Rat Patrol episode review: The Life Against Death Raid

It’s been too long since I did one of these. Like, entire months. How y’all survived without my wisdom and wit to get you through the day, I’ll never know. Let’s hop in.

The Rats are up to their usual tricks. Rommel’s DAK is just trying to go about its business, ferrying totally-not-American vehicles and equipment back and forth across the desert like any sane person would be doing, and Troy just has to show up with a magnificent belly flop into a dune to ruin their day.

He tracks their movement with his field glasses and we get a dramatic zoom-in of his face as he probably wonders along with the rest of us whether the Germans’ lead tank is a Patton or a Bulldog. (My money’s on Patton.) He lifts a fist to signal the three Rats waiting below: Hitch, blowing idly on his bubblegum; Moffitt, thankfully sans shorts and knee socks (but with pants, before you get any ideas); and Tully, complete with a messy head of blond floof he immediately covers with a helmet. With silent, streamlined ease these three fellows don their goggles and pull the cowls from the two .50s in preparation for another convoy assault.

Troy gauges the speed at which the Germans are moving and then opens his fist, telling the Rats to let ‘er rip. The jeeps roar to life and in a queasy though admittedly cool piece of camerawork we see Troy dash down the sand dune and clamber up onto the back of Hitch’s jeep while it’s driving off. They hop over a rise, nearly snapping both Moffitt and Troy’s necks in the process of landing, and fire away.

In the lead Patton—um, Panzer III—Panzer IV—I don’t know—the German commander, bedecked in his wires and radios and Walkman headsets and whatever else, notices that trouble is a-brewin’. He waves his arms and does all the things tank commanders do to alert their convoys that they’re all about to die. In response the gunners on the back of the halftracks immediately begin firing their. . .Brownings?

Well, both sides salvaged a lot of crap from each other during the desert war, so we’ll let this one go. Hilarity ensues with everybody shooting everybody else, but only the Rats manage to hit anything. Overcome by the close proximity of the heroes’ awesomeness, one of the German supply trucks immediately explodes.

Grenades are thrown, Rats dodge and Germans just up and die, and the back of Troy’s jeep somehow spontaneously combusts. In actual danger for once, they have to pull over to let the pit crew—i.e., Hitch—put out the fire. Moffitt points this out to Tully, who then either blows a kiss to the camera, spits out his matchstick, or just thinks it would be fun to break the fourth wall by pulling funny faces. I don’t know what it is he does, but it doesn’t matter. We’ve got places to be.

Seriously, what is that?

Screeching to a stop, Hitch immediately jumps out, scrambles over the hood to the passenger side, and yanks free a fire extinguisher strapped to the jeep that I do not recall ever seeing before in my life, so I surmise that it only appears when it’s needed. Troy continues providing cover fire while his driver wrangles with the extinguisher, but aha, what’s this?

Suddenly a German motorcycle and sidecar materialize from the fifth dimension, their occupants chuck a potato masher at the stopped jeep, and then the whole kit and caboodle vanishes into thin air, retreating into the ether from whence it came. For once in their miserable lives, the Germans actually have good aim, because the grenade explodes hardly a foot from the jeep, sending Hitch flying through the air into the camera at a nifty angle.

It is worth noting he didn’t even bother putting out the fire before getting blown all to pieces. Why do we bother paying this guy, anyway?

In retaliation for having his driver julienned before his very eyes, Troy flings a few slugs at an innocent supply truck, which obliges him by erupting in a cloud of smoke. The remaining German vehicles turn tail and skedaddle while the skedaddling’s good, leaving the flaming corpses of their fellows scattered over the sand. Troy jumps down from his perch, snatches the fire extinguisher, and snuffs out the already-dwindling fire in the back of the jeep. Priorities.

Off in the distance, Tully executes an impressive U-turn with an inexplicable screeching of tires on sand. I do not know how tires screech on sand. In all my pathetic years as an expatriate Texan trapped in Oklahoma, I have never heard tires screech on sand. Oklahoma, as you may know, is 70% sand. The rest is 10% ticks and 20% natives complaining about the humidity.

