Monday, June 22, 2009

Band of Brothers rewind, episode 7: "The Breaking Point"

In the home stretch now on "Band of Brothers." Spoilers for the seventh episode, "The Breaking Point," coming up just as soon as I link up with I Company...
"Alright, I want mortars and grenade launchers on that building till it's gone. When it's gone I want 1st to go straight in. Forget going around. Everybody else, follow me." -Lt. Speirs
Because I just never get tired of that moment, do I?

As I said when I reviewed "Bastogne," "The Breaking Point" seems to be the consensus favorite episode of the series, and I can certainly understand why. It combines the point-of-view storytelling, which makes the second half of the series so much more intense than the first, with the amazing spectacle that we so often got in the first half of the series. It features both one of the lowest points of the series (Buck losing it as he stares at Toye and Guarnere's broken bodies), and one of the highest (Speirs running to Easy's rescue during the attack on Foy). And it has a superb central performance by Donnie Wahlberg as 1st Sgt. Lipton, the man holding the company together while the officers are flaking out.

But I had two fundamental issues with the episode back in '01, and I still have them now, that keep me from ranking it quite as highly as most of you do. (Still, I'd probably put it at least third, after "Bastogne" and maybe "Why We Fight.") I want to get those out of the way so we can talk about all the brilliance.

My first issue is with the narration. It's probably necessary to help fill in the gaps of an episode where so much is happening, and to help underline certain points, like how the men didn't hold Buck's departure against him. But while Wahlberg is a terrifically expressive actor who says so much with a simple look, he (like his brother) has a fairly flat, thin speaking voice that doesn't hold up under such prolonged scrutiny. The first time I watched this episode, on an HBO review screener (it was a videotape, I believe, which is how long ago this was), I thought for several minutes that it was a temp track recorded quickly and without emotion by a production assistant. But it was Wahlberg, and compared to Damian Lewis in "Points," or even Eion Bailey in "The Last Patrol," something always feels lacking in the voiceover to me.

There are also moments where the voiceover feels unnecessary, as if writer Graham Yost didn't trust the audience to grasp certain things (say, Lipton's mistrust of Lt. Dike) without spelling it out for them. That was also a problem I had with "Boomtown," the show Yost created directly after this, co-starring Wahlberg and Neal McDonough. "Boomtown" (at least, the first season) had its ardent supporters, but I often found it guilty of telling rather than showing, and thought that most of its appeal came from the actors and the production values.

All of which brings me to my second issue with "The Breaking Point," which is the closing scene with Speirs and Lipton at the church, where again Yost has to put into words an idea -- the amazing job Lipton did holding Easy together during its lowest point of the war -- that any viewer who's been watching the preceding hour-plus should understand by now. I could almost live with Speirs' speech about the one man Easy could count on at Bastogne if the scene ended with Speirs realizing that Lipton is so selfless he doesn't understand whom Speirs is describing. But having Speirs say, "Hell, it was you, 1st Sergeant!" is just too much, a really false, forced moment that drives me crazy every time I watch it. There isn't a similarly jarring note for me in, say, "Bastogne."

But beyond those two points... holy cow. What an amazing 69 minutes of storytelling by Yost, director David Frankel, and everyone else involved.

Where "Bastogne" was following Doc Roe, and therefore cut away from the battle whenever he was focusing on saving a wounded soldier, "The Breaking Point" offers no respite from combat. We're there as the trees explode, as some men are killed for stupid reasons (Hoobler shooting himself with the Luger) and others are horribly wounded for noble ones (Guarnere gets out of his foxhole to drag his buddy Toye to safety), and as some die simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time (Muck and Penkala had the deepest foxhole in the company and were killed by a direct hit). There's no let-up as morale goes from bad to worse under Lt. Dike, as Compton and Malarkey suffer differing levels of combat fatigue (Malarkey can stay with the men, while Buck... can't, and can you blame him?) and the attack on Foy begins to go awry because Dike freezes up.

But amid all the spectacle and horror and dread is a pretty inspiring story of leadership, and of the different kinds of it that served Easy over the years.

