May 17, 2019
In Episode 4 of Catch-22, shit got really real. Among other things, the curtain was pulled back on the extent and complexity of Milo’s expansive operation that is “The Syndicate” and Yossarian’s best plan yet to get out of service was thwarted by Korn’s slow feet-dragging. Catch up on all of the action from Episode 4 with our deep dive recap and review here.
Now that you’re caught up, let’s move onto to Episode 5 of Catch-22 … BEWARE OF SPOILERS!!!
Pianosa. It’s early morning as the opening credits read across the screen. Yossarian is sitting in his bunk, pensive. He’s looking at the belongings of the dead man in his tent (Remember Henry Mudd from Episode 1?). The Hershey’s chocolate that Milo gave him has begun to melt onto the duffel bags. He’s holding Nately’s duffel bag in his lap. In his hand, he’s got the ring Nately was going to use to propose to Clara.
Orr comes flying in, interrupting Yoyo’s mournful moment. Orr regales Yossarian with the tale of his latest escape from danger. Yossarian tells Orr that Nately’s dead. Orr is stunned as Yossarian tells him how it happened, and lays the blame squarely at his own feet for going back around to finish the mission. Trying to make sense of it, Orr tells Yossarian it’s not his fault, rather the enemy shooting at them responsible for Nately. Yossarian goes through the butcher’s bill of men they’ve lost: Dunbar, Clevinger, Kid Sampson, McWatt, and now Nately.
Cut to Yossarian standing in front of Cathcart, a mission investigation in progress. Lt. Colonel Korn is looking on, disdainfully. Cathcart questions why Yossarian decided to go back around a second time and Yossarian explains that he missed the bombing target the first time. Korn pipes up that Yossarian didn’t miss it, he never dropped his bombs and 11 planes were relying on his precision.
**Not helpful, Korn.**
We learn that without Yossarian’s guidance, the squadron dropped 44,000 pounds of bombs on nothing. Korn unhelpfully reminds everyone that in the debacle, Yossarian also lost his tail gunner. Cathcart is more concerned about the wasted bombs – not that he knows exactly how much each bomb costs.
Yossarian defends himself, saying that the bridge was the objective and the bridge is gone. Cathcart is momentarily pleased that the bridge is gone, but knows there has to be consequences. He initially thinks Yossarian needs to be punished, but then Korn throws in his two cents, spinning that this can become a good thing for them, if handled differently. Since punishing Yossarian would send a message that the mission was unsuccessful, Korn suggests a medal for Yossarian for going around twice. Cathcart is skeptical. The “logic” of Korn’s idea hits Cathcart full force and he decides that not only will they give Yossarian a medal but they’ll promote him to captain!
“Do we need to do that?”
“Well, if we’re going to do this, we’re gonna do it with gusto, Korn.”
Shock registers across Yossarian’s face as Cathcart requests Korn organize a medal ceremony for this brave soldier and newly minted Captain. Yossarian requests permission to go to Nately’s fiancée to relay the news about his death? Cathcart denies the leave permission, accusing Yossarian of being ungrateful about the medal and promotion.
Cut to Yossarian on the tarmac with his bag. He’s looking for Milo, but his boys, Lorenzo and Leonardo, tell him that Milo is in Spain. They offer to help him. Next, they’re up in a plane reading a map looking for Rome, with Yossarian in the back. Clearly, this is their first time out navigating anywhere.
Rome. Yossarian arrives at the house we’ve seen them use before. Aarfy is there. Yossarian tells him he’s going to find Nately’s girlfriend, to which Aarfy thinks Yossarian is going to “see” her. Aarfy: still a pig. Yossarian walks to the brothel where Clara was, but it’s deserted. Like, deserted in a hurry; there’s stuff just strewn about. Out of ideas on where to find Clara, Yossarian is out walking the quiet streets of Rome, the Eternal City.
Back in the R&R House, Michaela (Marliena Annibali) brings Aarfy a tray of food. He asks her to stay and have a drink with him. She doesn’t speak English and he doesn’t speak Italian. But, it doesn’t take her long to figure out what he’s asking and she is all, “nope.” Aarfy is being supremely creepy, telling her she’s much prettier than she appeared at first.
What does that even mean?
Although Michaela doesn’t understand him, she understands him. The record player has finished its jazzy tune and the needle is scraping along the center of the record, adding a creepy vibe to their scene. Michaela says nothing but you feel her trepidation.
