Friday, August 12, 2005

Over There Review: Episode III The One Eared Pirate

Well, I've sentenced myself to watching every episode of this program for the purpose of debunking every stupidity and laughable moment in the show. It is a sentence...a sentence to purgatory watching a show touted as a-political and "realisitc" that is about as realistic as Hogan's Heroes, except that show was funnier.

Read the rest of the review in the inner sanctum.

The story starts out explaining to us the importance of the prisoner from Episode Checkpoint Choke. He is accused of being part of a ring that hi-jacked a truck full of sting-ray surface to air missiles. I'm still confused over why the terrorists would a) try to blow up this check point several times to b) sneak a terrorist through it. Heck, I'm still confused how these guys are out in the middle of no where with no back up and a few soldiers pulling this checkpoint in the first place.

But, I digress. I don't want to rehash that whole second episode.

Once our erstwhile squad secures the prisoner with zip ties, they load him up in a HUMMV to take him back to the FOB for interrogation. Mysteriously, another HUMMV appears out of nowhere to accompany the first. They abandon their checkpoint without relief, don't call in the MPs or MI to pick up the prisoner. They just bundle him up and leave.

Of course, as they travel, our black soldier (OBWPSM) who is so concerned about racism and oppression by the white military establishment, now proceeds to make racist remarks to the prisoner and to his fellow Iraqi/Muslim soldier. He calls the prisoner "sandnigger". Nice. Unfortunately, if they were looking for a derogatory term that is most often used by the soldiers in Iraq for their enemy, it would be "Haji" as in Johnny Quest's side kick and as in the the trip that faithful Muslim's take to Mecca. Of course, since the sargent was in country longer than the rest of the squad, he might have referred to the prisoner as "arhabi", the Iraqi/Arab word for terrorist.

I haven't heard any of our soldiers referring to Iraqis or Arabs as "sandniggers", but maybe I just know more soldiers than the writers of this story? Or, they are showing their age because I have met some baby boomer age people who use that term (yes, racism and stereotyping still exists...shocking I know, but, if you're going to make a show about "over there" one might want to use the words and names most commonly used "over there").

Still, that's not the worst. As they travel on down some backroads to no where, they are met by another single HUMMV, again, no security detail (you can see this program is being made on the cheap; they can't afford more HUMMV's or borrow any from local bases or studios and they can't afford many extra's to appear as soldiers performing appropriate security detail). The single HUMMV tells our squad to follow them. No radio contact made, no orders from the FOB. Nobody is wondering where or why the patrol is taking so long to get back with a prisoner. Nada.

They roll into some tiny little town with roads the size of my single car driveway and park. The vehicles park in what I can only say is an invitation to being blown up by a single RPG taking them all out. Then, the writing and the story get all hurky jerky (like it wasn't already) with the apearance of the "One Eared Pirate" (a soldier with a mobile microphone and single headphone attached by an elastic head band) who demands that our "Lost in Iraq" squad get him out and turn him over.

The Sgt shows the first inkling of military training by stating his orders were to take the prisoner to base and starts to put him back into the Hummer. The One Eared Pirate then tells him that he is countermanding those orders. He shows no rank, indicates no authority and the Sgt just gives the guy up.

Okay...he doesn't just "give the guy up". The One Eared Pirate shoots the Hummer's radiator and tires out and then tells the sargent that he can tell his lieutenant his vehicle broke down.

As per my comments from Episode I and II, it seems that every soldier in the "Over There" military should have been bounced out of the military a long time ago. Maybe even been given medical discharges for psychological problems?

I don't see anyone radio for assistance, radio the FOB and the one eared guy tells the Sgt that his lieutenant will "understand".

Did I mention that this town appears to be abandoned? Did I mention that no one appears to be pulling security detail on the perimeter? No snipers on the roof, no one with a SAW or even a plain old M-16 anywhere watching out for would be attackers. Of course, this could be a man power issue. Part of me wonders if the lack of people wondering around in this little mock theater isn't a statement that is supposed to show how big the place is and how few soldiers there are. Another part wonders if the show is really trying to say these are the type of morons that sign up for the military. Who knows?

What I know is that the lack of security will set up a later part of the show.

The one eared pirate goes into a big speach about how the area and that town belong to him (he reminded me of a bad character from Clint Eastwood's Spaghetti Westerns) and nothing goes on without him being aware or giving permission.

