Briefer than I'd like (hey, it's press tour, and Coolio is being really loud outside my window) spoilers for episode two of "Generation Kill" coming up just as soon as I earn my stories...
As First Recon really pushes into Iraq, at one point becoming the northernmost-unit of the invasion, we begin to get a sense of just how FUBAR the entire operation is. Or maybe that's just the way it seems from ground level.
The mission they've been training for gets scrubbed, with no real explanation. Godfather and Sgt. Major Sixta continue to push for the shaving of the moostashes -- and Sixta finds a way to do it that completely kills all the buzz from second platoon surviving the ambush -- and we start to see just how much Godfather is motivated by a desire to do something glamorous and exciting to impress General Matis (played by Hey! It's That Guy! Robert John Burke), regardless of whether it makes sense for his men. They're still inadequately supplied, and after Fick is assured that they'll enter a town under cover of night, we immediately cut to the Marines entering in the daytime. Captain America gets hold of an enemy AK-47 and begins firing it indiscriminately -- never a good idea in a combat zone, given how the Marines are trained to differentiate the sound of their own weapons from those of the enemy, right?
And yet, within that, we begin to get a sense of just how good and smart the Recon Marines themselves are. One of my favorite moments in the episodes I've seen comes the bit where they're rolling through the town, and Colbert reassures Trombley not to panic, without even needing to turn around to see either Trombley or whatever it was that Trombley was apparently scared of. This is a man who pays such close attention to detail that he judges the quality of his bowel movements to help assess his combat readiness; this is a man you do not want to mess with, I think.
(This episode had going number two on its mind quite a bit -- albeit all of it drawn from the book -- as we also got the whole bit about leaving toilet paper and other detritus around versus the neatness of the Afghanistan mission, as well as the Iraqi woman watching a Marine casually take a dump in her yard.)
I'm not sure, to be honest, how much I care for the scenes that are just of Godfather, or Godfather with Mattis, etc. Evan Wright's explanation for why the miniseries is more opaque than the book is that Simon wanted to put us into the heads of the Marines on the ground, and/or Wright himself, and that all the explanatory details about the mission and what's happening away from Colbert's Humvee is stuff that Wright found out way after the fact. And if that's the case, then that makes thematic sense. But then throwing in material about the higher-ups, stuff that the Recon Marines aren't privy to (as opposed to a briefing that Fick might attend) seems to go against the spirit of that. I'd rather the storytelling either adopted an entirely Colbert-centric point of view or else became omniscient enough that some of the chain of command stuff helped to clarify exactly what was going on.
Getting back to Colbert, it's really interesting to observe the dynamic inside the Humvee. Because he's so good at what he does, and because he carries himself in a certain way, his humor sneaks up on you. When he busts on Trombley for knocking up his girlfriend, it sounds at first almost like he's taunting him, but after a while it becomes clear that, no, that's just how Colbert sounds when he's cracking a joke. James Ransone as Person is the obvious standout performance in the mini, but I'm really enjoying watching Alexander Skarsgard work.
What did everybody else think?