As a brief note, the filler clip of the burning car lying on its side against a desert backdrop is one we’ll see again in Chain of Death Raid a few episodes later.

This factoid does not assist the plot of this story in any way. I just wanted you to know. Moving on.

The second jeep pulls up and its occupants hop out to attend to Hitch, Moffitt turning him over and Tully stuffing a random blanket under his head for a pillow. His glasses—which he landed smack dab on—are remarkably unbroken, and there isn’t a single spot of blood on his shirt, which seems rather dubious to the discerning viewer. Moffitt seems to share this sentiment, because he opens said shirt to try and find whatever grievous injury has Hitch gasping and unconscious and splattered all over the ground.

Meanwhile, Tully hops up onto the hood of the still-crispy jeep to keep watch, while Troy heads over to inquire about Hitch’s condition. Moffitt, having been utterly unsuccessful in finding an entry wound because there isn’t one, gives him a diagnosis I’m pretty sure he just made up on the spot to sound credible:

“Bad. Shrapnel fragment against the main artery.”

“Klingon disrupter liquified his organs” makes more sense, because in my limited experience shrapnel fragments against the main anything would leave some sort of mark unless Hitch is secretly Wolverine. Apparently the budget for RP this week didn’t allow for fake blood.

I mean, I’d expect a half-hearted ketchup stain at least.


Troy asks if they can get him back to their frontlines, and Moffitt vetoes this as they’re over 100 miles away. Even as the Rat drives, it’s still too far, and with Hitch in such a bad way he’d barely make 10 in a jeep. Troy does not wish to test this theory out. Instead he suggests something far less hazardous: Moffitt channels his inner thoracic surgeon and cuts the offending shrapnel out so they can take Hitch back that way. Moffitt says thanks but no thanks, he got his medical degree in a Crackerjack box and performing vivisections on Hitch in the middle of nowhere is not high on his bucket list.

Up on the jeep hood, posing impeccably against the white desert sky, Tully pipes up that yesterday he noticed a German field hospital just over the ridge.

Look at that pose. Look at it.

There are a lot of ridges in this desert, but he seems to know what he’s doing. It’s only a few miles, so Troy decides that he’s going to haul Hitch in and get him put back together. Moffitt tries to be the voice of reason here, but he doesn’t realize yet that Troy does not listen to voices of reason when there’s work to be done. This is only the second episode, after all. He’ll learn. During his “there’s a price on our heads” lines, there’s a random dude just walking around in the distance on the left side of the screen. I do not know who this man is or why he is there, but he doesn’t offer to help the Rats out.

Perhaps it’s David Lang.

Moffitt’s attempts at practicality, pointing out that the Germans will just hang both Troy and Hitch because they’re annoying desert commandos, fall on deaf ears. With supreme confidence Troy says that no, they won’t. He’s going to take Hitch in, get him fixed, and bring him out. He then turns around and walks off. I’m sorry, I was just waiting for the “how” of that brilliant plan you must have tucked away somewhere on your person. Are we moving on already?

Moffitt stands up abruptly and announces that if one of them is going to be insane, they’re all going to be insane. For affirmation on this statement, Troy glances at Tully, who makes one of those neutral faces that suggests he’s not paid enough to state opinions. Everybody then looks at each other before Troy acquiesces, because Moffitt can be just as stubborn as anyone else.

“All right,” Troy says. He approaches Hitch, who I totally forgot about during this whole conversation. “We all go in,” he announces.

(Dramatic closeup of Hitch grabbing a handful of sand because that’s what we all do when we’re in pain.)

“And we all come out,” finishes. . .somebody. My first guess is Tully because it’s sure as heck not Troy, but it doesn’t sound Southern enough. And it’s too deep for Moffitt. If anything, it sounds like the narrator guy who randomly pops up in some episodes with no method to his madness. Anyway, it’s something to ponder while the intro plays. Speaking of—

Now you can get two intros and one end credits for the price of one!

