In the eighth part of Band of Brothers, a soldier returns to Easy Company to discover that he doesn’t quite fit in anymore. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Band of Brothers.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of war, death, and blood/gore.
- You know, it would have been hard for any episode to follow “The Breaking Point,” and so I’m keeping that in mind when thinking about “The Last Patrol.” This is yet another solid episode of the series, and I love that it explores even more uncomfortable issues that we haven’t exactly seen before. “The Replacements” certainly dealt with the awkwardness surrounding newcomers becoming a part of Easy Company (and we see many of those soldiers, like Pvt. Garcia in this episode!), but what about someone who returned to Easy Company?
- “The Last Patrol” focuses entirely on PFC David Webster, who we last saw in “Crossroads.” (I think? I could have that wrong.) After missing Bastogne and Foy, he’s not exactly a welcome face to the men who had to spend a month experiencing hell on earth. He’s clean-shaven, he’s clearly had a shower recently, and his bubbly spirit grates on the nerves of the men who have… well, none of that. Joining him in this experience is Lieutenant Jones, fresh out of West Point and without a second of experience on the field.
- This presents us with one awkward scene after another. And I get it, y’all. These men made it through Bastogne and Foy. They’re different, and it’s for a very good reason. Above all, though, the collective mental exhaustion weighs on these men, who wish so desperately for the war to be over. Well, it’s not just that. It’s that the war feels like it might be ending, particularly after the Battle of the Bulge, but Easy Company is still fighting. They’re still without rest. And this episode chronicles what happens when they’re sent on a BRUTALLY difficult mission amidst all the exhaustion.
- “The Last Patrol” works so well to convey this to us mostly through the acting, the make-up, and the costuming. To put it bluntly, all of these men, aside from Jones and Webster, look like shit. Malarkey in particular, who is still grieving the loss of FIVE of his friends, looks fucking horrible. And this is the first time any of these men have had a roof over their head or showers in over a month!
- So it makes sense that the sight of Webster and Jones irritates these men. They know their job isn’t done. Plus, Webster didn’t immediately make his way back to Easy Company like Popeye, Perconte, and others did after being injured, so there’s resentment from these men that he has to work through.
- It’s not an easy journey, and Webster mostly keeps quiet and keeps to himself. Instead, he offers to do the work his company needs of him, and it reminded me of “The Replacements” a lot. I think that could be why this wasn’t the most compelling hour of the show, though I definitely enjoyed myself.
- That being said, HOLY SHIT, FUCK THAT WHOLE PATROL. Like… I’m still jittery after watching that. It wasn’t lost on me how ridiculously risky that patrol was, and I’m actually surprised that all fifteen men made it to the target house without being spotted. That whole bit is filmed brilliantly, too. I loved how it really looked like they were under a full moon, but I also hated it because THEY WERE SO EASY TO SPOT. THEY WERE RIGHT OUT IN THE OPEN.
- And even though the team successfully nabbed two German prisoners for…. something? Anyway, the mission was not without a brutal and discouraging casualty. An overeager mistake cost Jackson his life, but as Webster’s narration pointed out, the reality of these deaths was not the comfortable version the family or the general public got. And that’s something that Band of Brothers has depicted over and over again. This is a bloody, gory show, but it’s not done simply for the sake of it or as some exploitative trash. We need to see Jackson die such a horrible death because death in war is horrible. Webster didn’t need to be reminded of this, since he watched his friend Van Klinken die, but this was part of Jones’s growth as a soldier. The word “experience” is thrown around a lot, but these soldiers aren’t using it flippantly. They prefer to work alongside men who have seen the worst of the worst and survived, because those are the men they want to fight with.
- I admit I was completely shocked by Winter’s decision to fake the second raid. That was a risky move, but I understood that he could not send those men out to die USING THE SAME PLAN AS THE NIGHT BEFORE. He knew the raid was more or less for bragging rights for Sink, and he made the decision to protect his men rather than appease his superior. And yeah, I really do imagine that Nixon had a blast writing that report.
- This was a great episode, don’t get me wrong! Again, it’s hard to follow the previous one, and I did enjoy that we followed Webster for the entirety of the story.
- And now, Easy Company enters Germany. I’M NOT READY.
The video for “The Patrol” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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