May 17, 2019
In episode 2 of Catch-22, Cathcart keeps raising the mission counts which makes Yossarian increasingly desperate to get out of this war ASAP! Milo’s “syndicate” is expanding quickly, and Clevinger’s plane disappears midair during a mission. Catch up on all of the action with our deep dive recap and review here.
Read on for all the crazy shenanigans Yossarian and his friends gets up to in episode 3 … BEWARE OF SPOILERS!
We open on Yossarian going for a swim (remember, this is Yo-Yo’s form of meditation), Cathcart’s Bologna mission “sacrifice” speech (from last episode) replaying in his head.
An idea hatches. Yossarian swipes a few boxes of laundry flakes and swings by Milo and the pantry tent. Milo asks him to try some soup, made with syndicate tomatoes. Yossarian agrees it’s tasty but the real reason he is here is to ask Milo if he’d slip the laundry flakes into the soup … this will help Yo-Yo get out of flying the Bologna mission. Milo protests on the grounds that A. the tomato soup is a masterpiece and B. it’s his sacred duty, as mess officer, to keep the squadron well fed – read, not sick. Yossarian disagrees on Milo’s sacred duty.
“Your sacred duty is to keep us alive. I’d rather be ill than dead.”
Heading into the mess hall, Yossarian tells his squadron peeps not to eat the soup. The friends sit down and toast to Clevinger. Orr speculates that Clevinger took off to Switzerland and asks Yossarian if he’d like to join Orr there? Yossarian responds that AWOL isn’t the answer unless you want to spend life your life as a fugitive. Yossarian continues that the Swiss would lock them up anyway. Yossarian declares that Sweden would be the better choice than Switzerland; the perks including honey-voiced, beautiful girls swimming nude.
Yossarian spots Major Major in the mess hall and inquires how the reading of the big book of rules is going vis a vis sending Yossarian home. Major Major is nervous (always) and says he can’t talk much because Cathcart is right next to them. Major Major says he’s making progress but doesn’t elaborate. Clearly this is an effort to get rid of Yossarian.
Yossarian and his squadron peeps watch soldier after soldier moving quickly to the latrine area dubbed the “last frontier.” The laundry flakes have set in among the whole squadron and are causing severe intestinal distress. Doc Daneeka runs by, asking how they’re faring. Yossarian calls back in the most unconvincing way that they’re not so good. Yossarian asks if Bologna’s still on? Daneeka scurries away but announces that the mission is off.
The squadron peeps are swimming. Floating in inner tubes, McWatt and Yossarian argue that this was pointless because as soon as the squirts subside, they’ll be sent back to Bologna. McWatt chimes in with a predestined view on life.
“It’s all a numbers game, and when you’re number’s up, your number’s up.”
As Yo-Yo heads back from the beach, Milo pulls up in a syndicate jeep. Milo has a bone to pick with Yossarian — the squadron is still on for Bologna since the 10th infantry were rerouted away from Bologna due to an illness at the Pianosa Air Base. Yossarian’s plan was a total failure for its main objectives.
Yossarian, still in his bathing suit, urgently heads over to Major Major’s Office. He encounters Towser first and gets the official party line on how no one can enter Major Major’s office to see him until Major Major has gone. Yossarian is confused but leaves nonetheless. He heads around the back of the hut and yanks up the blinds revealing Major Major sitting in his office, surprised.
Major starts to try to explain, but thinks the better of it and stops. Yossarian wants to know the progress Major Major has made reading the operations manual to find a loophole to get him out of combat duty? Major confesses he hasn’t made any progress; it’s a difficult read. Yossarian is insistent that Bologna can’t be allowed to happen.
“It’s a B-25 boneyard down there.”
Yossarian asks to be grounded and Major Major tells him that’s not in his power to do. Major Major very rationally says he can’t stand Yossarian down, what if everyone felt that way? How could he stand Yossarian down while his friends fly Bologna? Yossarian complains that such a decision would be as arbitrary as any of the other decisions that are made for him here.
“I’m not afraid of the Germans. I am afraid of Cathcart deciding that I need to fly more missions. I’m afraid of the person who decides where the bomb line goes on the map. We’re afraid of a line on a map. Do you know what that feels like to be afraid of a piece of string?”
You really feel for him here, but this can’t end well.
Inspired by his own speech which involved the bomb line/red string, Yossarian goes to the briefing room and moves the planned bombing run for Bologna somewhere North of where the route should be.
This sets into motion a whole cascade of bad. Korn is awoken in the middle of the night by a soldier telling him that Bologna has been captured and the bomb line now is 60 miles North of Bologna.
Korn wakes up Cathcart, telling him Bologna was captured overnight. Korn asks if he should cancel their mission scheduled for Bologna? Cathcart, still laying in bed, angrily tells Korn of course the mission is off, they’re not going to bomb their own men.