Dick Winters led by example -- by being the best at everything, and filling the men with such confidence in him that they would follow him into Hell if need be.

Lipton is also a fine soldier, but his approach is as much about understanding the individual needs of the men as inspiring them as a whole. He knows, for instance, that Malarkey needs some time away from the line, and that maybe he can make some good out of Hoobler's death by giving Malarkey the Luger. He knows that Luz's Dike impression is just going to increase the panic level, but he makes sure to compliment George on the quality of it before asking him to stop. And he knows that Winters really isn't in a position to remove Dike until something more egregious happens, but he knows that his old CO will at least listen.

Dike, of course, is an utter failure as a leader. He doesn't make decisions, doesn't make himself available when needed, and even his attempts to connect with the men are half-hearted, as we see when he disappears as Lipton is in the middle of telling him his life story.

Ronald Speirs, on the other hand, is a killer. Whatever the truth is about the German POWs and the cigarettes, or about the man he killed in his own platoon(*), he does not suffer from indecision. His mind and body work as one as he marks a course of action -- just watch the way Matthew Settle moves without a trace of hesitation when Winters sends Speirs into Foy, or how the words fly out of his mouth as he's telling Lipton what to do to take out the sniper -- and while he may lack for warmth or conscience, his decisiveness is an asset Easy desperately needs at this moment in the war.

(*) This episode is as close as we're ever going to get in the miniseries to answering the question about either incident, as we find out that Speirs is too pleased with the power those stories give him to confirm or deny them. The book "Beyond Band of Brothers" gives a more concrete explanation for the one about shooting his own man, and says that Speirs did it because the man was refusing to take orders in the middle of combat -- which is as justifiable a reason for execution as any in the military.

Again, I think "The Breaking Point" has some flaws, but for the most part it works brilliantly, and features one jaw-dropping moment after another. Even though I disagree that it's the best episode of the series, I'm not going to argue the point very strongly with those of you who do, because so much of it is so great.

Some other thoughts on "The Breaking Point":

• This is Wahlberg's episode, but it's not hard to see why Yost also wanted to hire McDonough for "Boomtown." His portrayal of Compton's breaking point, and the empty shell he is after it, is superb.

• For that matter, Rick Gomez is mostly comic relief as Luz, but he's wonderful in the sequence where Muck and Penkala are calling for Luz to join them, only for the shell to hit their foxhole before he could get there. How do you keep going on after something like that? I know I'd pull a Buck Compton if I was in that position.

• This will, not surprisingly, be the last we'll see in the miniseries of Kirk Acevedo as Toye and Frank John Hughes as Guarnere. Their presence (both the soldiers and the actors playing them) will be missed in the upcoming chapters. Though both lost their legs, Toye would live until 1995, and Guarnere is still with us. (His grandson maintains, a good message board to talk about "Band of Brothers." One word of warning, for the spoiler-phobic: a key member of Easy Company died last week, and there's a post near the top of that site about it.)

• I also love that Guarnere is able to crack a joke about getting back home ahead of Toye. Though he doesn't get his own spotlight episode, he still makes one of the biggest impressions of any character in the series.

• Jamie Bamber, aka Apollo from "Battlestar Galactica," makes his first appearance of the series as Lt. Foley, whose most notable moment here is yelling at Dike to make a decision as they're stuck behind the haystack. If you're watching for the first time, don't expect to see much more of Bamber in upcoming episodes, as Foley is a fairly minor character in the scheme of the miniseries.

• Shifty Powers is only slightly more prominent than Foley, though "The Breaking Point" gets to show off the man's amazing marksmanship when he takes out the sniper at Foy. As Popeye Wynn said of his friend, "It just doesn't pay to be shootin' at Shifty when he's got a rifle."

• I haven't talked much about the opening sequences with the surviving members of Easy Company, in part because I'm trying to stick by the who lives/who dies no-spoiler rule. (Though I should warn you that I'm going to break it very early in my review of "The Last Patrol.") So if you're somehow not to the end of the miniseries yet, I won't say who the man is who breaks down at the thought of seeing his buddies all torn up, but it's an incredibly affecting moment -- especially since you can tell these are the type of men who rarely opened up like that in the half-century since the war.

