‘Masters Of The Air’ Episode 8 Recap & Ending Explained: Are Buck & The POWs Planning A Prison Escape?


In the seventh episode of Masters of the Air, Buck and Bucky struggled to decide if they should wait it out in the Stalag Luft III and hope that help arrives before the Nazis killed them or if they should make a run for it and hope that they make it out of there, well, before the Nazis killed them. It was a lose-lose scenario, but as soon as Simoleit, the jailer, reported that they had killed the British escapees and were looking to separate the Jewish prisoners from the rest, they realized that their chances of surviving had plummeted by several hundred notches. Crosby spent the entire episode cheating on his wife with Wesgate. Rosie was about to go home because he had completed 25 missions, but he felt conflicted about his departure when he learned that the rest had to do a total of 30 missions. Despite knowing that the bombers would be used as bait by the P-51 Mustangs, Rosie canceled his plans to go home and decided to re-enlist. Now, let’s find out what happened to them in today’s episode.

Spoiler Alert

Buck and Bucky Get into a Fight

Episode 8 of Masters of the Air opens on the outskirts of Rome. The narrator, Crosby, informs us that while the Eighth Air Force has been attacking the Nazis from their bases in England, the 15th Air Force is doing the same from Italy, and the 99th Pursuit Squadron, also known as the Tuskegee Airmen, is leading the attack. We do see them bomb a Nazi camp with insane levels of precision and then go and party. Amongst them, Lt. Alex doesn’t seem to be enjoying the vibe and sulking on his own. When his superior wants to know the reason behind his gloomy state, Alex says that he craves “more action.” The captain says that there are some hush-hush conversations going on about the 99th joining the 332nd Fighter Group. That apparently excites Alex, but he is told to calm down and replenish his energy, or else he won’t be able to focus when the time comes. Back at Stalag Luft III, Bucky seems to be losing his mind because they have been stuck there for eight months and they’ve made no progress regarding escaping from the hellhole. Buck reminds Bucky about the execution of the Britishers, as if it had happened yesterday, and advises him to be patient. 

Later, Buck works with his fellow prisoners to get some tree stumps out of the ground, which were probably left there while the trees were cut to make the prison. Buck says that they’ll be able to make more fire now and keep themselves warm. Bucky isn’t happy about this proposition and starts a fight with Buck. They are forced to stop it when the Nazis order them to return to their barracks because the invasion of Europe has apparently started. Crosby gets ready to stay awake for the next 72 hours without even a blink of sleep because they are going to storm the beaches of Normandy. The first 24 hours pass by like it’s nothing, but everything after that starts to affect Crosby’s perception of reality. Amidst all this, he tries to reach out to Wesgate, but she is unavailable because she is working as a spy in Paris, passing on information to the French rebels. Eventually, Crosby’s sleep deprivation catches up to him, and he collapses. Lt. Col. Bennett has been replaced by Jeffrey, and he gives the stage to Rosie, who informs the airmen that they are going to invade Europe in a few hours. It’s in moments like these that the showrunners reveal that they have, in fact, made a propaganda show. That’s why the characters have no nuance. They have slapped one bland stereotype on another and put all the focus on military propaganda. 

