Odd Man Out
This is a war of the unwilling, led by the unqualified, dying for the ungrateful.
Doc is listening to music on his headphones while the other guys relax and hang out in the barracks when Taylor comes in. Marcus kneels down next to Doc and shouts at him that he is going to go deaf listening to the music. Taylor then sits down next to Roo on Roos bunk, sorting the mail he came in with. Roo wants to know how he got the mail to begin with and Taylor brags that the clerk was kissing up to his "new sergeant." The guys are quick to remind Taylor he hasnt gotten his stripe yet, but Taylor feels it is all but official at this point.
He hands out the mail to the guys, tossing a letter to Percell and a Newsweek to Doc before he finds a letter from Johnson. Excited, Taylor opens and reads the letter out loud from their buddy, Marvin. But his voice loses its enthusiasm toward the end of the letter and he looks upset. Danny notes that Marvin sounded real good. But the letter depresses Marcus, who feels differently about Marvins remark about being the only "brother" in most of his classes.
At the CPT, Colonel Stringer points out a province that lies between Saigon and the Cambodian boarder to Lt. Goldman. With Tet fast approaching, they need to ensure the security of the province. Chieu, an ARVN liaison, explains that Colonel Lan Nguyen is the Province Chief there and that the VC kidnapped his wife a few days before. As he points out on a map where they feel the colonels wife is being held, Chieu notes that until her safe return, Colonel Lan is refusing any artillery fire.
Goldman is startled, but Stringer confirms that the colonel is indeed doing just that. And that they need the artillery in that province. Colonel Stringer isnt the least bit thrilled with the entire situation, telling Myron that he doesnt like being used by this "potentate", but there is little he can do about it. Stringer then tells Goldman that Colonel Lan wants to meet with Goldman and Anderson that evening at his estate.
At the Team House, Taylor continues to brag about becoming a sergeant as he shares a beer with Ruiz and Percell. Anderson comes up and calls Marcus over to him, finally telling Taylor he didnt get the promotion. Taylor is devastated and a bit bitter, telling Anderson that if he were white, hed have gotten that promotion. He then leaves, Ruiz and Percell chasing after him.
In Saigon, the guys try to cheer Marcus up, noting that Craig, who got the stripe, got it by sucking up to Hannegan. Shakey Williams then comes up to them on the street, greeting Taylor. He sympathizes with Marcus, and invites him over to the Far West bar. Taylor, still very upset with the turn of events, tells the guys hell catch up to them later and then calls to Shakey to wait up, leaving Ruiz and Percell standing in the street.
That evening at Colonel Lans estate, the colonel comes out to see Anderson playing a bit with some of the beautiful flowers as Goldman watches him. The colonel brags that the flowers are jasmine, flown in from the West Indies. Zeke notes that its a lot of trouble and expense for flowers. Lan becomes annoyed. Goldman speaks up, saying no one is begrudging him his wealth, but that he questions the colonels right to tell the Army how to fight this war. The two men face off, before Goldman quietly reminds the other man they are there to talk to the colonel about his wife.
Lan visibly gets his anger back under control before he finally gives Goldman a picture of a young woman. He tells Myron her name is Ly and that all his wealth is nothing without her. He then tells them that they will be handsomely rewarded for bringing her back. Myron tells him it wont be necessary as they are soldiers and they do what they are ordered to do.
Shakey, Cody and several of the other blacks at the Far West talk about how its them being killed and not the whites. Taylor notes its not like that in his unit, but there is little conviction behind the words.
After returning from Colonel Lans, Zeke stops by the barracks. Ruiz, Percell and Doc are all getting ready for the mission the next day. But Taylor is nowhere to be seen. Anderson reminds them they have an early day. He then asks where Taylor is. The guys quickly cover for Taylor, saying he had just stepped out. Anderson nods, but he isnt fooled. He notes its a good thing Taylor isnt still in town, as its almost curfew.
Percell slips into Saigon to find his friend, going to the Far West. He finds Taylor inside, playing a game of darts. Taylor turns around to see Danny. A bit startled, he asks Danny if hes crazy. Danny tells him its almost curfew and that they have a mission in the morning. Shakey, Cody and the other blacks start to hassle Percell, warning him that he doesnt want to start a fight. Danny agrees he doesnt want to fight, but he does want to talk to his buddy. Shakey notes that maybe Marcus isnt his buddy anymore.
Danny steps closer to Marcus and quietly tells him that if he does have to get into a fight, he is going to hit Taylor first. Marcus is startled, asking why and Danny replies that it seems like a good idea. Taylor then grabs Danny and hauls him out into the street. Out in the street, the two men argue. Danny tells Taylor he is there to save his butt, that Sarge is looking for him and they have a mission in the morning. He demands to know what Taylors problem is lately, saying hes been moping around ever since Johnson shipped home. Taylor becomes angry, telling Danny that the balance of color on the team is now mostly white. Danny becomes frustrated, reminding Taylor that no one on their team cares about what color he is. And that his real friends are back at Barnett, the ones who really care about him.
In the early dawn, Ruiz, Danny and Doc wait at the landing pad, Doc reading his Newsweek. Taylor is nowhere to be found and the three men simply dont know what to think of their friend. Taylor finally shows just as Goldman and Anderson come walking up. Goldman walks up to Taylor and tells him that if he thought one of his men was out past curfew, that would make him AWOL and that the L-T could write him up for it. He then tells Taylor they will discuss it further when they get back.
Out in the bush, they pull up for a few minutes, Taylor complaining bitterly that he cant believe they are risking their lives for some rich bitch who wouldnt give him the time of day. Goldman then tells Taylor hes on point. Marcus is startled and questions him, but Goldman just gives him a warning look and reminds him what point is.
With Taylor now on point, they eventually come to a village on the banks of a river and spot the woman they are seeking. Goldman sets everyone in place, telling Percell to grab the woman. After Taylor, who had moved upstream, kills one of the VC, Percell slips up and tells Ly its okay, and that they are Americans. But Ly panics and starts to scream. Everything comes apart, Goldman yelling for cover fire. Ly gets away from Percell, running through the shallows of the river to the encampment where she crawls into a small lean-to. Goldman and the rest of Team Viking kill or run off the rest of the VC.
Anderson has Doc go in after Ly to see if shes okay. Goldman asks if shes all right. Doc emerges and notes she is fine. He then pushes the blanket aside and adds, "Sos her baby." Ly is kneeling there, cradling a crying infant in her arms. As Goldman kneels down next to her and Doc, Anderson notes that no one told them anything about a baby. Goldman asks Chieu to ask if the child is hers, but Ly speaks up in perfect English and tells Myron that of course it is her baby.
Myron informs her that they are taking her home and that her husband is very worried for her. But Ly tells him that Lan is not concerned about their daughter and that he wanted a son, an heir. Myron tells Doc to give her something to calm her down, that they are going to radio in a chopper and she will be home in a few hours.
But the RTO, Pham, shows that the radio has been shot up and no longer of any use. With little choice, Goldman orders everyone to get ready to move out. Doc tells him that Ly doesnt need calming down, but rather cooling down and that she has a fever. Goldman offers to have her carried, but Ly is proud and angry and refuses the help as she climbs to her feet. They set out for PZ Alpha.
As they make their way as quietly as they can through the jungle, Ly starts to stumble and eventually collapses to her knees, Doc rushing up to her. She asks for water for the baby. Doc hands the child off to Marcus when Anderson joins them, warning them to keep the noise down. But Ly angrily tells them she will be as loud as she wants until her baby is fed. Anderson offers up some of the Lurp-rats, but she knocks it out of his hands, angrily telling him she cant feed her baby soldiers food. The child starts to cry as Doc tries to talk to Ly. Goldman arrives, demanding to know if they are having a party back here. He warns them that this AO belongs to Charlie, not to them.