One eared pirate takes the prisoner in an abandoned building for interrogation. He takes our Arab American soldier with him to interpret. The prisoner keeps repeating in english, "Geneva Conventions. Geneva Conventions." The One Eared Pirate explains to him that the Geneva Conventions require, "name, rank and serial #" and, since the guy is a terrorist, is not in a uniform or part of an army, he has no rank or serial number, thus the Geneva Conventions do not apply.

Nice of them to work that controversy in as every rule in the book is being broken anyway.

The prisoner will not say anything except ask why the one eared guy has the Arab American soldier translating. He calls the the soldier a few names and then says his mother is a whore. Our newest member of the "Lost in Iraq" squad shows equal ill discipline and attacks the bound prisoner who then starts yelling about war crimes or something. One eared tells him that wasn't assault, just a friendly conversation.

Then, who should appear, again without security detail and alone, but the two women from Episode I, stupid army girl and down and out minority chic drive up in a truck to fix the Hummer. They spend the rest of the day messing around with the Hummer (that's been shot, remember), and our minority chic, referred to as "double wide", is holding a wrench, leaning over the engine complaining about how cheap the tools are (that's probably true, all things considered) while wondering about how the Hummer got shot up.

Of course, this sets up the women being present in a combat situation again even though the reality would have been more likely that the Hummer would have been immediately hooked up and towed away or hooked up by one of the Hummer's to continue on. I am wondering why these soldiers stick around.

That's the "hurky jerky" nature of the writing. There are no logical sequences or rationale for the changing scenarios our combat infantry squad appears to find itself in. No good reasons for our women to keep showing up. They should have made this team a convoy escort team or an MP team or they should have put them in circumstances that our more likely, like returning to base and being assigned another mission.

Going forward, our prisoner is put in this "stress position" without water, in the road, in the middle of no where, while everyone stands around or sits around. The stress position consists of keeping his hands out at should height and slight squating position. Eventually, the prisoner collapses, Corny, being a mush brain, walks over and nudges the prisoner, asking if he needs water. The prisoner foolishly attacks him, doing a "take down" and rolling with him until the other soldiers finally jump up to help. Ol' One Eared gets there first and takes the prisoner down, instructing the soldiers to zip tie him again.

One Eared Pirate proceeds to talk to Corny (Cornell Graduate without a brain) about how he figures to break the terrorist. Corny asks how they can defeat a man who wants to die for his cause and the One Eared Pirate says what every loon wants to hear, take the option of death off the table and play on all other fears. What would make Corny give it up? If somebody tried to hurt his step son, Eddie.

This sets up round two of violating every single military rule of interrogation.

The interesting thing is that Ol' One Eared, makes what he's about to do sound palatable and humane. It isn't quite the war crime experience I thought we were going to have based off the episode previews from the last week. He does ask Corny if he considered going into "intel" but Corny says that war is confusing enough without dong that job. (What are they trying to imply anyway? MI guys are twisted criminal types that skirt the law? Do things contrary to war fighting?)

Next morning, up drives another Hummer and outloads a young girl who is screaming at the prisoner, her brother, to save her. One eared has her taken inside then proceeds to tell our little Haji/arhabi friend that there is a Pakistani counter terrorism unit on their way (Pakistani?) and that he will turn the arhabi's sister over to them. The Paks are known to do bad things to women and the One Eared guy proceeds to list out all the terrible things that he expects them to do, whispering in the arhabi's ear, they will rape her repeatedly and use her until she is diseased and most likely doesn't know her own name, then they will stick their rifle barrels...

At which point, Corny gets a hair on his shriveled balls and gives the one eared guy an extremely weak "that's enough" as if the entire episode wasn't "enough" the minute they met up with that other Hummer.

Finally, our arhabi/Haji character shows he is human and breaks down, almost crying, his chin wobblying as he begs them to protect his sister and he will tell them where the sting rays are. These sting rays are being kept on a farm. The farmer doesn't know what they are, he is doing the arhabi a favor. He will tell where this is if the soldiers promise that they will not hurt anyone there when they go to get the stingrays. Ol' One Ear promises, "on everything he believes in" that no one will be hurt when they go to get the sting ray missiles.

About that time, a bunch of terrorists show up, on the roof tops of this little town and in the roads, very near by our squad. As I noted earlier, our men and women of the Lost in Iraq squad did not set up a security perimeter and no one bothered looking "out". Everyone was busy watching the terrorist and the interrogation. Everyone was busy getting ready to be blown to bits.

