messed up. But I do love Liebgott. Maybe more, because of his twisty side.

In the village, Winters tells Speirs, Welsh and Lipton he wants patrols. Dog in the village; Easy and Fox in the woods. Speirs gives Lip orders for the platoons. Winters tells Nixon he’s not worried about anything in particular, just wants to be sure they’re safe if they have to stay overnight.

In the woods, it’s Christenson, Perconte, Luz, O’Keefe and Bull. Bull teases O’Keefe for being nervous.

Perconte: “Hey, George. Kinda remind you of Bastogne?”
Luz: “Yeah, now that you mention it. Except of course there’s no snow. We got warm grub in our bellies. And the trees aren’t fuckin exploding from kraut artillery...but yeah, Frank, other than that it’s a lot like Bastogne.”
Perconte: “Right?”
Luz: “Bull, smack him for me please?”
Bull whacks Perconte on the helmet.
Luz: “Thank you.”

It’s the “Frank” that makes it art.

Back in town, Speirs is walking through an office, scooping trinkets into his helmet. Nixon walks into a richly furnished house and calls out to see whether anyone’s there. No answer. In the dining room, he finds a framed photo of a German officer and tosses it to the floor, breaking it. He looks at another photo, of a young, blonde German woman.

The older version of the woman comes into the room, crosses her arms, and stares at Nixon defiantly. Nixon stares back at first -- I infer that this is about the guy in the photo, who I guess is her husband and an SS Commander or some such monster. But then Nixon’s manners overtake him. He’s in her house, messing with her property. He looks away, a little ashamed, and leaves the house. On his way out, a small yappy dog barks at him from the stairway. Heh.

Back in the woods, it’s quiet. Too quiet. They hold. Christenson signals them to move forward. They advance, in a line, into a clearing. Smoke wafts along the ground. We can’t see what they see, but we see that they’re struck silent.

Perconte runs as fast as his little legs can carry him, back to the village. He finds Winters and says that he’s not really sure what they’ve found.

It’s a concentration camp. With your basic concentration camp horrors, well realized by Spanks. My first thought is always: How did they get these actors that skinny? It really doesn’t look CG to me, but I must be wrong on some counts. Because they’re beyond emaciated.

Winters orders the gates opened and the men go in. It’s horrible, of course. The prisoners’ cheeks are hollow, ribs showing. Some just stare into space, some rub their heads, some clutch at the soldiers’ sleeves. There are dead bodies lying around. One man hugs and kisses a soldier; I can’t tell who; might be Cobb, actually. One skeleton of a man carries a dead body like it’s a rag doll.

Winters calls for Liebgott. Lipton tells the men to give up any water or rations they have. The men can’t believe it when they see rows of huts, dozens of similar prisoners trickling out of them.

I always find the guy who’s their guide more poignant than the others who are crying or clutching or staring into space. It’s something about the way he looks combined with the dignity and clarity with which he explains things to Liebgott. It reminds you that these are all real, intact, intelligent people, their appearances and behaviors transformed by the horror. But they’re still in there. Liebgott translates.

“He said the guards left this morning, sir.” Liebgott asks the prisoner to speak more slowly. “They burned some of the huts first. With the prisoners still in them, sir. Alive. Some of the prisoners tried to stop them. Some of them were killed. They didn’t have enough ammo for all the prisoners. They killed as many as they could. They left the camp. They locked the gates behind them and headed south.”

Nixon: “Someone in town must have told them we were coming.”
Winters: “Will you ask him…ask him what kind of camp this is? Why are they here?”
Liebgott asks. “He says it’s a work camp for...I’m not sure what the word means, sir. Unwanted? Disliked maybe?”
Winters: “Criminals?”
Liebgott: “I don’t think criminals, sir.” But he asks the prisoner whether they’re criminals, just to be sure.
The prisoner’s face totally changes from sorrow to a startled, grave look. “Nein.”
He explains.
Liebgott: “Doctors, musicians, tailors, clerks, farmers, intelligent...normal people.”
Prisoner: “Juden. Juden….”
Liebgott: “Jews. Poles and Gypsies.”
The prisoner says something else, then wanders off, crying.
Winters: “Liebgott?”
Liebgott: “The women’s camp is at the next railroad stop.”

Malarkey and Babe look at some of the bodies and notice the numbers tattooed on their arms. “Babe, look at their arms.” “Like cattle.” Bull and Luz are at the doorway of a hut. They see dozens of men and bodies lying side by side. Perconte and Winters open a railroad car and see dozens of dead bodies inside.

As he walks, a prisoner salutes Perconte. He returns the salute. He sees O’Keefe sitting and staring. Perconte calls out to him, but O’Keefe looks away.

Winters tells Nixon he’s going to call Sink. He says Nixon should find Speirs and figure out how to get the people food and water.

In his book, the RL Dick Winters writes,

The impact of seeing those people behind that fence left me saying, if only to myself, “Now I know why I am here! For the first time I understand what this war is about.”

In town, the men relieve a baker of his bread. The baker protests strongly, yelling and waving his arms. Webster puts a gun to his head. “Shut up! Shut up, you Nazi fuck!”
The man says he’s not a Nazi. “Oh, you’re not a Nazi, my mistake. You fat fucking prick. How about a human being, are you one of those? Or are you going to tell me you never smelled the fucking stench!”
A guy whose name I never learned: “He says he doesn’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”
Webster: “Bullshit.”

