I hate, and love, this episode (as I hate and love myself?  Oh dear, does that make me Gollum? And then this ep is my preciousssss?  Whoa, I'm getting waaay off track here, sorry!).  Vic Morrow puts in such a fantastic performance that he compels me to watch... even though I hate seeing Sgt. Saunders go through such awful torments.

It opens with this strange, buzzy music that really ratchets up the ol' tension level.  We get treated to a pretty nice firefight, with Saunders swinging out of doorways and blazing away.  Enter the tank.  Crap.

Saunders looks so lovingly, regretfully, at his Thompson before he smashes it.  Nice touch.  I hate it when we get captured and all roughed up and the Krauts steal all our guys' favorite things.

Jo's book says some brilliant things about the symbolism of the guys chained to the tank, so I won't bother going into that.  But I do have to say that the Kraut behind the squad as we get to the barn really has a very girly way of running.

Oh no!  A goat!  Lots of goats!  We're doomed!

The boot-stealing Kraut makes me growl in protest.  At least not all the Krauts are eeeeeevil... they do try to get everyone loose, they just keep getting killed before they get to Saunders.

Saunders' screams coming from the barn are just about the most horrible things I've ever heard.

How is it that nobody notices Saunders is gone until they're a long way away?  He's their leader!  It's not like Doc 1 got lost or something.  And why, when Billy notices he's gone, does he say "Saunders" instead of "The Sarge"?  He never refers to Saunders by his real name!  Okay, well maybe not never, but it sounds out-of-character.

(DA!)--Ooooooooh!  Our guys are in a river!  And therefore, they're magnificently wet!  Especially Caje.

When Saunders emerges from the barn, the vacantness in his eyes is just about the creepiest thing I've ever seen.  Even when he gets into, and then out of the water, he's just totally blank.  And then he starts turning around in a circle, and Altman just can't resist using that hand-held camera until I'm dizzy enough to fall over myself.

And hey, where's Kirby?  Why isn't he here to gripe about the lack of food?  Poor Littlejohn has to do all the whining, and it's kinda out of character.  He's usually much more stoic.

Kelly's bootless feet seem so silly in comparison to Saunders' agony.

When we find the mud, there are some nicely sympathetic violins and woodwinds in the music, with a bit of brass and piano to keep up the tension.  My question is:  Why doesn't Saunders stay by the friendly, helpful mud?

My other question is:  Does Robert Altman WANT to make me sick?  I must remember not to eat when watching this ep.  But I'll grant you that the handheld shots are effective in portraying Saunders' staggering POV).

(DA!)--Ayiyi!  Caje crawling up a hill, through a clearing, and then running on his toes and fingertips... can he get any yummier?

When Caje describes the layout of the Kraut camp, it sounds like Pierre forgets a line at one point... he kinda stumbles and starts making stuff up.

Kelly says, "I hear the Germans give their frontline troops pretty good boots."  Oh yeah?  Then why'd they steal yours?  Doh!

It seems awfully easy to choke these Kraut guards.  I've never choked someone myself (aren't you glad to know that?) but I'm skeptical about the ease in which they dispatch these guys.

Hey, Hanley, get some table manners!  Even whinily-hungry Littlejohn uses his fingers to open his rations.  Tsk tsk tsk.

(DA!)--I love the scene when Saunders sticks his face into the water to drink.  But why doesn't he just go ahead and stick his whole head in?  Stop teasing me!

We learn an important lesson in this ep:  Always leave a little food behind after you have a picnic, just in case a tragically wounded Saunders comes along.

(DA!)--Although I enjoy how wet Saunders gets as he wanders around in that river, I'm a little worried he might catch hypothermia.

C'mon, guys, leave a few apples on the ground, will ya?  But then again, even if Saunders COULD get himself an apple... how's he gonna eat it?  With his knees?  Have you ever tried eating an apple without your hands?

I love (and hate!) it when Saunders starts talking to 'Joey' -- he morphs into a mouthy kid who's annoyed.  Then worried.  Then anguished.  Beautiful scene, rips up my heart every time.

I like Hanley in this ep.  He's with the guys, not off on his own.  It's all good.

Look at Billy's face when they hear the tank -- it's priceless!  I really do enjoy his reaction shots (haven't you noticed?).

Okay, the music as Saunders starts to descend the hill is just waaaaaaaay too cheesy, like a Roger Corman horror movie.   

 

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