The Tuskegee Airmen Pilots Are Sent To The Stalag Luft III

We are introduced to fighter pilots Macon, Joe, and Daniels. Colonel Davis and Captain Lawrence have a lengthy conversation about the nature of war and how they are continuously losing bombers while young men who should be captains or majors are dying like flies. Back at Thorpe Abbotts, Rosie wakes Crosby up and informs him that he has been asleep for almost three whole days, which means that he has missed the invasion. Rosie gets Crosby up to speed, and Crosby is absolutely dejected because he would’ve loved to get real-time updates on people dying. This is grade-A military propaganda, and anyone who thinks otherwise is probably getting exposed to propaganda for the first time in their life or has been marinating in propaganda for so long that they can’t separate propaganda from entertainment (which may or may not be political in nature). Buck, Bucky, and the rest of the prisoners of war (POWs) try to get an idea of how close the Allied Forces are to defeating the Nazis. That’ll allow them to time their escape. And, yes, not escaping is not an option because once the Nazis know that they’re about to lose, they’ll kill the prisoners and erase anyone who can testify against them. Colonel Davis informs the airmen about Operation Dragoon, which involves hitting Marseille, Saint-Tropez, and Toulon. Macon points out that the mission is not logistically possible because the trip is going to take up all of its fuel. Davis says that he is well aware of that, and that’s why the soldiers are going to have fake identities that’ll allow them to blend in if they manage to land somewhere that isn’t enemy territory. The Tuskegee Airmen squad is made of black men, and they know that. So, they obviously laugh at the idea that they’ll get to blend in anywhere else.

Davis drowns out the apprehensions by shouting some “How is the josh?” type of nonsense. Then, we get a brief montage of four of the Tuskegee Airmen boarding their planes and heading to Toulon. They come under a lot of fire, and while they do manage to kill some Nazis, all the fighter jets crash and fall into Nazi territory. Macon is injured, Daniels and Alex are alive, and Gordon and Westbrook are probably dead. They are taken to a German corporal, and their conversations are similar to the one between Bucky and Lt. Ulrich Haussman. There’s a major difference, though: the Nazi asks the survivors why they fight for a country that discriminates against them because of the color of their skin. Macon says that he does what he does to make America a better place. It’s supposed to be a very patriotic moment, but it veers into the “good minority and bad minority” rhetoric. In case you don’t know, propaganda films and shows have a token minority character (or several, in this case) who whitewash the crimes of the country in the name of nationalism. Those members of the minority community who rebel or question the issues of their country are labeled as anti-nationals or even terrorists. However, if a member of a minority community goes to war for their country, then they are welcomed like heroes. Well, not exactly, because no amount of service to the country can pump out the bigotry coursing through the veins of the majority community. We see that when the Tuskegee Airmen are sent to the Stalag Luft III, while some of the white survivors start racially profiling them, others help them out.

Are Buck and the POWs planning a prison escape?

Jeffrey orders Crosby to leave and go on a vacation for a whole month. Crosby tries to avoid going back home, but it’s an order, so he has to obey. And what does this idiot do right before leaving? He tries to get in touch with Wesgate. I don’t know why the showrunners turned this guy into such a morally bankrupt character, but I am impressed they did it so bluntly. Is he going to get a redemption arc after this? If he does, someone has to physically stop me from throwing something at my screen because Masters of the Air is already testing my patience with its propaganda. Normalizing or romanticizing cheating is going to be the last straw. Back at the Stalag Luft III, Daniels, Macon, and Alex devise a plan to get out of the prison. Macon points out that they’ll need the help of the whites, which means that they’ve to test if they are bigoted enough to leave them behind or if they are normal enough to help them fight the Nazis. 

At the end of Masters of the Air, episode 8, we see Alex bonding with Buck over planes. Then they start talking shop as soon as Alex reveals a detailed map giving a rough idea of their escape route. Buck is impressed and asks Alex and his men to join the rest and get the ball rolling. This is followed by a brief montage of the prisoners secretly preparing how to tackle the Nazis when the time comes, making wooden stakes, and building up their strength by working on that tree stump remover. A little teaser for the final episode of the miniseries shows that the prisoners of war will escape. How many of them will survive the ordeal is the big question here. Also, we see Rosie falling into enemy territory during a bombing mission over Nuremberg. Spoiler alert: He is going to make it out of there alive, thanks to the Red Army. The real-life Rosenthal went on a lot of other missions after his recovery and got a bunch of medals. And then he went on to serve as an assistant to the U.S. prosecutor during the Nuremberg trials and even interrogated Hermann Goring. I don’t know if there’s enough time to show all that, but if you do want to get some details, pick up a history book.

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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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