The Pacific: Review of Episodes 5 & 6

Parts five and six of the series mark the halfway point in the series. Up until this point the fighting has been rather stationary, with the Americans taking positions and holding them, with much success. Eugene Sledge (Joseph Mazzello) and some other newly minted Marines arrive on Pavuvu, where he finds his pal Sidney Phillips (Ashton Holmes) from back home who is noticeably more weathered and jaded. The reunion seems a bit strained and one begins to wonder how this spring chicken from Mobile, Alabama is going to fit in with his battle-hardened brothers in arms. Leckie return to his unit as well and he and Sledge even chat about books and God in particular, in what will hopefully not be the last time the paths of the three main characters cross.

The 1st Marine Division leaves the crabs on Pavuvu to fight the Japanese on Peleilu and Sledge gets his first combat experience and shows his worth, managing to earn the respect of the veterans, even the war weary and almost expressionless Merriell “Snafu” Shelton (Rami Malek) offers to trade tuna with Sledge. This reminded me David Webster struggling to be accepted back by his regiment in Band of Brothers, though not to the same extent where the other characters start to become unlikable. While the war rages on,the hero of Guadalcanal John Basilone is back home in the States “selling bonds and dickin’ blondes.” The battle scenes in this part are far more impressive, although the acting seems to suffer, the meetings Sledge has with Leckie and with Phillips feel forced and unnatural. The action however is first rate, the beach landing is a wild a deadly ride which is superbly shot.

In part six the fighting continues, with the troops fighting thirst and exhaustion in addition to the well positioned Japanese who have taken a break from simply throwing themselves on the sword (as in the first few episodes). This time around it is the Americans who are making a difficult advance to try and take control of an airfield and there are a lot of casualties, despite being able to reach their objective. They end up camping out in some blown out buildings and in looking back it occurs to me that with the exception of Australia, virtually all of the Pacific islands visited so far seem to be entirely uninhabited, save for the soldiers themselves. I’m sure most people hit the road as the war broke out but there seems to be little proof that anybody lived on them before they became battlegrounds. In any case one begins to realize the logistical nightmare and the high price of progress in the Pacific theatre. Leckie and comrade Wilbur Conley can count themselves lucky to be in one piece and on a boat headed for home. It was an episode with some pretty intense fighting and there is only more to come, it will be interesting to see how Leckie and Basilone get brought back into the action.

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