Terrorists in ski masks splash acid on the legs of the "infidel" Bo as he dangles in a dark room. As he screamed in agony from the burning of his flesh, I thought "Hang on... I thought you lost your leg in the pilot." Well, he did. The torture experience was just a nightmare Bo's in the amputee ward of an Army hospital in Germany. Junkies undergoing withdrawal don't shriek like that, but then land mines have a torment all their own. Reggie, Bo's roommate, is obviously getting weary of the kid's constant freak-outs, but I don't think he's being cold. Reggie's obviously been stuck there for a while, and I can see why he's running out of patience. (Too bad that hospital hasn't run out of patients.) The short scene it presents an ugly side-effect of the Iraqi war the men and women so wounded in body and soul that they can no longer abide being around others in pain. It's human. I'm not sure the same can be said of Bo's dad, an opportunistic old sot who visits his son after a 15-year absence, mainly so he can take a liquid tour of Deutschland. The kid's about slip into brooding self-pity when a kindly nurse offers a verbal tonic: "You do know it's not your fault, don't you, soldier?" If only Vietnam vets heard that more often.
The comrades Bo left in the dust were assigned to build a roadblock, which took some doing because of the ad hoc traffic jam created by the lieutenant whom Scream detests. I've noticed Smoke hasn't gotten a very sympathetic development so far. Pulling a knife on Dim wasn't cricket, though to be fair, Bo's injury wasn't Smoke's fault. I suspect Dim was more upset at his comrade's lack of sympathy than anything else. I'll reserve passing judgment on Smoke until his guard comes down, but right now, he ain't right in the heart. Bo's wife, however, is a righteous soul. After chewing out an officer on the phone for not informing sooner her about Bo's condition (when the paper-pusher refuses to provide child-care options so she can visit Bo, she threatens to call 60 Minutes!), she shows up in Germany to find her husband determined to rejoin his unit, missing leg and all. The doctor, naturally, has seen this behavior before and insists that Bo will accept his condition in time. "Oh, yeah?" she says, "Well, my husband makes a mule look cooperative." Too bad Dim's spouse isn't so concerned about him. In between one-night stands with random GIs she guzzles vodka in her kitchen the way her husband swigs water from a canteen. No wonder he's so disconnected emotionally. The strain of checkpoint duty prods him further toward the precipice when a suspected terrorist gets several people killed including a girl, her father and an elderly couple trying to sneak past Scream's squad. ("They gave up four of them to protect this asshole," barks Scream. "He's important to them, so he's important to us.") By using civilians to attract bullets the way sheep were once used to clear minefields, the insurgents trick the Americans into taking civilian lives, thereby causing Iraqis to fear their supposed liberators. The scum might have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for Bo's replacement Nassir, a savvy soldier of Arab descent whom Smoke immediate dislikes (big surprise). Yet it's Nassir who shrewdly equates the fervor of the insurgents to '60s hippies. To prove his point, Nassir detonates a booby-trap made out of C-4 explosives hidden in the trunk of a car. The resulting explosion knocked the doubting Smoke off of his feet and onto his pride. The incident paralleled the scene in The Godfather Part II when Michael Corleone witnessed the death of an anti-Batista suicide bomber in Cuba. Although Hyman Roth didn't take much stock in the isolated attack, evidence of such blind devotion to a cause told Michael that the dissidents could prevail. I hope history doesn't repeat itself Over There.