Which Heroes Make It Home From WW2?

The Big Picture

  • The Pacific on Netflix is a captivating show that tells the story of the United States Marine Corps assault on Japan during WWII.
  • The show features three main characters whose personal struggles through the war are interwoven and told with emotional weight.
  • Rami Malek’s portrayal of “Snafu” steals the show, with his undeniable presence and amazing acting skills shining through in every scene.

The Pacific has been soaring the charts on Netflix’s top television shows over the last week. The epic five-year account of the United States Marine Corps assault on Japan is delivered by the same creative team that brought us Band of Brothers with executive producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks anchoring another captivating story of the plow and horrors of battle as the Americans and Allied troops tried to overcome the Japanese in the South Pacific in the early to mid 1940s. With the help of an incredible score from renowned composer Hans Zimmer, a handful of very capable directors including Tim Van Patten, David Nutter, and Graham Yost put on the small screen a product that rivals what Spielberg did in Saving Private Ryan some 12 years earlier. The gruesome and visceral images of bloody battle are ubiquitous, and it paints a very realistic and gut-wrenching portrait of the abomination that cost so many human lives. In this article, we will look to tie up the loose ends of the main player’s story arcs and explain the final scenes.

Soldiers on the beach in the miniseries The Pacific.
Image via Max

There are three featured characters whose struggle through the Second World War is interwoven and told through their unique and personal experience. There’s also a fourth character who at the time was a relatively unknown young actor who has gone on to win an Oscar and play a Bond Villain. He absolutely steals the show. But let’s start with our three featured players beginning with Robert “Bob” Leckie (James Badge Dale) who carries the emotional weight throughout the first half of the season. After starting in 1941 in the Battle of the Guadalcanal and then making his way around the South Pacific, and spending time in a mental ward with shell shock (PTSD) the dashing young man who found love with a young girl named Stella while on leave in Melbourne. He manages to live through it all and after the Japanese surrender in 1945, he heads back to his small hometown where he moves back in with his parents who have turned his bedroom into a storage closet. It’s hardly a sexy, postcard-worthy Times Square kiss from an awaiting girl for Leckie. He returns to work in a newsroom as a sports beat writer and pursues a childhood crush named Vera. Leckie is maybe the most grounded and steady of all the characters that we see return from the Pacific. He takes Vera to a romantic candlelight dinner and seems to be quite happy, but the audience knows exactly what he has seen and been through in the war.

RELATED: These 10 Minutes of ‘The Pacific’ Are the Series’ Most Heart-Pounding

Eugene “Sledgehammer” Sledge Makes it Back to Mobile, Alabama


In the initial episodes of the show, Eugene Sledge (Joseph Mazzello) is the most unlikely soldier of all the main characters and his story arc is certainly the most dynamic. After being held out of the war by his fearful doctor of a father, he finally gets to the Pacific about halfway through the show. Upon his return to his hometown of Mobile, he is a salty and steely killer, but he also feels detached and suffers from terrible night terrors. When he goes out for a morning hunt with his father, Eugene finally buckles at the knees, quite literally, under the weight of his PTSD. His father is sympathetic, embracing him, and vouches for Eugene with his mother as he sits at the base of a large oak tree with traumatic reflection and compunction over what he has been through and what life has in store for him. The final shot of Eugene is of him slowly ambling through the tall grass of the Sledge’s large property making his way up a hill alone with his troubled thoughts.

John Basilone Makes Good on His Reputation as a Hero


John Basilone’s (Jon Seda) triumphant and tragic story is told in two separate parts starting in the first few episodes and ending with his heroic storming on the beaches at Iwo Jima in 1945 just months before the end of the war. Basilone had been anointed as the war hero of the initial battle at Guadalcanal even though he is tortured over whether he deserves the honor and mourns the loss of his close friend Manny Rodriguez (Jon Bernthal). He finds love with Lena (Annie Parisse) while stateside serving as a poster boy for the successful efforts in the Pacific and marries her, but eventually, the soldier in him yearns to get away from the media spotlight and return to where he is comfortable as a Gunnery Sergeant. After returning to active service, he is called to Iwo Jima where he makes good on all the misplaced hype that he didn’t feel he had earned at Guadalcanal. His heroic turn in his epic beach storming scene in Japan more than makes up for any doubts we may have had about his intestinal fortitude and leadership. However, while leading a successful charge with his young Marines, he is shot through the chest, bleeds out, and dies marking the only one of our main cast to be killed in action. Lena returns to his hometown in New Jersey to inform his parents and grieve with them.

Rami Malek’s “Snafu” Ends Up Stealing the Show

Image via HBO 

The most emotional moments throughout the 10-episode run of The Pacific almost always involve Rami Malek as Merrielle “Snafu” Shelton. Whether it be a light-hearted joke, a playful, trash-talking jab, or his silence in the most dire of situations, he has an undeniable and dazzling presence that serves as an amazing preview of the Oscar-caliber actor he would become. Snafu steals every scene he is in as a character that started out as a side player and expanded exponentially by the end of the show. It should be noted that we don’t really think the very experienced showrunners expected a relatively unknown actor to be so damn good. Perhaps they did, as after not entering the fray until Episode 5, he is a part of 95% of all the meaningful scenes as his role gets bigger and bigger until the finale. His relationship with Eugene becomes the anchor of the show’s second half as the Marines get closer and closer to Iwo Jima. Though he makes it home to New Orleans in one piece, it’s a little disheartening to see him deboard the train by himself as Eugene sleeps with no one there to greet him. A beautiful turn by Malek and one you need to see.

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