"Next in Command"
is an episode of Combat! starring
Vic Morrow, Rick Jason, and Jack Hogan.
A battle-hardened corporal joins Sgt. Saunders squad, but remains distant and aloof from the other members, causing dissension in the ranks.
"Next in Command" is a story about human motivation and what makes a person tick. Corporal Cross (superbly played by Ben Cooper) is reassigned to Saunders' squad (called King Tiger in this episode.) He appears at first to be extremely competent but this drastically changes and the squad all become enraged at Cross thinking he is out for Saunders' position. To the viewer audience this appears very possible. But is it ?
I compare the logic of this plot (brilliantly written & directed by Burt Kennedy) to 1934 Nobel Prize author Luigi Pirandello's "It Is So, If You Think So.," in which the son-in-law claims his mother-in-law is crazy and the mother-in-law claims her son-in-law is crazy the reality of which cannot be proved either way. Saunders and the squad are looking at one obvious angle while there is another possible angle.
The opening sequence is high octane adrenalin. Character development is excellent amongst the entire squad. In great conflict, Saunders & Cross have 3 outstanding dialog sequences highlighting their superb acting talents. And watching Littlejohn on the air cooled is a lot of pure fun.
Extremely well done - Great episode.
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