May 27, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Masters Of The Air “Part Two”

Episode Two

I get the feeling this is going to be a hard series to write about.

When I do these, I try to find a through line for the episode, but this one is a bit different as it is both based on a work of history and individual episodes, and it may be more about using the characters to show how the war was fought.  This is the sort of series that, though the characters are based on real people, is using them more as an example of how things went.  Characters like Buck and Bucky were real men, but they represent a typical experience here even if this particular group of men are perhaps more the cream of the crop than others.

Take this episode for example.  There are two things to focus on here.  The first is the importance of the ground crew, the nameless men who largely kept the planes flying and the runway clean, a task that requires setting patches of the runway on fire.  It’s a nice series of scenes, showing the leader of the crew, a lady of 19, bonding with local boys and basically just being good at his job.

Likewise, the episode discusses the difference between the American and British bombing missions.  The British were doing night raids, raids which allowed them to drop lots of munitions and have a higher return rate for pilots and planes, but their attacks are more indiscriminate and more likely to end in the deaths of civilians on the ground.  The Americans, who had a special targeting system that was apparently the second most secret thing in the American military behind only the Manhattan Project, flew during the day, more dangerous but also more precise in its targeting.  This difference leads to a fistfight between American pilot Lt. Curtis Biddick and a British pilot.  It’s more of a friendly bout, and Biddick wins mostly by dodging the British pilot who’d had a little too much to drink, but Biddick keeps referring to how he’s Irish.

He isn’t, but the actor, up-and-comer Barry Keoghan sure is.  Americans who claim to be Irish are, well, Americans.  Claiming otherwise to an actual Irish person will not go well.  Trust me on that one.

So, what I had here was a pretty tight episode, doing some good character work, and even allowing the airsick navigator Harry Crosby to redeem himself despite his motion sickness during a mission to a U-boat facility to Norway.  That might on something else been a plotline that extended out a bit further, but I think the audience needed to know Crosby could be relied upon pretty quick since, you know, this is a bit more historical in nature than anything else.

I can get behind that.