Why We Fight
July 10th 1943. A ragtag team of Americans touch down in Sicily and begin a 500 day trek through Nazi-occupied territory. Episode 1 of The Liberator begins with this brief introduction, proudly proclaiming that these brave men are known as the Thunderbirds.
As we cut down to the front-line, we see this platoon walking together. Slowly trudging forward through the mist, this group stay on the look-out for Germans.
With Coldfoot out in the lead, the mist slowly clears to pave way for the flash of gunfire. The entire platoon crash to the ground. Spigs is hit in the leg but that’s the least of their problems right now.
With 4 platoons of soldiers and several tanks to contend with, the company retreat to the nearby ridge, doing their best to dodge mortar blasts and relentless artillery on the way. With all hope seemingly lost, air support comes in just in time to save them.
On the back of this battle, expository text informs us we’re in September 1943. Two soldiers – Garcia and Rosa – are tasked with checking the nearby barn.
As they creep inside, they find a young boy cowering in the corner. Given Spigs can speak Italian, they need him to translate. Only, as we soon see he’s actually been captured by Germans. This Nazi captain scoffs at the notion of various races being part of the American army, especially given how things are back in the US.
With a gun to his head, Spigs is told to reveal everything he knows about the condition of the bridges. Spigs claims they haven’t been touched, prompting the Nazi to tell him the war for him is over – and this time tomorrow so it shall be for the rest of the platoon when they come riding in.
With Spigs gone, the platoon do their best to try and understand this young boy and what happened to him. Apparently his parents are dead and he’s been hiding for the past month. He doesn’t know where the Germans are either…but Gomez is not so sure. He brandishes a knife and it immediately sends the kid reeling across to the fire. Calmly, the Captain tells the men to translate his words to him – which includes his promise that the Germans aren’t coming back.
The next day E Company launch a counter-offensive but the Captain winds up hit in battle. With a medic calling in for reinforcements, the plasma isn’t enough as the jeep arrives to take him back to the aid station.
In the midst of all this carnage, we cut back to Fort Sill 2 years earlier. With war on the horizon, the depression causes Lieutenant Sparks (not a captain yet!) to re-enlist in a bid to make money. J Company have failed every live fire test and it’s just the ticket he needs to prove himself and jump back in the thick of it. He’s got one week to get them up to scratch.
Lt Danalli is the one in charge for now but that’s about to change. All of these men are segregated thanks to the Indian and Mexicans not liking each other. They’ve been kept in separate cells but Sparks tells them all to get up so he can meet them.
Coldfoot is passed out and uncooperative but the rest of the men have their own stories, which they share to their new Lieutenant. Regardless of their history, Sparks briefs them all and tells them they can have a 48 hour pass off campus… but only if they pass the live fire test.
It’s enough to get the men outside and start training. Coldfoot was demoted from Corporal which explains his poor attitude, especially given he’s also a proud Indian.
Out on the shooting range, the Master Sergeant berates these men until Sparks shows up to stop him. In fact, Coldfoot is even allowed a small measure of revenge as he beats this man withn Sparks’ permission.
After gaining the respect of the men, Coldfoot heads out intending to challenge the men inside a segregated bar. Sparks shows up though and stops him. He’s put the man up for Sergeant and, thanks to him, it looks like their luck is about to change.
We then cut forward to the Rearguard Hospital Unit in Algeria where Captain Sparks happens to be recovering. He’s told the war is over and he’s got a first-class ticket back home. He’s not the only one either – his fellow Captain has lost his leg and is also heading home. Sparks is conflicted though and isn’t so sure this is the right move. He believes he should be there for his men in Italy.
After writing home to his wife Mary, Sparks returns to his men in the chilly wasteland where his platoon happen to be – right on the frontlines. Sparks knuckles down with them and begins joining in the fight.
The Episode Review
The big talking point with this war series is undoubtedly going to be the animation. Using a technique called Trioscope, the show blends CGI with live-action and does so in a pretty compelling way.
However, the shading and lighting effects can’t help but draw parallels to those old Telltale games too. I won’t lie, at times while I was watching it felt like there was a dialogue choice just waiting to pop up.
Having recently just finished watching Band Of Brothers, it really is incredible what these soldiers managed to accomplish together and the Thunderbirds were another regiment – just like Easy Company – that faced hell in the war.
The story is pretty good although with only 4 episodes it remains to be seen what the show does with its story.