‘Masters Of The Air’ Ending Explained & Finale Recap: What Was Buck And Rosie’s Last Mission?


In the eighth episode of Masters of the Air, we were introduced to the Tuskegee Airmen, who turned the tides for the Allied forces during World War II with their superfast fighter jets. Out of them, Macon, Daniels, and Alex were captured and sent to Stalag Luft III, where they met Bucky, Buck, and the rest of the prisoners of war. They were on two minds about joining hands to plan their escape because racism was a major issue, despite the fog of genocide looming over them. Thankfully, Buck broke those barriers and ensured that there was no space for bigotry in the camps. Crosby, the cheater, tried to stay up for around 72 hours to witness the invasion of Germany and the end of Nazi rule. However, his sleep deprivation caught up to him, and he collapsed. Rosie told him about all the stuff that he had missed out on. The concluding episode was a “make it or break it” ordeal for all parties involved. So, let’s find out what happened in Masters of the Air‘s finale.

Spoiler Alert

Rosie Rosenthal Is Rescued By The Russians

The ninth episode of Masters of the Air opens with yet another air raid on the Germans, with the Eighth Air Force being led by Rosie Rosenthal. His plane takes some heavy fire, and he decides to somehow land in Russia so as to avoid getting captured by the Nazis. He manages to jump out of his plane and use his parachute to get to a safe spot. He injures his right hand, but he drags himself into a pit, where he readies his pistol to start firing at Nazis. But as soon as he realizes that it’s the Red Army that has cornered them, he heaves a sigh of relief and tells them that he is an American and an ally. At Stalag Luft III, the Nazis order the prisoners of war to vacate the place and prepare for their long march away from the spaces that are being invaded by the Allied Forces. The cold starts claiming lives, thereby making even the Nazis second-guess their methods of torturing the prisoners of war. They reach a place that has fireplaces, and they huddle around it to survive. Next they are taken to a train station and then transported to Nuremberg. They walk through the ruins of the city and then reach another prison camp where Buck is reunited with someone who seems to be named Lt. George Fred Niethammer, and Buck describes him as the only guy he knows who is a bigger baseball fan than Bucky. Crosby tries to get some information about Rosie, but he only learns that he dropped somewhere around the no man’s land. Then he is informed that a group of airmen are supposed to leave for the invasion, but they are refusing to go, which gives Crosby the opportunity to manhandle the Major, who was supposed to look after the equipment room and keep everything ready for the pilots and their crews.

Rosie Reunites With Crosby

The general of the Red Army informs Rosenthal that they’ll be able to get him on a flight to Moscow, from where he’ll be able to get back to his base at Thorpe Abbotts. The convoy stops at a concentration camp to fix a wagon, and Rosie uses that break to take a stroll through the hellhole, which is filled with unattended dead bodies. The translator of the Red Army informs Rosie that there are bigger camps like this with more dead bodies, so as to convey the horrors that have been inflicted by the Nazis. The wagon is fixed, and the convoy resumes its journey. Before boarding his plane to Moscow, Rosie interacts with a random survivor, and he gives Rosie a peek into the horrors he has faced. The conversation goes on for way too long, and then Rosie boards his plane and leaves. Then we skip straight to his arrival at Thorpe Abbotts, where he sits down and has liquor with Crosby, regaling us about everything that he has seen out there. Crosby reveals that his wife is pregnant and then says some nonsense about becoming a monster to fight a monster. In my personal opinion, Crosby isn’t a monster because he fights Nazis. He is a monster because he has cheated on his wife. All this “gazing in the abyss” garbage means nothing. Anyway, at the prison camp in Nuremberg, the prisoners of war are forced to march again in the darkness of the cold night. The convoy is attacked by an American P-51 Mustang, which injures a bunch of Nazis, but it also kills a few of the prisoners of war. While walking through the city, Buck, Bucky, and two others try to make a run for it. Bucky gets caught, while the others manage to run into the forest. When they decide to take a break from all the running around, they are ambushed by a bunch of amateur Nazis. George is killed in the process, while Buck and his companion resume their journey towards safer pastures and are eventually rescued by the American army.

What was Buck and Rosie’s last mission?

Buck and his group are brought to another camp for the prisoners of war, which is promptly attacked by the Allied Forces. The prisoners of war use this opportunity to take down the Nazis. Bucky takes the tattered American flag and unfurls it atop one of the cabins, thereby signifying that the Nazis have been soundly defeated. By the way, amidst the POWs, I spotted a Sikh individual. It’s a blink-and-miss-it moment that hints at how the British were using Indians to fight Nazis and liberate Europe during World War II while enslaving India. Buck reunites with Rosie and Crosby, and the latter informs him that the Allied Forces are trying to battle the Dutch Famine by dropping food packages in the cities of the Netherlands. Buck goes through his stuff and heaves a sigh of relief that he is finally closer to the prospect of going home than he ever was before. Rosie, Buck, Crosby, and the rest of their crew go on one last mission to feed the Dutch, and the next few minutes of the episode are spent on inspirational music and showing how awesome the American Air Forces are. Buck gets a call on his radio and realizes that it’s Bucky. When Buck returns to Thorpe Abbotts, he reunites with Bucky. At the end of Masters of the Air, a public service announcement states that the war is over and that the Nazis have been defeated. Everyone cheers and parties. Buck and Bucky have a quiet drink together. And then everyone goes back home. The end.

Final Thoughts

The whole point of making a period drama that is centered around a very specific crime against humanity is to send the message that such an atrocity shouldn’t happen again. There are countless movies and shows that have cited history to remind people that humans should live alongside humans peacefully and never resort to war. Some of them put forth their message in a subtle way, while others did the same in an explicit fashion. However, when the parallels between what happened before and what is happening right now (as you read this sentence) are removed, so that viewers don’t think about the present and only reminisce about the past, then it becomes irrelevant. And that’s exactly what has happened with Masters of the Air.

I don’t know what the intent of the showrunners was (although parsing through their political opinions and personal actions makes their intentions very apparent), but it seems like they’ve purposefully avoided addressing the fact that, in the current context, the oppressed have become the oppressors, and that too with the aid of those who have historically painted themselves as the saviors of the oppressed. To me, that makes the whole miniseries quite irrelevant because, as mentioned before, if we aren’t using history to talk about how it’s being repeated in the present day, then what are we really doing? 

In addition to that, the overt fetishization of the instruments of war and the whitewashing of its users, while flaunting some of the dullest writing and direction I have ever seen, make Masters of the Air seem like a propaganda show. This lack of nuance in this day and age is straight-up inexcusable. So, I recommend reading the news (preferably one that’s published by a channel or outlet that doesn’t do propaganda) and some history books, and then watching Masters of the Air on Apple TV+.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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