Masters of the Air: Part Three
February 1, 2024 8:14 PM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

The group participates in its largest mission to date—the bombing of vital aircraft manufacturing plants deep within Germany.

The colonel and Major and Stormy explain the grand battle plan with a lot of moving parts and a mission to bomb manufacturing sites in Bavaria. The wheels fall off almost immediately with heavy fog and a risk of cows preventing a timely departure and rendezvous with 2/3 of the plan, and no fighter escort to be seen. The rest of the episode is a PTSD-inducing grind through the entire German air defense system, and a successful raining of death on Regensburg. 11/21 planes in the squadron make it to Algeria, barely, with extensive damage and empty fuel tanks

After not being left behind last episode, Biddick’s plane crashes in an attempt to save his mortally wounded copilot. Sgt Williams has to bail out, leaving the trapped ball gunner to his death, and ends up in Belgium where he may or may not be captured by the Resistance. The colonel complains from the command center how he hates it when a plan doesn’t come together.
posted by cardboard (9 comments total)
This was more of a dazzling effects episode with green screen acting, but the two stars Austin Butler and the other guy are no Damian Lewis and Ron Livingstone, despite their top billing. Spending most of the episode in a seat with a rubber oxygen mask probably doesn’t help the process though.
posted by cardboard at 4:08 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]

The other guy chews with his mouth open also, which is frankly unforgivable.

This just isn't working for me. It's impossible to tell who anyone is, or which plane is which. I have no idea which pilots are with which crews. So it's just a series of faceless crewmen dying horribly in large numbers. That doesn't invalidate the real sacrifice of the airmen in real life but it makes for lousy TV.

The only one I thought I could recognise with his face mask on was Barry Keoghan, but I thought he was the one in the plane that tried to crash land in Germany and blew up, but maybe not.
posted by biffa at 12:17 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]

Also Austin Butler looks like he has spent his whole life trying to look nonchalant for a camera that's permanently just catching him in half profile. He'd be better suited to modelling than acting.
posted by biffa at 12:35 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]

This is just too much all at once. We jump from horror to horror so quickly that they don't have time to sink in. Case in point, that moment when they realize the other 2/3rds of the bombers didn't show up... that's terrifying! You could make a whole episode about the mounting horror of the bomber crews as they realize they're flying into a meat grinder. Maybe it's impossible to show the scale of these missions without being overwhelming.

The twenty-year-old cowboy pilot who is somehow unflappable and wise doesn't feel real. In the scene where we have this panorama of destruction with Luftwaffe fighters ripping bombers to shreds, cowboy guy sits there taking it in and he doesn't look scared. He's too perfectly composed, like a model, as biffa put it. A model watching a video game.

At least we have a man on the ground now, so there'll be a story line with interesting scenery. Although "saved by kind and beautiful farmer's daughter behind enemy lines" is a lazy cliche.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:53 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]

I don't know, it's not amazing as drama but I do find some of the technical aspects of the show interesting, in a WWII history/aviation nerd sort of way. The difficulty of the navigator role; the way the lead plane signals to the others by shooting a flare through a hole in the cockpit ceiling; gunners getting frostbite by touching their weapon with bare hands or from urinating in their pants because they were stuck in a ball turret for umpteen hours; the concern from the bombardier over jettisoning his Norden bombsight, the secret weapon of American bombers; etc.

The aerial fights between the "forts" and the Luftwaffe look good, as would be expected for a 2024 show of this budget. They make me wish these scenes were presented at 60 frames per second though, instead of 24. 60 fps would make the rapid motion of the fighters whizzing around the bomber formations easier to follow visually. Even though 60 would look weird for the non-combat scenes, I could get over it.

Sad that Barry Keoghen is out of the show, he has such great presence in anything he's in.
posted by good in a vacuum at 10:06 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]

Is it just my age showing (having watched Top Gun at 18) or does anyone else find Austin Butler almost disconcertingly reminiscent of a young Val Kilmer?
posted by Major Clanger at 1:17 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]

I can definitely see the physical resemblance. Kilmer seems to have a lot more charisma imo, although that could just be the roles I’ve seen each of them in.
posted by good in a vacuum at 10:58 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]

the way the lead plane signals to the others by shooting a flare through a hole in the cockpit ceiling;
I admit some confusion here - why do they do this? They have seemingly-functional radio? That they use to communicate between planes, as well as within the plane itself?

The difficulty of the navigator role;
This has been eye-opening for me, too - my grandfather was a navigator in Short Stirlings & Lancasters, and I had no idea his role was so hard.
posted by coriolisdave at 1:13 PM on February 15

They kept radio silence for almost the entire mission, otherwise the Nazis could have used radio direction finders to locate the incoming bombers and destroy them before they got anywhere near their targets.
posted by monotreme at 1:30 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]

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