The Pacific: Review of Episodes 9 & 10

Merriell Snafu SheltonAfter leaving the treacherous hills of Peleliu, a battle not widely reported or documented, the Marines know that the fight will become tooth and nail as they get closer to the Japanese mainland. A while back I’d mentioned that all of these islands in the pacific are suprisingly absent of civilians, well in part nine there are plenty civilian casualties, as some get caught in the crossfire, get mistaken for the enemy, or are themselves used as weapons. Again Eugene Sledge is in the forefront and like Merrill ‘Snafu’ Shelton, he comes close to the edge but manages to maintain his sanity and show some compassion for a fatally wounded Okinawan woman. I mentioned in last week’s review that the series creators aren’t shy about showing the profane language and camaraderie amongst the men, but it is taken to the extreme under the extreme conditions, new recruits are constantly hastled, but even the hardened veterans start turning on eachother. It’s hard to imagine a more darker epsidoe after the past two but part nine is the full maturity of Sledge and Joe Mazzalo does a great job carrying the episode. At the end we’re informed of the use of nuclear weapons and know the war’s end is not far off, which leaves a curious sense of relief but also questions about the sacrifices already made. The latter theme is dealt with very well in part ten, with all parties returning home after stays in hospital or short occupational posts. Robert Leckie returns from the hospital to his awkward family, and manages to court his neighbour Vera, the one he had been writing letters to, none of which he actually sent though. His return is almost in some kind of emotional vacuum, his parents are distant and he himself only makes a vague attempt at expressing his feelings, acting as if he might say something about the war cause, but instead makes a joke out of it. Sledge’s return on the other hand is much more compelling, you share a lot of sympathy with him because you sense he is bearing on of the heaviest loads of the service men and women returning from the war, and no one around him, aside from his father, has the faintest idea of what he’s going through. Again Mazzalo is fantastic, he’s able to pull the audience in and lay bear the emotional baggage when Sledge breaks down while on a hunt with his father. He also does a good job expressing his survivor’s guilt while at a dance in his hometown. It’s a very well done ending, in other war films and series the hardships on returning home are often left out. At the end we get a synopsis of what happened to all the veterans, but watching it you feel as if you didn’t get to know a lot of the other characters enough, and in retrospect the story wasn’t as fluid as the companion series Band of Brothers. It had to be different, but I would have been happy with twice as many episodes, despite the chronology the filmmaking is absolutely top notch, spectactular and I think, a fitting tribute.

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