Saunders and his squad are trapped by a German tank but out of the blue, they are saved by Cpl. John Cross that blows up the tank. He joins the squad and remains aloof from his fellow members. Further, he becomes the next in command, causing friction with Pvt. Kirby. When Lt. Hanley assigns Saunders to take and protect a strategic hill from the Germans, Saunders heads to a farmhouse in the top of the hill with Cross and Kirby leaving the other soldiers protecting them on the bottom of the hill. While Saunders is checking the cellar, he is surprised by a German and Cross does not shoot the enemy but Kirby arrives and saves Saunders. He questions Cross in private but does not get a straight answer from the corporal. When two German soldiers arrive at the farmhouse to bring supplies to the others, Saunders and Kirby hunt one down and Saunders asks Cross to kill the other one in the barn. However Cross does not shoot the German soldier and lets him flee. What will happen to Saunders and his squad?
"Next in Command" is a flawed episode of "Combat!" by Burt Kennedy. Cpl. John Cross is a messy character and does not make any sense along the story. First he saves the squad in an act of bravery. Then he does not save Sgt. Saunders in the cellar giving the sensation to the viewer that he is an ambitious soldier. Then he lets the German soldier escape from the barn. In the en, he is a disturbed man. Saunders is completely incoherent in his attitudes. He learns that Cross is not a reliable man. But he sends Cross alone to kill the German soldier in the barn. He buries the corpses of the Germans he and Kirby killed in a heavy rain. However, he does not even check the body of the soldier Cross claims to have killed. Last but not the least, he leaves his squad under siege of a German platoon to chase the deranged Cross. Anyway, there are good and funny moments of friendship along the episode. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil):"O Próximo no Commando" ("The Next in Command")
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