Yossarian, still walking around, finds Ines (you’ll recall, she’s Clara’s younger sister), sleeping in an alleyway. He tries to make her understand that it’s after curfew and she shouldn’t be out. Ines tells him in Italian that everyone has gone and she can’t find her sister. He tells her, in English, that he’s looking for Clara. Ines pipes up, recognizing her sister’s name. He shows Ines the ring he wants to give to Clara from Nately.
Ines misunderstands, thinking that Yossarian is requesting some sexy times. Given the line of work her sister is in and the GIs she’s seen come through town, this is an understandable mistake. Especially when you add in the ring. In Italian, she offers a hand job as she isn’t sure how anything else exactly works.
Yossarian is slow on the uptake but when he finally realizes what she’s offering, he’s appropriately horrified. Yo-Yo tells Ines to keep the ring and he leaves. Ines waves behind him. It’s such a sad moment, for both of them.
[Ed. Note: People misunderstanding each other because things get lost in translation is a common sitcom trope. I give Catch-22 a lot of credit because it takes this familiar gag and turns it on it’s head into a disturbing, uncomfortable exchange. More underlining of the horror all around Yossarian.]
Back at the residence, Aarfy and Michaela are slow dancing in the middle of the living room to the scratching on the record player. Aarfy pulls her in closer to him and Michaela protests. Aarfy tells her not to struggle and he tightens his grip on her arms. She repeats lasciami, Italian for “let me go.” Aarfy throws her to the couch and lays on top of her. He holds her hands as he moves her skirt up and rapes her. The record player continues its eerie scratching, setting a rhythmic, macabre beat for the horrendous scene unfolding.
As Aarfy is raping Michaela, Yossarian happens upon a bunch of Italian men beating and kicking a dog in the street. The sound of the dog whining and screaming in pain is difficult to listen to. The group of men tell Yossarian to keep moving and mind his business. He heads back to the residence, where a group of people are crowded around the entrance. He pushes through the group and finds Michaela, dead and bleeding on the street. He looks up to the second story window and sees Aarfy step back inside from the balcony. Yossarian looks back to Michaela’s body and sees that her dress is undone and he just knows.
In an act of decency, Yossarian takes off his uniform coat and places it gently over Michaela’s torso and head, giving her a bit of dignity in death. He pushes past the group of people milling about her body, races inside and up the stairs. Aarfy is sitting in the chair just looking nonchalant. Yossarian, breathless from the trek up the stairs runs to the window and sees exactly how Michaela’s death went down. She is perfectly placed for a push or a throw out of that balcony window. Yossarian has had enough of this. He starts screaming that Aarfy murdered her. Aarfy tells him not be ridiculous.
“You murdered the girl and they’re going to put you in jail!”
“They’re not going to put good old Aarfy in jail.”
The lack of remorse on this man’s face is staggering. But, we know from an earlier story he told a couple of episodes ago, this is not new behavior for Aarfy. As Aarfy calmly sips a drink, Yossarian calls him a piece of shit. A siren wails in the distance and is getting closer. Yossarian goes to the balcony to see the arrival of the authorities. It’s not the police but rather, the US Army Military Police. They start coming up the flights of stairs as Yossarian hollers that Aarfy is up here. Yossarian points to Aarfy that he raped and killed the girl who is dead on the street but the MPs ask for “John Yossarian.” Puzzled, Yossarian says that’s his name. Aarfy puts his pipe in his mouth, as normal as could be. The head MP (Joseph Milson) announces they’re here to arrest Yossarian for desertion. Going AWOL is the MPs concern, not the murder of an Italian girl.
Yossarian is in disbelief and Aarfy knows he’s gotten away with murder. The ultimate Catch-22: a real crime is committed and no one is held responsible, but the lesser infraction is prosecuted fully. Yossarian tries to get the MP’s to acknowledge that Aarfy is the one who committed a crime. The lead MP looks to Aarfy, who just waves his hand in a motion of no contest. The MPs place handcuffs on Yossarian. Aarfy puffs on his pipe, smirking. The lead MP dismisses the Michaela situation as a civilian matter.
Yossarian is flown back to Pianosa in handcuffs, surrounded by MPs. He’s in a brig at the base and basically forgotten about. He hears some commotion outside his cell. It’s Lorenzo (Domenico Cuomo) and Leonardo (Giovanni Stocchino). They recognize him and ask why he’s in the Green Zone? He should not be in the Green Zone and they ask him if he can get out of there. The Syndicate duo talk to each other in Italian, saying they have to get Milo to get Yossarian out of there to safety. They take off running and Yossarian calls after them, asking if they have any food. The phrase, “Green Zone” means nothing to Yossarian.
