First, I want to send out prayers and best wishes to anyone who is coping with loss or trying to find order in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The world grieves with you.
And now for something completely different.
Just as a refresher, Lt. Meehan replaced the unpopular and nasty Ross as head of Easy Company, the 506th regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. His second in command is Lt. Richard Winters, who has earned the loyalty of most men. Hours before embarking on Easy's first mission, a jump into besieged Normandy, a paratrooper named Bill Guarnere -- nicknamed Gonorrhea by his comrades -- learned his brother was killed in action.
Veteran interviews: When Hanksie Met Soldiers. The survivors recall seeing the drop zone from the air, but not jumping until their plane got hit by flying bullets. Nothing went as planned; chin straps broke and leg bags dropped away, and as the men landed, they knew the enemy was lurking in any and every direction. "We lost a lot of people that night, but...you try to put it all out of your mind," chokes one man, biting his lip and battling fresh tears for old memories. Fade to black.
Schwimmer's out of the credits, but sadly, that didn't slice any time from them.
Ominous in B-Minor plays as we fade up on puffy white clouds rolling past the paratroopers' airplane. The whirr of its engine roars louder as we see it slice through the final patch of clear air space. Inside, Gonorrhea angrily stares at a rosary dangling from his fingers. Next to him, Toye and Malarkey just look sad. Another man jumpily fusses with his chute straps, making sure his chute is tightly fastened to him. No one speaks. Winters gets a glamour shot -- a close-up of him sitting next to the wide-open airplane hatch. It's a complete visual handjob, because he manages to be softly lit and isn't disturbed by anything stronger than a light breeze; his look is meant to be contemplative and serious, but instead it comes off like he's making bedroom eyes at the camera. Aw, he's our l'il Mr. September, a pinup boy in the "Hot Men of World War II" calendar. Hands crusted with black filth clutch maps and cigarette. This montage of dread goes on a tad too long.
Suddenly, a loud blast jolts the men's eyes open, and the clouds begin to glow. Through the windshield, the pilot sees other planes flying ahead of them into a flashing orange sky, signaling their arrival in a danger zone. The red ready light glows near the hatch, so each paratrooper stands and hooks himself to a stability cord that stretches the length of the airplane. "Get ready!" shouts Winters, cast in crimson light.