Sunday, August 17, 2008

Generation Kill, "Stay Frosty": When Captain America stabs his mighty bayonet...

Brief spoilers for the penultimate episode of "Generation Kill" coming up just as soon as I guzzle a milkshake...

I'll be honest: this is another week where I feel like I'm running out of things to say. Again, I'm enjoying "Generation Kill" enormously, but as I said a few weeks back, each episode is very much of a piece, and I feel like we've hit most of the major themes by now. I imagine I'll be more inspired to write about the seventh and final episode (which I haven't watched yet), given that it covers the Marines' time in Iraq post-"Mission Accomplished," but this week I'm going to keep it brief and just highlight a few things I either liked or was interested in:

• Colbert's brief moment of Zen -- sprinting around camp doing his best impression of a bird in flight -- was beautiful, a moment of pure joy from a guy who usually carries himself like a machine. In particular, I loved how, after he said "Better now," it was like he flipped a switch and turned back into the Iceman.

• Sgt. Major Sixta returns after being absent for several episodes, and his mangled pronunciations and grammar -- "You inappropriating your chemical filtration device by attempting fornication with! Jesus, do I have to tell you not to dee-secretate your mask for perversions!" -- made me giggle like usual.

• For the most part, we've seen Godfather through Fick's eyes, and it hasn't been the most flattering view, as Fick clearly worries that Godfather is putting his men in danger solely to impress General Matis. But Ferrando's conversation with Colbert -- who, like a lot of the other men, really wants another mission and is pleased to hear he might get one -- shows us another angle on the man.

• They certainly haven't held back in showing Captain America's meltdown, have they? When I interviewed the real Kocher before the miniseries debuted, he said that people ask him all the time whether Cap was really that crazy, and he says that both the book and the miniseries leave out a whole lot of other behavior even more bizarre, possibly because no one would believe it.

What did everybody else think?

25 comments:

kristinj said...

I agree the series is immensely enjoyable. I'm looking forward to watching it again from the beginning. I especially appreciate that the series' point of view makes each mission (and episode) so suspenseful.

I think they've done a particularly effective job of showing how difficult Fick's position is, dealing with the men both above and below him. I was sick for him when his job was being threatened.

Can't believe how relieved I was when Walt finally recovered from the roadblock shooting.

David said...

I loved this episode, as I have ever other one, but one moment that seemed a bit more spelled out than the series has mostly been was the moment with the English speaking and quiet fetching Iraqi women voicing her opinion on the occupation.

I'm not doubting that it happened, but thought that a moment like Ray saying offhandedly, "Don't they know this war is over" was the sort of line that didn't come off as preaching an opinion but subtly displayed a theme of the show.

Also, I gotta say, for one of the more poignant and dark shows on television, it's pretty damn entertaining. Watching this in HD is exciting and scenes like the whole Beefaroni conversation, and tons more make this one of the funnier shows on TV (at least in the summer).

Alan Sepinwall said...

David, your mentioning the Beefaroni scene reminded me of another hysterical moment: Ray's frustration at having to wait for the porno mag, and the finding out he'll have to share it with Trombley.

Mark said...

I thought it was interesting that Captain America mangled Catch 22 earlier in the episode, and Sergeant Colbert displayed "Harry" like behavior when he broke out the Beef-a-roni. And to top it off, Colbert was even quoting Shakespeare before they entered Baghdad.

josh said...

I know next to nothing about military ranks & such, so humor me here...Fick outranks the short guy who is Encino Man's right hand (Gunny?), right? Why is he in the meeting at the beginning w/ Godfather where he mentions Col. Dowdy's fate but apparently Fick is not?

Chris said...

Josh - My sister and I were confused at that too - how did the "sending the guys to recon the busted tank" come about? We were trying to piece that together.

Was Gunny trying to simultaneously cover for Fick but also twist a knife in his back? He looked like he was trying to catch him, but I had a tough time understanding the rank and who could order whom in that conversation.

Chris said...

