Donnie meanders along the line, again checking up on his soldiers' morale. He notes to us that Buck's absence eliminated the only contender for Lt. Dike's spot, should a miracle remove him from command of Easy. He asks Skip Muck where Lt. Dike is; they realize he was off taking a walk, and Donnie walks away with a head-shake. Skip digs his foxhole with renewed vigor, wishing he could put the shovel to better use by ramming it up the smallest available cavity on Dike's body. We learn that Easy cleared the woods east of Foy, then moved a few days later through the western part of the forest and secured that, too. They met with surprisingly little resistance, which probably means the Germans were busy fortifying Foy. They Foy-tified it. See this? I'm reduced to a drooling, sniveling pun machine.
Luz gathers a few rapt NCOs and regales them with the unbelievable take of Dike's idiocy -- how he ran up to Donnie, clearly having been hiding near regimental HQ during the abominable shellfire, and ordered him to organize things. "I'm gonna go for...help," mimics Luz. "I need to go polish my oak-leaf clusters." Donnie, appearing behind the wannabe comic, clears his throat discreetly. Luz knows he's caught, turns around, and trots over to his boss. Donnie enthusiastically compliments his dead-on Dike impression, then begs Luz not to use it anymore. "Doesn't do anybody any good, okay?" he pleads. Luz gets it and agrees to stop. He then yawns, a direct jab at Dike again. "Wise-ass," Donnie chuckles.
Then, a familiar cry: "Incoming!" Trees explode. It's hard to imagine that any are left standing to then dissolve at the touch of shrapnel. My muscles are starting to ache from the periodic clenching. In a stunning outside shot of the forest, the deep blue night turns bright white, bathed in the glow of bursting shells. Luz sprints through the woods, but keeps tripping and stumbling, unable to reach his hole. "Hurry!" scream his hole-mates, Skip and Penkala. "Come on, get in here!" With everything in him, Luz strains to reach the foxhole but can't get there quickly enough. Suddenly, a shell drops inside the hole and disintegrates Skip and Penkala, thus exposing the fatal flaw in the foxhole plan: they're HOLES. In the middle of a battlefield. Not, in fact, bomb-repellants. Huddling inside them seems as much a crapshoot as running between the trees. Luz, eyes big as planets, lies still on the snow, covers his head, and quivers, terrified at a near-miss and rocked by the death of his close friends. Donnie yanks him inside his hole. "Muck and Penkala," sputters Luz. "Muck and Penkala got hit!" A bearded dude called Hashey gets hit in the shoulder.
Suddenly, a smoking canister drops from the sky and lands at the lip of Donnie's and Luz's foxhole. They stare at it without breathing, instantly pallid and clammy. It sizzles. They wait. It mocks them. They stiffen. It hisses. Luz slowly removes a cigarette from his jacket and lights it; Donnie reaches over and snags it. "Thought you didn't smoke," Luz whispers. "I don't," Donnie says flatly. Hell, I don't either, but that looks divine right now. I'm all unnerved and jumpy, and I'm on a comfy couch in sweats. Luz nods and lights a new one for himself. They never stop staring at the canister.