Wednesday, January 15, 2020

REVIEW: '68 Whiskey' - Roback Makes Questionable Decisions for His Personal Benefit in 'Buckley's Goat'

Paramount's 68 Whiskey - Episode 1.01 "Buckley's Goat"

Roback convinces Davis to join him in a get rich quick scheme which lands them in serious trouble. Alvarez gets some upsetting news. Roback and Durkin continue their secret affair. Petrocelli finds a new friend in a lost goat.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Paramount's 68 Whiskey.

"Buckley's Goat" was written by Roberto Benabib and directed by Michael Lehmann

Roback is a scoundrel who doesn't play by the rules. Of course, it's easy to understand and support the decision he makes to bring an ally soldier back to the medic base for treatment. His superior officer, Holloway, views it as the action that essentially breaks the camel's back when it comes to tolerating his shenanigans though. He is confined to the base until more disciplinary action can be taken against him. However, that never comes across as a serious threat. He is still free to roam around the countryside and get into trouble. The audience just has to be willing to go along with that journey and enjoy it alongside him and his ragtag group of friends. Roback's introduction was him literally having sex with an unavailable woman and proving his skills in getting her off. Sure, that highlights how the show is equally interested in depicting male and female pleasure from sex. That can be empowering. But again, it sets up the dynamic that Roback is a man who purposefully goes after women who are already in relationships because the scandalous nature of it all is thrilling to him and the person he is with. That is seemingly the only characteristics given to Durkin during this premiere. Sure, she has a position on the base as well by serving as the assistant to the base commander. However, this relationship is what is the priority at the moment. The man she is actually in a relationship with though is also positioned as an antagonist to everything that Roback is hoping to achieve during his military service. Roback appears to want to have a lot of fun and earn some money on the side. He is more than willing to bring a wide number of people in on his scheme as well. That can often come at the frustration of his best friend Davis, who doesn't want to split the money with all of these individuals. At some point, it won't ultimately be lucrative for anyway if too many people are involved in the scheme. And yet, Roback is more than just the light-hearted guy trying to find the joy and silver lining in a depressing situation. Alvarez fears that she is responsible for the death of a young soldier because she didn't notice his exit wound. He died in transit to the medic base. As a result, she gets drunk and embarks on a public display that could very well get her discharged. Of course, that reality comes from a change in her immigration status. It may be revoked from her because of the changing laws around DACA. Her medical expertise was valuable for this unit. However, the country doesn't value her service in the same way as her peers. That is a fascinating character study present here. It's mostly just happening in the background though. A lot of time is spent with Roback and his latest scheme to earn some money and bring some pleasures back to the base with him. He doesn't care about the violence or the destruction of local culture around him. He isn't trying to ease the pain of trauma or help lift spirits. He is actually a criminal who is living under an assumed identity. It is all a facade that he has tricked people into believing. As such, it's difficult to truly get onboard with him as the main protagonist. The series is likely showcasing the many conflicting personalities who make up the military. However, there are moments of clear heroism as well that the show is trying to achieve like during that big rescue in the beginning or suggesting that private security firms are much more corrupt and mysterious in the region. Those have to be articulated in a much better way though. The show certainly has personality to it. This premiere has a lot of exposition to get through. As such, it's hard to really pinpoint what the purpose and focus of the series aspires to be. Roback, Davis and Petrocelli are stranded at the conclusion of the premiere after a tense confrontation with both Sasquatch's unit and a group of local Afghan traders. It presents as a way to introduce all of the important players in the region while also highlighting the obvious language barrier. American soldiers are essentially useless if the people of the world don't also speak English. Some conversations are universal. Roback and Davis want to recruit a man to box Sasquatch. However, that is essentially pointless in the grand scheme of things. It's a lot of noise that happens. It's just not clear what the core objective actually is. It could be to entertain through humor and emotional drama. That mix just doesn't quite work here.