We open back up with an honest-to-God period-correct German ambulance toodling bouncily along the dunes. While it’s scooting over the desert sands, Troy is back at the ranch tidying up all the mess left over from their firefight. The area is littered with all kinds of stuff, so it must have been some party. Hitch has been dragged over into the relative shade of a jeep to languish in peace. He’s now shirtless to keep all the bored female audience members interested, and for a guy whose main artery is suffering from shrapnel overcrowding he looks pretty dang good. Purely from a medical perspective, of course.

The German ambulance pulls up in front of the jeep and Troy goes to meet it, suspiciously pulling his SMG out in case the driver isn’t a friendly. It’s worth noting that his weapon of choice is a Spanish-made Star Z-45, something that nobody but nobody was using during the North African campaign because it wasn’t in service until 1945. Is Troy a time-traveler, perhaps? Where’s his DeLorean?

The ambulance rolls to a stop and Troy relaxes, because as the driver gets out we see that it’s. . .Moffitt? He’s all gussied up in a white coat with his pants pulled out of his canvas gaiters in the Ultimate Disguise that no German could possibly see through. In answer to Troy’s query, he explains that the original driver preferred not to come along, but our Brit has brought a “little bonus” as compensation. He opens the rear doors to reveal a blond gal with perfect 1960s makeup stuffed inside. She’s with the German nursing corps, he explains.

“Her English is good, but I’m afraid she’s rather disagreeable.” Story of my life, Sergeant.

Troy promises he’ll work on that and they sort of politely yank her out of the way so they can haul out the stretcher she’s sitting on. Tully pulls up in the second jeep behind all this and Troy sets him to collecting the attendants’ uniforms in the ambulance.

Gee, I sure hope the ingenious scheme implemented to snag a German ambulance and nurse is revealed at some point in time. I bet it’ll all be explained in a bit.

Spoiler alert: it is not.

It turns out that Moffitt remembered to pack a nurse but neglected to include enough uniforms for all the Rats, so there’s only one attendant’s outfit available. Troy claims it and Tully is relegated to pretending he’s sick. Well, it’s better than being a tree in a school play. This could be his breakout role to greater things.

The two sergeants carry the stretcher over to collect Hitch. This is one of the few times, if not the only one, where Troy addresses him by his first name of Mark. He tries to be all self-sacrificing and tells Troy that it’s not worth it, them pulling all these stunts to get him help, but Troy tells him to shut up because if they didn’t do this they’d have no plot and the episode would end after only seven minutes of screen time. In actuality, he merely cracks an amazingly bad joke about only moaning in German should the need arise. Hitch looks genuinely pained at this, and I do not blame him in the slightest.

“…really, Sarge?”

The two sergeants then pick up the stretcher, which Hitch has miraculously teleported onto at some point between the German moaning bit and the glances the sergeants exchange, and carry it over to the ambulance in a neat POV piece of directing that has the audience looking through Hitch’s eyes.

This is one of the blurriest episodes I have ever screenshotted in my life.

Tully and Sullen German Nurse step out of the way to let them by, though the former latches pointlessly onto the side of the stretcher to make sure the cameraman is okay by way of an intensely concerned stare. They load Hitch up, Tully and Moffitt get in the back, and away we go.

For some reason Troy, in the Ultimate Disguise, is up front driving. I would think that Moffitt, the only German-speaking member of the Rats, would be more qualified for this highly visible position lest they run into any patrols or guards at the hospital, but what do I know? Troy probably wanted the opportunity to sit next to the pretty nurse and banished his competition to the back of the bus. Said nurse gives him a very pouty stare and announces that he and his hooligan friends have no right to hurt innocent people at the hospital. Where she got the idea that they would do this, I dunno. They’re a bunch of rough and burly he-men, and that’s what rough and burly he-men do, I guess.

Troy dispels this myth by saying nobody will get so much as sneezed on, but only if she cooperates, cleverly shifting the blame from himself to Sullen German Nurse. She counters by insisting this crazy plan won’t work and they’ll know the Rats aren’t German.

“Only if you tell ‘em,” Troy counters right back. Sullen German Nurse has nothing to reply to this and snaps her head forward, the international sign of indignant defeat for females in the passenger seat everywhere. Troy is a gracious winner and doesn’t press the subject further.