Word travels fast. Nately wakes up Yossarian. He’s excited to relay that the 10th infantry took Bologna, but he’s more excited he gets to go see his girlfriend/prostitute.
Major deCoverley finds Milo so he can request a lift to Bologna — Milo is now in charge of non-combat planes. Milo is confused but deCoverley tells him they’ve taken Bologna and now he needs to head there to arrange new accommodations for the men.
Nately and Yossarian are making plans for the evening. Nately, insanely, asks Yossarian and Aarfy to take out Clara’s two girlfriends and pay for their company as well. Bizarrely, Nately’s rationale is that Clara would be mad if they got the night off and she had to work; yet Nately is in love and he still has to pay her. Makes sense? Aarfy is proud to tell them he’s never had to pay for it. Aarfy relates a story from his youth about tricking some girls into putting out.
Aarfy, you are an asshole. You are a vile creature. You deserve to have your pubes violently yanked out one at a time. Even Marcello, who runs a brothel, is disgusted by Aarfy. How’s that for irony? Nately pleads with Yossarian to take out Clara’s two friends.
Bologna. Major deCoverley is looking for more buildings to acquire on behalf of the fighting men of the US Army. Undeterred by the Nazi flag hanging outside (which he rips down), he walks into a prospective establishment and … straight into a meeting of Nazi soldiers. Oops.
Spoilers: we don’t see Major deCoverley again … ever.
Clara is with Yossarian and Nately. Ines is outside. Clara tells them she’s her sister. They’re testing out English words with Yossarian. Ines says gelato and Yossarian happily exclaims that’s a word he knows. As they’re getting ice cream, Clara and her friends hop in a fancy car with Lt. Colonel Korn and another high ranking US soldier. Nately is crushed. Yossarian tries to cheer him up. Also, a girl’s gotta work, amiright?!?
Pianosa. Sometime later, in the briefing room, we find Cathcart in rare form. He’s screaming to the squadron that because of the moved bombing line, Major deCoverely is now missing. Cathcart vows to send one of the assembled men to prison for it.
“I know you’re here, and I am going to hunt you down like a jackal, and I’m gonna mount you on my fucking wall!”
Cathcart announces that they are going ‘back to Bologna’ (reminder: they never actually got to Bologna). He hopes it’s a bad run for them but also cautions that they better not bomb wherever they’re holding Major deCoverley. Cathcart isn’t done with the “good” news, either.
“I’m raising the mission count from 40 to 45 … And as punishment for this act of fucking treason, I’m also raising it from 45 to 50.”
Cathcart isn’t unreasonable, though; he says that he’ll give a reprieve on the new mission count if the “repugnant swap scum” responsible for the bomb line trick comes forward. The camera pans to Yossarian. Our hero looks distraught but stays silent. This is the most competent Cathcart has looked, but his anger level is hilarious to me. I can’t take him seriously.
The Bologna Mission. Yo-Yo and his crew are getting slammed with midair bombs. Yossarian is not looking too confident about this mission. They’re still 13 miles to Bologna. Well, shit.
Cathcart and Korn are in the control tower when Cathcart spots an anomaly with his binoculars. Three enemy planes are inbound and land with a full military police detail there to greet them. Milo exits one of the planes with his hands up saying, they know him, he’s the mess officer!!! Milo announces the planes have been “acquired” by the “syndicate,” as have the German soldiers in the other planes. They are not German soldiers right now as much as they are delegates in the syndicate. Workers start to stencil “M&M Enterprise” on the planes. The MPs aren’t convinced until Cathcart arrives and de-escalates the situation. he knew all about this and even apologizes to Milo for not letting the base know ahead of time. He requests the ownership papers from Milo and signs them. All is going according to plan. Milo’s getting more and more slime on him.
The Bologna Mission. The planes are getting shellacked. Yossarian calls on the radio that there’s something wrong with the plane. Yossarian taps his radio mic repeatedly. Kid Sampson yells back that everything is fine. Yossarian insists there’s a problem. He yanks out the wires from his radio. He climbs out of the nose and into the cockpit to tell Sampson and McWatt that there’s a problem with the plane and insists they turn back. Yossarian puts his foot down threatening to hurt McWatt if he doesn’t turn around.
After a few volleys of ‘no, I can’t’ and ‘yes, you can!,’ McWatt diverts the plane out of attack formation as Kid Sampson announces over the radio to the rest of the squadron that Yankee Doodle is turning back to home due to technical difficulties.
Back at the base, McWatt jabs at Yossarian and calls him out on pulling out the radio wires. McWatt sees Yossarian coming off the rails, yet is content with the role he plays in the insanity passing as sanity.
“You know the difference between me and you? Me? Happy, happy, happy, happy, dead. You? worry, worry, worry, worry, dead. Don’t drag me into your shit, okay?”
