May 17, 2019
In Episode 5 of Catch-22, all of Yossarian’s worst nightmares came true. Among the developments, Aarfy raped and murdered a housemaid in Rome and got away with it; General Scheisskopf viciously interfered with his discharge; and Orr went down with their plane during their last mission. Things are not going swimmingly for our protagonist. Catch up on all the details from Episode 5 of Catch-22 with our deep dive recap and review here.
Ready to rock? Keep reading for all the deets for the final episode of Catch-22 … BEWARE OF SPOILERS!!!
Yossarian is stuck in a tree, his parachute in tangles, yelling for help. Remember, he was injured in the crotch-al region prior to jumping out of his plane at the end of the last episode. So, he’s in a fair amount of pain and doesn’t know the extent of the damage to his balls. He manages to free himself from the tree and the parachute.
Cut to John walking, wide-legged to minimize the testicular pain he’s in. He avoids a couple of Jeeps full of American soldiers passing by. Before long, he’s stripped down to his bloody boxer shorts. He finds a nearby town. While he’s looking for help in the town square, bells begin to ring as doors open and a wedding party streams out from a church. The naked, bloody American causes some confused looks.
Lucky for John, he is taken in by an Italian family who tend to his wounds. The whole family is in the bedroom watching a doctor work under the sheet. Yossarian doesn’t speak Italian well enough to understand them and they don’t speak any English. The man understands Yossarian enough to tell him that he’s mostly okay but he has lost a lot of blood. He indicates that he should sew up Yo-Yo’s wounds. Yossarian is concerned that he doesn’t understand them and goes around the room asking if anyone speaks English? No’s all around.
Yossarian knows enough Italian to count to 2 and using a tomatoes from a nearby bowl, mimes the question of how many testicles he still has? The doctor, delighted they understand each other tells him yes, “two.” The whole room celebrates with Yossarian. The doctor, in Italian, tells him he has to stitch up his scrotum, holding up the needle and stitches. Yossarian screams in pain as he starts.
Sometime later, the Italian family is feasting in the courtyard. Yossarian is up and about and joins them after his procedure. They feed him and ply him with wine. A young girl in the party is making eyes at Yossarian across the table. He’s interested, too. The following morning he steps out onto the balcony of his room, looking content and unencumbered for the first time this season.
John sees his pretty admirer on the grounds and they walk and talk a bit. The flirting is high and it’s a cute scene as he carries the water she was collecting. Their flirting continues to the dinner table, with her father looking on, disapprovingly. Next, she’s sitting on John’s bed as he lays there, chatting. She’s very giggly. Her father comes in and kicks her out. Now Yossarian gets the disapproving look.
Another morning dawns, some decent time has passed, and Yossarian greets the day from his balcony. He greets a worker on the ground. He sees 2 Jeeps of US soldiers arriving to the grounds. He runs, well, crab-walks quickly in visible pain and nervous. John races back to his bed and pulls the covers over himself, up to his neck. The MPs enter the house and are fully armed. One of them arrives to his room with 2 of the ladies of the house and ask Yossarian if he’s an American. Yossarian pretends to be Italian but the ladies give him up, calling him the Americano over and over. Busted, Yossarian.
Aarfy walks in and greets him with a dumb grin and his stupid pipe sticking out of his stupid face.
A plane is returning to the base. Presumably Yossarian is aboard being brought back to Pianosa for further evaluation. Scheisskopf is drilling the men on Pianosa on proper parade etiquette. Cathcart and Korn are looking on, not really knowing what to make of Scheisskopf’s gyrations imitating the men’s lack of parade ability.
Doc Daneeka and Nurse Duckett are examining Yossarian’s nuts situation. Doc tells him the flak that pierced him missed his left and right testicles and only damaging the soft tissue between them. He tells Yossarian that this is spectacular luck, but not the kind that gets him sent home, just the kind that retains the use of his balls.
