Throughout the DVD commentaries on various episodes, most of those concerned make it a point to stress that COMBAT! wasn't cancelled because the show had "ran its course", but instead list the numerous other reasons that the hit show was ended after the 5th season. One one hand, I fully understand how the show was becoming more and more expensive to film; but, on the other hand, I can't help but see more than a few ideas being repeated in the 5th season that had already been touched upon before. This particular episode bears a similarity to several others, including an overall "been-there-done-that" feeling that brings back memories of "The Imposter" back in Season Three. But, instead of Lt. Hanley being caught up in the mystery of "who is the German?", it's Kirby.
In general, this episode seems to work better than "The Imposter". Early on, it's truly difficult for the viewer to decide who the imposter(s) might be (we can only be sure that it's not Kirby). Even after the German infiltrator reveals himself, we still suspect that Nick Adam's character might be involved in some sort of cruel plot twist...but ultimately, he is indeed telling the truth, and pays the price as we know he must. If Vic Morrow had directed this episode, I suspect that the ending would have been more open-ended for Adam's character...perhaps he would have left with the German patrol and we would be wistfully wondering what his fate would have been....hmmmm! But, after 50 minutes of fine suspense, we end with total closure to the episode. I won't complain about that, but a final twist would have certainly separated this one from the rest.
In reality, there were very few cases of Germans infiltrating the Allied lines as Americans. The most famous and best executed instance was when Skorzeny's commandos crossed lines as part of the German Ardennes Offensive (the Battle of the Bulge). In fact, there were only 10 German commandos with absolute fluency in American-English, and perhaps 30 more who were judged as competent with the language. But, this episode does reflect the confusion and paranoia caused by the small-scale operation, even if I have to point out the obvious: this episode doesn't take place in December of '44! Oh, well.
Despite this episode's repetitive plot and its ahistorical points, director George Fenady still gives us a very good episode. It's not often that we get to see Kirby on his own, and it's some time very well spent for the viewer.