After a lot of driving, during which Troy finds every hole and bump possible in order to jar that shrapnel out of Hitch’s artery while Tully and Moffitt exchange worried glances, they finally arrive at the field hospital. It is distinctly underwhelming. With Hitch looking worse by the minute, Sullen German Nurse points out the surgery tent and Troy pulls up to it. As he parks, he reminds her that it’s all up to her whether anyone gets hurt or not. She answers this with a sharp nod and gets out of the cab. Troy follows suit, pausing to give his surroundings a looooooooong scan to take in the hordes of German soldiers standing around or working on their totally-not M47 Patton tanks.

To be fair, the Bundeswehr used them a lot in the 50s, so maybe the Germans are time travelers too.

Good job acting natural, Troy. They’ll never suspect you. He and Moffitt haul Hitch’s stretcher out of the back with the following exchange:

Troy: (at a suitably hushed volume) “Hope your German holds up.”

Moffitt: (loudly, so that God Himself may hear from the heavens) “We’ll soon find out.”

In his defense, he’s got a splendid voice. It doesn’t lend itself well to whispering. Leaving Tully in the ambulance on a spare stretcher, stripped to his undershirt and covered up with a blanket to look as un-American as possible, the two sergeants pick up Hitch and haul him away. Sullen German Nurse, who was standing by the open ambulance doors, has managed to evaporate into thin air, so she’s unable to stop the proceedings when an SS officer materializes and stalks over to check things out. It’s Albert Paulsen, of course, a man who is always playing Germans with Ecuadorian accents, and he does not let us down this time.

Sensing something amiss, he calls for the two sergeants to “Halt!” Nervous glances are exchanged between our boys and the nurse, who has reappeared from the ether. Paulsen—whose name is von Helbing but I don’t want to write that a dozen times—slouches over, demanding to know, in German, where Hitch has come from and where Moffitt has come from and where just about everybody has come from, because he doesn’t trust his own mother as far as he can throw her.

Moffitt answers all his questions neatly enough, but then Paulsen hits him with a “Your German is quite good” in English, and we get a closeup of Troy’s squinty eyes, Clint Eastwood style.

Moffitt plays dumb with a polite, “Wie bitte, Herr Oberst? Ich verstehe nicht.” Bless him.

Look at this face of utter innocence. How do you suspect that?

But Paulsen isn’t buying it. He’s convinced they’re enemy soldiers, and none of them are helping by giving each other anxious glances all the time.

*deep breath*

—Beginning of rant—

Moffitt is doing a number of things wrong here. First off, he misidentifies Albert Paulsen as a colonel, not a major. Then he addresses said major with the Wehrmacht designation of this mistaken rank: Oberst, not The SS’ Standartenführer or Oberführer. Not only does he do this, but he also calls him Herr Oberst. “Herr” is tacked onto ranks when addressing one’s superiors in the regular military, but the SS isn’t the regular military. Nobody called nobody “Herr” anything. Small wonder Paulsen is staring at him like he’s a lunatic.

Paulsen’s Sturmbannführer (major’s) pips.
Actual colonel’s collar tabs: Standartenführer Hermann Fegelein and Oberführer Walter Schellenberg.

To be fair, this could be explained away as a Wehrmacht medic’s ignorance of SS ranking systems, as the SS weren’t even in North Africa except for one Einsatzgruppe so how the heck would he know what they call each other? Perhaps Moffitt zeroed in on Paulsen’s shoulder boards with their two colonel’s pips right next to each other and assumed his rank from that.

(Also, said shoulder boards look almost gold in the brief time they’re seen, but I’m not even going to get into that.)

Or maybe we can chalk all this up to the costume department stuffing Paulsen in any old uniform with a blank SD cuff title and Sturmbannführer’s collar tabs to go with the Oberst’s shoulder boards, knowing that whatever they did he would still make this heinous German villain sound unabashedly South American, which in terms of post-1945 thinking makes sense but this is 1942, thank you very much.

—End of rant—

Anyhow, while Moffitt looks suitably befuddled, Paulsen starts firing off for the guards to arrest all these people, but even though the music tells us to be tense the other Germans look more amused by Paulsen’s discovery than anything else. Annoyed at their ineffectiveness, he goes for his own holster, but by the time he gets the thing open we see it’s completely empty. About this time Ed Asner, aka Captain Friedrich, chooses to appear and tells the guards in German to haul this loon back where he belongs.

