Monday’s episode of X-Company, already the fifth of season two entitled Nil Nocero, was fraught with danger, close calls and personal tests for most of the team members.
Tom is Back with the team in the Field!
X-Company Nil Nocere, gave us the team reunion we’ve been waiting for! Tom (Dustin Milligan) is back in the field again! Ever the optimist, Tom arrived just in time to re-energize the team with some exciting intel. He’s learned of a doctor who is smuggling Jews out of Nazi occupied France in tuberculosis ambulances. A pretty ingenious plan that the team is hopeful they can use to help the Jews who are hiding out in the surrounding woods.
team Neil & Miri
The team split up into separate units to start carrying out the mission of training resistance fighters for the upcoming Allied offensive. Miri (Sara Garcia) and Neil (Warren Brown) head out together to steal some munitions from a Nazi supply run in a nearby village. It was a welcome relief from the tension of the last few episodes to have the light hearted scenes between Mini and Neil.
Unfortunately Miri’s habit of shooting first, asking question later put them in serious jeopardy when Neil is caught taking guns and munitions off the transport vehicle. Miri shoots the Nazi before Neil has even the slightest chance to talk his way out of the situation. The other soldiers have them pinned down in front of the vehicle. They only narrowly escape because a boy who saw what happened purposely distracts the soldiers. This allowed Neil and Miri to take them out and get the munitions they were after.
When the boy then wants to sell the rifle he took to Neil, Miri convinces Neil to take the boy with them. Miri may be quick with the trigger but she’s also savvy. She tells Neil that children are the best fighters because they are ignored. They can easily go places that adults cannot, see things and obtain information without arousing suspicions.
Neil and Miri are making a fantastic team! Neil’s initial reluctance to train her is being replaced by some serious admiration of her strength and determination even if her patience and finesse are still in need of work. Neil is using his charm and humor to break through her tough exterior and Miri is recognizing a kindred spirit in Neil.
Aurora Begins The “Faber” Infiltration
Alfred (Jack Laskey) has effectively taken over as team leader and a self-doubting Aurora (Evelyne Brochu) seems resigned to that, for now. Aurora is still silently suffering from the guilt of killing Renee, her nerves raw. Brochu uses the small moment of Aurora discovering the Stars of David still pinned to the clothes she will be wearing with Sabine to beautiful effect. Looking in the mirror holding the dress up she strokes the horrific symbol of Nazi oppression. Realizing these are most likely the clothes of a murdered Jew, and slowly, silently begins to weep. It is another small moment taking the enormity of the war and bringing it back to the individual human beings suffering as a result.
Alfred’s plan to compromise Franz Faber (Torben Liebrecht) is in motion with Aurora doing what she does best. She is establishing a relationship with his heart-breakingly lonely wife Sabine Faber (Livia Matthes). Sabine’s isolation makes her an easy target for Aurora’s skilled manipulation and it takes her no time at all become friends with Sabine. Sabine is a fabulously engrossing character. I’m never quite sure how much of what is happening around her she truly understands or agrees with but I’m excited to watch this plan unfold.
But in typical Aurora fashion, she ignores the advice to take the ruse slowly. She seizes an opportunity to get into the Faber home and even onto Faber’s office immediately. She comes perilously close to getting caught going through Franz desk. She quickly uses her supposition that Sabine lost a child to hone right in on Sabine’s pain. Sabine is so desperate for a friend that she falls for the distraction. It’s difficult to not feel a great deal of empathy for Sabine. I have to worry that our secretly suffering Aurora may develop a genuine friendship with her.
The team confronts the enormity of evil
Tom makes contact with the doctor believed to be helping Jews escape and convinces him to help them. When the doctor tells them that he must “reluctantly” charge 3000 francs per person for the safe passage, they pool all their money, jewelry and even Harry’s father’s watch to make it happen. Harry is happy to make the sacrifice, finally feeling as though his work has real, human purpose.
But when Harry later intercepts a communiqué warning of a Nazi troop buildup right at the border area the doctor is headed for, they realize they have just sent them all into a trap. Tom and Harry rush to the doctor’s office in hopes of finding some intel that will help stop the transport. They are surprised to find the doctor there.
This is when Harry discovers yet another betrayal. He finds the jewelry and his father’s watch to be used as payment to the smugglers sitting on a table in office. Why is it still there if they have already left? A suspicious Harry begins to search through the building finding more and more clues to the doctor’s real operation. Tables full of personal belongings, jewelry, silver pieces, clothing line the hallways and rooms in the basement and a foul stench fills the air. The true grisly horror of what this man has done becomes clear when Harry finds a tub full of acid and human skeletal remains.
This doctor is not helping anyone but himself. The man is targeting desperate Jews, taking their money and possessions, then killing them and melting their bodies down in acid. He is wiping away their very existence in the comfort of his basement. He is using their hope of life, their willingness to pay anything to escape the Nazi death camps against them to turn a profit.
Harry’s Breaking Point
Tom is with the doctor upstairs who is seemingly making calls to try to stop the ambulances. When Tom turns his back on him, the doctor viciously attacks Tom, honing his punches in on Tom’s still healing gunshot wound. He overpowers Tom, ready to kill him when Harry bursts into the room and begins to stab the doctor in an uncontrollable rage.
Tom quickly becomes horrified as he realizes the extent of Harry’s blind wrath. Harry has snapped, unable to accept the depravity of what he has seen and what it means. Had Tom been killed or they had not found the mother and son they brought to the doctor still alive in the basement, I don’t think Harry could have returned from the edge.
At the close of the episode the team is sitting around a fire. As a group they realize the extent of the horror they are up against. It’s not “just” Nazis they are fighting but a pervasive evil. An evil they as a group and as individuals realize they must continue to fight with all they have.
There were two performance highlights for me in this episode in addition to the scene involving Aurora mention previously.
Warren Brown’s portrayal of Neil reached a new level this week as Neil finally let down the “all business” façade he so frequently relies on. Of all the characters in X Company, Neil probably endures the most personal loss and pain. We were gifted a peak into the enormity of Neil’s losses this week in a quiet scene so tense with pain and fear that it was spellbinding. Throw in the length of time that Brown holds the tears in and that killer chin/lip quiver as he finally lets the pain out and it was heart-stopping.
Brown’s subtlety in this scene is simply beautiful. In his current role as Macallister in Strike Back he plays a similar role, also having experienced great personal loss in his past, but has not really had the opportunity to explore its impact. I truly hope the new season in the fall starts to open up that part of his past and allows for more breadth in his performance.
The second is the closing scene of the episode in which the team discusses the horrors of the day. Harry is still filled with rage and most of the team members are discouraged at the prospects of making a difference. Tom’s unwavering optimism once again rallies the team. “We’re alive. We get to do something!” Unfortunately, it looks like Harry may have lost his optimism for good and will be consumed by his hate.
X-Company airs Mondays nights at 10PM ET on the Ovation Network,