Sir, why did you shoot the car?

The entire battalion, along with hundreds of other troops, is rolling through the wide open desert under a clear sky as Episode Two opens. It’s an impressive display of organized power on the move, a six-lane convoy of all manner of military vehicles moving purposefully onward. The scene recalls a passage from the book:

If you were to look at from the air, you’d see a segmented column of American invasion vehicles—Marines in various units—stretching for several kilometers along the highway. Despite all its disparate elements, the column functions like a single machine, pulverizing anything in its path that appears to be a threat.

The Iceman is even moved by the spectacle, talking about how, less than 48 hours into the invasion, here they are “rolling with impunity on Saddam’s highway.”

It’s a great image but it doesn’t last long. The convoy stalls and … cue the herd of goats wandering through the gridlock.  Bitching commences in Iceman’s humvee, about the jam, about other units and their displays of “moto shit,” and about how their much-trained-for bridge mission appears to have gotten shitcanned by the higher ups. The Iceman cuts it short, reminding his team that they are all Marines, and Marines follow orders.

And that is what this episode is about. Officers, enlisted men, and the glue that binds them together. Judgment. Communication. Orders. Discipline. It’s glaringly obvious that without such, the whole testosterone-fueled enterprise would be chaos.

Wright continues:

The cogs that make up this machine are the individual teams in hundreds of vehicles, several thousand Marines scrutinizing every hut, civilian car and berm for weapons or muzzle flashes. The invasion all comes down to a bunch of extremely tense young men in their late teens and twenties, with their fingers on the triggers of rifles and machine guns.

But what Simon/Burns and Co. takes great pains to show in this episode is that it’s not just the green newbies that need reining in, that are the biggest threat to cohesion.  The ones piloting that unified machine, the brain driving the body,  the officers — they are the ones in a position to really fuck things up.  And in this episode, they do. It’s a key issue in the book as well, but  Simon/Burns depart from the book somewhat noticeably in order to front-load this point before their narrative goes any farther.

In addition, some random highlights:

Are there no limits to The Iceman’s awesomeness?

Very glad that Person is not just source of one-liners. Even after just two episodes, I’m liking James Ransome in this role much more than an entire season as Ziggy.

The scene where Iceman is watching the wandering Marine spoke volumes.  A Marine, alone, unfocused, away from the rest of his unit, was as unsettling as some of the more gruesome aftermath shots.

Likewise, the twilight scene in Godfather’s tent as he muses aloud to his gathered officers was poetry, in addition to adding complexity to whole concept of chain of command.

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2 Comments

  1. There are, in fact, no limits to the Iceman’s awesomeness.

    (Sorry I keep chiming in late, I don’t get to see this until the umpteenth re-run as it inevitably conflicts with Mad Men, Bourdain or one of our other ongoing obsessions.)

    Seriously, my love for Iceman is approaching Lester Freemon levels.

    Ray, I continue to kind of love, too, because he’s so reassuring. There’s not a lot to figure out there, everything he thinks comes right out of his mouth.

    The show is getting kind of monotonous to me, but I think that’s the point, it’s monotonous for THEM, too.

    A.

  2. You’re not late- I just barely got the thing up there myself-I have to watch a couple of times, usually with captioning on, before i get it.

    I also admire Fick. The relationship between Fick and Colbert is interesting. Fick is Colbert’s superior but he depends on him for guidance because he’s more experienced , and esp after Ep 3, it’s obvious Colbert depends on Fick as well.


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