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April 20, 2014

'The Pacific' - 'Home' (Mini-Series Finale)

by Jason Hughes, posted May 17th 2010 11:21AM
'The Pacific' - 'Home'(E10) The war is over. What's left to say? A lot, actually. Just as Eugene Sledge was overwhelmed when he first got into the middle of the Pacific campaign, so was he completely out of sorts when he found himself back in Alabama. How do you take a boy and turn him into a man in the middle of bloodshed and carnage, and expect him to know what to do when he's back among civilized living?

Survivor's guilt, post-traumatic stress and learning how to be a civilian again were the facet of war explored this time around. We also got some familiar faces and names to go with all those veterans who've been sharing their stories in the opening moments of each chapter. One of them was Sledge's best friend, Sidney Phillips.

Somehow, it brought home a little bit more just how real these experiences were to tie those men into the characters we'd been watching for the past ten weeks. I was a little disappointed that we didn't get to follow up with "Snafu," but even that was explained.

When we first met him, Snafu was one of the strangest fellows I'd ever seen on TV. Rami Malek did a masterful job of painting him in a very colorful, if odd, light. And yet his silent departure from the train, where he didn't even wake Sledge to say goodbye, was so fitting of him. The closing segments, which showed us the actors who played them, followed by the original marines, detailed that Snafu cut off all communications with his fellow marines for decades.

While his post-war story wasn't available for inclusion, I think it would have been a fascinating case study to add alongside Sledge and Leckie. I could really see him going either way. While Sledge was struggling with his place in this peacetime world, Leckie and found courage and aggressively went after what he wanted.

How many people can say they have this fantasy image of what their life is going to be like, and then they just go out and make it happen? He took the girl of his dreams quite literally away from another man. He waltzed back into his former job after four years at war and simply told his boss to hire him back. The only resistance he got was when he high-balled it and asked for a ten dollar a week raise.

While Leckie was sailing right along, though I'm sure his ride wasn't as smooth as we were led to believe, Sledge was an absolute wreck. He struggled with fitful nights, and was uncomfortable in his posh social setting. After crawling through mud and watching your friend plunk stones into a dead Japanese soldier's open skull, it's probably hard to manage a dinner party. Of what importance were proper social graces in the jungles of Okinawa?

I appreciated the inclusion of Lena's trip to the Basilone household to deliver his Medal of Honor to his parents. That she was only married to him for seven months didn't mean anything. They knew of his love for her, and accepted her with open arms. The closing text told us she never remarried, making her an anomaly among the verterans detailed. Most had kids and grandkids.

Lena had never intended to marry before Basilone. He proved himself unique in being able to win her heart despite her preconceived notions about him. Apparently, he was as one of a kind for her even after his death. In a way, it's a beautiful testament to the powerful passion that must have fueled their brief romance that she never remarried. It helps keep his standing as one of our great and special heroes intact, in a strange way.

Looking back across the series, 'The Pacific' is an epic achievement in dramatizing modern warfare. With each installment, we got a unique look at a different facet of the soldier and the campaigns that shape them. We were presented with so many stories and examinations of what these young men went through, it's impossible to watch it and not respect and appreciate their contributions and sacrifices.

You think of the men and women now fighting in entirely different terrain in an entirely different kind of war. At the root of it, are they any different than a Basilone, Leckie or Sledge? They suffer, they persevere. They stand up for what's right and take on the challenges of tasks most of us couldn't even fathom undertaking.

They are brave and strong and true. They struggle with their morality at times in the face of what they see. Some struggle with their sanity at other times. They support one another and develop a bond that no one who hasn't served can fully comprehend. They deserve our love, respect and appreciation. It's a hell of a job, but somebody's got to do it, and these men sign up to do it.

'The Pacific' is an equal parts beautiful and harrowing portrait of war, and a wonderful tribute to the men who fight, die and survive it.

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ditroia

Loved the end credits, I wish BOB did something like this.

Cheers

Dave

May 19 2010 at 4:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bruce

While I think band of brothers is still far better, I thought the pacific was very well done and entertaining. 70 years later, the war in europe is just far more interesting than the war in the pacific. That of course says nothing about a disparity of bravery between those who risked their lives in one front versus the other. But from a purely 'historical entertainment' standpoint, Fortress Europe and the Nazis is just far more interesting than the jap-killin' island-hopping in the pacific. The most interesting parts of the Pacific war, I think, are the Naval battles ... Midway, Coral Sea, etc.

Watching people slog around and suffer in mud is not much more entertaining than doing it yourself.

May 17 2010 at 1:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bruce's comment
Beans

This is the point of this Mini-series war is hell

May 17 2010 at 6:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Beans

As I am a Vietnam vet a miniseries on that war would be my choice

May 17 2010 at 12:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Beans

A great recap Jason I ordered HBO just for this I also will buy the dvd when it comes out

May 17 2010 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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