Masters of the Air: Part Four
February 8, 2024 8:06 PM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Lt Rosenthal joins the 100th just as one of its crews reaches a milestone; the U-boat pens at Bremen become a target for the second time.

The squadron’s return from Algeria happens off screen. Fresh crews shows up to feed the meat grinder.

Meanwhile in Belgium, the Americans have trouble keeping a low profile, but slowly make their way toward Spain. A sneaky German spy gets shot in the face for not knowing how to write the date incorrectly.

Bucky takes a break in London and receives a dispensation from a brooding Polish widow, for all the faceless German civilians he might have killed with his bombs, while London is getting bombed, and its civilians are dying. (Spielberg!)

Buck and the narrator Crosby are reported to have gone down on the way to Bremen, again off-screen.
posted by cardboard (13 comments total)
I don't know, it feels like these losses are having basically no impact on me emotionally as a viewer. Maybe they would mean more if we were following a point-of-view character instead of an ensemble. Something's just not clicking with me on this show and I can't quite articulate it.
posted by ssmith at 12:03 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]

A sneaky German spy gets shot in the face

It was Amy's boring ex from Brooklyn 99. I assume he initially went to Belgium for the beer.
posted by biffa at 5:52 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]

Yeah, honestly I'm not sure this is accomplishing anything that the Catch-22 production a few years ago didn't already do better on account of having a Yossarian. I'll keep watching it, but it doesn't have the emotional impact of watching Easy Company grow and change. Hell, I'm almost tempted to rewatch The Pacific again now, see if it got any better since the first time it aired.
posted by Kyol at 6:43 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]

What exactly did Bob slip up that marked him as a German spy?
posted by 1970s Antihero at 4:27 AM on February 10

They cut between interrogations so we can’t be sure, but the interrogators look to be checking for shibboleths in how the fugitives answer rather than the correctness of the answers (apart from Babe Ruth not playing for the Dodgers). The camera lingered on Bob writing the date in a European style “18 August 1943” rather than the more Anglo-normal “August 18th, 1943” or similar. I’d hope they had more clues than that though.
posted by cardboard at 5:11 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]

Yeah the date thing seemed a bit flimsy as a shibboleth. Of course it is more common in North America to write dates as month-day-year, but individuals could have their own way of doing things. Or maybe an American in that situation would intentionally write the date in the European style given that his interrogator is European?

If anything seemed like a red flag in the interrogations, it was Quinn's mumbling of the lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner.
posted by good in a vacuum at 7:58 AM on February 10

But maybe the mumbling was just meant as a red herring for the audience, to make us fear for a couple of minutes that Quinn was going to be mistaken for a spy. As cardboard implies though, perhaps there were more clues/slip-ups that happen off-screen.
posted by good in a vacuum at 8:01 AM on February 10

He also flubbed the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner, "Just how proudly we hail…" vs "What so proudly we hail'd…" — and was pretty damned confident in the delivery compared to Quinn and the other guy's mumbly, off-key recitations under duress.

Also take a look at the character forms in the written date — the numbers aren't the style used in most American handwriting forms. The shape of the "1", non-lining numbers where the tail on the "9" dips well below the baseline, etc.
posted by nathan_teske at 9:44 AM on February 10

The end scene with the bombed house was filmed at Trinity Church Square, Southwark, London, using a gap in the real terrace of houses (see the pictures at my Bluesky comment).

As the thread to which I was commenting notes, there were in fact hardly any bombing raids on London (and certainly no heavy ones) in 1943. At the time this episode was set, the Blitz had been over for more than two years, and did not return until early 1944.

Fans of Line of Duty will recognise actor and disability advocate Tommy Jessop making a momentary appearance.
posted by Major Clanger at 3:33 AM on February 11

The thing that struck me as the credits rolled was how much time the series is spending on personal stories. The 25th mission party, the drunken one night stand, and then the death of major characters happens offscreen. I get that bombing raids are repetitive but it’s not landing with the same impact as Band of Brothers.
posted by billsaysthis at 8:27 PM on February 12

Yeah, like if in BoB they had Hoobler going on and on about getting a Luger, episodes of it, then he finally gets one from a dead German soldier, and we only hear offscreen that he died shooting himself in the leg.

posted by Kyol at 9:03 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]

Something's just not clicking with me on this show and I can't quite articulate it
I'm with you. BoB was ensemble too, but that worked where this one doesn't.

Maybe it's cos I can't tell most of them apart? Or cos half the time their faces are covered?

Or maybe it's because there's no little bad guy for the crew(s) and us to latch onto as the antagonist? BoB had the delightfully terrible Sobel for us to bond with Easy Company in hating, MotA just has the amorphous evil of Nazi Germany
posted by coriolisdave at 1:49 PM on February 15

There's also no real inter-personal conflict, everyone is best buddies, there's a lot of Really Just Close Friends Really No Gay Stuff Honest vibes, even Major Loose-canon isn't even questioned for a pattern of getting blackout drunk and destroying the place.
posted by coriolisdave at 2:02 PM on February 15

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