“The Cradle of Civilization”
Man, what a difference a week makes.
Well, actually, scratch that: there’s really not much to separate, in terms of content, the first two episodes of Generation Kill. While our heroes, of sorts, see more action this time around, there’s still that sense of military blue balls driving the action and what we get in terms of the further bureaucratic incompetence is right in line with what we saw in last week’s opener.
Rather, the difference is that we have a much better sense of the smaller character differences: it’s easier to tell people apart now, and some of them are even getting some good ol’ fashioned character development in the process. However, the other difference is that I’m losing some of the command structure: while I can tell everyone apart, telling you exactly what they do in any sort of organized fashion just isn’t going to happen.
And I don’t know if that was really the point here, as this episode is rather about the actions rather than the buildup; Bravo Company gets to see some honest to goodness combat this time around, and what really makes it stand out is the visceral uncertainty of it all: moment by moment, it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on, which can be dramatically confusing but also very satisfying in the end.
I won’t have too much to say about this one, to be honest: this isn’t because it wasn’t dramatically engaging, but rather because it plays as a series of small moments. The movement of the troops is fairly confusing, but it appears to follow the path of Bravo taking a backseat on one town, and then heading off on a recon mission (And getting lost), followed by an unnecessary and harrowing trip through another town. The difficulty in following it all is really all about recreating the perspective of this journalist: how confusing would it be to be sitting in the back seat and watching all of this happen?
It’s all the fault, mostly, of bureaucratic bumbling, but the point of the show is that things have to go on: they can’t stop and complain, and in many cases (Whether Captain America’s breaking of the RoE or Hitman Actual’s Wrong Directions) can’t even voice any complaints out of fear for the chain of command (In this week’s “It’s just like The Wire” moment, chain of command is of course a big issue in one of Simon/Burns’ universes). The result is that we have to simply watch as other trucks roll by, and as the war never goes exactly as it should, or as some people want it to.
My favourite elements of the episode were, as per the first episode, our time spent with the Number 2 Humvee – I love that Ray was in debate (As a fellow debater, I know his type a little bit), and that we learned where at least some of Iceman’s “cold” reputation comes from in terms of relationships. We get Tremblay struggling to come to terms with not killing people, but greatly wanting to, and we see as more and more frustration starts to boil over amongst the ranks.
But yet it can’t: I love the scene where Colbert sees the men with the RPG Tube and he has to make the call. Over the comm units, they have to start getting authorization, and he has to make the call to start the process without confirmation. His cautiousness is such a contrast to America’s AK-47, and seeing everything unfold is a great piece of tense action for the series.
And that’s about it: like The Wire, reviewing this episode by episode is more about tracking the series’ themes and characters than really waxing nostalgic about the episode itself. It’s still keeping my attention, most certainly, so this is something to enjoy.
- I still love the Sergeant Major being literally obsessed with nothing but the grooming standard – you know that Simon was geeking out while reading Evan Wright’s book and seeing this clear potential to have bureaucratic ridiculousness on this show (And for it to be so funny in the process).
- Interesting to see the Godfather’s position here, as someone who makes decisions that really are misguided and dangerous but as part of a broader plan for how to make this invasion work. It’s not wrong, just reckless especially considering the fire they sustain.
- Speaking of which, I loved the choking scene – I presume that actually happened, and it was damn interesting to see on film.