Paulsen announces that he is quite familiar with Friedrich’s “native tongue”, i.e. English, and tiredly Friedrich tells him he’s overwrought and getting upset by wounded men again. Why then, pray tell, do they let him run around loose in a field hospital filled with that very thing? Paulsen is being a stubborn cuss and won’t go. He insists that he’s got super-duper Englishmen-sensing powers like the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk in a line that always makes me flinch with its hokeyness. Even Moffitt looks suitably disturbed by the sudden mediocrity of the script.

That nose tho.

Annoyed with such antics, Friedrich motions the guards over to haul Paulsen off, saying that this has been fun and all but he has surgeony things to do so go away. As a parting shot Paulsen announces he’ll tattle on them all to the Gestapo, and Friedrich just looks so done with the world. He keeps calling Paulsen “Herr Colonel”, too, but what can one expect from a surgeon whose shoulder boards are the red of artillery or general staff instead of the medical branch’s cornflower blue? Not much, that’s what.

Paulsen walks off with his guards and Friedrich motions the Rats and their cargo of one (1) wounded Hitch inside the surgery tent. They set his stretcher down on the table and go back to get Tully, who’s been languishing in the ambulance this whole time. On the way out Troy exchanges a Meaningful Glance with the nurse, who’s followed them in, as a silent reminder not to give their secret away or else big bad things are going to go down. It’s a very intimidating smolder, if I do say so myself—

—but it doesn’t stick. The very minute he and Moffitt are gone Sullen German Nurse slinks over to Friedrich, washing his hands and minding his own business, and whispers to get his attention. By the time he hears her the sergeants are back, carrying Tully on a stretcher.

They set him down and, while Friedrich sets to snipping on Hitch, Sullen German Nurse casts the remaining Rats a nervous glance. To dissuade her from blurting out a warning, Tully lets the barrel of his Star Z-45 peek out from under his blanket, and everybody gives everybody a meaningful look. Sullen German Nurse’s eyes turn downcast. Point taken.

Here, however, things begin to go downhill. Friedrich means to give Hitch an injection, and begins tying the rubber tourniquet around his upper arm. It takes him several brief eternities while doing so to notice the tattoo done up nicely in ballpoint pen of an American flag with the words “FORT BENNING GA. 1942” around it.

I have no idea where Hitch keeps this tattoo the rest of the time, but I’ve never seen him with it again no matter how shirtless he gets. Continuity, where art thou?

Friedrich sees this beautiful work of art and stops dead in his tracks. Even if the Germans in this show use American firearms and drive American vehicles and don’t notice when the Rats are in their midst wearing American uniforms, none of them would ever under any circumstances find themselves with an American tattoo. Another long round of intense looks are exchanged. People stare at each other a lot in this episode.

Then, calmly, Friedrich says,

“It would appear that Herr Colonel von Helbing is suffering from only partial paranoia.”

Cue commercial.

We get yet another closeup of that silly tattoo, because the makeup artist did a really thorough job on it and wants everyone to appreciate his effort before it gets washed off for the next episode. Even more looks are exchanged, to such an extreme I’m beginning to get worried everyone’s eyeballs will wear out by the time the credits roll, and then Troy steps forward.

He inspects the tattoo because he knows how much time the makeup artist spent on it, gives Moffitt a glance, and whips out Old Slabsides. This he points right at Friedrich’s unattractive mug, which doesn’t have nearly the effect one would expect.

Friedrich: (calmly) “Who would operate on your wounded friend if I am suddenly taken dead?”

Troy: (realizing he really didn’t think this through but unwilling to admit it) “She would.”

Nurse: (horrified) “My insurance doesn’t cover medical fraud!”

Okay, well, it wasn’t quite like that, but that’s the gist. Troy informs Friedrich in an iron voice that he’s going to get Hitch fixed up one way or another.

(Slaps 1911 with pillow for dramatic effect.)

