Episode 6: Like fucking for virginity

Sorry so late. Satellite went out this week, I had to scramble.

Patrolling with NVGs on, Kocher and his team snatch up a lone armed Iraqi. Aside from interrupting the guy taking a dump, which I don’t think the Geneva Conventions covers anyway, it’s by the book.  Then Captain America comes flying over the the side of the berm like he was shot of cannon and fucks everything up, because yeah, that unarmed guy Kocher’s now got cuffed and is pushing in front of him?  Yeah, that guy was trying to kill Eric, man!

Just in case anyone had a doubt, Captain America has lost his fucking mind. Officially. The guys in his platoon aren’t even bothering to talk behind his back about him anymore. Though, the guy who tells him his hamster’s jumped the wheel does call him “Sir.”

Thus opens the next-to-the-last episode, Stay Frosty.  Frosty, because, see?  Captain America, hell, everyone, not so frosty. Get it?  I’ll just say here at the beginning, that therein is my problem with the episode.  Too much telling, not enough showing.  No stray unconnected dots, pretty much every punch is telegraphed. A few examples:

Manimal being a dog to the Iraqi woman on the roadside/Manimal being a bigger dog to the female Marine later.

Exposition about the Iraqis using helmets to escape detection by thermals/Gabe finds an Iraqi helmet/his team gets shot at by the reservists.

Unnamed character out of nowhere shoehorned into scene so that we completely understand about the reservists about to show up.

Just like every other time I have a negative criticism of anything Simon/Burns & Co have done, I feel like a schmuck for saying so, because they are who they are and have done all the awesome they’ve done, and I’m sitting on my couch, barely able to crank out a post per show.   Nonetheless, this episode felt off-target, not of a piece with the others. That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.

Of course, it’s still pretty great…

The scene of Colbert dancing or flying or whatever he was doing was the highlight. Wonderful, though it would have been perfection without the exposition between Ray and Evan. Still, there was enough wtf? left in, and jesus did we ever need a palate cleanser right there after the dee-secration of the filtration dee-vice scene. Now we know why Sixta exists.  Because when you routinely condition people to act like violent animals, well, they aren’t going to stay inside the lines and someone has to be there to kick them in the head and make them stop. Remember Ray’s reference to pit bulls?  I once saw a pit bull attack another dog. There were dozens of people around, some of whom tried their best to separate the dogs but the pit bull was like a machine without an off switch.  Then two guys ran up with their cooler and threw the ice, freezing water, cans of beer, all of it, on the dogs and that did the trick.  That’s what Sixta is for.

Is it just me, or did anyone else have the same sick feeling at that first long shot of the refugees on the road, like any second we were going to see them blown up by an artillery attack?  That rubber band just keeps twisting and twisting and twisting all through that scene, aaaaaand sure enough, there goes an old man’s head.   You have to feel for these soldiers, I guess, because any man, woman, child, or small animal in their vicinity seems to die violently no matter what they do.  I mean they are supposed to be expert killers, not killing people by accident. Which, of course, is one of the things this episode hit us over the head with.  We’ve seen it every week, so we didn’t need Poke and Ice Man to spell it all out for us.

That’s what Stay Frosty was about though, more than anything. Drive around the head, run over the body.  You can’t win. Simultaneously blowing the shit out of a country and saving it at the same time is pretty close to impossible, especially when the whole premise is a lie to begin with, especially when you don’t do it with enough personnel and resources, and especially when even the good guys have to throw away the rule book because it’s irrelevant because…see beginning of sentence, and repeat.   Eight thousand Sixtas couldn’t unfuck things at this point, and remember: this is only a month in.

3 Comments

  1. I just got caught up with the series. After the first episode I was hesitant, but from there my addiction was back in full force- staying up till 3am to watch all of the episodes. Of course I saw many parallels to The Wire: the hierarchical institutions, seemingly willful destruction in the name of saving, and especially incompetent sycophancy rewarded because of the work and risks taken by pawns at the bottom (not to get all Marxist on you).

    Visually, it definitely came from Simon/Burns, but I honestly thought it got most of its war movie influence from Kubrick. At the end of TW’s run, Simon mentioned twice that he had copped a lot of inspiration from Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory.” I watched it after S5. It did include some of the same aforementioned themes, but in seeing GK- Simon definitely steals wholesale. “Paths of Glory” is the ultimate in jingo-istic hierarchical war insanity, set in World War I. Even some of the visual shots of American Doughboys/Recon Marines going over the trenches/berms were eerily similar. Especially the massed attack on the airfield. Godfather ignores all military logic and makes a mass attack on an unknown target against probable armor. That 1st Recon isn’t slaughtered has nothing to do wth the men’s skill, management’s master plan, or “manuever warfare.” It’s that the Iraqis happened to flee (and paratroopers would have taken the airfield anyway). “Nobody gives a Fuck.”

    Another theme Simon steals is the “duality of war” from Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket.” They blow up a school to destroy a Baathist arsenal. Spreading freedom with the business end of a 556. Fucking for Virginity? But Simon doesn’t run as far as Kubrick’s Private Joker and his peace sign/born to kill symbols. One of the most real aspects both directors/producers show are the utterly mundane next to the terrifying intensity of war (full disclosure: the closest to battle I’ve come is a tie between playing chess and paintball duels). According to someone, war is 90% boredom punctuated by 10% sheer terror. Kubrick and Simon render this vividly.

    While Kubrick is one of the greatest directors from which to steal, sometimes it’s a bit too obvious. One example- which production uses this quote:

    These are great days we’re living, bros. We are jolly green giants, walking the Earth with guns. These people we wasted here today are the finest human beings we will ever know. After we rotate back to the world, we’re gonna miss not having anyone around that’s worth shooting.

    This comes from FMJ- but GK offers almost identical comments. Also- listing the same famous Marines- killers like Oswald and Charles Whitman (guy on the Texas Administrative Building). These homages might be a little much for me, but Simon definitely gives some daps where daps are due.

    I had some other similar complaints in keeping character’s and ranks in order. I’m especially bad with names and probably don’t know a third of them. Ray (Ziggy) was so much better here than in the Wire. For some reason, Ziggy perpetually pissed me off while I found Ray only marginally annoying during tense situations. In the end, I felt that “Wire” rush of anger and awe- and an overwhelming desire for more. I guess that’s as big of a complement as I can give this miniseries.

    Finally, You guys have done a great job with keeping the blog running. It was solid commentary even though GK was out of your comfort zones in a sense. I really hope Treme wraps up successfully and this blog stays around to interpret that project.

  2. yikes, that comment was much longer than I intended.

  3. Pete, not to get all hetero – erotic, but I could kiss ya.

    Thanks for bringing that input, especially re Kubrick. This is why many pairs of eyes are better than just one on something like this.

    Re keeping the blog running, and the quality of posts, thanks. I’ve been completely out of my depth in all directions on this one. Hopefully blowing the blog up in order to save it will work in this case. Stay tuned, though, I’ve heard rumors in the wind …. we may not be done yet.

    Re Treme, the spirit is certainly willing, too early to tell about the flesh. Whether he chooses to do it here or elsewhere, I cannot imagine Brother Ray NOT blogging about it, so stay tuned.


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