Cathcart and Korn show up to Yossarian’s cell, accusing him of enjoying making Cathcart’s life difficult. They refer to an unfortunate accident in Rome the previous night. Yossarian reiterates that Aarfy committed murder. This doesn’t match the story from the MPs.
“… Such a senseless death. And unfortunate accident cleaning those windows at night. ”
“He raped and murdered her.”
Cathcart goes on to threaten that he will not tolerate any behavior that tarnishes the reputation of his Bomb Wing or false accusations against an upstanding officer of the division. Yossarian calls him out saying it’s really a detriment to Cathcart, these accusations, if he does nothing about them. The music starts to build as Cathcart requests the matter be dropped and the “whole kerfuffle” can be forgotten about if you catch his meaning.
“Drop it and you won’t have to fly any more missions. We can do that. Can’t we? And you’ll do it. That’s an order.”
Yossarian looks Cathcart straight in the eyes, feeling the rising tide of ick of the situation. But, before Yossarian can answer, running footsteps approach. Milo is at the cell window and says to Cathcart that they can’t be here, it’s a designated area. Confused, Cathcart asks Milo to clarify so Milo says it slower, trying to jog Cathcart’s memory.
A siren starts blaring and suddenly, Cathcart remembers what a “designated area” is. Milo informs them they have four minutes to get far away from this area. Milo tells Cathcart to get Yossarian out of the cell, to which Cathcart and Korn reply neither one has keys. Milo to the rescue with his set. Why would Milo have a set of keys to the brig? Anyhow, Yossarian is sprung and Milo loads them all onto a Jeep, as he calls into a walkie-talkie to turn on the lights. Huge spotlights fire on sending bright beams of light up to the sky. Planes roar overhead as Yossarian yells over the din, asking Milo what’s going on? Those are German bombers. Lorenzo and Leonardo tell Milo that they have got to go now. The Jeep won’t start but Cathcart isn’t having that.
“Start the goddamn Jeep. That’s an order!”
The Jeep’s ignition grinds then finally turns over and Milo races away just as the spot where they just were explodes in a wall of fire and heat. Clearly not part of the understanding, Yossarian screams to Milo the Germans are bombing their planes. Milo tells him they’re keeping 58 and losing 22 here, as they drive past each plane getting blown to bits. Milo explains that this is a compromise on the part of M&M Enterprises, balancing the different interests of the different entities within the Syndicate, basically having to rob Peter to pay Paul to keep everybody happy.
“Next week, we’re taking out their fuel depot in Windischeschenbach. Balancing the books”
Milo tells Yossarian to head up to the control tower, that was an agreed upon safe zone. The planes continue to roar overhead and the planes on the airfield are burning.
Milo explains he did this as a way for the Syndicate to further profit, by salvaging what they can from the destroyed planes, the Syndicate can provide those as replacement parts to the Army. He announces that he wants to make Yossarian a full partner. Milo adds, in a moment of vulnerability, that Yossarian is his best friend. It’s clear from Yossarian’s look that he does not feel the same. He watches Milo’s delight in the burning wreckage on the airfield.
The following morning, M&M Enterprise workers are culling salvageable parts from the destroyed planes. Meanwhile, a US Army plane lands and deposits Scheisskopf on the tarmac. The new General stares in disbelief at the carnage around him. By the way, he’s been made a General now. General Schiesskopf. Brilliant.
Yossarian tells Nurse Duckett he’s leaving. She’s happy for him. He asks her if she thinks she could just leave? She responds with a smile that she signed up. I’m not sure what to make of her smile. Is it judgement because he took a deal? Is it genuine happiness? I can’t read her.
Scheisskopf is setting up shop in one of the office huts. There are M&M Enterprises boxes being stored there, making the quarters quite cramped. Cathcart, in a bundle of nerves, apologizes to General Scheisskopf for the miscommunication. He says that not knowing about his arrival was in part due to the base being attacked the night before. Cathcart is delighted to report that they lost no men in the attack and looks deflated when he has to report they took out none of the enemy.
In the briefing room, Orr runs up to sit with Aarfy, who is more interested in where Yossarian is. Orr tells him that Yossarian is going home, which puzzles Aarfy. Orr innocently asks how his trip to Rome was and Aarfy is rescued by Korn calling the men to attention. Cathcart walks forward to introduce the men to General Scheisskopf. He’s assumed command as Head of Operations of the entire Mediterranean Theater. We get a zoom in on a stunned Orr and Aarfy, remembering the trouble with Scheisskopf back in their training days. Continuing, Cathcart tells the men that he will still be in charge of running the base while Scheisskopf heads the larger operation, which is met with a side eye from Scheisskopf. Scheisskopf interrupts Cathcart to say he will be assuming command of both the Mediterranean Theater AND the running of the base.