Oh - and I am so going to miss this series after next week. I haven't enjoyed much on TV this year like I've enjoyed this show.

Between Colbert and Ray - that's comedy gold - with the added bonus of its only the type of comedy you can get if they're truly friends.

P.S. I really liked the conversation over the ending credits instead of the usual background chatter - everyone make sure to catch it if you missed it. Its a conversation between the reporter and two soldiers (I forget their names - the Mexican one and another guy from that Humvee, I believe) about how all the nonsense they spew and how vile it is means nothing because they have each others backs.

It's funny how they can be so racist and mean, but it doesn't mean anything and actually brings them closer. Yet, its completely believable.

Anonymous said...

So the Major guy, who also played Ofcr. Calligio in the Wire was a real life Lt. Col. of Delta Company in the Iraq war. He was their commanding officer.
Im curious is this the same Delta Company that gets a pretty much negative portrayal in Episode 6?
If so that would be interesting as ever.

SJ said...

I love the background chatter.

-Trombley on Mexicans: "Everybody likes to shoot Mexicans. Even Mexicans"

-Ray about one of the naked Iraqis: "Be careful of the one on the right! His cock is like Manimal's, you don't wanna anger that!"

-"Hey reporter, do you know how to curl up like a bitch?"

What an awesome miniseries.

Anonymous said...

About the Kocher interview, I'd really love to know what kind of stupid stuff Captain America did that didn't make it into the book or the miniseries.

Alan, is that interview online anywhere? I have to say, after reading the book, I find Kocher to be one of the more interesting - and awe-inspiring - subjects of the book/miniseries.

Alan Sepinwall said...

It was for the feature I wrote in advance of the premiere.

Assassin Actual said...

I believe that Gunny Greigo (Casey Kasem) is basically Encino Man's right hand. Godfather called the meeting with his team leaders (Patterson, Encino Man, etc.), and presumably each of them brought their senior enlisted man with them.

Fick outranks Casey Kasem, and Kasem outranks the Marines who he sent on the "recon mission," but he's not directly above them in the chain of command. Plus, Kasem has obvious influence on Encino Man and seems to have it in for Fick. He seems to derive a lot of pleasure from exerting petty influence -- I think he was hoarding batteries in one of the earlier episodes, and he had no sympathies for the sick marines -- and I think his "recon mission" to the tank was a way of trying to make Fick look incompetent. When Fick found out, he tried to cover himself and his lie that Fick approved the mission by saying he was looking out for Fick. He's the most despicable character in the show. Encino Man is well-meaning but dumb. Captain America is just a coward who shouldn't have been in the Marines, but he's ignorant and most of the time just confused. Casey Kasem is Bill Rawls without the legitimate authority and with no conscience.

The conversation over the credits was good and illuminating about the characters. But I like the radio chatter too. I think that it alludes to some of the unit's missions in that episode. So I think there was one where artillery and a forward observer were trying to figure out what Encino Man wanted them to fire on when he was giving them the wrong grid coordinates. I think another one was between pilots who were being asked to drop bombs on the mythical tank army outside the airfield. It adds to the subtle and dark humor of the show.

Michael Cowgill said...

He's the most despicable character in the show. Encino Man is well-meaning but dumb. Captain America is just a coward who shouldn't have been in the Marines, but he's ignorant and most of the time just confused. Casey Kasem is Bill Rawls without the legitimate authority and with no conscience.

I said it last week, I can't stand this guy, but you really nailed him down there. I was even mad at him for getting to be in on those meetings while Fick, someone with real authority, wasn't (I know sometimes he is). Fortunately and unfortunately for the actor, his face puts across that personality -- contempt, arrogance, and malicious delight.

