Wednesday, January 22, 2020

REVIEW: '68 Whiskey' - Roback, Davis and Petrocelli Wander the Desert After Being Stranded in 'Finger Lickin' Good'

Paramount's 68 Whiskey - Episode 1.02 "Finger Lickin' Good"

Roback, Davis and Petrocelli make their way back to base through treacherous desert. Roback makes a grand gesture to help out Alvarez, complicating things with Durkin. Holloway takes a special interest in one of her patients.

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 next episode of Paramount's 68 Whiskey.

"Finger Lickin' Good" was written by Roberto Benabib and directed by Michael Lehmann

Every character seems to operate from a place of contempt. They have vitriol towards the various people and systems preventing them from doing their jobs or having fun. The Army medics have contempt for the SecCorp unit officers who seem to do whatever they want with no oversight or accountability whatsoever. Meanwhile, Sasquatch and his team have contempt for the medics who are trespassing and potentially compromising their secret mission in the region. Elsewhere, Holloway has contempt for patients who decide to leave her care without her signing off on it first. She also has contempt for those under her supervision who violate or disregard her orders. Meanwhile, Alvarez has contempt for the country she is serving that wants to vilify her simply because of her immigration status. And finally, Durkin has contempt for Roback because he wants to continue their scandalous affair even though he has just proposed marriage to Alvarez to keep her around for a little while longer. That final point showcases that Roback can operate from a moral place when the conditions are beneficial to him. He feels a duty to protect one of the people in this unit he likes. Roback, Davis and Alvarez are positioned as a trio of camaraderie even though Alvarez has been isolated in her own story so far while Roback and Davis have been stranded in the desert with someone else entirely. Getting back to base actually fills up a lot of this episode. They are wandering. Petrocelli reunites with the goat over and over again. Sometimes, it plays as a miraculous sign. Other times, it is used to prop up a dangerous cliffhanger that highlights just how serious the stakes have to be treated in this region. These officers have to be wary of any stray animal approaching the base. It could easily be fitted with a bomb that could injure many of them. And yes, the show does deal with those massive life-or-death stakes. Each episode seemingly features the unit going out to the battlefield to assess the injuries inflicted on the troops. Here, Alvarez has to go against orders numerous times because her medical expertise is valid and she has to be bold in order to safe a life. She may doubt her abilities because of one life lost. This war will claim numerous lives no matter what. As such, it's easy for the characters to become cynical. The only reason to join SecCorp is for the significant pay raise that comes from the job. That's enough for Davis to be tempted even though Roback balks at the suggestion. But Roback increasingly comes across as the guy who enjoys having fun without truly being aware of the ugly realities of the world. He needs to fix the system so that Alvarez can stay. He is the one who suggests marriage as a way to solidify her immigration status. It's clearly a lie. And yet, both medics are necessary in this unit. Colonel Austin can't lose both of them despite their reckless actions. As such, they too should be seen as being able to get away with a lot because of the value they bring to the world. That can quickly became a dangerous and toxic situation though. Petrocelli is pressured into trying drugs for the first time and even puts his life on the line believing this goat is special for some reason. There probably isn't a bomb inside the animal. But it shows how callous the show can potentially be when it comes to defining the stakes of its storytelling. The most significant tension may come from whether or not Roback and Davis can earn enough money from betting on a fight against Sasquatch. That feels slightly convoluted though with no guaranteed payoff. It's erratic without feeling like the effort is put into it to make it a rewarding journey so far. Meanwhile, the audience didn't really have enough time to buy into Roback and Durkin as anything more than sexual partners. As such, it's not devastating when she sticks to her morals and Roback is flabbergasted that someone could possibly resist him and his charms. That shows how fundamentally selfish he is and how corrosive that can ultimately become for those around him. Durkin won't let him infect her with it but that temptation is real for others. That may prove that these characters are just doing whatever it takes to survive. It's just clear that no one in this military service really feels the calling to stand for an ideal greater than themselves. They are simply full of contempt.