Finished season 2 of Combat last night. I have to say it was a truly spectacular season (by the way... remember when television seasons were 30 or more episodes long and each episode ran over 50 minutes??? Yeah... thank you, 1960s!!). While many, many episodes of Combat are worthy of praise, this finale ("The Glory Among Men" skillfully directed by Vic Morrow) was really something to behold. White Rook is pinned down by nazi snipers - and between these two factions, utterly exposed, is a severely wounded American soldier (a replacement, Private Mason who is justifiably loathed by his company for being a TOTAL WORLD CLASS JERK). The final hour of season 2 explores our individual struggle to rise above animosity and pettiness and find our capacity for brotherhood. The nazi's find fortune in their laps with the realization that they can lure our boys to certain death in Mason's rescue. Two soldiers, with polar opposite motives, die horribly in their attempts to reach Mason. Tension mounts as the body count rises and our pathetic soldier, looming in the crosshairs, moans with increasing agony, hour after merciless hour. Indeed, he begs for his own men to end his suffering - to shoot him dead. And while the looming option of leaving this situation (ultimately, a strategic "lost cause") was always on the table... something inside their souls wouldn't let any member of White Rook leave this, otherwise despised, "brother-in-arms" to perish. The writers COULD so easily have given us a story of redemption - where, in his hour of need, Mason genuinely begs for and gets our sympathy as his certain death nears. Instead, the story soars with Mason's ridiculously bitter admonitions at his distant rescuer's supposed hatred for him. By the final act, Morrow creates a brilliant conflict within an atmosphere so desperate we (the exhausted audience) can only surrender to Saunders' last-ditch effort to resolve the stalemate. In the 60 hours of Combat I've watched to this point, I've seen many exciting and pivotal risks that Saunders has taken when the odds were... well, 'impossible' (Captain Kirk's "risk" speech suddenly comes to mind // ..."that's why we're ABOARD her.....!!") but this one pretty much tops them all. The assault and rescue is do or die for White Rook... literally, a Hail Mary for each of their lives. The nazi's are obliterated; Kirby, Caje, Doc, and LittleJohn finally reach Mason who has been tangled up and dying in the arms of a lifeless tree. There is no gratitude for his rescue; Mason bites them down HARD for their sluggish rescue and selfishness while he, over the many hours, suffered. The final moments of "The Glory Among Men," however, are absolute greatness with the gel of outstanding writing, acting, direction, and production that are ultimately there to achieve....... a story about good soldiers and great men who've found that TOGETHER; before, during, and after the heat of their battles, are more.. much, much more a band of brothers than they could have ever realized
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