• This is TV, so a few moments get exaggerated for dramatic purposes, but not by much. In real life, Winters stopped himself from running across the field at Foy, rather than needing Colonel Sink to stop him. And some of the surviving members of Easy said that Speirs' dash to hook up with I Company wasn't quite as superheroic as Frankel makes it look. But as Lipton puts it when describing the moment, "Damn that's impressive."

Coming up next (probably on Thursday): "The Last Patrol," in which Private Webster returns from the hospital to find Easy Company much changed after its time in Bastogne.

What did everybody else think?


kwig said...

You may want to edit at the end there where you say the next episode is 'Breaking Point'.

Malarkey could be forgiven for thinking he somehow angered the gods after the events in this one.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Fixed, Kwig. Thanks.

BF said...

I think the narration as recorded works better than you think. The "flatness and emotionless" quality is because the character of Lipton is tired, cold, hungry, and worn out during the episode proper. Having peppy and engaging narration while the character is an exhausted wreck wouldn't mesh.

"The Breaking Point" and "Why We Fight" are my two favorites. And this one is much more re-watchable than Why We Fight, for reasons that will become obvious when we get there.

Lizbeth said...

I love re-watching this series and agree it is stupendous. But, yeah, I wish the writer would have trusted the audience a bit more in this episode. We get that Lipton has been leading these men, and we don't need the point hammered home.

I think this is Wahlberg's best acting. In fact, his acting is so good it renders the voiceover unnecessary. We also get that Buck and Malarkey are broken once again through fantastic acting. Not sure we need VO to point it out.

Trust the actors. Trust the audience. Show don't tell.

But otherwise, just some great storytelling.

Toeknee said...

I agree with BF in that my favorite episode is either this one or “Why We Fight”. Whichever one I watched most recently is usually my favorite, so today it’s “The Breaking Point”. The narration had never bothered me, but I can see the points Alan makes, and that the long moments of silence in “Bastogne” are more effective than the spelling-it-all-out narration of this episode.

The one little nit I have to pick is about Compton’s portrayal. I was a little surprised by how in the first half of this episode he seemed to be back to his old self – confident, pro-active. There seems to be a discontinuity from his portrayal in the last two episodes where he was shown to be a ghost of his former self. Perhaps that was intentional – that just when he seemed to be recovering from the psychological effects of his wound in Holland, he’s completely blown away by seeing Toye and Guarnere.

I was thoroughly impressed by Donnie Wahlberg. Hard to believe that he was (and still is) a New Kid on the Block.

The story Muck tells about swimming across the Niagara – I had read somewhere that the actor, Richard Speight Jr, spent a lot of time talking to Muck’s family (as many of the actors did with their characters, if not with the characters themselves), and the family told that story to Richard, and I believe Richard talked to the writers to get that put into the show. A nice touch.

One of my favorite lines: As they’re tending to the wounded Hoobler, Doc Roe says, “Did you think it was a German leg, Hoob?”

Anonymous said...

Count me in as thinking this is the best ep of the series. This is basically a mini movie with a great story arc, tension, foreshadowing, and a big loud climax. If you were going to make a 3 hr BOB movie, I think this Ep would be the one you would expand on to make a good movie.

Anyone feel like Muck gets the 'Lost' treatment here. We don't know a lot about him until this ep. Then we learn a lot of backstory right before he gets it.

Does anyone know what happened to Dyke? I seem to remember hearing when this aired that he was recalled (pulled off the front line) but basically spent the rest of the war with the Brass w/out too many repercussions for his poor commanding at Foy.


Sister T said...

Toeknee, what I took away from Compton's portrayal, was that when he was in a combat situation he was his old self, but in any downtime or in-between time he suffered. But I think you're right too, that he was gradually getting to be more of his old self until his buddies got hit right in front of him.

Jordan said...

Maybe I was just overwhelmed by how much awesome (and how much in general) is in this episode, but I don't remember being drawn out of the moment at all by the narration. Spiers taking over and meeting up with I company (but that's not the amazing part, the amazing part was after meeting up with I company, he came back...or something like that) is probably my favorite moment in the series. And Buck, oh man.

