IN-depth review ep 9&10

Episode 9

Why we fight

When we are facing a war, why do we fight? That’s a question I am sure that all soldiers ask. What is the objective? Who are we fighting for? What are we fighting for? What do we do when we lose men? How should we feel when we lose men? These are all questions that are answered indirectly through this episode. Like other episodes, the company is seen throughout, but the underlying current belongs to Nixon and Winters.

Throughout the series, their relationship has grown. From two youngsters at Camp Toccoa, all the way through to Germany, they have grown as men. They have grown in their roles. Most of all, they have grown as friends. They respect each other and that is evident in this episode.

Between them, we see numerous emotions coming to the surface. We see anger and sadness over a failed exercise. We see strength in Winters,  bringing Nixon back from his anger, and reminding him of his role. We see a dismay in Winters as he relays the demotion to his friend. We see the shock emotions at the camp, as well as yet more  anger playing out, as Nixon goes looking for his Vat69. It’s a complex episode.

The episode starts with the rubble of houses and buildings from a German village,  surrounding Easy Company. They are there to supervise the actions of the Germans who lived there and1 are trying to find their possessions. A string quartet playing Beethoven breaks the intermittent silence

In flashback, we see Easy Company arriving in Germany, close to Munich. Lewis Nixon has been on exercise, a failed exercise that saw all of his men killed. We see and hear the sadness and anger, two widely varying emotions, in Nixons voice as well as his body language. The emotions are evident in his eyes. While there is that flash of anger at losing his men, there is the opposite. The sadness creeps in as he questions Winters, not knowing what to say to the families. Winters reminds him that ‘we say what we always do. Your sons died as heroes’. Then the anger in Nixon bubbles over, as he asks Winters whether he really believes that. Knowing what we, the viewer, have seen of Winters throughout the series, it’s easy to answer that question.

Winters takes an opportunity to address Nixons drinking but the comments fall on deaf ears. He also has to tell Nixon he’s been demoted. The following day, Nixons day goes from bad to worse as be he receives a letter from his wife.  His wife is asking for a divorce but Nixon also finds out she is taking the dog. In some ways, that seems to  upset him more than the divorce request.

The company sets out to Landsberg in Germany. Just before leaving they find out that President Nixon has passed away. Once in Germany, battalion HQ is set up and 300,000 German soldiers surrender.

While four men are out on patrol, they stumble across a German Concentration camp. The likes of which they have never see.  Perconte races back to bring Major Winters to see what they have discovered. 

On arrival, Winters, with Liebgott as his translator, begins to communicate with those in the camp. The prisoner relays how they are all Jews and considered undesirable to the Germans. From near death and starving, to the already dead, bodies are everywhere

Easy company, as anyone would, gather food and water for survivors. However they are stopped by the physician of the battalion, who tells the soldiers  of the close monitoring they will need.  The prisoners are forced back into the  camp so that they remain safe and able to be monitored. They have to be told. Liebgott, as translator, is ordered to make that announcement. It’s easy to see, not only in his eyes and speech patterns, but also in his body language, that he was reluctant to give the news. How do you give bad news to those you’ve just saved?

News spreads that other camps have been found, just like the one Easy found. Local Germans have been gathered together to assist in clean up operations. 

The end of the episode sees the flashback end. We find ourselves back with the Beethoven playing in the German village.  The emptiness is now broken by news from Nixon who tells Easy that Hitler is dead, he commited suicide. Now Easy Company has been ordered to the Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgaden. Berchtesgaden is the pinnacle. The jewel in Hitlers crown. That’s the next stop.

Episode 10


Easy capture the Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgaden with little resistance.

The liquor, champagne and silverware left behind prove too good to be true for Easy and everyone gathers their souvenirs. From Hitlers photo albums to cutlery. From wine to whiskey, everyone has something to take home.

After Berchtesgaden, Easy are directed to Zell Am Zee in Austria. Zell Am Zee becomes the new HQ

With war being fought in the pacific and Asia, Easy are directed to remain on the European front until one of two things happen. (1) Victory over Japan is declared or (2) They have earned 85 points and can go home.

Orders are slow which makes for frustrating times. A lottery is held – one for each company. Easy fix theirs so that Shifty wins. After all, he had the lowest points. However, a beautiful act led to a bittersweet action. En route to the airfield Shifty was in a serious accident and ended up being in Europe for some months.

A combination of orders being slow to come in, not much to do and too much time to do it in, led to the several incidents. The shooting of a German believed to be associated with concentration camps. An automobile accident killing Pvt. Janovic. Men looting stores for liquor. An inebriated soldier killed a British officer and then shooting  Sgt Grant in the head. Sgt Grant lived but the ‘inebriated soldier’ earned himself a beating from Sgt Grants friends before military police got  to deal with him.

It’s in the final scenes that the whole series comes together. We hear Dick Winters narrate who did what with their lives. We get to see the men relaxing together. We get to hear how life turned out for them. 

The camera pans around to Easy Company who are all together playing baseball. The camera takes in each company man individually. Who stayed in the army. Who became an author? Who became a lawyer? Who worked in a glass factory? Who worked for his friends company? We get to find out.

It’s at this point, I should remind my readers that all the way through the 10 episodes, we have been seeing elderly men.  Now, you know these men are the veterans of Easy from their interview excerpts, but we have had no idea what their names were. Through the series, they’ve been a face telling of their past, but as the final scenes play, with the interview excerpts, the names are there. Those faces become people.

It’s at these final moments, when you can put two and two together and can realise whose who, that the interview excerpts you have been hearing,  make sense. You can see all the idiosyncrasies in the men that the actors took note of. You can hear the inflections in the voices of the veterans, that the actors have tried beautifully hard to match. You see the tears that are in the eyes of the men who cannot shake the shared history they have. They have a bond and have done since they met.

The actors of Band of Brothers have known each other for 20 years. They shared boot camp together. They shared memories together. They met the veterans together. They drank and ate with the veterans and shared screen time with them. They shared the history of Easy Company with them.

I’ve said this many times. This was not a story to be told. This was and and is history. History to be honoured. History to be respected. This series did just that.