Spoilers for episode 3 of "Generation Kill" coming up just as soon as I track down a photo I loaned out...
I'm running out of things to discuss in these weekly reviews, not because I'm losing interest in "Generation Kill," but because each episode is very much of a piece with the whole miniseries, and there are only so many ways I can analyze the dysfunctional relationship between command and the troops.
That said, there are two events in "Screwby" worth discussing.
The first is the decision to abandon the town where the locals claimed to be ready, willing and able to lead Fick and the others to hidden weapons and members of the Republican Guard. For all we know -- and Fick freely acknowledges this -- the informant could have been a liar just looking to get revenge on some local rivals. (He does, after all, promise to lead Fick to a chemical weapons cache.) But by rolling out quickly and leaving the guy with nothing but chem lights, they'll never know, will they? One of the fundamental complaints critics of the war have had with our invasion strategy was that we were in such a tearing hurry to knock over Saddam's army and get to Baghdad that we didn't properly ferret out all the bad actors who would wind up in the insurgency. In the book, Godfather talks to Evan Wright for a while about how he didn't understand why they weren't taking their time in each town to separate enemies from allies and do a better job at winning hearts and minds. The quick-strike invasion itself was a huge success, but it was like digging a tunnel without pausing to erect supports along the way: you'll get to the other side, but everything's going to collapse behind you.
(Though Godfather was obviously wise about what we should have been doing along the way, he makes one of the most bone-headed decisions of the story when he orders the abandonment of the company's supply truck just because he was in such a hurry to go capture the airfield and impress General Mattis.)
The other notable event is Trombley shooting the kid and the aftermath. Trombley is, in some ways, the most important character in the book. More than anybody else, he symbolizes Wright's definition of what Generation Kill is all about: a young man weened on video games, excited to go out and get some regardless of the target or the value of the mission. In the book, he often comes across like a sociopath, and you can tell that's the reason, and not his relative lack of training, that makes the other Marines dislike him so much. Even in an alpha male group like this, Trombley was too gung ho, you know?
The way Billy Lush plays Trombley doesn't really invalidate that interpretation, but he deepens the character as written on the page. Lush's Trombley still isn't someone I would likely want to spend time with, but there's this odd sweetness to the performance that I wasn't expecting, that humanizes Trombley without betraying Wright's portrait of him. That moment where he asks Colbert if he -- Colbert, not himself -- is going to be okay because of the shooting incident showed tremendous self-awareness at the same time it showed that Trombley wasn't remotely as troubled by what happened as Colbert was.
Feel free to talk about any or all of the other incidents in "Screwby" -- Fick risking his career to prevent the idiotic Encino Man from dropping a bomb on his own troops, or the village getting destroyed entirely because two different units didn't have the same comms, or Captain America's latest idiocy -- but even though I continue to enjoy "Generation Kill," I find myself at a loss for things to write about it each week.
What did everybody else think?