Read the previous part in this series, here.
By this final episode, the men of Easy have been through France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and finally, Austria. The tranquil and picturesque surroundings of the Bavarian and Austrian countryside brings into sharp focus just how far they have come since the series began.
After the German army finally surrenders, the focus of the episode turns to the men’s uncertain future as they wait to find out if they will be sent home or deployed elsewhere, as well as the troubles they face as an occupational force.
While in the Bavarian mountains, it’s fitting that it’s a band of Toccoa men who arrive first to take Hitler’s hilltop fortress, the Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgarden. The likes of Malarkey, Popeye, Moore and Grant have been there from the beginning and the gleeful scenes of them storming up the mountainside to claim such a prominent emblem of the Nazi regime is a touching moment.
The title of the episode refers to the fact that some men would have the necessary ‘points’ earned through things such as time spent in combat, medals won and injuries suffered, in order to be sent home. Others faced an anxious wait as word spread round that they may soon be deployed out to the Pacific to aid the fight against the Japanese. Winters says in his narration that it was very difficult to look after a group of men who were now suddenly faced with having no enemy to fight. Private Janovec (a young Tom Hardy), is tragically killed in a road accident, while Shifty Powers, a Toccoa man, was badly injured after winning a lottery to be sent home only to have his truck hit by a drunk corporal. Men were still dying and the prevalence of German booze was clearly exacerbating the situation.
One very memorable sequence sees Sargent Grant getting shot in the head by a drunken private from another company. The men of Easy are understandably upset and angry at this and after a search party locates the private, he is subject to a vicious beating by the men before being turned over to the authorities. Grant is eventually saved by a German doctor but he suffered from speech problems and a paralyzed left arm for the rest of his life. These incidents seem increasingly futile after the difficulties they have already overcome.
The idea touched on in the previous episode about the German soldiers also experiencing the hardships of war is revisited here when a German officer addresses his men after their formal surrender. It showed that the bond between these men was just as strong as those felt between the Allied soldiers with a telling line from the officer mentioning “a bond that only exists in combat”.
The episode closes with the remaining men of Easy playing a care-free game of baseball. As the men finally experience some genuine pleasure and briefly allow themselves to relax, Winters narrates and fills us in on what become of a handful of them after the war. We learn that Buck Compton went on to become a District Attorney and prosecuted Sirhan Sirhan for the murder of Bobby Kennedy, while Ronald Speirs went on to become the governor of Spandau prison. While the men all went on to experience very different lives after the war, they were forever tied together by their experiences in combat.
At the very end of the episode, we have a final round of talking head interviews with the real soldiers of Easy and it’s fantastic to finally be able to put faces to names as the likes of Bill Guarnere, Carwood Lipton, John Martin and Dick Winters tell us more of their experiences.
It’s worth remembering that since the series was made, many of these men have sadly since passed away. While a small number still remain, the time will come soon when the last man of Easy Company sadly passes. This gripping, powerful, engrossing and immersive series will remain however and serves as a fitting tribute to what they and thousands of other soldiers accomplished during the war.
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