Yossarian goes swimming and afterwards is talking with Chaplain Tappman about the mission count going higher and the reason why. Tappman is incredulous that Cathcart would punish the whole squadron for one man’s transgression. Yossarian asks if it really constitutes a transgression? Tappman thinks it is a transgression to allow the whole squadron to be punished for a crime committed. Yossarian counters that the punishment is irrational. Tappman is perplexed, assuming that Yossarian would be the most upset at this person’s action causing him to have to fly 10 more missions? Yossarian, most unconvincingly, tries to say he’s incensed by this. Yo-Yo deflects the Chaplain’s attention by saying that the bomb line is just a piece of string and how do we know it wasn’t Cathcart himself who moved? Brilliantly played, Yossarian!
Yossarian goes on about sanity and insanity and continues to portray Cathcart as the crazy one. Crazy or continuing to raise the mission counts. And crazy for questioning the men’s patriotism and sanity when they protest. Yossarian adds that he thinks this “bomb line guy” may not be so wrong after all. Tappman doesn’t know what to make of Yossarian.
Cathcart in the mess hall congratulating the squadron on a good day’s work. He puts the body count at 12 men and quickly switches to an offering of his favorite dessert, Baked Alaska, for the brave men of the squadron. Yossarian and his squadron peeps are ignored by the servers.
As an aside, the mess officers are no longer wearing US Army uniforms. They now have M&M Enterprises jumpsuits on.
Cathcart extols how delicious the Baked Alaska is and comes to the “Yankee Doodle” table, also known as “the crew that pulled out of formation.” Cathcart asks if they got any of the dessert? Nately tells him they do not want any. Cathcart announces to the room that one plane turned back and asks that crew to stand. The Yankee Doodle crew stands and Cathcart asks McWatt to announce the reason for turning back? McWatt reluctantly says “broken intercom.” McWatt is not taking this humiliation well at all. Cathcart calls them all cowards.
Yossarian and his pals are sunbathing and swimming when they hear a plane flying low overhead, buzzing them on the raft. They see it’s McWatt laughing maniacally in the plane. They’re all laughing and taunting him.
This must not be the first time that McWatt has done something like this, terrifying a thought as that may be.
Kid Sampson is standing on a raft and points a flag at McWatt like a bayonet, shouting for McWatt to come get him and joking that he’s gonna shove the flag up McWatt’s ass. McWatt flies his plane too low, the controls get jammed, and the plane literally flies through Kid Sampson. Sampson is reduced to viscera and splattered guts in an instant. Kid Sampson’s remains are now all over the dock, McWatt’s plane, Yossarian, Orr, Aarfy, and Nately too.
[Ed. Note: It’s the most horrific thing I have seen in a long time. The show doesn’t flinch at all in presenting the gore.]
McWatt is freaking out, as you could imagine. The branch of sanity that was quickly snapping following the “coward” line in the mess hall, finally breaks. McWatt takes his plane high and turns off the ignition switch. He glides his plane directly into a large rocky hill just up from the beach. As he goes, we hear McWatt’s final words.
“Happy, happy, happy, happy! Aah.”
His plane explodes into the rocks.
This episode demonstrates, explicitly, the unraveling of the men and the examines closely the question of the sane versus the insane. The insane are starting to feel the threat to their well being and their behavior is becoming more outlandish. McWatt saw right through Yossarian, as did the Chaplain. The same way that Marcello sees through Aarfy for what he really is: a rapist pig no matter how funny Aarfy tries to make it seem.
Yossarian is coming off the rails more in this episode, with the laundry flakes in the soup and moving the bomb line. He feels conflicted about it, sure, but even though the punishment is more missions that will put him in the face of danger even more, he can’t stop himself. It should be hard for you to discern at this point who is sane or insane. Its’ a pretty grey area at the moment.
It’s hard to root for Yossarian at this moment. We’re missing some of what the books lend us as to his inner narrative. His actions all look selfish rather than in the greater best interest intended. the book really positions Yossarian’s actions in light of the alternative so it all makes more sense to approve of. The series isn’t doing this as much so it’s much more Yo-Yo driven for Yo-Yo’s own self-interest … at the expense of his friends even. It’s a slight change in narrative but having a butterfly effect of really changing the character.
Milo is rapidly becoming public enemy number 1 with the expansion of his syndicate. It’s starting to smell dirty, with the appropriation and re-purposing of the German (read: ENEMY) planes, taking over non-combat flights, and having the mess officers not wearing US Army uniforms when performing Army related work. It begs the question, who is in charge here? Cathcart is playing right into his hands, emboldening him at every turn.
I guess we should probably pour one out for Major —deCoverley (I definitely needed more Hugh Laurie in this series), McWatt, and the 12 unnamed men from the Bologna mission.
Thank you for reading along with us as we follow this dark, yet hilarious story. Visit popculturereview.com for all your pop culture fixes. Follow us on social media too! @popcultureview and @SheilsMcGangsta for more fun pop culture news and commentary. See you soon for episode 4!