“Anyone who knows me knows I simply just can’t help myself.”
He turns back to Cathcart and asks him to dismiss the men.
Orr takes off running from the mess hall to find Yossarian to tell him the news about Scheisskopf’s arrival and his new role at the base. Yossarian is lounging in the sun and takes off his sunglasses at the news. The music picks up as Yossarian understands what this means for him and the precarious situation he’s in.
Yossarian books it to Korn’s office, which is being cleared out forthwith. Korn tells Yossarian he’s got his discharge papers and they just need Colonel Cathcart’s signature before they can get him home. As he’s saying this, his desk is removed out from under him. Korn leaves to go to Cathcart.
In Scheisskopf’s office, Cathcart is going over some of the processes they have to go through on the base, to which Scheisskopf is dismissive. He’s going to leave that to Cathcart while he deals with the bigger picture. Korn interrupts to have Cathcart sign Yossarian’s discharge papers. Scheisskopf perks up at the name, “Yossarian,” and not in a good way.
Scheisskopf is interviewing Yossarian about his pending discharge. Scheisskopf asks how many missions he’s flown. 51. But the mission quota is 55, Scheisskopf questions? There’s no way Yossarian is going to get out of this, not with the base just attacked. Yossarian mentions that he and Cathcart had a deal stemming from a covert Roman operation. Scheisskopf dismisses this and dismisses Yossarian, he’s got 4 more flights to fly. On his way out, we realize the real reason for Scheisskopf’s icy attitude towards Yo-Yo.
“Get the hell out of my office. Oh, and John, my wife sends her regards.”
Oh snap. Scheisskopf rips up Yossarian’s discharge papers.
Yossarian is back in his flight suit. Orr runs up to him, ecstatic that he’s been assigned to Yo-Yo’s plane. This is less than stellar news for Yossarian, as Orr crash lands just about every plane he flies in.
As Yossarian walks to his plane, Aarfy is there and greets him. Yossarian attacks him.
“I’m going to fucking kill you.”
Orr pulls him off.
The men start their mission and as they are on approach to the target, the plane suffers a direct hit, right into the nose where the bombardier’s position is. Yossarian screams in agony and is bleeding from the crotch region.
“I’ve lost my balls!”
The plane suffers another direct hit, this time to the engines. Orr glides them out of enemy territory and orders everyone to take a parachute and jump. Orr tells Yossarian that he’s going to guide the plane out over the water as the rest of the men jump to safety. He tells Yo-Yo to get his balls looked at. Yossarian jumps out and his chute deploys. He watches Orr gliding the plane out towards the war, looking for his friend to abandon ship.
This was a heavy episode. They’re getting darker as we delve further into this insane world. The cast is dwindling further as the war drags on, just as Yossarian has feared all along.
The attention to detail in this episode is amazing. The image of the chocolate melting onto the dead man’s duffel bags in the beginning scene is one more haunting realization to the horrors of war. The things combat soldiers endure might only last a moment, but the impact stays with them long after the bullets and bombs have quieted.
Oh my God. The entire scene with Aarfy and Michaela gave me the absolute creeps. The production team nailed Michaela’s discomfort and Aarfy’s predatory tactics. Almost every woman has been made to feel uncomfortable in some way by a man, either saying unwanted things or in some way making her feel unsafe. Michaela’s body language conveys her level of discomfort, even though she does not understand him at all. The scratching of the record player as they were dancing set the scene, like nails on a chalkboard, to signal you as to the not-rightness of this situation.
Milo looks calm as the US bombers are being bombed. He’s truly a villain in a nice package.
Scheisskopf popping up on Pianosa further adds to Yossarian’s anxiety and mania about getting out of his missions. In case you haven’t looked it up or had my English teacher for AP English in High School, his name is a play on the German words Scheiss, meaning “shit” and kopf, meaning “head.” General Scheisskopf = General Shithead. Brilliant use of satire, Mr. Heller. Poor Colonel Cathcart. I’m actually starting to feel bad for him. He’s paralyzed by his own desire to get ahead.
There’s only one episode left to wrap up Yossarian’s tortured tale. He’s wounded, alone, possibly in enemy territory. His roommate, Orr, went down with the plane on the last mission. Making things worse, if possible, General Scheisskopf is out to destroy Yossarian, or at least ensure that he flies his missions to help him shuffle off this mortal coil.
Thank you for reading along! We’ll be back with the last episode recap in a few days. Follow all the pop culture news at popculturereview.com. You can follow us on Twitter @popcultureview and @SheilsMcGangsta. See you for the last episode!