The Rat Patrol

Season 1 Episode 13

The Lighthouse Raid

Aired Monday 8:30 PM Dec 05, 1966 on ABC

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  • The Lighthouse Raid

    The cool narrator quickly brings us up to speed as episode 13 begins. The Rat Patrol has been assigned one of their "most demanding missions": rescue from a remote Gestapo interrogation unit the general and leader of the North African French underground, Ulri Lacaze, and transport him to the coast where he can be evacuated to the Allies. I suspect that it would have been much easier to just nab Lacaze and take him to HQ to be flown out, but the Rats are tasked with doing it the hard way, as always.

    The Rats sneak quietly into the Gestapo compound (their jeeps make hardly a sound as they drive up) in a sloppily shot day-for-night scene (the crickets on the soundtrack tells us it is supposedly Troy dispatches a man-in-black with a display of his lethal palm-of-death strikes, but after that, the Rat's stealth mode is over when a few carloads of more Gestapo agents pull up. Looking more like Al Capone's henchmen (with their trenchcoats, fedoras, and submachineguns) than agents, these gangsters are fittingly rubbed out, execution style, by the Rats and their own submachineguns. Troy is rolling now: he's a one-man army as he blasts open doors and guns down hapless agents inside the building; the other Rats do well to follow him along and stay out of the way. Their intelligence is very precise and detailed: not only do they know which building Lacaze is in, but even the exact room. After the smoke clears, Lacaze is found comatose and near death--it's not explained whether the Gestapo agents did this to him or Troy's door-opening grenade blast almost killed him, but we find out the Rats have only 4 hours to get the dying man to the roundezvous point.

    The roundezvous point is a German-held lighthouse on the coast. Why a German-held position was picked is beyond my understanding--wouldn't a safer place be better, like the empty beach a kilometer west of the lighthouse, for instance? It certainly is a demanding mission! Fortunately, the lighthouse keeper, Mathias, is a member of the underground, along with his wife, Violette. However, the Rats don't know that Lacaze's rescue has been reported and a 100,000 marks reward is being offered by the Gestapo for his return.

    Anyway, Troy and Hitch have gone on ahead to the lighthouse while Moffitt and Tully are transporting Lacaze in one of the German vehicles. When Moffitt and Tully arrive, Hitch has taken out two German guards and he is guarding the entrance. Hitch waves the vehicle through, but not before mentioning that "I hear the lighthouse keeper's wife is a great little cook. I bet by now he's (Troy) stuffing!" Hitch's grin shows that he ain't talking about just what she puts out onto the dinner table. Moffitt carries Lacaze into the lighthouse only to find that Troy is being held under gunpoint by Mathias, who has decided that the reward money is better than doing service for the underground.

    At this point, I should mention that I'm not really sure how everyone is casually going into the lighthouse, as the area is crawling with German soldiers; nor am I sure how they can safely get Lacaze out and onto the trawler when it appears at the specified time. This mission is demanding mostly because it just isn't planned very well!

    Mathias insists that he will shoot Troy if Moffitt doesn't surrender his gun. Of course, Moffitt always seems to hesitate when Troy's life is on the line, but in this case, he eventually agrees. Violette is not happy with Mathias about all of this, as one thing she has loyalty for is the underground. The couple argue, which gives Troy the opportunity to beat up on Mathias and take his gun. By now, they have 7 minutes to signal the passing trawler. They can't use the lighthouse's light itself, as it hadn't been used in years and would alert the Germans (so what is the point of being there at all?) Violette takes Troy down to the storeroom to find a flashlight to use as a signal (they didn't bring one?) while Moffitt keeps watch over Mathias and the comatose Lacaze. While they are down there, a German officer comes by; Troy hides behind a latice-work wall that a blindman could see through. It seems that Violette has been giving out "homecooking" to the Germans as well; as the two become amorous, Troy reaches out and puts a sleeper-hold on the German. Troy puts the German into a well (he seems fond of doing this, and the other members must know to never drink the local water after a mission!) While all of this is going on, Mathias has gotten away from Moffitt while he was tending to Lacaze. Mathias runs up the lighthouse stairs with the intent of starting up the light to alert the Germans (why doesn't he just yell out of the window to the guards below?) There are some really nice camera shots of Mathias running up the spiral staircase--at least the director makes good use of the lighthouse location.

    The next few minutes are rather tedious. Mathias is trying to get the light going and throwing objects down the stairs as Troy and Violette are trying to get up the stairs, while everyone is yelling threats at each other. Finally, Troy makes it up to the top and there is a struggle with an axe and a knife, until at last Troy punches him out, and Mathias falls through the staircase to the lower level floor (anytime there is a long spiral staircase, the viewer can be sure that, sooner or later, some "dummy" is gonna fall through it!) This whole thing seems to take longer than the 7 minutes that was mentioned earlier, but I didn't actually time it. Troy signals the trawler, and apparently the mission is a success from here on out (though I still wonder how they got down to the beach unnoticed, jeeps and all, and what was Tully doing while all of this was going on?) As Lacaze and Violette are rowed out to the trawler by the resistance, Hitch has a few things to say to Troy, asking if Violette's "cooking was as good as they heard". "You wouldn't believe it," