One Word: Anzio
Episode 2 of The Liberator begins at the Anzio Beachhead in Rome. Captain Sparks sits, nonchalantly brushing aside the incoming shells, and preparing to say his piece. In an episode reminisce of episode 5 of Band Of Brothers, we hear a first-hand account of what happened in the field while our Captain briefs his superior officers.
The Thunderbirds have done well to make ground in Titaly but as we soon see, their orders are to wait for now. Because of this, conformity creeps in despite these soldiers well-prepared for an attack at any minute. While the men dig foxholes, Coldfoot worries that their lack of visibility in the distance could be hiding a far greater threat.
As we skip across to the Germans, the Colonel greets the General as they discuss upcoming war plans and when to attack.
That attack comes sooner rather than later, as the Thunderbirds face shells raining down like fiery nightmares. During a brief respite, the platoon reconvene and set up counter-measures to try and thwart the upcoming threat.
The dust and smoke clears, just in time for a whole company of German soldiers to start marching across the battleground. A barrage of air support missiles aren’t enough to quell the threat as tanks join the hunt too.
The Thunderbirds are overrun, their right flank completely gone, and to make matters worse, the military police arrive to put Captain Sparks under arrest for going AWOL.
With all hope looking lost, the German Colonel arrives and asks for a 30 minute respite in the fighting to move the wounded off the battlefield. In this time, Captain Sparks briefs his men and defies his orders to leave the battlefield – wanting to be there for his men.
Well, the respite ends and the fighting breaks out again. The Germans press on and the fighting continues.
As Captain Sparks continues his story, the men are pushed back to a cave being used to take shelter from relentless shelling. The Thunderbirds have orders to retreat but in order to do that, they need to cross a river nearby that leaves them exposed.
Creeping along the ditch, they stop at the sight of flares as a German patrol find them. Despite a valiant effort to fight them off, the Germans capture a handful of soldiers, including Captain Sparks.
However, a rogue soldier named Cooper is enough to turn the tide and free them from certain doom. With one German still alive, the Americans use his intel to find the bridge with what little remains of their platoon.
They cross the bridge but Germans arrive to see Hallowell on his knees badly wounded. He sacrifices himself to save the others but another of the platoon receives a bullet to the back for his troubles.
As we cut back to the interview, we learn very few survived this fight as E Company struggled to hold Anzio.
On the back of this briefing, Sparks heads into the hospital and checks up on his men. Gomez is okay but Childers has passed away. Things don’t look good for the Thunderbirds – especially with Coldfoot in desperate need of medical attention too – prompting Sparks to head outside, struggling to keep everything together.
As the episode comes to a close, Sparks once again writes home to Mary and tells her about the horrors of war. Lamenting that he’s still alive while others are gone, he tells her to remember one word – Anzio.
The Episode Review
The entire episode is set-up just like the Tom Hanks’ directed episode of Band Of Brothers. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the episode reinforces the horrors of war through this platoon that’s been through hell and back.
While The Liberator has been enjoyable, I can’t help but feel the show could have done with an extra episode or two at the start to expand on the training and comradeship these men share.
The aesthetic is also quite refreshing but the unique way of shooting this loses some of the emotional resonance one would have with a more standard way of shooting. I’ve mentioned it before but at times it does feel like you’re watching a video game play out before your eyes.
Still, the series has been a compelling watch so far and definitely worth sticking with.