In this episode of The Pacific, Leckie, Sledge & Co. continue fighting on Peleliu. Suffering in the extreme heat with little drinking water, the men attempt to move across a dangerous airfield while facing constant fire from entrenched Japanese soldiers in the hills. Meanwhile, Sid Phillips visits Sledge's parents back in Alabama to assure them their son is going to be fine.
"We're all afraid. Any man out here who says he's not is lying or dead." — Capt. Haldane
This episode featured plenty of death and at least one liar in the form of Sid Phillips. The opening scene — the calm before the storm — shows Phillips visiting Sledge's house. Sledge's mother is paralyzed by the fear of a man in uniform visiting at this time of night, but she and her husband are both relieved to see it's Sid at the door. I suppose you could argue that he didn't tell an outright lie (maybe he truly wasn't worried about Sledge's ability to survive the war). But he gave Dr. and Mrs. Sledge a sense of security that all of us watching the brutal airfield sequence know isn't justified.
"I have to believe that if I step across that airfield, every man that's wounded, every man I lose, that it's all worthwhile because our cause is just. 'Course, if a just cause came with hot food and some water, that'd be okay, too." — Capt. Haldane
After several hours in the hot Peleliu sun, nearly every Marine is in need of water. Leckie even searches a dead man for his canteen, only to still come up empty. Temporary hope is restored when the men find a watering hole, but the hope is dashed just as quickly when the men discover dead animals in the water — a trap the Marines believe the Japanese set in hopes of poisoning them.
With no other choice, the men prepare to cross the airfield and literally head for the hills. There's no amount of words that can describe how wonderfully the intense sequence was shot, as bullets and explosions turned the battlefield into some sort of hellish game of Frogger. Along the way, Snafu falls behind, but Sledge returns to help him along. In turn, the man who picked up Sledge's mortar when he stopped for Snafu, is shot and killed. Joe Mazzello was excellent at portraying Sledge's guilt as he leaves the corpse behind and moves into a new position in the hills.
Meanwhile, Leckie and his crew also suffer setbacks, as Runner is hurt badly. When their commanding officer dies on the field, Leckie has to go back and find a corpsman and a working radio. But instead, he is blown into a palm tree and knocked unconscious by an explosion. He wakes up only to find himself being hauled away on a gurney, bound for a hospital on board one of the Navy's boats.
"Better him than all of us I guess." — Sledge
When the men learn they are just as trapped in the hills as they were on the other side of the airfield, Haldane returns to headquarters to get their orders changed, unwilling to accept the amount of casualties his unit would suffer if they continued their charge. In the night, one Marine wakes from a nightmare screaming uncontrollably. When morphine doesn't calm the soldier, the other men kill him with a blow to the head with a shovel, fearing that his continued screams would give up their position to the Japanese. Sledge's assessment is accurate, of course, and also shows signs of him growing into his soldier self, feeling less guilt in the process.
As somewhat of a thank-you for saving his life, Snafu dubs Sledge with the nickname Sledgehammer. (The comparison is made between Sledge and another, shorter soldier who Snafu calls Ball-Peen Hammer, because he's smaller.) It's one of the lighter moments in the episode and also did a nice job of humanizing Snafu a bit after we watched him pry out a dead Japanese soldier's gold tooth last week.
And speaking of nicknames, it was nice to hear Leckie called "Peaches" again, as Runner finds Leckie aboard the hospital ship. Leckie is thrilled to learn that Runner made it out alive, even though he couldn't get him help. Runner refuses to allow Leckie to feel bad about what happened, simply saying, "I know," when Leckie recounts his tale. It looks as if Runner and Leckie are shipping out as the episode ends, leaving Sledge as our only main character still in the field.
What did you think of the episode?
In this episode of The Pacific, Leckie, Sledge & Co. continue fighting on Peleliu. Suffering in the extreme heat with little drinking water, the men attempt to move across a dangerous airfield while facing constant fire from entrenched Japanese soldiers in the hills. Meanwhile, Sid Phillips visits Sledge's parents back in Alabama to assure them their son is going to be fine...