“Now, if you lose a testicle for your country, of course you get to go home. But you? You only almost lost a testicle. The best I can do for an almost-lost testicle is just to keep you here while it’s healing.Of course, while it’s healing, the number of missions you have to flying keeps rising.”
As he’s in the hospital wing, Yossarian remembers his last time with Marion Scheisskopf before he had to ship out to Italy. The share a sweet moment of playful banter about who is going to miss who more and feign putting a bet on it.
Lorenzo and Leonardo visit Yossarian in the hospital to give him a present from Milo. Yossarian asks them if Milo is around? He wants to say yes to Milo’s earlier offer to join the Syndicate as his partner, but Milo is away in Togo. The present is silky harem pants, very roomy for his balls breath and not be so constricted. Milo can be so thoughtful.
Yossarian is kinda up and about with his new pants, which are garnering a lot of attention from his fellow squadron members. He gets lots of wolf whistles and cat calls as he’s walking over to the now shared office of Major Major, Lt. Col Korn and Colonel Cathcart.
He’s greeted first by Sgt. Towser who affirms this is now Cathcart’s office. Yossarian asks if Major Major is in there, too? Towser tells Yossarian that the answer depends on who he’s there to see? When Yossarian says he’s there for Cathcart, Towser says Major Major is in. Got that? This old gag again.
Yossarian demands that Cathcart honor their deal, but Cathcart pushes back that Scheisskopf nixed the deal. Pressing him, Yossarian says his balls have been blown off and he wants to go home. Cathcart tells him that he can’t; he’s under strict orders to not send Yossarian home without Scheisskopf’s approval. Yossarian isn’t satisfied with this and Cathcart suggests Yossarian appeal to Doc Daneeka.
Next stop: Doc Daneeka. Yossarian tries to get Doc Daneeka to play ball (
no pun intended pun totally intended) now that he actually has something wrong with him, to try to get him medically exempt from combat. Yossarian reminds Daneeka that he promised to help him when it counted. Yossarian pleads for Doc to tell Scheisskopf that John’s had his balls blown off, whether he has or not.
Doc Daneeka isn’t thrilled about this proposition, as he knows Scheisskopf is trouble. Yossarian begs him to try to help him however he can, because he can’t take this anymore. He’s flown more missions than anyone else, all his friends are dead and they’re just going to continue to screw him over by raising the mission count.
Scheisskopf’s Office. Doc Daneeka presents his case for Yossarian to be medically discharged from the Army due to a “catastrophic testicular infarction.” Scheisskopf isn’t buying this for a second, asking Daneeka to elaborate further on what that term means? Knowing he’s being played by Doc and Yossarian, Scheisskopf demands to see Yossarian’s ball-less crotch region for himself.
“Drop your pants, soldier.”
The General inspects the area with a pencil. We see this through Yossarian’s legs. He tells Doc that he’s counting two testicles.
“I want this nut sack back in the air flying missions and serving his country like everybody else, God damn it. Hike up your pants, soldier!”
Back in the hospital wing to get a new bandage, Yossarian finds a Nurse Cramer (Alison Pargeter) tending to him. John asks after Nurse Duckett and he learns that she’s been sent home because her tour ended. Yossarian has a sad face. Oh, and shady, Nurse Duckett.
At the airfield, Yossarian is suiting up for another flight when he sees a very young man recovering from a vomiting episode. This man is so young, he’s barely a man. He’s got ice blue eyes, like a window to somewhere else. He introduces himself as Christopher Snowden (Harrison Osterfield) and says that this is his first mission. Yossarian is kind to him, knowing how scary this all is. They get in the plane and Yossarian tells him he doesn’t need to be in the tail gunner position despite him being a tail gunner. Yossarian tells him that he can be at the side gunner position and he should be fine there.