David Hanlon said...

RE: Alan's dislike of telling rather than showing moments, one of my few problems with this episode is Michael Kamen. There are many moments where I thought "this is so powerful, and I marvel at the men who did this" and then Kamen's music comes on and insists: "POWERFUL! MARVEL AT YOUR ANCESTORS!" It degrades it a bit for me. I don't know that I require Wire-levels of musical distance, but I would find it less manipulative if the music was used more sparingly.

tinmann0715 said...

#5 & #6 was the build-up to this great episode. #8 was the aftermath as they were all changed men. My pet peeves with this episode are:
The VO portions Alan referred to.
Thee dialogue between Spiers and Lipton in the church.
Just how much of a "great guy" they made Lipton out to be. I thought it was a little much at times.
Compton's initial reaction made me a little uncomfortable, and I don't know why. It wasn't the impact the writers were going for.

The battle sequence was excellent and easier to follow than the one in #4. Spiers finally got the opportunity to complete the development of his character. Other than one minor character flaw we now know what type of leader Spiers is.

Overall, this episode floats in and out of my top 4 with #1, #2 & #3.

Alyson said...

I have a confession to make: I can barely get through the credits sequence without getting wibbly, and the shot that *always* gets me is that of Buck dropping his helmet in the snow. Seeing it in its proper context here, I couldn't hold it together. I still don't how exactly Guarnere got wounded because I couldn't bring myself to peek through my hands over my eyes.

My problem with Lip's narration isn't its' existence, it's the fact that it is repetitive. Wahlberg makes the very best of it though.

This episode is where I really first started to warm up to Spiers, who has clearly established himself as the Keyser Soze of the 101st. Crazy as all get-out, no question, but clearly well-suited for military life in an equal but different way than Winters. I like the fact that Winters appreciates what Spiers brings to the table, even though it doesn't quite mesh with his principles of leadership.

kristinj said...

I think almost every BoB episode has its flaws, and telling instead of showing is a problem for the series overall, but I find the issues mentioned by Alan to be so outweighed by the good parts of “The Breaking Point” that they barely register every time I watch it. For something I first saw in 2001, I can recall my reactions so vividly. I barely breathed throughout the first half, not knowing what was going to happen, but knowing it couldn’t be good. I was heartbroken for all of the loss, but kept it together pretty well. Until Compton broke down. Then I totally lost it, and basically bawled throughout the rest of the episode. I still get emotional just thinking about it.

The action, the sick cinematography, everything is so well assembled in this episode. Dramatically, I’m always grateful for the fact that so much devastation was tempered by Spiers’ awesomeness. It’s just a really good hour-plus of television, among my all-time favorites.

Hatfield said...

Wow. Just, wow. I watched this a couple weeks ago, in the middle of a 4 episode mini-marathon, and this episode had me twisted up worse than anything that had come before it. A few things:

The death of Hoobler really messed me up, both because it seemed such a pointless way to go, and Hoobler was one of my favorites, even if he was more of a tertiary character. And you can see what it does to Buck, even before the shelling of Guarnere and Toye. Isn't it this episode where Wild Bill and Babe talk about Buck reminding Babe of "Crazy Joe" or something like that, from back in Philly?

Watching Luz, who IS my favorite (hey, I love a smartass, but he's also a good soldier) crawl to Muck and Penkala, I was just waiting for him to get hit, so I was completely shocked when the foxhole was suddenly blown to nothing. I don't even care if that's how it really happened, it was a terrific, horrifying moment, and Gomez nails it. Watching him huddle up with Compton immediately afterward, shouting the news in his got dusty in my house, that's for sure.

Call me a sucker, but Speirs' "It was YOU, Sgt.!" line works for me because, at the end of all that death and heroism, a ra-ra moment made me smile. And I love his reaction to Lipton's question. Settle is really great in this.

The voiceover bothers me not because of Wahlberg's voice, but because it plays too much like a book: "It was pretty quiet for a while, other than the drama with Hoobler," and "I wouldn't have been laughing if I'd known what was happening to Joe Toye" are both too obvious for me by half.