Unfazed, Friedrich says he’ll need an assistant to administer the ether. In a stroke of brilliance, Troy has Sullen German Nurse do it, because Lord knows she isn’t doing anything else. She puts the mask over Hitch’s face and douses it down while Friedrich prepares an injection and stabs the poor private in the arm with it. It’s worth noting he does less than nothing to sanitize the area beforehand. Does he know where that elbow’s been?

Even though things have just begun perking along, they abruptly grind to yet another halt as Paulsen magically appears inside the tent, having gotten his hands on a submachine gun (is that a SIG?) and escaped his guards. He’s all ready to shoot everybody unless Friedrich, whom he’s convinced is still an Engländer, stops the operation. He gives the captain three seconds to obey or he’ll kill Hitch himself.

Since he’s got the drop on them, nobody moves. Tully wisely doesn’t spring up and start shooting all over the place, taking his cue from his frozen sergeants. Friedrich tells Paulsen that he’s a German doctor no matter how you slice it, and Paulsen doubts this because after all, he’s saving the life of an enemy.

“I’m not saving his life, you ninny,” says Friedrich. He’s been biding his time since he discovered Hitch was an American all of two minutes ago and has just taken “the necessary steps”, as the division he’s in—you know, the medical one that has red general staff shoulder boards—doesn’t mix sentimentality with surgery. I’m sure the Germans in the audience speak Ed Asner more fluently than I do, so I’ll leave it up to them to translate just what he says after this. Moffitt, however, extrapolates a very alarming conclusion from his words.

“He’s killed him!” hollers the Brit in English in case God isn’t listening again. “Morphine injection!”

Tully chooses now to pop up like a jack-in-the-box brandishing an SMG and tell Paulsen at a more reasonable volume to drop his gun or get his head blown off. While Troy socks Friedrich in the mouth over the surgery table, Moffitt tackles Paulsen and smacks Hitch’s ether-soaked gauze mask over his face.

Troy takes this opportunity not to make sure that Hitchcock is actually alive or not but to throttle the bejeezus out of Friedrich before he can get up, so it’s up to Moffitt to see that Hitch is not only breathing but also literally moving, which dead people don’t often do. The Brit has to pry Troy off of Friedrich and yell that their wounded man hasn’t gone to the big desert war in the sky for the message to get through, but he gets his fellow sergeant to stop killing the only surgeon they’ve got on hand.

Troy doesn’t actually apologize, but at least he looks sorry, and Friedrich is surprisingly understanding for a guy who was getting his larynx crushed mere seconds ago. He explains his “necessary steps” comment was in itself a necessary step to mislead Paulsen and keep him from spoiling a perfectly good piece of surgery.

(I must interject: What perfectly good piece of surgery? Sullen German Nurse was just giving Hitch the ether when Paulsen showed up. Friedrich hadn’t even done anything yet other than tie on a tourniquet. Said surgery would only be speculative at this point, so Paulsen could hardly ruin that which does not yet exist. Ah, well. Semantics.)

As politely as a near-choked fellow can, Friedrich takes the gauze mask and returns to his patient.

A time lapse provides us with the fastest surgery known to man, ending with Friedrich laying stripes of tape over a thick bandage around Hitch’s torso. Troy is hovering around like a nervous mother, asking how long it’ll be (soon) and if Hitch will croak the minute they move him (no, and stop worrying) and sending Tully out to check on the ambulance (yes, well, about that). Donning a doctor’s coat, the Kentuckian obeys, announcing promptly that it’s gone. He must look like he’s playing around, though, because Troy doesn’t believe it and stomps over to check it out himself.

But no, Tully was right. There’s a lot of shirtless Germans in suspenders and no ambulance. Not to worry, though! There’s a truck out back full of coffins and that’ll do nicely. Hitch is ready to travel so Troy sends the remaining Rats out to bring one in his size, then thanks the doc for the most entertaining surgery he’s seen in a while (or something like that). He doesn’t want them telling on him, but Friedrich gives his word for all that’s worth and Sullen German Nurse pipes up for the first time in ages to say they don’t want to see innocent people hurt.