The mission is underway, Snowden is sweating bullets, and they’re on approach to the target when the plane jolts. It’s sustained a direct hit. The right engine is hit and the co-pilot is screaming into the intercom to help the bombardier. Yossarian panicky yells back “I’m the bombardier.” “Then help him.” It’s determined that it’s the new kid, the side gunner, that’s injured. Unable to continue his portion of the mission, Yossarian climbs out of his bombardier compartment to help Snowden. He finds Snowden slouched up against the side of the plane near the side gunner position, looking very pale and bloody. His leg is a mess, having been hit by flak through the plane. Snowden says, “he’s cold.” Never a good sign.
Yossarian grabs the first aid kit and puts a bandage on Snowden’s wound, he tries to tell Snowden it looks worse than it is. Snowden repeats that he’s cold. Yossarian tries to reassure him that that’s a good sign, that his body is working the way it should. The look on Snowden’s face is gut-wrenching. He knows more than he’s letting on.
Yossarian re-positions Snowden to make him more comfortable. And that’s when he sees it. Two huge holes in the side of the plane where Snowden was just leaning up against and the wind is now howling into the cabin. Yossarian pulls Snowden close and Snowden starts to cry. Yossarian unzips Snowden’s jacket, revealing much more serious wounds to all his vital organs. Snowden’s intestines are sliding out of his body and he’s bleeding profusely. Gaping wounds.
Yossarian is panicked but tries his best to comfort Snowden. He lays him down, using his jacket as a pillow. Snowden’s hand, which was wrapped around his torso when Yossarian came to him, is all bloody as he holds onto Yossarian now. Yossarian is apologizing to him, feeling responsible for having him sit there instead of in the tail gunner perch. Snowden’s hand relaxes. He’s gone. Yossarian is distraught. He’s rocking over Snowden’s body, holding his face.
They land back at the base and Yossarian is covered in Snowden’s blood. He’s still in the plane and completely undresses. This is the chaotic scene we saw in the very opening scene of the series: planes on fire on the airfield, crews trying to extinguish them, an ambulance arrives, and a naked Yossarian freaking out. He lets loose a blood curdling scream.
Chaplain Tappman asks Yossarian if he’s okay. John is still naked and walking through the airfield. Yossarian tells him he’s fine, the mission didn’t go well, and the blood all over him isn’t his. Tappman offers him some clothes to which Yossarian refuses.
Sometime later, Chaplain Tappman presides over the funeral services for Christopher Snowden. Yossarian looks on from a tree … still naked.
Tappman eulogizes Snowden.
“We’ll lament that the life he lived did not turn out to be the life he should have lived. He was 18.”
Milo visits Yossarian in the tree and catches him up on the news: Orr turned up safe in Sweden. Yossarian is heartened by the news. He jumps down from the tree and walks away from Milo. Milo stays behind asking if John has decided to come work for the Syndicate?
Some time later on, General Scheisskopf is droning on about the long history of drill. Yes, we’re at a ceremony for the Inter-Squadron Inaugural Parade Day. Scheisskopf introduces one of the attendees, General Dreedle (Peter Guinness), the European Operation Commanding Officer, who looks about as excited to be there as someone about to be audited by the IRS. Scheisskopf is pleased to tell the men that Dreedle came all the way from London to see their, “fiercely tight formations.”
General Dreedle takes part in a medal ceremony. He’s awarding several of the men the Distinguished Flying Cross for valor. Yossarian shows up, still naked, save his cap. Scheisskopf is angry about General Dreedle’s general lack of a reaction to a naked bombardier receiving a medal of valor (remember that he’s being rewarded for going back twice at Ferrara to bomb the bridge). Cathcart and Korn explain to those assembled that Yossarian refuses to wear clothes since a soldier bled to death all over him. General Dreedle could care less about Yossarian’s clothing status and administers the medal, affixing it to his cap.