Doc tries to tell him that they need to get her fever down and that they shouldnt be moving her. Goldman is pressed, the safety of his men is his primary concern and he seems to hold little sympathy for the mother. He tells Doc to do what he has to, but they are still moving. Doc warns it could kill her. Myron refuses to back down and tells Doc to do what he can, but do it quietly.
Meanwhile the VC find the remains of the encampment and pick up the trail of Team Viking.
The team is on the move again, Taylor carrying the baby. But Ly is clearly in distress, stumbling along the path in pain. Doc slips an arm around her, steadying her, but she cant go much further. When Goldman approaches, Doc tells him they have got to let her rest, but Goldman tells him no or they wont make the PZ in time. Doc eases her gently down to her knees and in one of his rarer moments, decides to stand his ground with the frustrated L-T. As Goldman reads the map, Doc confronts him and tells the L-T they stop now or they kill her.
Anderson reminds Goldman there is always a later pickup. Myron finally agrees to fifteen minutes and a thankful Doc returns to Lys side.
Both Goldman and Anderson are concerned they are being followed by the VC. Myron orders Zeke to take Percell and double back to see what the situation is, telling him they would meet further up the trail.
Percell and Anderson go back and find what they feared, that several VC are indeed tracking them down. The two men leave quickly to get back to the rest of the team and warn them.
Goldman holds everyone up at the fork in the trail and Ly tells Doc she can make baby food from the herbs that are there. Taylor gently hands the baby back to Ly and stands nearby, watchful for her. They hear something and turn, ready to fight, when Percell and Anderson slip out of the jungle and join them. Anderson informs Goldman there are about a dozen VC only a half click back. Taylor then realizes Ly and the baby are gone. Telling Percell to maintain security, Goldman grabs Taylor and Anderson and they chase after Ly.
Ly is desperate and sick as she tries to get away from the Americans, but Goldman, Taylor and Anderson easily catch her. She goes down on her knees, close to tears as Myron supports her and demands to know what she is doing. She tells him she is going home to her village, An Lai. Goldman tells her they are taking her home, to her husband. She tries to explain that her husbands home is just another prison and she had escaped there once already.
Confused, Taylor kneels down next to her and says they were told the VC had kidnapped her, not that she had run away. Myron, who is still holding her shoulders and kneeling in front of her, is for the moment unsure of what to say. It is suddenly becoming clear they were not told the entire truth concerning Ly. Anderson, who is watching the jungle during this exchange, sees VC coming and quickly warns them. They all duck down with Ly and the baby between Goldman and Taylor.
As the VC approach, the baby begins to cry. Ly tries to shush the infant but its not working. Making a decision, Myron reaches over and gently takes the baby from Ly. Taylor then grabs Ly and covers her mouth. The baby continues to cry, and Myron strips the rag from his head and covers the babys mouth, desperate to keep her quiet. Anderson, Taylor and a horrified Ly can only watch as Myron silences the child as the VC pass within only a few feet of their position. Myrons hands shake as he draws the infant closer to him while keeping her mouth covered with his hand and the cloth. The VC pass them by.
Taylor cautiously releases Ly as Myron takes his hand away from the babys face. The baby is still alive and now quiet, nursing on the cloth. But the near experience has visibly shaken Myron, who can only lie there still holding the child. Ly finally takes her daughter from him and Myron is the last to slowly climb to his feet, desperately gathering himself together. He turns, still shaken, to find Taylor standing there with an angry and accusing look. Goldman demands to know if Taylor has a problem. And if he does, then maybe he wasnt ready to be a sergeant. Taylor demands to know what that means and Myron tells him in a very cold tone that he has to be willing to do whatever it takes to keep his men alive. Myron is prepared for that, and that if Taylor wants to be a sergeant, hed better be prepared to do it too.
