The first episode of Gallipoli definitely lived up to the powerful and haunting nature of its trailer, albeit a little slowly. The story seemed to drag in places when the men weren’t fighting the Turks, and even then, I wasn’t on the edge of my seat. I hope the story finds its feet in the next 6 episodes.
However, it was still a powerful episode, filled with a few surprising moments. For one, I definitely wasn’t expecting Jeremy Lindsay Taylor’s character, Captain Eric Taylor, to be killed off in the first episode, let alone by a Turkish sniper. Kind of hoping he might just be severely injured? I thought Sergeant Harry Perceval had joined Taylor for a few minutes after he collapsed on the shore, but he managed to pull himself up again, thank goodness. I don’t think I could have handled two!
The flashbacks to Johnson’s life back home were jarring and a disappointment. The narrative kept jumping quite rapidly into them during the action at Gallipoli and it was hard to see how it fit, apart from the obvious fact that Johnson was trying to escape. All we really know from these flashbacks is that Johnson has a crush on his older brother’s girl Celia, played by Ashleigh Cummings and that his brother knows it.
It was good to see that at least the reporter has a good head on his shoulders, compared to all of the officers. The men needed honesty and he gave it. Good sport. Speaking of the officers, a bunch of men standing around a table arguing gets nowhere, men die, and they wonder how they got there? Honestly. However, on that note, it’s nice to see that the show is being honest and not glorifying Gallipoli by dressing up all of the tactical bungles. At least this far, anyway.
On a positive note, the narration by central character Thomas Johnson (Kodi Smit-McPhee) was so compelling and truthful. Lines that have stuck with me are “So many men went up into that gully and were never seen again” and “that’s as far as we ever got.” Goosebumps.
I’ll be back later with my thoughts on the rest of the season, so stay tuned!