May 17, 2019
In episode 3 of Catch-22, the story took a hard, bloody turn into darkness. Things are unraveling for Yossarian, and his increasingly unhinged actions are starting to have real and dire consequences for other people besides himself. When Yo-Yo makes the choice to illicitly move the mission bomb line to avoid the suicide bombing run to Bologna, the direct (and indirect) results include the disappearance (and probable death) of Major deCoverley, as well as the deaths of Kid Sampson and McWatt. Life for Yossarian and his squadron peeps is coming apart fast and it’s probably only going to get worse. Catch up on all the details of the last episode with our deep dive recap and review here.
All caught up? Good. Keep reading below for all the action in Episode 4 of Catch-22 … BEWARE OF SPOILERS!!!
It’s early morning at the air base in Pianosa. Nurse Duckett awakens and gets ready for her day. But this day is really different. The medical tents newest residents are charred body parts on an examination table.
Yossarian sits before a trio of Cathcart, Korn, and an Investigator (David McSavage). The Investigator is conducting an inquiry into McWatt and Kid Sampson’s deaths. He asks Yossarian what his and McWatt’s argument on the tarmac was about (recall: “Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Dead.”). Yossarian says they spoke about the theme of happiness. The Investigator continues with the questions, now asking if Yossarian thought McWatt was insane. Yossarian rhetorically replies, aren’t we all? Continuing, the Investigator asks if McWatt’s insanity was directly responsible for Kid Sampson’s death. Yossarian agrees with this. The Investigator gets around to his Raison d’être, asking Yo-Yo if he agrees that the US military is not responsible for McWatt’s insanity and/or Kid Sampson’s death.
“I would say the United States military is entirely responsible for McWatt’s insanity that led to the death of Kid Sampson.”
Korn tells him to answer the question and puzzled, Yossarian tells him he just did.
The investigation continues. Yossarian is brought behind the screen with two tables of body parts by the Investigator to identify McWatt and Kid Sampson. One stretcher holds a charred head, upper torso and an arm, I suppose that’s McWatt. The other stretcher has a foot, an arm and a bloody lump of something (insides and entrails, I would wager). Yossarian is asked for a positive identification of both. Obviously, there’s no way to make a positive ID, so Yossarian improvises in the best tradition of the military’s absurdity.
“I’m 20% positive that’s Kid Sampson, and I’m, I don’t know, 10% on McWatt.”
Not surprising, this is entirely satisfactory for the Investigator.
Yossarian moves on to talking to Nurse Duckett, again, about his newest scheme to beat Cathcart’s ever increasing mission count. Yossarian knows he has 11 missions to fly and he knows that Cathcart will just continue to raise the missions as Yossarian gets close to that number. His plan is to fly the 11 missions quickly and in secret, and then be done with his missions before anyone can raise the number. Nurse Duckett is perplexed.
“So, just to get this straight, your your plan to get out of here is to fly all of the missions you’re required to fly anyway?”
Yep, that’s the plan.
Yossarian is eagerly and enthusiastically undertaking his plan. In flight gear, he walks to a plane, with a hint of a smile on his face. He tells the bombardier he’d like to swap in for him on this mission because he’s just “itching to get up there.” The bombardier has no problem with that.
Ding. Missions Left: 10.
He goes up again, right away.
Ding. Missions down to 9.
Yossarian runs up to the Yankee Doodle, greeting the pilots as “New Kid Sampson” and “New McWatt.”
Ding. Mission left: 8.
Ding. Missions at 7.
He walks over to another plane after getting his mission log sheet. Now 6 missions left.
There’s a different look and feel to Yossarian doing these missions. Focused. Driven. No hint of his usual anxiety. The mission counts dwindle as he’s fulfilling his plan.
On his last mission, as he’s ready to drop the bombs, the music cuts off abruptly and it’s just silent. It’s very dramatic. It’s just the sound of Yossarian’s breath, the dial of the instruments as he aims, and the sound of the bombs dropping.
Cue Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood,” Yossarian starts dancing in the tiny space he has in the nose.
“Yes, that’s it! That’s it for me! I’m going home, fellas!
Ding. Missions left: 0.
Yossarian lands and buoyantly heads over to the mission tent. He greets the clerk and she responds that she hasn’t seen him a while. She supposes that he’s been in the hospital again … with a knowing smile. Yossarian answers that he’s been flying. He places the 11 mission log sheets on her desk.