A gun fight erupts with five terrorists being shot. Our women soldiers are pinned down behind the broken down Hummer, not even attempting to fire. The Sgt begins his stupid "roll call" again to ascertain if everyone is alright, using their nicknames, calling them out in the middle of a gun fight where the arhabi can hear them.

The prisoner is laying in the middle of the road and looks like he is either praying that someone shoots him or praying that he can find a way to run away.

The fight goes on all day into the night with no one moving and trying to get a better position. No one calls in for back up. They are going to call for close air support later, but it will be F-16 because the sting ray missiles stolen by the arhabi means that helicopters can't be used (uh...maybe I'm a military novice, but I think sting rays can be used to know out all sorts of air craft so I'm not sure why there is a difference).

At some point, someone asks our minority chica soldier what she is praying for. She says the best line out of the whole program, "I'm praying that the DOD doesn't send someone to my door tomorrow." Aren't we all?

OBWPSM (smoke) is pinned down and, instead of giving him cover fire so he can get up and move, Sgt Screamy runs over, picks him up by the collar and drags him "to safety".

Finally, they take out a number of the terrorists (one shot showing a nice sniper shot to the head by one squad member - yes, I am wondering why he wasn't up on the roof providing security) and then they call in a strike on their position using F-16s. In which case, Corny has the next best line in the movie when he asks why they called in F-16 strikes so close to their position for two terrorists. too.

Finally, everyone loads up in the truck (the one that the two women brought?) and drives away while the MI/SF(?) guys put their prisoners in their Hummer and drive off in a separate direction.

Next scene, a desolate farm in the middle of nowhere with a few goats and some chickens. Farmer is walking around with his wife carrying what appears to be water cannisters (this is wrong since everybody knows it's the women and the children that do this stuff usually). As they walk along (in clothes that acutally look more like indeginous Afghani), we see a terrorist with an AK-47 guarding the sting rays (okay...the farmer doesn't know what they are but knows he's got a guy with a gun guarding his barn...sure...). Now we see an over head, like a satellite photo that is being zoomed in, finally focussing on the barn, like the camera image of a JDAM as it flies into the barn and explodes.

End of episode.

Our list of issues:

1) Why are these guys not in the stockade?
2) Nobody follows orders.
3) Nobody radios in their position or change of plans
4) Any jack leg in the desert with a uniform can change the standing orders
5) Nobody pulls security detail, either during travelling or when stopped
6) Nobody knows the ROE
7) Nobody knows the rules governing prisoners
8) The characters are idiots
9) Did I say they should have all been bounced?
10) Everyone is complicit in war crims or "near warcrimes"
11) We have a Pakistani counter terrorism unit in Iraq?
12) Military Intelligence units are renegades that do whatever they want and nobody tells them differently.
13) Military Intelligence conducts interrogations in abandoned towns, far away from security.
14) Arhabi/Haji/terrorists are really scared young boys that just want to protect their sisters (ROFLMAO), but are willing to die for a principle unlike the MI unit that has no principles (laughing some more)
15) Did I say the writing and sequences sucked?
16) What is this unit's MOS?
17) Who are these women?
18) We are seriously supposed to believe a support unit, regardless of whether that included women or not, would send a lone truck out on a repair without security?
19) OMG! Who thinks this stuff is real?
20) How are these soldiers still alive to play in episode III?
21) These people are trying to make this program on the cheap; cheap writers, cheap scenery, too cheap to get more equipment or hire extras.
22) The soldiers never go back to the FOB to get restocked or sleep.
23) OMG! People think this represents the real war and the real military.

24) Why, oh why did I promise to watch every stupid episode?


redleg said...


I can't answer any of these questions for you. I don't watch it. TV has proven its ability not to get a story right. That's one of its primary attributes. Just like Tour of Duty was a realistic portrayal of Vietnam or MASH of Korea.

I can't even fathom why you watch every episode--either moschism or a desire to write about stuff that just ticks you off. But I enjoyed it.

Kat said...

Redleg...I just realized that I forgot to include the stupid scene where the MI guy runs after the arhabi and then uses him as a human shield as he retreats back to cover, shuffling backwards under heavy fire with a guy that would like to die.

This was the worst episode so far and I really wanted to laugh. Maybe it is more like McHale's Navy in the Desert?

Anonymous said...

Not to mention ... if they really thought there were 20 Stinger missiles in a hut, that could be used to shoot down American aircraft (or really, any aircraft anywhere), wouldn't it be a high priority to make sure they knew for a fact that we'd recovered or destroyed ALL of them?! Not a bloody likely outcome from dropping a JDAM on them.