Shifty is one of those guys who I wish did more, but he's always great when he pops up. I love this exchange:

Cpl. Donald Hoobler: Down he goes, right out of his saddle like a sack of potatoes. Outstanding accuracy on my part if I do say so myself.

Lipton: But you do.

Cpl. Donald Hoobler: Which I do. Hell, Shifty, I think maybe I could've even given you a run for your money.

SSgt. Darrel 'Shifty' Powers: No, No, I'm not a good shot. Now Dad, he was an excellent shot - excellent, I declare. He could shoot the wings off a fly.

Where did Popeye have that quote? It's a great one.

Ok, enough rambling. RIP, Hoobler, Muck, Penkala, and Webb, and good luck to Compton, Guarnere and Toye. I remember being relieved that at least they wouldn't die now, as horrible as what happened was.

Hatfield said...

Luz huddled up with Lipton, sorry. I always get those two names crossed up.

Malcolm said...

HBO premiered a trailer for "The Pacific" the other night:

Eldritch said...

Sister T said...
what I took away from Compton's portrayal, was that when he was in a combat situation he was his old self, but in any downtime or in-between time he suffered.

I liked the way Compton's deterioration was portrayed over several episodes. We see him in full control of himself. Later we see him at the movies, haunted, with vacant eyes, and slow to respond when the unit is ordered back to battle. Then back in battle, we see him function okay, but he's over concerned with everyone's safety. He obsessively tells each soldier not to do anything risky or stupid. He's functioning, but his confidence is undercut. Then his friends are blown up and he's pushed over the edge.

Sister T said...

Malcolm, thanks for the link. Re-watching this series has got me geared up for The Pacific and I've been reading the biographies "Helmet for a Pillow" and "With the Old Breed" in preparation. Last week, I read a passage that reminded me of this episode:

"During prolonged shelling, I often had to restrain myself and fight back a wild, inexorable urge to scream, to sob, and to cry. As Peleliu dragged on, I feard that if I ever lost control of myself under shell fire my mind would be shattered. I hated shells as much for their damage to the mind as to the body. To be under heavy shell fire was to me by far the most terrifying of combat experiences. Each time it left me feeling more forlorn and helpless, more fatalistic, and with less confidence that I could escape the dreadful law of averages that inexorably reduced our numbers. Fear is many-faceted and has many subtle nuances, but the terror and desperation endured under heavy shelling are by far the most unbearable."

---E.B. Sledge, "With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa" at pg 74.

It is striking that the terror and mental anguish from shelling was no different, whether being shelled on a hot piece of coral rock or in a cold snowy forest.

Lane said...

I saw that a trailer for "The Pacific" was posted on youtube. Is it me, or does it (the trailer) make the series seem corny & cliche, which is the opposite of BoB?? I hope the series is better than the trailer seems..

Alan Sepinwall said...

Lane, I recall the BoB trailer being full of similar lines that, out of context, could have made it seem fairly cliche (in particular, the "You tell them their sons died as heroes" exchange from "Why We Fight"), but that in context were anything but.

Eugene Freedman said...

The scene were Buck drops his helmet is by far the most tear jerking of the series for me. I think the first time I watched it my wife ran into the room and said, what happened?

Anna said...


Quick question. I have watched the series a couple of times now but only on HBO and The History Channel.

I know in the last episode they idenfity the men in the present day (meaning 2001) segments for that episode. But I think there are more "present day" veterans speaking throughout the series that are not in the last episode. On the DVD, do they idenfity all of the veterans who speak?

Hyde said...

I wasn't bothered so much by Wahlberg's narration, but I agree that the late Spiers/Lipton scene was unnecessary, both because it seemed out of character for Spiers, and because the fact that Lipton was the glue of the company was impressed upon us not only throughout the whole of the episode, but by the news that he had been promoted. It didn't need to be reiterated.

For illustrating the sheer terror of war, there's not much I can think of that beats this episode.

TC said...

