We open with some very misleading footage.  Women throwing beds out the window at Kirby and Caje, soldiers shlumping and slouching, yawning and ogling -- I get all prepared for one of those fun, rompy eps like "The Party."  And then all our fun gets ruined by ol' Lt. Douglas.  Or, as I like to call him, Lt. Hugless, since he's so grouchy and crabby it's obviously been quite a while since his last hug.  That's my philosophy, you know:  a hug makes anything better.  Maybe not all better, but better than it was.

Anyway, speaking about making things better, has Hanley's facial contusion healed quickly or what?  Last time we saw him, he looked like a half-melted creation of Madame Tussaud, and now he's his handsome self again.  And still, he's getting shipped back to England to recover.  Man, some guys get all the luck!  Saunders gets shot or stabbed or burned half to death or whatever, and he's back to business the next day.  Hanley gets whacked once with a rifle butt, and he's off to merry old England?  Must be one of those perks that come with commissioned officer territory.

Anyway, love Caje and Kirby's reactions when Lt. Hugless arrives to take over the platoon.  Their expressions clearly say, "Of all the rotten breaks!"  Then again, this squad seems to get more than its share of rotten breaks, so they should be used to it by now.

Right after the credits, does anyone else's shot of ol' Hugless go a little haywire?  It's like the camera can't understand why he's so crabby either, so it shakes its head in confusion.

(DA!)--Oh baby, oh baby, look at Saunders today!  What a honey!  Slouching on that crate, hair all rumply, and looking just a leetle defiant -- can I take him home with me?  He's playing nice for now, but an experienced eye can see his hackles rising (and my, what attractive hackles they are!)

This ep is full of such lovely group shots, cramming as many handsome faces onto my screen as possible.  Thank you, Bernard McEveety, for putting some interesting and imaginative direction into this episode.  I also like how all the low-angle shots make Lt. Hugless seem to loom over Saunders.  This new lieutenant has the power to wreck this whole squad, and he knows it.

Hackles up or not, Saunders plays nice.  He tries the "getting to know you" game, but Hugless will have none of it.  Hmph. 

(DA!)--But I can't be too mad at Hugless repulsing Saunders' attempt at conversation, because it gives Sarge a chance to toss away a cigarette in frustration, and he really does look rather yummy when he's frustrated, doesn't he?

Okay, Adams is just a dope.  Lt. Hugless clearly said we should leave all personal items with the platoon sergeant, and Adams didn't obey, so its his own darn fault he loses the picture of his little girl.  I know I'm supposed to feel sorry for him, but I don't.  Feel free to frown at me.

Isn't it fun watching Saunders toe that oh-so-fine line between mouthing off to a superior officer and standing up for his men?  He tests waters, he pushes boundaries, but he never quite oversteps himself. 

(DA!)--And he makes such yummy little sideways glares at Hugless!  He's getting mad, but there's nothing he can do about it (yet).

You know, ol' Hugless is a control freak, that's all there is to it.  Has to tell everyone what to do, what to say, tries to do everything himself all the time -- it's like he's trying to get himself killed heroically so his best friend can try to steal his silver star or something!

Again with Krauts hiding in trees!  Where's Putt when you need him?

More nice camera work with the silhouette shots of our guys running along a ridge to rescue Hugless.  I'm totally digging this ep's style.

Joseph Campanella does a great job of being edgy and dangerous while also being closed-off and unreachable.  I love how, while he digests the death of two ENGs and tries to figure out how to blame them on Saunders, he claws his fingers up and down his leg, obviously struggling for control.

Poor Littlejohn, all he wanted was fresh breath, and he gets a nearly Saunders-worthy glare for his efforts.  Not only is Hugless a crabby control freak, he's an anti-littering wacko too!  One gum wrapper?  That's gonna lose the war for us?

Jumpin' catfish!  Write this on your calendar, folks!  That passing Kraut patrol does not take a lunch/smoke/chatter break right beside where we're hiding!  Amazing!

More cool camera work, showing our guys' reflections in a stream as they march.  Dig it!

Okay, Hugless, lemme clued you in on something.  When Saunders starts jerking his Thompson around and clanking it against his hand like that, he's getting dangerously irked.  Officer or not, you might be in for a severe scolding if you're not careful.

Kirby doesn't do well around stern leaders, you ever notice that?  Lt. Hugless makes him nervous, and he twists his ankle.  Did the same thing around Sgt. Turk in "The Bridge at Chalons."  For all his tough-guy bluster, I think Kirby's actually a rather sensitive fellow.

While tending Kirby's ankle, why does Saunders keep reaching inside his jacket?  Does his tummy itch?  Is he reaching for sulfa powder out of habit?  Does that little snack he was saving for later keep falling out?

Of course, our French contact has been shot, and he dies reminiscing about old times, not telling us something useful, like where the bridge is.  How inconsiderate.  It's hard to get good Resistance fighters these days.

More great camera work!  When we finally learn why Hugless is such a control freak, he gets framed all by his lonesome in every shot.  Saunders, on the other hand, has the whole squad behind him.  Nice.  Not showy, just well thought out.

Oh, and is this the sweetest, gentlest PPT Saunders has ever delivered?  Doesn't even raise his voice.  Of course, he doesn't usually have to pep up a superior, so maybe that's why.

Wow!  Another full moon!  No wonder it takes us five seasons to get out of France -- we didn't want to leave!  Not with that perpetually full moon making it so nice and easy to find Krauts at night.

(DA!)  At last, Saunders gets wet!  It's about time -- he hasn't been wet for what, seven or eight eps?  Since "The Hostages," I think.  Though this episode cheats -- he never once gets his hair wet.  Come on, Sarge, the wetter, the better, remember? 

Also, I get this weird sense of déjà vu while Saunders is blowing this bridge, probably because it's just reused footage from "The Bridge at Chalons."  Well, how many bridges can there be in Normandy, after all?  The Krauts probably just rebuilt it.

So, um, the Krauts just zoom off to go see if their bridge has been destroyed?  That sounded like a pretty major explosion -- shouldn't they just bet it's done for and stay here to take out the squad that blew up their bridge?  Hmm.  Guess it's a good thing for our guys that I'm not a Kraut squad leader.  Otherwise we couldn't abruptly end the episode with Hugless learning to trust people (well, Caje and Littlejohn, anyway), and everyone tramping off to live happily ever after.  And to meet up with Saunders on the way home, I hope.

 

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