Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Unit: Casualties of war

I don't write about "The Unit" very often, but CBS sent out a screener of last night's episode and next week's, and they were strong enough to merit a little blog love. Spoilers for part one coming up just as soon as I put on a concert t-shirt...

I was at a bit of a disadvantage for this one, as the screener arrived with a note asking critics not to reveal who died. So not only did I know someone would die, but that it was likely to be a surprise ending, since Grey was wounded so early in the episode and yet CBS PR was requesting secrecy. And since I figured the dead guy was either going to be Grey or Hector -- who have always been second-tier characters without wives -- that meant Hector was likely to take a bullet in the final minutes, which he did.

That said, until the Army truck conveniently pulled up at the exact moment (and location) the Unit members charged out of the building, I thought "5 Brothers" was a very effective thriller episode, particularly during the scenes in the apartment where Brown had to keep control of the family who had the poor fortune to have their home turned into a hide-out/field hospital for the Unit. I thought the episode struck a good balance between showing Bob trying his best not to hurt these innocent civilians and not allowing them to do anything that might hurt him or his guys, and the fact that he had to kill the English-speaking son was a place a lot of other shows wouldn't have been willing to go. "The Unit" gets dismissed a lot as a meat-and-potatoes action show, but there's a moral ambiguity to a lot of it that you rarely see on network TV.

And as I said the last time I blogged about the show, Scott Foley continues to do surprising, interesting work as Brown; Bob's a quieter, less flashy character than either Jonas or Mac, and some actors would struggle to play an action hero whose defining characteristic is his ability to think, but Foley pulls it off. (He also tends to shine the most in the more overtly Mamet-y episodes; I wouldn't be surprised to see him become a regular in Mamet's movies once the show ends.)

The strip club/tow truck story was what it was -- an excuse to give the wives something to do in the middle of an episode that didn't really need them -- but all the female characters will be used much better in next week's episode, dealing with the aftermath of Hector's death.

What did everybody else think?

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is one of my favorite shows. Wish you blogged it more.

This was the best episode yet. You could feel the tension throughout.

Jon Delfin said...

Haven't watched it yet, but I'm not at all surprised by the "surprise." I actually expected Hector to get taken out last week, about 12 seconds after he hooked up with the girl of his dreams. (Specifically, when he left the motel room to get ice, I thought he'd get iced.)

Anonymous said...

Never been to your blog. But I love the Unit. Great episode and I smelled it coming for some reason. Just intuition. Sad.

Anonymous said...

Incredibly ballsy move to have one of the stars of the show shoot (and I'm assuming kill) an innocent, English speaking, Lebanese teenager. Not only kill him, but shoot him in the back. After he helped save one of the unit.

I can't believe this got by CBS, but I'm glad it did, as it does highlight not only the moral ambiguity of the show but also, in my opinion, the moral ambiguity of our occupation of Iraq. I think this epsiode was a comment on our occupation of Iraq in microcosm.

I wonder if the shooting will be referenced in later eposiodes, or if it is just part of a dirty job that Bob had to do. Interestingly, the shooting was contratsted moments later with Mac's (I think it was Mac) decision not to shoot the middle-aged woman who starts screaming, "They're down here."

Unbeliavble episode for a show on network television.

Ben Guest

Anonymous said...

My first reaction to Hector's death was that it wasn't just some lone sniper. I thought that the Colonel (Robert Patrick) could have something to do it since Hector saw him with Mac's wife the previous week. I've watched this from the begining and I really hope the show doesn't go there. A great episode nonetheless.

Jordan said...

one of my fav shows on tv honestly. I was saddened to see Hector killed, I enjoyed him as a character. As previously hinted by another poster I think Colonel Ryan might have had something to do with his death. Why did the sniper only take one shot? The rest of the Unit members were still sitting ducks in the back of the truck... interesting. Ryan would have been protecting his own life. Having messed with a team members wife and being a former Unit member himself his life was forfeit now and he knew that. Rules of the Operators...

Anonymous said...

Y'all are insane. Ain't no way Ryan had one of his own men killed. He may be an asshole, but he's not a fucking asshole.

Ben Guest

Anonymous said...

I too somehow believe that Ryan may have had something to do with Hectors death. Like someone else mentioned, sooner or later Hector would have to rat out Ryan and it would end up being either he goes or I go.

Chris Littmann said...

Gave up on it last season. The way things have been on TV with no new shows to watch, I sort of wish I hadn't, but I felt like I'd watched one too many episodes that didn't go anywhere. They all felt like isolated incidents that never connected from one episode to the next, with a few exceptions, like the one wife flirting with that very liberal guy leading war protests.

cgeye said...

Y'all ain't seeing a link to the beginning of this season: Charlotte and her cabal, driving a wedge between her husband and the unit, by staging a sniping that has his marks on it, from the gun used to the possibility of it being done by a private soldier he knew. If I wanted the unit to tear itself apart, bringing Colonel Ryan's affair out in the open would do it.

Bruce Reid said...

Late to the party, I'll just toss in some agreements:

A fantastic episode.

Ben Guest's dead on, the show's not going to trash the Colonel like that.

And as another fan from the beginning, I hope you find the opportunity to blog more on The Unit, Alan. I think it's a wonderful little anomaly, a macho action thriller that's nonetheless completely clear-eyed about the costs and consequences of the actions it celebrates. In it's own clipped, no-nonsense fashion, it's been mourning the execution of the war on terror since day one.

Anonymous said...

The unit isn't morally ambiguous. They kill people they don't like. They even had a backstory awhile back where they showed that Haysbert's character had always been that way. Now it's okay because he works for "us". I think it's an ugly comment on our times that they portray that as acceptable.

Anonymous said...

Since several people have picked up the "Col. Ryan arranged the hit" thread, I thought I would respond (again). Ryan has messed up his personal life, but he believes in the unit above all. He would not kill one of the unit to cover up his own indiscretions.

But, let's say, for the sake of argument, that he did. There are too many holes in the scenario:

1) He would have Mac killed, not Hector.

2) He would have arranged to have Hector killed (or have done it himself) in the US. There are way too many variables in trying to arrange a hit on spec ops soldier in a foreign (enemy) country. It would be much easier stateside. Which leads me to my next point...

3) The unit was on the move throughout the episode. Communication was down. Yet Ryan somewhow magically knew what building they would take cover in, was able to communicate this info to his assasin (even though all sat com was blacked out by the Lebanese), and his assasin, once alerted by carrier pigeon or some such, was able to get into position quickly enough to take Hector out. Even knew what side of the building they would come out of.

Right...

Ben Guest

Anonymous said...

Also, completely agree with Bruce that you should cover this show more often.

Ben

samurai said...

I found your blog after finally watching this episode last night on DVR, and having to find out what other people were saying about this episode.

I have to say that this show has consistantly done decent episodes with what is obviously not a big budget, and this episode in particular you would almost expect to be a season cliff hanger.

I think the shooting of the kid will come back to haunt Bob. I'm not sure why, but that's the impression I have.

I'm not sold on the Colonel having anything to do with Hecter's death. I think I remember hearing two shots and a military sniper would have only taken one at a time, but that could just be writing, etc.

I was late to the 'party' in regards to watching this show. I did not start until late in season 1, but I've been a faithful watcher ever since.

Anonymous said...

I was talking with my cousin who is now in the military he and I were pretty pissed about the death of Hector... and now how is Mac gonna find out about his cheating wife and C.O.