The Purple Testament Recap

During World War II, the soldiers of Company A fight their way across the Pacific and end up in the Philippines. Among them is Lt. William Fitzgerald. Captain Phil Riker arrives and talks with a sergeant, who tells him that they lost four soldiers. Fitzgerald comes over and tells the sergeant to bed the men down. Riker takes Fitzgerald to his tent and they share a drink of rotgut. The captain wonders if there was anything special about the dead men, pointing out that Fitzgerald is taking it harder than usual. Fitzgerald finally hands him a piece of paper with the names of the four dead soldiers written on it. Riker doesn’t see the problem, and Fitzgerald says that he wrote the names down 24 hours before they died. During a weapons check, he saw a glow in the faces of the four men... and knew it was their last day. Fitzgerald wonders if he’s doomed to know who will die for the rest of the war, and swears he wrote the names down the previous day.

Later, Riker meets with the medical officer Captain E.L. Gunther. Gunther can’t find anything in Fitzgerald’s record to indicate mental problems. Riker wants Gunther to check Fitzgerald over, and Gunther tells him that Fitzgerald is up in the ward visiting one of his wounded soldiers, Smitty.

In the ward, Fitzgerald and Smitty chat. As Fitzgerald leaves, he sees a glow in Smitty’s face and faints. An orderly helps him up when he awakes, and they realize that Smitty is dead. Fitzgerald goes downstairs and finds Riker waiting for him. The lieutenant explains that he saw the glow in Smitty’s face, Gunther comes in to check Smitty’s body, and Fitzgerald angrily tells him that he knew Smitty was going to die. The captain figures that he’s snapping under the strain, and Fitzgerald asks what it will take to make them believe before walking away.

Later back at the camp, Riker reviews the upcoming attack plan with his officers. Afterward, Fitzgerald stays to talk with Riker and sees the same glow in Riker’s face. He tells Riker not to go on the attack, and Riker realizes what he saw. The captain abruptly orders him to get his platoon ready, and they’ll talk about it when they come back. Fitzgerald tells him that he’s not coming back and walks away. Once he’s, Riker puts his family photos and his wedding ring on h is table and leaves.

As the soldiers prepare to depart, the other men stare at Fitzgerald. He looks each of them in the face, and one of them--Freeman-- asks if he’s going to die. The sergeant pulls him away, and Riker comes over to say that it’s a gag. He asks Fitzgerald if he’s right, and Fitzgerald looks around at the faces of the men. There’s no glow, and Fitzgerald agrees with Riker.

The soldiers advance on a village and fight the Filipino guerillas. When they return to camp, Fitzgerald goes to Riker’s tent and finds the photos and ring on the table. The lieutenant puts Riker’s dog tags on top of them, as the colonel comes in and congratulates him on the good job they did. Fitzgerald tells him that they only lost one man: Riker. Gunther calls Fitzgerald over and tells him that there are orders for Fitzgerald to report to Division so they can look him over.

Fitzgerald loads his gear and sees his reflection in a shaving mirror. His reflection has the same glow as the others. He knocks the mirror onto the ground, and the driver comes over and says that the jeep is ready. As Fitzgerald gets in, the sergeant warns the driver that the engineers have spotted some mines on the road and tells him to stay close to the shoulders. The driver insists that he’ll be careful and tells Fitzgerald that they have a four-hour ride ahead of them. Fitzgerald looks in the driver’s face and sees the glow, and says that he doubts it’ll be that long.

A few minutes later, the sergeant and his men hear an explosion down the road. They figure that it’s thunder and go about their business.

Written by Gadfly on Sep 20, 2015