Season 1 Episode 23 – Survival

Directed: Robert Altman
Written: John D.F. Black
Released: 12 Mar 1963

The squad is in a village waiting while a patrol of Germans comes into it. They open up on them but unfortunately they’re all low on ammunition. After a tank rolls into the village, the guys are forced to put a white flag out and surrender. Saunders is seen disgustingly breaking his Thompson while covering it with a rag.

After they surrender, they are all unceremoniously tied one after the other and made to walk while being towed behind the tank. They’re taken to a farmhouse with a barn and the Germans take them inside and tie Hanley up to the cow trough, along with Saunders on the other end. The rest of the guys are kept relatively loose compared to those two.

One of the Germans inspect each guy’s boot size and finally settles on Kelly’s boots, which he objects to but he eventually gives up.

A barrage of artillery begins to rain down on them, setting the hay inside the barn on fire. Amid yelling by the prisoners, the Germans cut them loose. Saunders was yelling to get cut loose and a German was helping him until a shell went off behind him and killed him. Saunders is seen suffering as he gets burned and is unable to loose himself.

Once the artillery barrage begins, Hanley and the guys make a break for it. As they make their escape, they grab a couple of German rifles off of some dead Germans who were killed by the artillery. Kelly is seen trying to get his boots back but Hanley told him to hurry up so he had to leave them.

They finally come to a stop and Little John comically asks if they can scrounge up something to eat.

Cage goes up to German encampment and sneaks up and reconnoitered it. He spotted a supply tent, which Hanley decides to raid in order to get supplies for themselves and also for Kelly to get a pair of boots.

They make off with some German field rations and Hanley was telling Kelly to hurry up when a German guard overheard them. He goes inside the tent, sees Kelly in there and opens fire on him and kills him. Hanley gets a shot off and kills the German.

In the meantime, Saunders is seen coming out of the barn in a daze, with his hands all burned up and hanging limp. He walks like a zombie right into the canal and crosses it.

He keeps wandering around with his hands limp. Finally he begins getting his senses back and he finds a little stream with mud in it and you can see the relief as he dips his hands into the cool mud.

Hanley and the guys cross a canal and Little John says to Hanley that if he doesn’t eat anything soon, he’s going to die. Hanley lets everybody open up the German field rations and eat it on the side of the canal.

After they finish, they proceed upstream to avoid being followed.

Saunders wanders into the same canal but upstream. He is lying on a log as Hanley and the guys walk right past him and didn’t see him. Saunders later floats down on the log and finally comes to a stop where Hanley and the guys stopped to eat their field rations. Saunders was desperately trying to eat any remaining rations that they might have missed. After that, Saunders proceeds back into the canal and also goes upstream.

Hanley and the guys find an apple orchard and they happily eat and take as many apples as they can carry.

After that Saunders wanders into the same orchard but his hands are so burned up and he’s in so much pain that he’s unable to reach any apples to eat.

Hanley and the guys find a crossroad. They hear vehicles coming and they hide behind some brush as a convoy of German vehicles come roaring past.

Right after that, another convoy comes down the road and take a different turn and this one happens to be Americans. Hanley and the guys flag them down and get in the deuce and half for a ride.

Saunders goes into a burned out section of forest. He sees a dead German soldier lying on a tree. He starts talking to it as if it’s his brother. He picks up the soldier and carries it down the hill.

While carrying the soldier, Saunders stops the convoy. The American soldiers wonders why he’s carrying a dead German soldier. All Saunders can do is cry and say that it’s all his fault that he was dead.


Saunders – 3 Germans

Hanley – 1 German



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