Episode 4 of The Liberator sees us skip forward to Germany, Aschaffenburg as the allies close in on the Germans. Interestingly we begin behind enemy lines as Lt. Heymann believes he’s a traitor to the Reich and the country.
Because of this, the officer is sentenced to death. Strung up outside for all to see, his body becomes a symbol for the tyrannical oppression gripping Germany.
We’re nearing the end of the war now as March 31st 1945 looms. On the outskirts of Aschaffenburg, the allies arrive and scout out the area. They’re introduced to Nick Walsh who briefs them on their next mission. They need to take the church inside the town and that means heading deep into enemy territory.
Creeping through the streets, this tranquility is shattered by a machine gunner and a sniper who ambush their position. Sparks leads the team through the streets. As the squad starts going through the houses one by one, they find a German family huddling close together. Unfortunately the young kid is wearing a Nazi uniform and is shot by one of the Allies.
As Allied tanks and artillery roll in, the church is blown up but out in the street the squad find a young German girl bleeding and asking for help. Snatching her up, the privates tentatively put her in a truck ready to move out of town.
Gomez finds a hidden compartment inside one of the houses leading down to the basement. Keeping quiet – and with the trapdoor closing behind him – he finds a German officer loading his gun.
Although Gomez shoots him dead, the German fires off a round of his own and leaves the soldier injured and bleeding out. Unable to call for help, Gomez chuckles coldly as he realizes this is going to be his grave.
Thankfully Coldfoot and the others find him but it’s too late and he dies right there.
With the city razed, the German General surrenders which prompts Sparks to head up and see him. On the way they find Heymann hung in the street and learn he was at home recovering from his wounds – not a traitor to the cause. Sparks decides to cut the man down and give him a proper burial regardless of what the Germans think.
Driven by emotion, he forces the General outside, sitting on the front of his jeep, and given a megaphone to address the people. While he does, Sparks reflects back on the war while watching as Heymann is put into a coffin.
The team eventually rolls out of Aschaffenburg and make it to Bavaria one month later. An ominous train lies dormant and as the Thunderbirds near, they realize it’s a remnant of a concentration camp – Dachau to be precise.
Mounds of dead bodies line the carriages, riling up the soldiers as they’re driven by emotion and want to kill the Germans responsible. Sparks has his orders and gets the men – including an irate Sergeant Walsh – into position to liberate the camp.
With the group spread out, a quartet of Germans appear from the nearby house and surrender. Walsh is having none of it. He shoots all of them dead without hesitation before coming face to face with the Jews trapped inside the holocaust camp.
Driven by anger, Sergeant Walsh orders the men to line up the wounded German soldiers. A machine gun is primed and ready to mow them all down. Sparks races to the scene but fails to get there in time – 17 German soldiers are killed before Walsh can stop him.
On the back of this, Sparks learns that the war has ended thanks to Hitler’s cowardly suicide. The war is not over for him just yet though, and while Walsh is berated for his actions, the coal yard incident is big news back in Washington. Sparks has got to attend a formal hearing following what Walsh did.
As all of his men arrive to say goodbye, Sparks is forced to stay on for now. His next stop is General Gainer’s office where he learns this has gone all the way up the chain of command.
With his fate uncertain, Sparks takes a seat in the General’s office. He relays everything that’s happened and goes on to mention the coal yard incident. Sparks takes full responsibility for his men’s actions despite not being the one to give the order. With 500 days on the frontline, the General – in no uncertain terms – calls him a hero and discharges the man, telling him to leave.
On the train home, Sparks writes to Mary and tells her that the war has changed him. However, he’s looking forward to seeing her again. Ands see her he does. Heading back to her hotel room, the two warmly embrace as the episode comes to a close.
The Episode Review
As the final credits roll here, it’s worth bearing in mind that this series was originally supposed to be double the length until it was cut in half. Based on this four episode showing – that absolutely feels like the case.
The reflective moments on the campaign during this fourth episode doesn’t quite have the same effect it otherwise would with more episodes to flesh out the characters in E Company. For that reason, this show lacks the same emotional depth something like Band Of Brothers or Saving Private Ryan has in abundance.
The aesthetic will make or break the experience here though and p[personally the moments with Dachau lose some of their emotional sting with this filter over the top. The train carriages in particular completely blend into the background and for me, that should never be the case – especially when discussing these atrocities.
By comparison, the young girl in Aschaffenburg bleeding from the stomach, her blood backdropped by a muted palette, is easily one of the most striking shots of the series. In a way, this is quite reminisce of that memorable sequence from Schindler’s List.
The Liberator is a decent war series though but just loses the edge it otherwise could have had with a more focused story and a longer run-time. However, this is still worth a watch.