Now that the introductions are complete and we're into the story, the show makes its mandate clear: to transcend the source material. It comes mighty close this week, with strong and subtle thematic work, and a deft cinematic touch that more than equals anything that we saw on The Wire -- and that's not a comparison I would make lightly. Not because I love the show so much, which I do, but because the people that love it the most are insane, and will cut you.
Captain America runs around with a stolen AK, shooting at enemies only he can see and getting officious and pissy with anybody who doesn't indulge his paranoiac drama-queen bullshit, which is everybody; Encino Man is now officially so retarded that he's become totally awesome; Sixta fellates the Grooming Standard some more, and Godfather, with that shit-sucking face of his; Godfather continues to beguile and bemuse with his "equal parts stupid and cool" thing he's got going on; Person becomes completely charming and not irritating in the slightest, then has sex with a tank; Walt almost gets his adorable head cut off; Rudy is slightly less gay for a second, then refers to his uniform as his "super hero costume," more than doubling down on his total gayness quotient; Evan has a three-way with Ray and the prenominate tank; Iceman tells the saddest story of the whole book, which is totally touching and rough, and perfects the patented "Brad Colbert Is Helpless & Hurting" look; Doc Bryan runs around being pissed a whole lot, so that's new; Espera hates the white man some more; war results in dead bodies, as it turns out; Trombley finally kills somebody, which is like his birthday and Christmas all at once; and Brad almost tells Encino Man to eat a dick, but then doesn't, because Nate Fick's puppydog Opie Eyes are the most powerful force of all.
The ROE changes again: now if they're carrying weapons, you're cleared hot. Bravo heads north, toward Nasiriyah, and crosses through the city in broad daylight. At this time Captain American subdues an unarmed, unmanned minivan with about fifty billion AK rounds while pissing and moaning into the radio and ignoring requests to explain WTF his deal is. Encino Man tells Bravo to take a wrong turn, which Brad and Nate know is a wrong turn, and then blames them for taking a wrong turn when they end up miles away from the rest of the company. This hurts Nate slightly less than being out of the action hurts Trombley, who gets some soon enough after Godfather scraps a plan to go around Al Gharraf and sends them straight into a seriously intense firefight through the city.
Bravo Company joins a crazy long traffic jam headed north, joining up with the rest of the First Marine Division on "Saddam's highways," per Iceman. Trombley bitches because they spent the first 48 hours of the war on point, and now they're in the rear-to-middle of a traffic jam. Because why the fuck would a reconnaissance battalion be anywhere near the front? Iceman laughs and tells Trombley not to "question the strategic plan."
Once they join the column, Person goes off on a rant that is near and dear to my heart, staring around at the other units' trucks and the stupid shit they have spray-painted all over it. "Angry American. Get Some? Don't Tread On Me? Let's Roll? Fuck, man, I hate that fucking cheesy moto bullshit... It's like that song, 'When stars and stripes and eagles fly'? Fuck, man, eagles fly in Canada too. When we got back from Afghanistan my mom tried to play me that song and I was all, 'Fuck no, Mom, I'm a Marine. I don't need to fly a little fucking patriotic flag on my car to show that I'm patriotic." Seriously. That's so ridiculous. Brad agrees, but in a way that conflates two very funny Iceman things into one less-funny, kinda-stupid Iceman things that never actually happened: "That song is straight homosexual country-music Special Olympic gay." Which -- while bringing to mind the highest achievement in televisual dialogue in the history of America ("I don't mean gay as in homosexual, I mean gay as in retarded") -- would have been funnier if they'd just left it alone: Iceman has a huge problem with country music, like country and western, and accurately calls it "the Special Olympics of music." Folding that into some generic gay joke cheapens them both, frankly. What I'm saying is that both the joke at the expense of homosexuals and the joke at the expense of the mentally disadvantaged deserve better.
40 km outside Nasiriyah, the Marines start noticing that Josh Ray Person is kinda tasty, and that the Iraqis are noticing it too, which they think is hilarious. Ray says not a word about this, just turns it into hate toward women or whatever and complains about how they're in the back with " the fucking chicks, the supply trucks and the hajji truckers," and he's super sad because they had been training for last week's scrapped bridge mission for "six fuckin' weeks" before it disappeared for no real reason. Garza agrees, from the turret up top, and says he'll be mad if the war ends before he gets some.