At the camp, men are on the back of a truck, handing out chunks of cheese to prisoners. Sink’s there. He introduces Winters and Nixon to the regimental surgeon, Major Kent, who says they have to stop feeding the prisoners or they’ll eat themselves to death. They also have to keep the prisoners in the camp so that their food intake and medical treatment can be supervised. Otherwise they’ll wander off and die.

Nixon: “You want us to lock these people back up?”
Sink: “It’s a cryin’ ass shame, but let’s get it done.” Sink gets on the phone to General Taylor.

Liebgott: “I can’t tell them that, sir.”
Winters: “Got to, Joe.”
Liebgott: “Yes sir.”

Winters tells Grant and Christenson that the men have to be put back in the camp.

Liebgott stands on the back of the truck. In German, he tells the prisoners that they have to stop eating and return to the camp for now. As he tells them, his lip starts to go. His face starts to crumple, but he gets through it. He slumps onto the truck, puts his head in his hand, and cries.

This is one of the iconic scenes of the series. Devastating, but not a bit sentimental. How about a slow clap for Ross McCall, who so beautifully represents Joe Liebgott. And, for that matter, the heartbreak of Jews around the world.

One of these times through, I also noticed that Liebgott’s hand on his head reminds me of the way many of the prisoners in the camp are touching their heads. It seems like a natural, self-protective gesture. I’m guessing that wasn’t intentional by Ross McCall or the director, but it’s nice as another link between him and the prisoners.

Back in town that night, Winters sits at his desk and writes. Nixon comes in, rationalizing that he’s staying in the only dry house in Germany and he needs a drink.
Winters: “Though you weren’t drinking the local.”
Nixon: “Yeah, well.”

Winters says General Taylor reports that there are camps like this all over. The Russians liberated one much worse. “Worse?” Ten times as big, with execution chambers and ovens. “For cremating the bodies”, he explains to Nixon’s shocked face.

Nixon says the locals say they had no idea about the camp and that the Americans are exaggerating. Winters: “Well, they’re going to have a hell of an education tomorrow.” General Taylor has declared martial law. Every able-bodied person between 14 and 80 must go to the camps and help bury the bodies. The 10th Armored will supervise. Second Battalion is heading to Thalem.

The next day, Nixon drives a jeep to the camp as a cigarette burns down toward his mouth. Civilians in clothes that are much too nice for burying bodies are burying bodies. Some are crying. Nixon comes across the woman whose picture frame he broke, she of the yapping dog. She’s trying to drag a body from a pile. In a bit of symmetry -- and I can’t decide whether it’s elegant or a little too on-the-nose -- the woman looks up, sees Nixon and recognizes him. This time it’s she who breaks the gaze, her default look of pride and defiance breaking into shame.

Back in Thalem, we close the flashback loop. The string quartet is playing, ahem, Beethoven. Perconte, Liebgott, Luz, Bull and Webster listen and watch the cleanup of the town. Nixon tells them that Hitler’s dead. He shot himself in Berlin.

Bull: “Is the war over, sir?”
Nixon: “No. We have orders to Berchtesgaden. We move out in one hour.”
Webster: “Why? The man’s not home. ...Shoulda killed himself three years ago. Saved us a lot of trouble.”
Nixon: “Yeah he should have. But he didn’t.”

The quartet finishes, and we follow the leader’s hands as he puts his violin in its case, stows the bow, and closes the case.

The tag says that five million ethnic minorities and six million Jews were killed between 1942 and 1945. The closing theme is a different version in this episode, did you ever notice that? More somber, which is fitting I guess.

Don’t be sad, everybody. Next week’s our big finish! It’s all sky-blue lakes and lake-blue skies and a climax for sweetest little bromance this girl is every likely to see on film. Oh, and Winters strips and goes swimming. Yeah boy.

Poll #1325289 Why We Fight

Best Bromantic Moment:

Winters reaches out to Nixon after the jump with the 17th.
Perconte takes pity on O’Keefe.
The men sing Glory, Glory, What a Hell of a Way to Die.
Winters checks with Nixon to make sure he’s ok, after the letter from his wife.
Liebgott gives Webster a pass on his resume and approves of literature.
Bull whacks Perconte on Luz’ behalf.
A prisoner salutes Perconte.
A prisoner hugs...somebody.

Best OMG Moment:

At least somebody’s having sex.
Webster threatens a baker.
Mrs. Goering has to help bury the bodies.
Hitler is dead.
Points is next!

Worst WTF Moment:

Nixon’s plane lost all but three men and he’s devastated.
Nixon’s wife is taking the dog.
Nixon’s out of Vat 69.
The concentration camp.
The women’s camp is at the next railroad stop.
The Russians liberated a camp ten times as bad.
The prisoners have to stop eating and go back into the camp.

Liebgott has to tell the prisoners they must stop eating.

All those highly educated prisoners and officers. Someone else has to be able to speak both German and English.
Nixon’s German isn’t good enough to say, “Stop eating”?
Where the fuck is Webster?
Sign language? Mime? Draw a picture!

This gorgeous mess would ruin my life:


Nixon is an alcoholic. Who else needs professional help?

Lipton’s been smoking since Bastogne.
Bull seems to have an oral thing.
Cobb needs Assholes Anonymous.
Speirs is a shopaholic.
Liebgott is a teeny bit sadistic.
Webster needs help with anger management.
Perconte has a touch of OCD.
Winters needs to discover his sexuality. With me or with Nixon, his choice.