Generation Kill – “Screwby”

“Screwby”

July 27th, 2008

I’m a bit late in getting to Generation Kill, but as I stated last week it’s kind of hard to find things to talk about each week. This time around, with Screwby, Alan Sepinwall concurs:

I’m running out of things to discuss in these weekly reviews, not because I’m losing interest in “Generation Kill,” but because each episode is very much of a piece with the whole miniseries, and there are only so many ways I can analyze the dysfunctional relationship between command and the troops.

And that’s really want differentiates this show from, say, The Wire. While I wasn’t able to write individually about that series either, mainly because of how quickly I wanted to burn through each season, it tended to provide a wider spectrum of such relationships: within each command structure, whether police or drug in nature, there was various different levels to the various relationships and more time to spend with each of them.

For Generation Kill, there’s a far more strict line between command and the troops, between those who know what they’re doing and those who don’t; perhaps a symptom of the “message” of the miniseries, if you will, everything seems to be going towards proving a point as opposed to necessarily allowing these characters to just plain grow. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but rather that it’s different, and makes discussing each episode individually more challenging.

Doesn’t mean I won’t try, though.

Screwby is really about Tremblay shooting a camel (and the people tending them) and about the command being incapable of making the right decision unless it is literally dying fifteen feet away from them. The first is the “plot” if you will, the thing that will resonate for these characters. Really, of course, even that is a symptom of the latter: command’s change to the Rules of Engagement to make all civilians targets. What the show has done so well is balancing these two parts: it never feels like the show is defined by its command mistakes, that these soldiers do at least have some agency over their actions.

Some of the situations are just command’s fault: the lack of communication that allowed the attack on the village to take place even when Bravo’s recon unit had deemed the village off limits was a fine example, along with the decision to leave behind the transport truck in the midst of the raid on the airfield. Those are decisions from above that ignore the situation on the ground in favour of a big picture that just doesn’t make sense; in the case of the truck, it even comes back to completely bite them in the ass.

But when it comes to Tremblay’s shooting, it gets more complicated: it was Brad’s order for him to search, the ROE that caused him to do so, and it’s impossible to disconnect it from his own judgment at the same time. He’s wanted to kill this entire time, and it seems likely that his overzealous attitude to this all is what caused him to ignore what he saw in front of him in favour of what he wanted to see. The chain reaction it sets off, of the arrival of the victims to the dramatic standoff against Godfather before he finally grants the child a trip to the shock trauma unit, is just another reminder of what happens when humanity faces off with war.

And we’ve still got four more segments to go – we’ll see if there’s more to talk about then.

Cultural Observations

  • I really like Fick – he’s more boy scoutish than Iceman, don’t get me wrong, but he seems to have enough of a head on his shoulders to be able to pick the right battle (In other words, the ones where his commander is being a total imbecile). He’s perceptive, no question, something that doesn’t seem to be spreading in this situation.
  • Defining one’s self is one of the real challenges here, no doubt, and Tremblay is really at the center of that – he goes from the Shitter in one moment to the camel killer in the next, followed by a plain out murdered. The scary thing is that it is the last one that doesn’t faze him, that doesn’t give him pause, while the other two seem to torture him inside.
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3 Comments

Filed under Generation Kill

3 responses to “Generation Kill – “Screwby”

  1. Choo Choo

    Great insights. I really enjoyed your analysis. I wonder if HBO will turn any of Evan Wright’s other works into mini-series. A bunch of stuff in his other book Hella Nation is TV material, and just as thought-provoking.

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