Read the rest of VyceVictus' Enlisted reviews here.
As I touched upon in the previous review, the airing of Enlisted out of its intended storyline/production order is throwing me for a bit of a loop. It's unfortunate, since after 7 episodes into the show's run, I definitely get a sense of progression in the character arc of SSG Pete Hill. When we meet him in the pilot he is cocky and narcissistic, though it's also established early on that he has a loving heart beneath the bravado. Over the course of the show, through wacky adventures and moments of heartfelt bonding, Pete incrementally accepts his fate and develops pride in his ragtag pogue* unit, becoming as committed to them as he would any other combat-hardened comrades. Understandably then, it is weird to see Pete once again wrestling with his fate as a member of Alpha Company in this latest episode, compared to the previous "Homecoming" episode where he is all in as a team player (even if he can't help himself from showboating as the star QB.) That said, Enlisted's rock solid formula of loving shenanigans is enough to carry the show through its continuity roadblocks, resulting in another enjoyable half hour of comedy.
As preparations begin for the town parade, Pete learns that his unit is the designated "Doody-Duty" platoon, whereas SSG Perez and her perfect platoon are slated as the showcase D&C** formation. While Pete aspires to greater deeds as a soldier, Derrick feels slighted by the insinuation that the unit is beneath Pete. Things may have changed dramatically for our Armed Forces over the years and into this new millennium, but I can say this much with relative certainty: as an enlisted service member, you will, at some point in your career, clean or handle shit or shit receptacles in some capacity. It is the great equalizer. Despite an attempt to instill some pride into the unit through some D&C, It appears that there is no helping the platoon where dreams are crushed on a regular basis (as seen through a great little flashback bit of Derrick's first encounters with his platoon mates, including a slim and trim Chubowski!).
A last minute change due to an "accidentally" cracked out Mayor allows SSG Hill an opportunity to be part of the parade and bask in the glory he sought , though without his unit. On the morning of the big day, Derrick has a moment alone with his big brother, leading us to the heartbreaker moment of the episode. Derrick confesses that he truly recognizes Pete as a hero who deserves his due recognition, and appreciates his older brother's attempts to make the unit better.
For those reading, it's here that I don't really have a salient point, so much as I have a question: do you guys consider us heroes in your mind? I mean...at the risk of facing reprisal, I'll be the first to admit that I think that there is something fundamentally wrong with our modern conflicts. Specifically, our efforts in Iraq will forever be tainted by the knowledge that it was all initiated under false pretenses. And even with a "justifiable" occupation of Afghanistan, we seem doomed to repeat the mistakes of empires past that tried so hard and failed in their military campaigns, with the very strong possibility that once we are done our efforts will have been for naught. Saying all that, I know full well many kinds of acts of heroism committed by brave men for the sake of others, and I would never for a moment try to disparage sacrifices done in valor. Still, I always feel uneasy when friends, family, and total strangers who see me in uniform or here online thank me for my service. First of all because I'm a support guy, but secondly because more and more I wonder what it is I have been supporting and why. Heh....isn't it strange; a simple little sitcom provokes these existential contemplations. It's a good thing it's as consistently hilarious as it is heartfelt.
In a nice surprise, there's actually a second moment of emotional payoff when SSG Hill decides to forsake the glory and stand with his platoon on Doody Duty. The troops pull off the D&C routine they previously botched with broom and shovel in hand and a newfound sense of pride in their hearts. It was really nice to see a bit of the ol' Razzle Dazzle, and it immediately reminded me of the the "Stripes: The TV Show" comparisons that were mentioned prior to the first episode being broadcast. Though I lament the break in episode timeline continuity, its airing felt like a serendipitously appropriate tribute to Stripes in the wake of Harold Ramis' passing. That the parade ended with a hilarious disent into chaos involving an over-sized pig float fire, a family feud street brawl, and the pageant girl getting doused with BBQ sauce, Carrie-style, make the tip of the hat all the more fitting. Overall, the jokes consistently hit their mark while the emotional moments subtly but steadily develop the character of this motley crew.*** Please add your thoughts on this episode (and my open query to my fellow BAD community) in the comments section. As always, I look forward to sharing with everyone. Peace.
*Non combat arms personnel. Though I am told the etymology has much older roots as a sexually derogatory term, I learned it coming up as "POG": Person/People Other than Grunts. Perhaps like the term GI, its true origin may never be known for sure. (See also: Fobbit, REMF)
**Drill And Ceremony: The by the book description states "The purpose of drill is to enable a commander or non-commissioned officer to move his unit from one place to another in an orderly manner; to aid in disciplinary training by instilling habits of precision and response to the leader's orders; and to provide for the development of all Soldiers in the practice of commanding troops." Some might think that being forced to learn how to move on command is somewhat degrading or indicative of military brainwashing, but the feeling of executing (and watching) flawless unified movement is a powerful feeling unlike any other that instills just as much pride in the individual as it does the unit.
***Always glad to have the gang get moments to shine, as they had some of my favorite lines in this episode, but here's a nice deleted scene clip of the platoon rawkin out at karaoke night after the mayhem of the parade. Dobkiss on the mic is quickly becoming one of my favorite things (among many) about this show: