Rat Patrol might be cheesy and unrealistic, but I still love it. (Plus, it’s what got me into Combat! so…yes.) I really went back and forth (as usual) about what TV show I’d chose to feature in this year’s Annual Favorite TV Show Episode Blogathon and even after I decided on Rat Patrol, it was difficult to pick an episode. ‘Chain of Death’ is my favorite episode, but ‘Do Re Mi’ is really good and juicy and lends itself well to commentary. Plus, it’s one of my favorites.
Anyway, that’s my awkward introduction to this ep review…
The episode begins with Troy and Moffitt gazing through their binoculars over the desert terrain before them. They exchange some terse, vaguely mysterious dialogue about convoys before rejoining Hitch and Tully, who look worried. Their worry, we soon learn, is about something they have to do, some mission, something that doesn’t sit well with any of them. (Again, all very vague.)
“Do you have a better idea?” Troy barks in typical Troy fashion. Apparently, they don’t. So they jump into the jeeps and head off.
As they drive away, the camera focuses on a gently sloping hill several hundred yards away and you see Dietrich sitting on a tank thingy along with several of his men. Danger music! Frankly, though, I’m always happy to see Dietrich. There are quite a few episodes of Rat Patrol that don’t include him, which is never a good idea. Dietrich is probably the best character on the show, in terms of depth and general, y’know, character. (Moffitt being a close second.) Although occasionally he does play nasty!Dietrich, as we’ll see in a bit.
Anyway. Some mild fisticuffs (not literally, but with armoured vehicles + jeeps) ensues and Troy gets thrown from his jeep to land pretty much in the hands of the enemy. (I’ll just let you know right now that his capture was intentional, which makes me wonder if Hitch gave him a hard push to send him flying onto the sand.) However Troy’s capture was orchestrated, it did happen, and Dietrich looks pretty okay with the turn of events.
Will Troy escape from these nasty Germans?!
*cut to opening credits*
(Note: ‘Do Re Mi’ is part of Season 2 and Season 2’s opening credits are loads cooler than those of Season 1. You get ‘moving portraits’ of the main cast instead of static photos. Pretty neat. And those clips seem to capture everyone’s personalities quite well, except for Hitch who looks wayyyy too serious.)
Now back to the episode proper. Troy is driven into the rather small POW camp by Dietrich. Two prisoners (they seem to be the only prisoners here) are puttering around in the compound – they are Mickey Roberts and Perkins. It looks like Roberts is hoeing, but that seems rather stupid as there’s no visible garden. Just sand/dirt. ANYWAY. (I’m saying that a lot, aren’t I?) They both look sort of apprehensive about Troy, either because he seems to have a perpetual grimace on his face or they’re afraid of what the Germans will do to him or maybe wondering if he’s an informer the Germans are going to plant in the camp. I’ll leave it up to you.
I love how Dietrich reacts when Troy starts reciting namerankandserialnumber. He’s just kind of weary and a bit frustrated but also slightly amused when he says “Let’s dispense with formalities, sergeant. We’re not exactly strangers to each other.” Makes me grin because they’re such good enemies they’re basically friends (see: ‘Chain of Death Raid’ and ‘Moment of Truce Raid’). Nothing much comes of Troy and Dietrich’s conversation (‘stubborn’ is both of their middle names) except me swooning over Eric Braeden’s lovely, lovely German accent. It’s really good when he’s speaking English, but one hundred percent better when he lapses into German.
So, Troy leaves without revealing any information about the Rats’ plans. Duh. May I point out how SMART Dietrich is? Like, I know he hasn’t figured out their real mission, but the fact that he put two and two together and guessed that they had an important mission that warranted them taking the risk of an ambush…very intelligent.
Then there’s a super quick scene that cuts back to Moffitt and Hitch and Tully (who has an enormous, beautiful grin on his face at the start of the scene, for some reason) just to show that they haven’t forgotten Troy. They say a few lines about some enemy convoy that doesn’t have much to do with the episode but it’s apparently important because they keep talking about it.
Back in his barracks, Troy tears off a strip of cloth from a blanket, for reasons unknown. Seriously. I’ve got no idea why he did this because he never uses it in the episode. But it must be important because he stuffs it under the mattress when he hears footsteps coming. Thankfully, those footsteps don’t belong to any of the Germans, but instead of his roommates – Roberts and Perkins. Through some “as you know, Bob” dialogue, we learn that Troy’s super secret, super important mission is to break Roberts out of the camp and get him to safety. Why is Roberts so important, you might ask? Well, he’s a singer. A pretty popular one, from the sounds of things (“There’s a million people burning candles for you back home, Roberts!”) and I guess the top brass is sick of having to answer thousands of inquires about the guy?
Perkins’ expressions during this scene are interesting and a bit sad, too. Shock first, at Troy’s revelation. Then some mixture of hope and fear and excitement…the actor may look a bit weird, but he’s good at what he does.
Roberts bargains for Perkins to tag along on the escape and Troy agrees. (Of course.) So that’s settled. There some interesting ‘Saving Private Ryan’ vibes here, because it seems kind of unfair that at least four men would risk their lives just rescue a singer. (I doubt this scenario is accurate, by the way. If you have information one way or another, I’d love to know!) Incidentally, Roberts is played by real-life singer Jack Jones and he’s a great singer and a great actor. A lot of people can only be one or the other, so it’s nice to see someone who’s both.
Before Troy, Perkins, and Roberts can finesse their escape plan, a guard enters and orders Roberts to come with him.