When they rejoin the rest of the team, it is apparent their situation is getting worse. Ly manages to get Myrons attention and tells him that her village, An-lai, was nearby. Anderson notes they could send someone to the PZ and bring a chopper to the village. Doc informs them that whatever they do, Ly has had it. She is going to have to be carried, as she is now too exhausted and sick to move on her own. Goldman orders Percell and Pham to make a litter and then orders Anderson and Ruiz to get to the PZ. But Anderson says he can delay the VC and Ruiz notes he can make the PZ on his own. With few choices left to him, Myron reluctantly agrees.
Goldman wishes Ruiz good luck. As Anderson starts to go, Goldman calls after him. Its clear Myron is unhappy and Anderson tells him to save him a seat on the chopper. There is a long moment of silence between the two men, both of them realizing their friendship, and then Anderson slips off into the jungle.
As Myron leads Taylor and the others to Lys village, Anderson sets up claymores and waits for the VC. When they approach, Anderson ambushes them with the explosives and then shoots several more before fleeing. Myron and the others all pause, looking back when they hear the fight, but there is nothing they can do and Goldman silently waves them onward. Anderson meanwhile continues to run, but gets shot in the leg and is forced down, the VC still chasing after him.
Goldman leads his men into An-lai, Doc and Pham carrying the litter and Taylor the baby. Goldman orders the hootches cleared and the villagers to the center of the village. One of the villagers tells Goldman through Chieu that Ly does not belong here, but Goldman tells him they are staying as long as they need to and that they need food for the baby. One of the women comes forward and motions Doc to bring Ly to one of the hootches. Taylor, still holding the infant, asks the L-T what is going on. Myron explains that the villagers felt that if they stayed too long, Charlie would punish them.
Taylor brings the child to Ly, who is being tended to by Doc. Telling Hockenbury he would take over, he gives Ly her child. Ly explains that the villagers hate her and that two of them had been executed for keeping an oppressors wife and as a warning not to help others. Taylor is dismayed, realizing things arent always as they appear. She begs Taylor that they leave, but Taylor says they cant, that she is sick. She is desperate and finally tells Marcus that she cannot leave and she cannot stay. That she belongs to no one.
Outside, Myron is hunkered down and keeping watch when Taylor comes out and quietly joins him. Taylor sighs and remarks "Long day, L-T." Myron replies, "Long war." Hesitant, Marcus asks Goldman about the Sarge, noting he should have been back by now as Myron hands him the canteen hes been drinking from. Marcus then tells Myron that he had been doing some thinking and that maybe the L-T was right, that maybe he wasnt ready to be a sergeant. Myron asks does he mean hes not ready to kill babies? Taylor quickly replies that isnt what he meant and he doesnt fault the L-T for that. That he doesnt always show it, but he did appreciate what the L-T is truly willing to sacrifice to save them. Marcus adds, though, that he didnt feel he could do it himself. Myron hesitates, then quietly says that Marcus could have done it. That he could have done it, too. And that sometimes those are the only choices you are left with.
Taylor goes back to check on Ly and Doc. She tells them how lucky they are. That when their time was up they would be free to go home, while she no longer had one. She explains she came home because she wanted her daughter to be able to play in the field across the road, but that was where the VC had executed the two villagers. Now there is blood on the ground. Sadly, Marcus notes where aint there blood on the ground.
Goldman checks on Percell who has spotted some movement. Before the two men can do anything about it, a boy wanders down the path leading a goat. As they come under fire, Percell covers Myron who runs up and rescues the frightened boy and they run back into the village. The village is now under attack by the VC and Goldman orders Taylor and Pham one way as he grabs Chieu and they go another. As Goldman and Chieu duck around a corner of a hootch, a VC tosses a grenade in their direction. The two men turn and bolt, bailing over the wall into an animal pen as the grenade explodes.
Taylor bursts into the hootch where Doc is covering and protecting Ly and the crying baby. Doc tells him they are fine and Taylor runs back out again to join the others.