Yossarian is thinking about one of their swims out on the raft, back before the war took its butcher’s toll on his unit. He sees McWatt, Kid Sampson, Clevinger, Dunbar, and Orr. Christopher Snowden is there too. There’s a few beer bottles on the raft to aid in the celebration. Everyone is happy, vibrant and alive in his memory. Fade into Yossarian’s tent, there are a few beer bottles to connect to the memory. Laying in his tent, Yossarian is looking at Orr’s possessions on the bed. He’s greeted by a new roommate, this one is Newman (New Man, get it). He’s young and looks intimidated by the Captain naked in front of him. Newman asks if he’s okay and Yossarian gives him a hug. The close up on John’s face is so sad, full of resignation and utter despair. World War II is etched on every line of John Yossarian’s heavily drawn face. His stare is that of a dead man walking.
We come to our final scene of the episode. Yossarian, still naked except for his dog tags and cap, is back in his bombardier spot, all intonation and anxiety and life siphoned from his voice, from his personality. This John Yossarian is nothing more than a shell, no real spark of life is left inside him. He lets his bombs go and, as Lee Wiley’s “Let’s Call It a Day” cues up on the soundtrack, sits back.
His job done for the day, Yossarian is stuck, literally repeating the phrase, “and release,” over and over again. His new plane, “Eat Crow,” and the rest of the squadron fly off into the literal sunset. And just like that, Catch-22 ends … not a happy ever after anywhere in sight.
In the book, Yossarian tries to administer morphine to Snowden once he realizes the extent of his injuries, but finds it has been usurped by the Syndicate. This, in my eyes, fuels the notion that Milo is evil and what he represents is the real enemy: greed. It was such a poignant moment for me and I missed it here. I think that was the nail in Milo’s character coffin in terms of humanity. Its absence is notable here because it meant that Snowden suffered unnecessarily because of greed. The show softened Milo’s character and made him likable despite the despicable-ness he gets involved in.
The death of Snowden and its impact on Yossarian is profound. I don’t know how those who experience the savages of war are ever expected to come back unchanged. Yossarian’s reaction is seen as abnormal although he just witnessed one of the worst things imaginable.
A further note on the insanity at play here. Yossarian, during episode 5, is arrested for being AWOL but Milo, a uniformed airman who’s admittedly only flown 5 or 6 missions, can be a continent away in Togo and have no repercussions?
The show sanitized Nurse Duckett too. She and Yossarian ended up as lovers in the book and then she ran off and married a doctor. Here, she just went home after telling Yossarian she couldn’t just go home, that she’d signed up. She had to have known that she was near the end of her tour. Why was she being cagey?
My favorite scene in the book has been omitted from the series, which is fine. There’s a scene where Major Danby is trying to synchronize the squadron’s watches ahead of the doomed Avignon mission and Yossarian starts moaning because he knows the mission is going to be dangerous. He’s preoccupied with the fact that he may never sleep with beautiful women as he stares at General Dreedle’s sexy nurse who accompanies him everywhere. His moaning creates an epidemic within the squadron and gets quite out of control. The balls scene between episode 5 and 6 with the Italian helpers, Yossarian, Daneeka and Scheisskopf replaced that well. The scene with Scheisskopf examining Yossarian’s testicles with a pencil had me laughing out loud.
I’m sad to say goodbye to Yossarian, Scheisskopf, Cathcart, and the zany band of soldiers … except Aarfy. He can just piss up a rope. He has zero redeeming qualities. This series did a good job in bringing this beloved book into the 21st century, solidifying its place in a modern narrative. Gordon Gecko might think greed is good, but Catch-22 and it’s anti-hero portrayal of Yossarian shows that humanity and compassion are really at the root of what connects us. That, and trying to figure out if you’re the sane person in an insane world. Although the ending of the series does not match the book, I’m okay with it because it fits with the narrative they’ve created with this Yossarian. I just hope this Yossarian makes it to Sweden.
Thank you for reading along as we followed this Catch-22 journey. Visit popculturereview.com for all your pop culture news. And follow us on Twitter @popculureview and @SheilsMcGangsta.