Satisfied, Troy wants to take the unconscious Paulsen along, but Friedrich vetoes this. Paulsen is still his patient and therefore under his care. Troy says fine, be that way, but at least give him something to keep him under until the Rats are gone. Friedrich brushes this aside and changes the subject.

“Gee,” he says, “it’s 2 o’clock. You’d better get going; I think Rawhide’s about to come on.”

Troy does not watch Rawhide (sucks for him), but he gets the hint. He thanks Friedrich because he might have tried to strangle him to death mere minutes before but he’s still a polite fellow, then the Rats pack up Hitch in his to-go box coffin. Troy throws in some extra things—plastic forks, cotton, those little paper salt and pepper packets, two bottles of ether for the road—and then they smack the lid on and haul everything outside.

Sullen German Nurse stops Troy to tell him in a sultry voice that he’s a very determined man and she hopes he makes it. For some reason he cuts his eyes upwards to give the ceiling a very odd look and gives her an awkward thank you before squeezing by to follow the others.

How To Reject Women Like a Gentleman: Lesson 14. There will be a quiz on this at the end of the module.

They’ve loaded Hitch up in the truck bed and are just fastening the gate when, inside, Paulsen abruptly comes to and smacks the daylights out of Friedrich, who was trying to check his pulse in a perfectly reasonable manner. The Rats are alerted to this by Sullen German Nurse yelling out, “No!” in English, because when one is panicking they always revert to a language they aren’t as fluent in or comfortable speaking. Our boys take this as their cue to skedaddle, with Moffitt jumping into the driver’s seat while Troy and Tully scramble into the back with Hitch. The Brit punches it and the truck takes off.

As it’s picking up speed a random German catapults in from hyperspace and crashes into the door like the dude in that Windex ad. Moffitt, admirably calm under the circumstances, shoves him off and into the dirt. It is clear the Brit has nothing but utter disdain for this man’s antics, and would probably stop to tell him so if there was enough time. But there is not, so he drives off while the Germans scramble in random directions and the Rats pick them off from the back of the truck like fish in a barrel.

Paulsen, apparently finished with Friedrich and Sullen German Nurse, staggers out of the surgery tent and starts hollering about American soldiers and mustering everyone to arms. Around him, the Germans are already mustering themselves just fine, and carry on doing so, ignoring him like the crazy uncle at Thanksgiving going on about conspiracy theories and Elvis being secretly interned at Area 51. He latches onto the door of one of the halftracks moving out, still hollering. I feel for that poor driver’s left ear.

We get a cool perspective shot through the arch of this random roadside root of the Rats’ truck rounding a corner, the Germans in hot pursuit. Paulsen is still directing people and I’m pretty sure they’re still ignoring him. They drive past the same root, so you know they’re catching up to Troy and the boys.

Speaking of Troy and the boys, they make a quick pitstop in some tall brush to drop off Hitch in his coffin, take out the ether and cotton they put in earlier, and leave Tully with him to keep an eye on things, armed with one of those goofy Z-45s. While the big, obvious yellow truck is badly hidden in the brush, the Germans drive right past it, thinking it’s further down the road. But the two sergeants pull the old switcheroo on them and pull out behind them. Clever boys.

Back at the coffin motel, Hitch is coming out of the anesthesia and hazily calls for Troy, growing agitated. Tully puts a comforting hand on his forehead and comforts him with the dumbest line in television history:

“Easy, buddy—easy, buddy. He’s putting them to sleep. . .” (Dramatic pause as Justin Tarr envisions his paycheck, which is probably the only thing keeping him from laughing as an instinctual traumatic response.) “. . .with ether.”

Meanwhile, Troy is doing just that. His wickedly brilliant plan is to take the two bottles of ether, feed long pieces of cotton into them as wicks, light them, and throw them at the halftracks. And he does it, too.

Now, this being Rat Patrol, I immediately looked for the monstrous loophole that would make this entire plot implausible, but as far as I—a humble woman with no pertinent knowledge of chemistry, physics, or anything in between—can tell, these in-a-pinch Molotov cocktails actually kinda. . .work.