At the PZ, McKay lands his slick and Ruiz comes running out of the jungle and jumps aboard. He tells McKay the others are at An-lai village and in trouble. McKay lifts off, calling for gunships to help out as they set out for An-lai.
The situation back at the village is getting desperate when they hear a chopper coming in just in time. McKay lets the gunners and Ruiz lend help until the gunships can get there. The extra firepower is enough to drive the VC back and McKay is able to land, Ruiz jumping off and running into the burning village. Ruiz finds Goldman, who is tending to a woman, wrapping a bandage on her shoulder. He asks about Anderson, but Myron has no idea where Zeke is. He orders Ruiz to help Doc.
Taylor goes back to the hootch and calls to Ly. He kneels down next to her and then realizes she didnt make it, apparently shot during the firefight. Dismayed, Taylor sadly gathers the crying child to him and leaves the hootch with a final look to the dead mother.
Goldman approaches him when he comes out, and Taylor tells him Ly didnt make it, but the baby is okay. Saddened, Myron goes to check on the others. Percell approaches him and tells him that Pham is dead and asks if everyone else is okay. Myron says everyone but the people they were suppose to help.
Percell goes up to a distraught Taylor and asks if he is okay. Marcus just holds the child and finally mutters, "Nam the damn Nam."
Everyone starts to load up on McKays slick. Johnny helps Doc to carry a wounded Chieu and Ruiz follows after shouldering up Pham's body. A saddened Goldman follows them all, looking around at the devastation in bewilderment. But a movement in the jungle catches his attention and he pauses. For the first time that day, something actually goes right and he smiles a rare and genuine smile as Anderson limps triumphantly into the village.
That night Goldman drives to Colonel Lans
estate with Taylor and the baby. They shove through the gates and confront the colonel,
Myron on a slow burn and his temper barely in check. He has Marcus step forward with the
baby, but Lan makes no move to take her. Myron is disgusted, saying she is his child and
he is all she has now. Lan still refuses to take the baby and Myron calls him a son of a
bitch, still trying to keep his temper under control. He informs the colonel that he
couldnt love the baby anymore than he could love his wife. That Ly was just an
object, something to possess. The two men stand, glaring at each other when Lan finally
orders them to leave. Frustrated and angry beyond words, Myron pauses before one of the
many rare and costly statues and without another thought, pulls it down, destroying it.
With Lan swearing in Vietnamese at his retreat, Myron joins Taylor back in the jeep. He
tells Taylor that Sister Bernadette has another boarder, but at least it is a home. Marcus
looks at him, still holding the baby, and asks, "Is it?"
|Worth another look:
1) With the VC dangerously close by, Goldman, Anderson, Taylor and Ly with her infant daughter try to hide and lie quietly in the underbrush. But the baby is fussing despite her mothers efforts and finally Myron reaches over and takes the infant from Ly. Taylor covers Ly's mouth with his hand as Myron strips the rag from his head, and with shaking hands gently tries to quiet the fussing baby. The VC pass within a few feet, Ly and Taylor watching Myron with horrified expressions as Myron hugs the child in close and continues to keep her quiet. After several long, tense moments the VC pass them unharmed and Myron is finally able to take his hand away, the baby now nursing on a corner of the cloth. He lays there, shaken to the core with what he almost had to do.
2) At the village of An-lai, Taylor comes out and
quietly hunkers down next to Goldman. He tells Goldman he had been doing some thinking and
that maybe the L-T is right and he isnt ready to be a sergeant. Myron doesnt
miss the implication and asks if he means hes not ready to kill babies. Taylor is
quick to tell him thats not it, and that what Myron almost did was for his men,
himself included. That he knew he didnt always show it, but he did appreciate what
the L-T was willing to do for him. But Taylor adds he isnt sure he could've done it
himself. Myron carefully considers his words before he finally tells Taylor that Marcus
could have done it. That he himself could have done it. And that sometimes those are the
only choices you're left with.
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