Seeing Fick put him in his place more directly and less politely and in front of his men top last week's moment in some ways, though Encino Man wasn't there to see it. Another nice Fick moment, the meeting where Encino Man was trying to put him in his place and then congratulated Captain America and put down Kocher. Kocher was ready to show Captain America for the fool he is, but Fick wisely saw it wasn't the time and cut the meeting short. There's an officer protecting a lower rank. In another Wire comparison, he's a lot like Daniels, figuring out how to play the game but still do the job with integrity.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Fortunately and unfortunately for the actor, his face puts across that personality -- contempt, arrogance, and malicious delight.

That's all in the performance, not the man. I've seen David Barrera play actors who are the complete temperamental opposite of Casey Kasem -- notably as Bobby Simon's friendly cardiologist on NYPD Blue -- and that expression was never there.

Undercover Black Man said...

-- notably as Bobby Simon's friendly cardiologist on NYPD Blue --

I've been wondering where I knew his face from! It was killing me.

Gladly said...

The conversation over the credits was good and illuminating about the characters. But I like the radio chatter too. I think that it alludes to some of the unit's missions in that episode.

I feel the same way. At the beginning of "Stay Frosty" the radio chatter ends with, (Paraphrasing because I can't remember the language) "Be prepared for remarks . . ." That was such a great lead-in to the episode.

Alan, do you know how the credit radio chatter was done? I'm assuming it's actors, maybe leftover recordings that weren't used in the series?

Speaking of chatter, there were so many conversations going on in this episode that are just off-screen, or only barely heard. I swear, I could hear one of the Marines say, "This is why we can't have nice things!" I think when the battalion is sitting, waiting during the tank invasion of Baghdad.

Jort said...

When Colbert is done explaining the battle plan on the deck, is somebody saying "what the fuck are you all Marlo about?" ?

Michael Cowgill said...

That's all in the performance, not the man. I've seen David Barrera play actors who are the complete temperamental opposite of Casey Kasem -- notably as Bobby Simon's friendly cardiologist on NYPD Blue -- and that expression was never there.

More credit to him. I recognized him from a guest spot on Veronica Mars, where the character was prideful in a different way but sometimes had similar expressions -- minus the sneering.

jknola said...

Re: Jort
"When Colbert is done explaining the battle plan on the deck, is somebody saying "what the fuck are you all Marlo about?" ?"

He said moto, which is basically gung-ho speech/behavior.

Jort said...

ahhh, I knew I was mishearing that. That would be a bit much, if he really was saying Marlo :-)
Moto it is!

Andrew said...

So the Major guy, who also played Ofcr. Calligio in the Wire was a real life Lt. Col. of Delta Company in the Iraq war. He was their commanding officer.
Im curious is this the same Delta Company that gets a pretty much negative portrayal in Episode 6?


No. The actor (Benjamin Busch) headed a LAV (Light Armored Vehicle) company. He wasn't recon.

Anonymous said...

Anybody else recognize the Marine playing the guy who hitched a ride with Delta and talks about running into Ollie North was also the soldier that Clark Johnson's character goes to interview at Walter Reed to verify Templeton's story about the homeless vet.

Anonymous said...

Another Wire reference:

Echoing Kima before Major Crimes served their subpoenas on Clay Davis et al, Trombley saying "F- 'em where they live!" when told they were going to be sent north of Baghdad to fight the Saddam loyalists.

Love that!

Anonymous said...

I was serving as a BTN XO (Army) during the invasion. We went up the west side.

To make you aware of protocol.

There was a question re: 1st LT Fick who outranks the Company Senior NCO.

Assasin is correctomundo.

When the BC calls his commander in at the Company level, the Company commanders and their senior NCO's will report, just as if a Company CO calls in his Platoon Leaders, his senior NCO will accompany the PL.

domino87 said...

I have to go back and watch all these episodes again, if not for the background chatter alone. A few of my favorites so far:

"I can fix anything from a screen door to a broken heart."

^^(Episode that starts off with the men fixing their humvees.)


"My balls smell worse than (so and so)'s mouth."

"How do you know what his mouth smells like"

"Because my balls were in it!"

^^Horribly immature I know but I'm only 21 so I hear much worse stuff from my roommates everyday