While I agree for the most part with Hyde and others above, what the scene in the church does show us is that Lipton himself hadn't realized how important he was. Until Speirs told him, that is.

bgt said...

The scene at the end of "The Breaking Point" reminds me of the end of "A Few Good Men". After Tom Cruise gets Nicholson to admit he ordered the code red, the soldier who had been on trial gives Cruise a crisp salute as he leaves the courtroom. This salute says it all, but Sorkin (or someone) felt the need to have the soldier say (something like) "There's an officer on deck!"

This tiny bit of dialogue has always bothered me in what is otherwise one of my favorite movies. The look on the soldier's face and the crispness of his salute says everything, I wish Reiner/Sorkin had trusted the audience to understand this without adding that dialogue.

In The Breaking Point, the narration always felt appropriate to me, but that Spiers/Lipton dialogue at the end is just a little too on the nose in what is otherwise the finest hour of BoB in my opinion.

Mapeel said...

"Tomorrow, that will be the real deal."

I love this line that Lipton says to Winters when he goes to report that Dike is going to get a lot of Easy killed. It says so much--about the men who knew the real thing when they saw it, and were the real thing themselves.

Anna said...

The scene at the end of "The Breaking Point" reminds me of the end of "A Few Good Men". After Tom Cruise gets Nicholson to admit he ordered the code red, the soldier who had been on trial gives Cruise a crisp salute as he leaves the courtroom. This salute says it all, but Sorkin (or someone) felt the need to have the soldier say (something like) "There's an officer on deck!"

I couldn't agree more about A Few Good Men. I find myself turning it off before I have to see that part.

To me, the scene in "The Breaking Point" wasn't as distracting, because while we all could (and did) figure out that Lipton was the leader, it was nice to see that Spears recognized it and that he complemented Lipton. I just think it was overkill. Just simply saying "They have had a good leader. Since Winters was promoted, you've been the leader of Easy, and a very fine one." would have been enough.

I agree with BF that to me the narration just came across as a man with completely flat affect.. a man completely drained unable to exhibit emotion.

Muz said...

I'm reading along rather than watching. But I was wondering when my memory would get jogged as to which episode had that terrible voice over and the little Lifetime lesson bit at the end. I thought it must be around here somewhere.
It's a series ruining thing for me; I can't think back on BoB and not think "great show, but what was with that episode?".
As is often the case with fave moments, I had forgotten that a lot of the most memorable scenes are also in this episode, darn it all.

Toeknee said...

To Anna, re: veterans speaking in the opening of each episode.....

The DVDs don't identify each veteran as they speak. However, and this may be a bit spoilerish, but you can read a listing of the veterans speaking in each episode at this website:

tinmann0715 said...

I find it quite interesting that the discussion on this episode has boiled down to the conversation between Spiers and Lipton in the church. Indeed, this convo is crucial to the episode and the importance of Lipton to Easy, but this episode carries so much more.
- Notice the machine gunner in the foreground at the very beginning of the assault on Foy. The way his cigarette hangs out of his mouth while firing his weapon is almost a caricature of WWII "guff".
- Pay close attention to the panoramic shots of Foy. Do you recognize the buildings? They have appeared before, and they will again.
- Who else thought that the "Bois Jacques" was a military term and not the name of the forest they were tasked to defend?
- Notice the class ring on Dike's hand when grabbed by Spiers behind the haystack? It goes to show you how Dike approached his role as a combat officer.
- The bureaucracy of the military allowed an inept officer to lead men to their death.

Alyson said...

One realization that literally just came to me this morning - Toye's ultimate fate is foreshadowed, in a way, by his conversation with Doc in Bastogne. As Doc is diagnosing him with trench foot, he's examining Toye's right foot, and warning him that if he gets gangrene, it's going to have to be amputated. The events of this episode, if I'm remembering the timeline correctly, happen less than two weeks later.

Anna said...

Thanks ToeKnee..

That is very helpful. There a couple of guys names I didn't recognize from the series. I'll have to watch it again and pay better attention.

Toeknee said...