She’s not happy at getting these mission logs altogether. He’s totally “sorry, not sorry.” Yossarian is purely jubilant. She stamps each of them approved and gives him a smile. Yossarian, you old charmer, you.
Yossarian visits Korn with the stamped proof he’s completed his 50 missions. Korn questions how it was possible? Yossarian tells him he did 11 missions in 6 days, by making himself available to fill in because there is always someone with a hangover or a stomach bug. Yossarian asks when can he expect to receive his discharge papers? Korn replies as soon as he has stamped up the paperwork. Yossarian stands there, expectantly. Korn explains that there is a stamping process and he’ll notify Yossarian when said process is complete.
Yossarian is too happy to realize that this is a major red flag to his plan.
Instead of questioning the delay, Yossarian thanks Korn and leaves, a big grin on his face. Korn puts Yo-Yo’s file on the bottom of the pile of paperwork on his desk.
Oh, Yossarian. Sigh.
Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” continues as Yossarian goes for a swim.
Orr picks up Yossarian in a Jeep as he heads back from the beach. Orr, too, is wet, but in his full flight uniform. Orr tells him, excitedly, that their plane went down. This is great because Orr is known for getting himself shot down a number of times in the book. Now, pay attention to Orr’s explanation of what happened. He continues to explain a technical process about a carburetor, a bypass valve being diaphragm-operated, having a self-sealing CCU strapped to the bomb bay. Basically all this culminated in a perfect belly landing according to Orr. Got it? Good. The look of delight on Orr’s face is pure insanity, but it’s Catch-22, so we go with it. Orr looks at it as a learning opportunity for future encounters.
The squadron peeps are kicking back and drinking beer as the sun sets. A rare moment where they’re not stressed.
Milo enters Yossarian’s tent. Milo greets Orr as well, acknowledging that he went down the previous day (Orr’s crashing habits are well know, is the point). Milo requests Yossarian come with him; he needs to buy some things all over and needs Yo-Yo’s help. Yossarian tries to explain that he’s just waiting on a stamp before he can go home but Milo is insistent. Milo needs Yossarian and besides, it’ll be fun. Orr asks if he can come along.
Cut to the three of them up in a plane. Presumably, an M&M Enterprises plane. Milo and Orr are talking about the high-quality German craftsmanship in the plane’s upholstery and equipment. Over the radio, Milo gets hailed by Lorenzo and Luca. Luca is telling him, in Italian, that he has 500 goats. This is not news to Milo, rather, he says this is their agreement. Milo tells Luca that he’s in the neighborhood and requests that the goats not be slaughtered.
They arrive in Sicily to Alessandro’s (Massimo Wertmuller) farm. Lots of goats milling about. Milo and Alessandro are squabbling over the number of goats they agreed upon. Alessandro explains that he cannot keep that many goats. They eat everything, even things that are not food. Alessandro is not being ungrateful, but 500 is just too much.
Now there are goats on-board Milo’s plane. Milo starts to explain how he is able to create demand by moving things around. Milo tries to explain the syndicate using eggs. The math is confusing and Milo uses the way people have always done business — to take advantage of the business opportunities, but it makes sense to Milo, who assures Yossarian that the syndicate makes a profit. Which means Yossarian makes a profit, because everyone has a share. Yossarian is, for once, really trying to figure this syndicate business out. Yossarian questions the practice of selling eggs at a loss and Milo responds with double and triple talk but ends with the point that everyone really cares about, which ends most conversation.
“The syndicate benefits when I benefit because everybody has a share.”
Yo-Yo still has a confused face and Milo explains that it will all make sense once they get to Palermo, another stop on Milo’s syndicate tour. Once there, Milo offloads the goats. It looks as though everyone in Palermo is crowding onto the sidewalks to greet Milo, as the military men drive through the streets. They’re calling out sindaco. Yossarian asks what that means?
“It means mayor. I’m the mayor of Palermo … ‘Cause I brought Scotch to Italy.”
“Well, since when do the Italians drink Scotch?”
“They don’t. Scotch is very expensive. These people are very poor.”
“Well, why are you importing it if nobody drinks it? “
“To inflate the price. Sicily’s now the third largest exporter of Scotch in the world. That’s why they elected me mayor.”
This exchange right here is the syndicate in practice. The townspeople hold up a banner with Milo’s picture on it and a message of welcome. Yossarian looks baffled. Milo’s starting to look really slimy here. These people can’t afford the scotch Milo’s importing, but now their stature has been raised, yet they can’t afford it. You have to start wondering who’s side Milo is on since he seems to really be benefiting from war profiteering.
