'Masters of the Air' Part Six: Tall tales, music, laughter and good Irish whiskey

(Apple TV+)
(Apple TV+)
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The sixth episode of Masters of the Air is the first not to feature aerial combat. Rather, the audience is shown the challenges airmen faced on the ground, both in England and Germany. After getting shot down on the Munster mission, Bucky tries, but fails, to evade capture. Meanwhile, Col. Harding sends Crosby to Oxford to attend an Allied conference and get away from Thorpe Abbotts following Bubbles' death. Similarly, Lt. "Rosie" Rosenthal and his crew are sent to Coombe House, a USAAF Rest Home, to recuperate after being the only crew in the 100th to return from Munster.

<em>The Munster mission took a heavy toll on Rosie's crew (Apple TV+)</em>
The Munster mission took a heavy toll on Rosie's crew (Apple TV+)

For downed airmen, it was and is their duty to evade and/or escape back to friendly lines; if captured, they are permitted to provide their name, rank and serial number as dictated by the Geneva Conventions. On the other hand, captors are obligated to provide care, food, shelter, and ensure the safety of prisoners. However, bombed-out and shell-shocked German civilians cared little for the rules of war and made no distinction between the British RAF's terror, area bombings and the USAAF's precision bombings of military targets. As depicted in Bucky's story, it was not uncommon for German civilians to take revenge on downed Allied airmen, men they considered to be baby killers and terror flyers. German military personnel were disinclined to protect their prisoners from angry mobs and sometimes reported that Allied prisoners who were executed on the ground were simply found dead after bailing out. Such reports were difficult for the Allies to challenge during wartime.

<em>For "Jews from Brooklyn" who didn't ride horses, Rest Homes offered a variety of activities including bike riding (American Air Museum in Britain)</em>
For "Jews from Brooklyn" who didn't ride horses, Rest Homes offered a variety of activities including bike riding (American Air Museum in Britain)

After surviving the angry mob and escaping being buried alive, Bucky winds up "safely" in the hands of the Luftwaffe. At the very least, German officers respected the ranks of their Allied counterparts and treated them better than the Japanese. The Luftwaffe interrogator does his best to loosen Bucky's tongue with a glass of whiskey and talk of baseball. When that doesn't work, the German tries to shock Bucky with the amount of information that he already knows. Both of these tactics are used to convince prisoners to share information, either by accident or thinking that minor details were unimportant or already known by the interrogator. However, Bucky sticks to his training and divulges only that he is a Yankees fan. Still, that personal detail could be used in an interrogation with another member of the 100th down the road.

<em>Sandra helps Crosby process Bubbles' death with open conversation over a glass of whiskey (Apple TV+)</em>
Sandra helps Crosby process Bubbles' death with open conversation over a glass of whiskey (Apple TV+)

In Oxford, Crosby experiences the conflict between Americans their British hosts. Governments and the Revolutionary War aside, many Brits disliked their American counterparts who were better paid, better dressed, and had no concept of British social convention. This attracted British women who flocked to the Hollywood-esque Americans, further frustrating British men. Despite sharing a common enemy on the battlefield, arguments and fights between Brits and Americans did occur in England. Crosby also finds an ally in British Subaltern Alessandra "Sandra" Westgate of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women's branch of the British Army. While friendly and supportive of Crosby, the audience is left wondering about her mysterious occupation; after all, she's definitely not a punter.

<em>Rosie learns that he's a band leader, not a solo performer (Apple TV+)</em>
Rosie learns that he's a band leader, not a solo performer (Apple TV+)

At the flak house, as airmen called Rest Homes, Rosie has trouble settling in. Like Bob Leckie in The Pacific, he wants the doctor to release him. However, while listening to Duke Ellington's "I Let a Song Go out of My Heart," Rosie learns a valuable lesson from Doctor Huston: a leader can't just take care of himself, he has to look out for his team. After a good night's sleep and a relaxing bath that draws parallels to Maj. Dick Winters' pass to Paris in Band of Brothers, Rosie joins his crew for a card game. While swapping stories over poker with other airmen, he learns of the significant impact that his humming of "The Chant" had on his crew on the return from Munster. Even though their Fort was alone in the sky, the men had each other. The loyalty that they had to each other was reason enough to climb back into a B-17 and face the dangers of another mission.

<em>Stalag Luft III held mostly RAF and USAAF officers (reddit.com/wwiipics)</em>
Stalag Luft III held mostly RAF and USAAF officers (reddit.com/wwiipics)

Upon his arrival at Stalag Luft III, a POW camp run by the Luftwaffe, Bucky discovers that other airmen from the 100th survived the Munster mission. Walking into the camp, he's welcomed by "Crank" Cruikshank and Frank Murphy and asks about Buck Cleven. At his 2 o'clock, Bucky is called out by a familiar voice; Buck made it. For Bucky, this was a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. Having been shot down just two days earlier, Cleven was actually held at the same facility where Egan was interrogated earlier. Similar to the show, Buck welcomed his friend by asking, "What the Hell took you so long?" Despite the reunion with other men from the 100th, Bucky and his comrades now face the challenge of surviving the rest of the war as POWs.