You're welcome, Anna. I'm quite sure some of those guys don't appear in the series, and I think some of them might not even be mentioned in the book.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I don't really know how I can explain why "The Breaking Point" is my favorite episode of this miniseries. Okay . . . perhaps it seemed like the one episode that felt more like a movie . . . or an epic in itself.

As for Walhberg's narration, it didn't bother me one bit. In fact, his style of narration seemed like a true reflection of the character he was portraying . . . namely Carwood Lipton. And Walhberg had the talent to pull it off - at least in my eyes - in compare to Eion Bailey, whose narration did annoy me somewhat in "The Last Patrol".

Anonymous said...

Put me in the "pro-flat narration" camp for Wahlberg as Lipton. Basically, I never thought of it as being out of place in the past, because it seems appropriate that in the middle of the freezing cold and death in Bastogne, that the flatness of Wahlberg's delivery conveyed a sense of physical and emotional exhaustion entirely appropriate to the circumstances. Now, I know what you're saying here Alan, and I agree that the delivery is flat, but I think of it as a deliberate, appropriate choice...

tinmann0715 said...

I watched this episode last night and I paid close attention to the scene in the church with Spiers and Lipton. One thing that dawned on me this go around was that this was the first day that Spiers was in charge of Easy. All he knew of the company is what he heard from other soldiers. One fact was that Lipton held the company together and he was telling Lipton that. While I agree that Spiers speech is a little too "ra-ra" for me, it is much easier to swallow now that I realize this.

Schmoker said...

By this point in the series, I was hooked, as was my wife, who watched it with me every step of the way, even though at first a war show wasn't that appealing to her. But this was the episode that ripped me up, and yet still managed to provide a lighthearted moment between my wife and I. Some characters we liked had already been lost, either by death or injury, and at some point while watching this, we said to each other something like, "Well, as long as A and B don't get it, we'll be happy. A and B are our favorites. Hate to see anything happen to them." So, of course, BOOOM!!!, minutes later A and B both get wiped out, and we vowed to keep our mouths shut about who we wanted to live from then on.

This whole miniseries was more affecting than maybe anything I've ever watched before, and this episode was the one that drove the knife in and twisted it home. I've now read the book three times, watched the mini three or four times (including a stretch where I watched it, read the book, then watched it again, then read the book again---back-to-back-to-back-to-back), and then recently read Dick Winters book, which was also great.

Can't say enough about the men of Easy, nor the men and women who helped to make this show. Kudos to them all. Seems every generation has there great ones.

Marie said...

This is easily, easily my favorite episode of the series, especially because of Speirs, who i had thought up to now had been kind of one-note. But you see that as much as he is not perfect like Winters, he is one HELL of a leader and if you follow him, you'll live. It doesn't hurt that he is also the easiest man in Easy to look at.

I'm so glad you are doing the great rewatch--I just wish I knew about it earlier--my husband and I watched all of the episodes on Demand on June 6-8. Great work! And I also agree with you that Carentan is the worst ep.

Carolyn said...

I agree, Alan. The narration drove me nutty and at least 85% of the time seemed to be explaining something that was already perfectly obvious.

Really loved the battle runs of Speirs though. I do still think "go rufus humphrey go" while I'm watching it but it's great to see him play someone strong and decisive. Such a change :)

But definitely not my fave episode.

Elizabeth Carter said...

Wow, I mean, Wow. This one is so great. Everything from the camera work to the acting and to the special effects.
Donnie, though not well known, is a great actor, especially in this one. He portraid Lipton's nonselfishness very well(Is it me, or when Donnie was yelling "Get down, Take cover!", he sounded like Brendan Fraser?)
My favorite scene in the WHOLE sieries is when the morter explodes infront of Spiers and he jumps through the smoke like a bad ass soldier.It was sweet.Also, when he ran into German enemy lines and ran back, that was so cool.
I think I know why the men never held the fact that Compton had to leave them because war was such a horrible thing and a man can only take so much. Buck saw his two friends, magled and brutally hurt. I cant imagine why he would want to continue to stay there. I know he had trench foot, but even if he didnt, he probably would have ended up leaving anyways. He was a strong man.
The end scene was very powerful and I maybe sheded a tear. Maybe.