Roberts enters the commandant’s office and stops short, arrested by the sound of himself singing (on a record). The song is ‘That Tiny World’ and it sounds suspiciously sixties-ized for being in a WWII show. The lyrics are kind of shallow/weird as well, which is a shame because they could’ve written something truly heartbreaking (in light of what happens later in this episode). But whatever. It still works. Oh, and the point of this scene is that Dietrich asks/commands Roberts to entertain him and a few of his guests later that evening. Dietrich also makes some comment about how Roberts knows just how profitable working with the Germans has been in the past. *sigh*
Back to Moffitt & Co.! It’s hilarious how Tully says “I hope we can [take down the convoy]. All we have is one jeep and a few grenades.” When has that ever stopped you guys? I also grin when Moffitt purposefully and obviously stops talking so that he can be ‘interrupted’ by Dietrich’s surprise attack. Classic. Long story short, they all make it out safely, but Hitch’s glasses and kepi fall prisoner to Dietrich, a circumstance he will exploit to lower Troy’s morale. (If you watch carefully, you’ll see that Hitch actually makes it away safely with his kepi, but it doesn’t matter too much.)
Back at the POW camp, Roberts tells Troy that one man should stay behind to cover for the other two, and Troy assumes that he means Perkins should stay behind. (Perkins thinks this as well and it’s AWFUL, the look on his face.) However, Roberts wants to stay behind – he doesn’t want to go back out and fight and maybe end up “picking shrapnel out of [his] gut”. Troy gets angry and understandably so. After all, he and his men have risked a lot to get Roberts to safety.
Then a bunch of stuff happens in rapid succession: some professional torturers (Dietrich’s guests) show up in the camp, Roberts and Perkins reveal that Perkins has secret information that the Germans want really badly (“How did they know Perkins knew?” Troy asks and it’s obvious Roberts had a hand in them knowing), Dietrich comes in – first to give Troy Hitch’s glasses (letting Troy draw the obvious conclusion) and then to bring Perkins to the commandant’s office.
Perkins gets dragged back into the barracks, looking horribly beaten, and Troy and Roberts help him to a bunk. Then Troy turns on Roberts, snarling out “You said they could break anyone! Well, when did they break you, Roberts?!” Roberts admits that he told the Germans that Perkins had important information and Troy is devastated.
Cue another break to the other Rats. They’re watching the convoy trundle along and Hitch grinningly says of the binoculars “If these weren’t so heavy, I could use them for glasses”. Awwww. (I know what it’s like to be without glasses when you really need them and it’s such a blah feeling.)
Meanwhile, Troy, Perkins, and Roberts are preparing to leave (as Moffitt and the others will be providing a diversion for their escape in probably just an hour or so). Well, it’s more like Troy’s doing all the work and Perkins and Roberts are watching. Troy hands Roberts a canteen and Roberts gives it up to Perkins and JACK JONES’ ACTING IS GUTWRENCHING RIGHT HERE. He looks so defeated and ashamed and sad.
According to plan, Troy drops a canteen from the barred window and when their guard comes over to investigate, Troy and Roberts and Perkins team-strangle the guy. It’s actually quite violent. Once the guard’s out of commission, Troy helps Perkins up onto the roof (which I’m confused about, since they just end up dropping down and escaping out the main gate anyway). Roberts briefly turns the downed guard’s rifle on Troy (not entirely sure why) but then another guard appears to escort Roberts to entertain the German officers. He and Troy take care of the guard and then Roberts takes the long, solitary walk to the commandant’s office to perform for the enemy.
Roberts gets to sing the entirety of ‘That Tiny World’. The emotion on his face and in his voice is #actinggoals. Even Dietrich looks sad/pensive. It’s a nice, quiet moment that’s shattered by big explosions and machine gun fire and the general spreading of alarm and despondancy by Moffitt, Hitch, and Tully.
The Germans rush out (as does Roberts) and Perkins slips on the roof, making some noise and sending the spotlight’s beam directly on him and Troy. Dietrich is about to fire on them (really, Dietrich?) when Roberts jumps on him. The commandant then shoots Roberts in the back and when Roberts tries to shoot him, he shoots Roberts again, killing him. (That sentence was quite a mouthful, wasn’t it?) Troy and Perkins slip away with the other Rats and, after checking to see if Roberts is alive, Dietrich walks away as well. Leaving Roberts lying dead on the ground, sirens wailing and fires blazing in the background. It’s a poignant end to the episode, or would be if the tag scene wasn’t the actual end.
Because the tag scene, while it has a quiet bit where Perkins and Troy give Roberts a literal moment of silent remembrance, ends with cheery music and joking between Troy and Hitch. Quite jarring when you consider the gravity of what all just happened. But oh well. Rat Patrol can’t be serious for too long. (Also, if Hitch has lost his glasses, why is he the one driving?)
Other random observations:
- Dietrich is mean for much of this episode. I’m wondering if it’s because of the nasty commandant’s influence. The way he treated Perkins and lied to Troy and all that…ouch.
- ‘That Tiny World’ makes another appearance in ‘Fatal Reunion’, though only the instrumental version. It’s a nice touch to an already sad scene.
- One of my only complaints about this episode is that it focuses mostly on Troy (by far my least favorite Rat) and there isn’t enough Moffitt and Tully. Not nearly enough. But this episode is so good in other regards that I can excuse that.
Have you seen this episode of Rat Patrol? (Or any episodes of the show?)