TV Review: VyceVictus On ENLISTED 1.09 “Paint Cart 5000 vs. The Mondo Spider”

Another dispatch from our enlisted service member, talking about Fox's Army comedy.

You can follow VyceVictus' Enlisted reviews here

Enlisted has returned with one of the crazier plots of the season, involving Robot Spiders, weapons of ass destruction and Keith David in a sultry milk bath. Though the show has more or less found a comfortable line between military realism and TV Land make-believe, this week's episode may have strained that balance a bit too much, affecting the overall quality. Despite that tonal tension, it was still as fun as always, and even included its usual dose of heart in an unsuspecting way. And did I mention Robot Spiders?

SSG Hill has taken a shining to leading his rag tag crew (as we are now apparently back in the proper timeline) in whatever mundane task is thrown their way. Even a job as simple as painting walls gets the team fired up thanks to Pete's crazy Paint Cart 5000 contraption. The platoon revels in their new-found Esprit De Corps, but it is short lived when new ordnance officer Lieutenant Schneeberger teases the team with the experimental support machine, The Mondo Spider!

SSG Hill has taken none to kindly to the uppity LT, but as Schneeberger dangles the promise of having the platoon field test the awesome machine, Pete is forced to subject himself to the whims of the smarmy LT for the sake of his men. The crew falls for the ol' wine and dine treatment, but Pete's intuition was right all along as we learn that the real field test is using them as lab rats for an experimental non-lethal sonic emitter that causes nausea and bowel movements: A Poo-Gun, the stuff of nightmares. Pete and the gang must rely on their hard-earned earned unity to win the day.

Though the show obviously centers on the Enlisted side of the house, I was waiting for a story to touch on the unique relationship between officers and their soldiers. Unfortunately, it's underwhelming that they went with the well-worn antagonistic upstart young lieutenant versus the grizzled old sergeant storyline, but at least actor Ross Phillips plays the smarty-pants West Point grad to the hilt. Though it was a broad archetype, I felt that the sweater-vested, beer snobbish, self-aggrandizing 2LT role hit a lot of really familiar marks that other enlisted folks have no doubt experienced. The showdown as well was a bit overly hokey, though not necessarily out of place since it played out similarly to the war games climax of the pilot episode. Overall, Schneeberger proved to be a suitably silly foil to the gang's ongoing development as a cohesive unit. By the way, most of you may have a general idea about the clueless LT/Experienced NCO dynamic from scores of older war movies and TV, but for those of you from other nations or those curious about the validity of that perception, the paradigm is best expressed as so:

It so happens that I have recently come under the wing of a bright-eyed, fresh faced, eager Second Lieutenant (though more like they are now under my care and tutelage am I right??). Although its design seems almost inherently flawed, the chain of command and NCO support chain structure is truly a fascinating dynamic in which great things can be accomplished....or fucked up royally as the case may be. But like with anything else, its the personalities and talent that make any organization work, so I am really proud of the role I have played in the development of young officers thus far. I haven't gotten demoted for choking one out yet, so I'm probably doing something right.

As far as this week's side story is concerned, I was, for most of the episode, a bit puzzled about what was taking place, though it proved to be leading up to the trademark emotionally-driven reveal that has come to define the show. CSM Cody strong-arms CPL Hill into the bizarre job of photographer for the Sergeant Major's personal portrait. I can't express enough in these reviews how great it is to have a regular weekly dose of Keith David letting loose with his awesome comedic chops, and in this episode he's at his most bugged out yet. That said, the real success in having the veteran actor as part of the cast is his ability to go between silly and serious on the fly, while having both modes convey real substance and impact in the show. The initial reasoning behind the crazy photo shoot is stated as Derrick's previous college class in photography, but near the end we learn it was all designed to light a fire under Derrick's ass and provoke him into showing motivation of some kind. CSM Dresses down CPL Hill more harshly than he ever has before, noting his poor performance and interest in being a soldier (which was probably one of the biggest discrepancies/military errors active service members watching may have picked up on, second only to Chubowski's being that huge and not getting chaptered out). But this tough love may be just what the doctor ordered, as Derrick accepts that he can't keep coasting forever. This turn in character might seem to come out of nowhere, but I like that it was actually addressed and is indicative of the writers' commitment to certain character arcs. Derrick is little by little becoming a better person and better soldier, and I'm interested in seeing where his story leads.

Once again, thanks for reading and for all your comments, looking forward to more this time around. Lastly, though I mentioned that some of this episode's story points seem far-fetched, I remembered that things like Direct Energy Weapons are real (Google It!), and will leave you with images of awesome(ly terrifying) real life military robots currently in development that will one day soon usher in the Skynet Robot Apocalypse. We really are at the Edge of Tomorrow, folks. Peace.