HBO’s The Pacific, Episode 5

Hey look, I’m on time this week! And I promise that this show won’t be the only thing I write about this week. But for now, it’s all you get.

Halfway through the miniseries. Let’s see, two weeks ago was how we tell war stories (and “boys will be boys!”); last week was war is hell; and this week, well, this week – in case we’d forgotten – is a reminder of what it’s like to be thrown into the fire for the first time.

Which brings us up to TWO characters I now care about: Leckie and Sledge (AKA Jurassic Park Kid). Oh, plus the character I hate – the one Marine who just wants to give Sledge a hard time (and threw up in the transport coming off the boat).

Ho hum. We’ve seen this all before. I’ll continue to give Hanks and Spielberg props for excellent battle scenes, and the acting is fabulous. But aside from that, this war as degenerated into stereotypes. Basilone, back in the states, woos pretty women while on his War Bond tour after getting that Medal of Honor a few episodes ago. He gives advice to new recruits (“Listen to your NCOs.” …’What’s an NCO?’) and his little brother (the “don’t try to be brave and stupid!” line). He’s apparently having great sex because women like war heroes.

Yes, the women here are stereotypes, too, when they even exist. The nurses were practically invisible in last week’s episode, the woman with Basilone totally embodies the “victory-girl-have-sex-with-anyone” idea, and the poor lass in Australia, well, she was the most interesting (and probably the smartest, giving Leckie the old shove-off – er, kiss-off, I suppose). The TV Guide piece on the show a couple of months ago told me that we’d get at least one Woman Marine, but I haven’t seen anything of her yet (and frankly, she’ll only show up stateside, since WMs only served in the continental US during WW2).

Next week, it looks like we get the poor mother perspective, too.

By  now, it’s same-old, same-old. We know what to expect. Boys will shoot guns, they’ll get wounded, they’ll die. They’ll desecrate dead enemy bodies (which apparently must be shown, because yes, this happened and yes, we have to distinguish the “good Americans” from the “war-torn Americans” who just can’t deal with it anymore.) They’ll mess with each other and try to get the girl. They’ll become deeply affected by the time they spend in the Pacific.

But when will you show me a side of war we haven’t yet  seen? What good is it to spend so long working on such a major show and then give us only stereotypes and hollow figures? If this was a way to honor these veterans’ sacrifices, I’d argue instead that you’re diminishing them.

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3 thoughts on “HBO’s The Pacific, Episode 5

  1. Bravo, Tanya. I feel exactly the same way. Having read Sledge’s books I think the Pacific’s script writers are really shortchanging him and the entire telling of the story. It all seems so trite. I may not watch the entire series at this point.

  2. what was the name of the marine who gave sledge a hard time? i recognized him as an actor but could not remember his name

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