Troy demonstrates this by lighting the first one and throwing it. It hits the rear halftrack and blossoms into a magnificent fireball. Paulsen, up ahead, yells some random instructions at his halftrack and it starts to turn to run down the truck, but Troy lights and throws the other not-Molotov cocktail and hits the oncoming Germans square in the hood. Paulsen is thrown off as the vehicle rolls to a stop, because everybody was apparently instantly liquified by the blast.

The guys don’t stick around to make sure of this, though, so sure are they in their plot armor, so they just turn around and toodle away to pick up the two privates, Troy casting glances at the flaming halftrack over his shoulder either to admire his handiwork or make sure that annoying Paulsen guy is good and dead. As the scene draws to a close we get a closeup of the burning hood to assure us that, yes, everybody involved who isn’t a Rat is good and dead, thank you. Cue commercial.

A long and lanky GI hops out of his truck and lopes over to tell the Rats, hanging around as Hitch is loaded into the back by a very bored, mute medic, that they better hurry themselves up as he’s got places to be and things to do. On the stretcher, Hitch is understandably flummoxed as to how his fellow commandos managed not only to survive the insanity of the previous 22 minutes but also carry out their outrageous plan. He promptly says as much.

“From what I can see,” says Tully, perfect blond hair tousled by the arid desert breeze, “those Jerry doctors did a pretty good job.”

Um, all right. Not sure how that’s remotely related to Hitch’s point, but all right.

The bespectacled private seems amused enough by this answer, however, and that’s good enough for me. “I just wish I was awake so I could see it all,” he says. Trust me, kid—I was awake for this whole thing. You missed nothing. “Did you have much trouble?”

“Trouble, are you kidding?” asks Tully, and breaks out into one of those beautiful grins we get every third harvest moon. Troy gives him a chummy look and asks Hitch,

“How was it where you were?”

“Great, Sarge. I met the greatest chick.”

Stop this. Stop this right now.

Everyone grins at each other like air-headed morons, doubting the likelihood of this immensely. Hitch carries on, much to my consternation, with his trademark line that we shall learn to love so well:

“Sarge, who was there? You or me?”

Troy just grins some more and tells him, “You got me there, pal,” which translated means, “Okay, that’s enough out of you, our Nielsen ratings are dropping exponentially with every line of this drivel”. That GI up in the truck cab is probably checking his watch and tapping his foot by now, because these guys sure talk a lot.

Hitch hopes his injury won’t lay him up too long; Troy assures him it won’t as long as he listens to the doctors and doesn’t chase the nurses around like Harpo Marx; Tully chips in with the title of a popular Buddy Holly song; and Moffitt tells Hitch to take care. Troy gives him his kepi and goggles, and the medic slides him into the truck, which then drives off because through some miracle the driver didn’t die of boredom while everyone was yakking it up in the back. The Rats get in their jeeps and drive off into the sunset while triumphal music plays.

The end.

I consider this pretty standard fair for a Rat Patrol. Hitch has plot armor, so it’s not a complete edge-of-your-seater, focusing more on drama than action, but that’s certainly not bad. It does a good job of establishing the close bond the Rats have. When one of them is in trouble, the others will move mountains to save him. I liked that we got to see all four guys, too, as squad stories are always my favorite—be it Rat Patrol or Combat! or 12 O’Clock High.

Tully gets the award for the most costume changes in a single setting and the exquisite straight faces he pulls when saying his corny lines. And the best hair, but that’s just me.

This one’s got its fair share of continuity errors and historical inaccuracies, of course, but this is the show that revolves around three Yanks and a Limey vanquishing the entire DAK with only two jeeps. If you expected Valkyrie, you will be disappointed. Incidentally, Hans Gudegast, who didn’t even appear in this episode, gets credited as “Hans Deitrich”. Dietrich’s evil twin, perhaps? We may never know.

Another point to mention was the nice directing; there were a lot of neat and interesting angles that kept the storyline lively. My enjoyment was detracted somewhat by the fact that Albert Paulsen was in it and he’s in absolutely everything as essentially the exact same character, but overall it’s a good episode, standard plot, fun to watch. Do we have stars yet? I’ll give this one three out of five.


2 thoughts on “Rat Patrol episode review: The Life Against Death Raid

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