‘Masters Of The Air’ Episode 1 Recap & Ending Explained: How Did Buck’s First Flight Go?


Based on Donald L. Miller’s novel, Apple TV+ miniseries’ Masters of the Air, follows the 100th Bomb Group through World War II as they battle Adolf Hitler and his forces from the air. The first episode is truly boring, but that is the least of its problems (it has something to do with the allegations that have been leveled against Cary Joji Fukunaga and Steven Spielberg’s recent political stance). Anyway, you and I are here to talk about the show because we’ve watched the episode. So, let’s just get on with it, shall we?

Spoiler Alert

Buck Reunites With Bucky After A Long Time

Episode 1 of Masters of the Air opens with Buck and Bucky spending time with their girls and going on and on about the history behind their nicknames. Both of them are supposed to go to England to join the 100th, but Bucky leaves first, and his first observation mission turns out to be horrific. But he is told not to relay the experience of that mission to his peers because it’s going to discourage them, thereby costing them the manpower they need to win the war against Hitler. By the way, the whole show is narrated by Lt. Harry Crosby, one of the navigators of the 100th who suffers from airsickness. The narrative shifts to Buck and his team landing in Greenland through some rough weather. That’s where Crosby meets Buck, and minutes later, Buck becomes the victim of a practical joke played on the bartender by Bucky. It involves a Narwhal tusk and a porcelain unicorn toy. The focus then goes back to Bucky, who has become acquainted with the people and the weather in England. Crosby almost gets Captain John D. Brady and his team killed by making a miscalculation and taking them to France. My history isn’t very strong, but wasn’t France in the Allied Forces fighting against Germany? So, why do we see them firing at the Americans (who were a part of the Big Three of the Allied Forces during World War II)? Maybe because France was under German occupation at that point in time and the Germans were actually firing at the Americans from France. Anyway, the group makes a crash landing at Thorpe Abbotts Air Base because of the faulty landing gear. While all this is going on, Buck and Bucky reunite after a long time. They question Brady about falling back and then crash-landing like that. He covers up Crosby’s mistake so that he isn’t kicked out of the Air Force.

Colonel Harold Huglin Retires Due To A Faulty Plane

Huglin sits down for a conversation with Bucky about his responsibilities. Huglin wants him to take the position of an Air Executive, which is a desk job, and Bucky wants to be a Squadron Commander, which is a hands-on, in-the-plane, on-the-battlefield kind of a job. They argue about it, but Bucky doesn’t have an option, and he has to accept what Huglin is ordering him to do. Just as Bucky exits the room, Huglin spits out the milk that he is drinking and notices that he is vomiting blood. I am aware that villainy or innocence is associated with drinking milk on screen, but I guess the case isn’t that complicated here. Huglin is just sick. Later on, the 100th is tasked with going on their first mission, where they have to go to Bremen while maintaining a tight aerial formation and bomb the hell out of the U-boats that are stationed there. The episode spends a lot of time on the details of the mission, and it sounds boring because it’s delivered in the dullest way imaginable. We see that some of the members of the squadron are very superstitious, including Bucky, who gives Buck his lucky currency note. Bucky says that it’s what has kept him alive this time, and since he won’t be able to assist Buck in his first combat mission, he wants him to keep it. Austin Butler and Barry Keoghan get to give a motivational speech, and I am going to be honest here: their performances are off (in a very bad way). I loved their work in Elvis and The Banshees of Inisherin, but it seems like they’ve failed to get into the skin of their characters here. Anyway, the crew takes off in a steady fashion. However, Huglin and his crew fall back because of some technical issues in Huglin’s plane. You can see that as some kind of “karma” for not allowing Bucky to lead the charge and making him hang back at the air base in England. But the moment also shows what kind of equipment the Air Force is working with.

How Did Buck’s First Flight Go?

At the end of Masters of the Air, episode 1, the 100th enters German airspace and faces heavy land-to-air bombardment. The moment they are supposed to drop the bombs, though, the whole squadron is advised against doing so because the heavy clouds are preventing them from clearly spotting the target. So, they lose planes, they lose young men, many of the men suffer severe injuries and frostbite (because of the altitude), they don’t bomb anything, and they return to Thorpe Abbotts Air Base. Upon landing, Huglin vomits blood again and faints. The survivors of the ordeal are ordered to go in for interrogation, which is basically the official term for getting debriefed regarding the mission. Buck confronts Bucky and asks him why he didn’t tell him anything about the nature of these missions and how they aren’t always as “heroic” or “glamorous” as we see in the movies. Bucky doesn’t give a straight answer, but he says that he should have been up there with Buck. Buck says that there’ll be several opportunities in the future to do that, but I guess he implies that companionship is not going to change the grimness of war. Well, it’s war. It’s not “cool.” That’s why they should be avoided at all costs. By the way, am I the only one who thinks that the first episode ends rather abruptly? The characters are having an interesting conversation about the perception of war and the reality of it, and then the episode just fades to black. That is some awkward storytelling, for sure.

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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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