Orr, Milo and Yossarian are getting their shoes shined. Milo receives a phone call from Fernando about artichokes. He has to act fast. He races away, telling Orr and Yossarian he’ll be back. Exit Milo.
Orr and Yossarian are sitting around, bored, at a plane hanger. Milo returns. Yossarian tells Milo they had to sleep on deck chairs. They’re off again, this time to Malta.
In Malta, at an elaborate reception. Milo is seated at the head table. The Governor General of Malta (Martyn Ellis) welcomes Milo and his friends.
“The first American in over 120 years to ever hold the title of Assistant Governor General of Malta. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Major Sir Milo Minderbinder.”
Milo thanks them graciously. I wonder who was the last American to hold the title of Assistant Governor General of Malta?
Back in the plane, they’re loading parrots in the cargo area. Milo explains they are a customary gift for the Caliph of Oran from the Pasha of Oran. Milo is now the Pasha of Oran. In Algeria. But it’s just an honorary title, Milo explains. Okayyyy. Milo needs the Caliph of Oran to agree to a deal on dates. And some oil leases, too, but that’s neither here not there right now. The Cailph is not a quick mover when it comes to business deals and Milo needs Yossarian to help him seal the deal. Milo tells Yossarian he told the Caliph of Oran he was bringing some serious people with him, serious rich American friends. Yossarian is going to be that rich, American industrialist.
Yossarian does not look pleased or convinced that this is going to work.
Milo, wearing a fez and a long robe, is walking and talking to the Caliph of Oran (Anthony Skordi) in an ornate palace. They make some small talk and Milo presents Yossarian, he’s dressed in a tuxedo. Milo introduces Yossarian as the “fantastically wealthy American industrialist from an ancient American family, Mr. Nelson D. Rockefeller.”
Yossarian does a double take on Milo. The look that Yossarian shoots Milo is pretty funny, almost like he smells something bad for a second, but he goes with it. Reluctantly.
The Caliph is delighted to meet him, mentions he’s heard so much about him. Yossarian has no idea how to address him. The Caliph presents his hand to Mr. Rockefeller and Yossarian doesn’t know what to do, so he gives it an awkward little shake. Orr is just along for the ride, but dressed to the nines as well.
They’re seated with feathers fanning them. The Caliph flatters Rockefeller with his negotiations in the Mesopotamian Oil Agreement of 1938. Yossarian looks the part, smiling and trying to fake it til he makes it in this moment. The Caliph is giving him enough detail to either help him or enough rope to hang himself with. But, in the end, it seems to go Yossarian’s way.
They continue talking about the prospects of oil exploration in the regions. The Caliph presses Rockefeller on the method of drilling with the possibility of igneous layer of rock over the shale deposits? The pressure is on Yossarian now, who tries to deflect the questions by giving broad stoke answers like he would use the latest technology to overcome the problems the igneous layers present. The Caliph isn’t buying this; surely an oil man knows how his oil is extracted? Yossarian tells him that he’s a businessman, not an engineer.
Orr pipes up for the first time, using his newly learned information from his latest crash experience as a substitute for modern, oil drilling techniques which is so filled with so much jargon, everyone believes to be true.
Rockefeller is so pleased with his “geologist.” Orr to the rescue.
Yossarian, Milo, and Orr are flying back to Pianosa. Milo is telling Yossarian he’s happy that Yo-Yo is going home and that he’s completed his missions. Milo won’t be able to go home until the war is over as he’ll never be able to catch up the mission quota at this rate. He estimates he’s only flown 5 or 6, tops. Milo asks Yossarian to go into business with him after the war is over, sell everything to everyone.
They land back at the base. Yossarian goes to Korn’s office to check on his discharge status. Korn blithely reaches over to the Yossarian file, so unconvincingly, saying it was “almost” the next thing he was going to do. The mission count was raised just the night before and his paperwork was not processed before the count was raised … so therefore, Yossarian’s still considered active duty and technically is responsible to fly the new mission count. Catch-22 rears it’s ugly head again.
Yossarian is briskly walking. He walks briskly a lot on this show. He heads right for the hospital. Nurse Duckett asks him what’s pretend ailing him this time? Yossarian is honest and tells her nothing. She asks if he flew all his missions from their last conversation? He tells her he did and that they raised the count again. She’s not surprised.
