|In which both leaders face dissent in the ranks.|
Episode Four: "Gentlemen and Players"
This episode points out both leaders weak points, and gives us insight into their characters. Scott refuses input from his men at every turn, and in the process loses the respect of his senior officers one by one. Amundsen, while willing to admit his mistakes, lets his fear of being beaten by Scott get the better of him, which compromises his leadership and his confidence. He is obsessed with the news that Scott has landed a motor sledge on "Terra Firma," not knowing that the solid ground referred to was at the bottom of the ocean.
Amundsen's panic hurts his men physically and emotionally, and the scenes showing their reactions to the early departure are excellent. Toralv Maurstad's Johansen is especially moving, showing his anger and remorse over Amundsen's failure to lead. The cause and effect of Amundsen's misstep is shown clearly and dramatically.
There is also a strange scene in the mess of Framheim with a mechanical doll. While most of the men are laughing, Amundsen stares at the doll with a mixture of horror and embarassment. We're not sure, but we think this is used to illustrate Amundsen's awkwardness and inexperience with women. But really, it's just sort of an odd scene.
This episode's delightful details:
There is a scene where the British scientists are discussing the use of white horses in the Antarctic. In reality, Scott took all white ponies with him to the South because the white horses fared the best on Shackleton's expedition, and his misinterpretation of their success was adopted and discussed scientifically by the rest of the crew. It's a funny little detail to put in the show, and it's just so rewarding when one recognises its origin.
During the same discussion, Oates says "Wouldn't the clever thing to be to kick the bucket early and get it over with?" This is a sleek foreshadowing to how Oates sacrifices himself out on the barrier on the way back to the pole.
We just love the Norwegians in this episode. They have a lot of personality and much time is spent in Framheim with them. Lindstrom is our favorite, warning Amundsen with things like "Dark things happen on Fridays. You're a grown man, you should know that."
This episode's goofs:
Each expedition had dogs, but the way they used them was very different, even down to the traces. The Norwegian used non-linear traces, with one dog in the lead and the rest fanned out behind the leader like fingers on a glove. The British contigency used harnesses that tied pairs of dogs together in a line-- much like the way Formula One car races begin a race. The filmmakers were very careful to show this difference, however in one scene with the English expedition, we see Meares in the forefront with his dogs tethered in the British fashion. But, in the background, another driver has his dogs tied like the Norwegians.
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