Last episode, our grunts landed in the shit: They saw dead bodies; they almost became dead bodies. “Screwby” opens with a soldier being instructed to take a dump before the Humvees hit the road — “We have a long day ahead of us” — but the new shit’s coming from above (rolling downhill, as they say). Scarily fearless leader Godfather prunes away the moral guidelines as the First Recon rolls toward an airfield they mean to wrest from the Republican Guard. All Iraqis, he hands down, are now considered hostile. Things, naturally, proceed from Bad to Worse. And so shall our recap.
The Marines keep making do: They still don’t have those damn batteries, and there’s a shortage (tee-hee) of lube for people’s guns. Even without enemy meddling, chaos lurks. Two bad guys in black pajamas are dispatched with, but Hit Man 1 still think he needs to rain hell on some huts. (He gets the coordinates wrong.) Godfather congratulates him for bringing the fight to the enemy. An informant is not evaluated; he is given chem lights to plant wherever he likes, so that we may later rain hell upon those places. Brad, Ray, Trombley, and the Scribe take friendly fire from reservists in the night and lose their water. Same blue-on-blue fire cuts through a tractor-trailer’s tire, and when the instruction comes to leave the truck behind, it is destroyed, and its load of C-4, M-16s, and Claymore mines looted. Dark, nervous Trombley assassinates “innocent camels.”
Whoops — those weren’t just innocent camels Trombley lit up. He strafed two boys. (And this is disturbing: He apparently used some kind of superhuman aim to successfully target them from so far away, and while bouncing along in the Hummer.) Their anguished families drag them to the encampment to beg for treatment — which Godfather refuses for the one who is dying, because he will not medevac him out when they’re so far behind enemy lines. (Being so far behind enemy lines is, of course, the point for Godfather, who obsesses over “getting back in the game,” as if they’d somehow been left out of the war up until this point.) He makes a remarkable speech, aided by a map, to explain all this, but at the end, after all the talk of their position, how everyone is here on a voluntary basis, you hardly know which way is up. —Nick Catucci