“Seems to me that you expend a lot of energy railing against things that you can’t control.”
She tries to explain to him that in war, power concentrates in the hands of those most likely to abuse it. “Can’t overcome that power while the war’s still on. You just gotta hope for it to end.”
Yossarian just wants to be alive when it ends. The talk with Nurse Duckett is very real, probably the realest conversation of the whole series.
Natley, excited, comes up to Yossarian on the airfield, in their flight gear. He’s got something to ask him? Nately says he is going to ask Clara to marry him. Yossarian thinks this is a terrible idea because he’s 24 years old, and she’s a prostitute. Nately doesn’t care, he loves her. Yossarian tries to convince his friend of the insanity of his plan and whether he really thinks he’ll be able to bring the Italian prostitute home to Connecticut.
Nately has other plans. He’s delusional to think that the life on Pianosa is how his life will be after the war. But, he thinks the life and sex in Italy, is tops. Nately plans to use the money from the GI Bill to open a restaurant in Italy. Yossarian tries to give his buddy a reality check: Clara’s a prostitute AND also, she doesn’t love Nately. Nately was going to ask Yossarian to be his best man, but now he’s so deflated. Yossarian changes, softens. He apologizes and says he’ll be his best man and that he’s happy for him.
Mid Flight. The bombing run approach is underway. New McWatt (Jamie Blackley) and New Kid Sampson (Jackson Bews) are flying. It’s confusing as hell up there. Aarfy and Yossarian are bickering about whether they’re seeing the bridge they’re supposed to bomb or the river where the bridge will eventually be? New McWatt shouts that the Bouncing Betty plane has been hit and it going down.
Yossarian shouts that plane is Orr’s plane. In the commotion, Yossarian misses the target. Aarfy is incredulous that Yossarian missed, telling him the whole formation was following his lead. The other planes drop their bombs and hit everything but the bridge. It’s really depressing to watch.
Yossarian makes a call to go back around to avoid having to come back tomorrow. They’re heading right back into the flak. This feels really bad. Yossarian sets up his target and releases the payload. The bridge is bombed to smithereens. As they turn to head back to base, their plane lurches violently. Natley screams for Yossarian to help him. Yossarian scrambles to the back of the plane, to Natley’s tail gunner position.
The tail gunner compartment is dangling from the back of the plane. Yossarian turns back to scream for someone to get him a rope. He turns back to Natley and the tail gunner compartment detaches from the plane. Nately falls to Earth, his eyes on Yossarian as he plummets to his death.
There’s a dreamy, detached scene back at the brothel with McWatt walking around and Nately kissing Clara, a woman caressing Orr, a woman singing, stroking Sampson’s face. And Yossarian sitting around all these dead men.
Yossarian willingly flying his missions in Guinness book of world records fashion is a far-fetched interpretation of Yossarian’s character. It works to move the story along, but it’s a big deviation from who he is. Although I did really love the “In The Mood” moment of celebration he has in the nose of the plane so I’ll forgive it.
The whole Milo escapade made him seem so much more unsavory to me. This was given a larger segment in the series than in the book. This was more elaborate. This expansion was a great way to show the scope and depth of Milo’s shady empire. I am genuinely curious to know who was the previous American to hold Milo’s title in Malta. You should be starting to hate Milo a great deal right about now. He’s not flying his missions, he’s basically AWOL from his squadron and someone else has to fly the missions that he isn’t flying. People are dying now and Milo is profiting from the war. As a US soldier. The series is painting Milo as harmless, but you need to see him for what he is: The injustice is high in this episode.
Further injustice is the exchange between Yossarian and Korn. We knew Korn wasn’t going to process his discharge paperwork. Korn needs men to fly missions! Korn promoted Major Major to Major Major Major on a technicality, McWatt died, Kid Sampson is dead. And now add Nately to this list. He can’t let a good bombardier go.
Nurse Duckett’s conversation with Yossarian about power and the war is about the realest, sanest conversation. It’s a play on absolute power corrupts absolutely. To fight that is insane, And here we are, Catch-22. If you’re sane, you’ll be thought of as insane. And if you’re insane, those are the chiefs running the show.
Thank you for reading. Check out popculturereview.com for all your pop culture needs, including previous episode recaps for Catch-22. Follow us on Twitter @popcultureview and @SheilsMcGangsta. See you soon for episode 5!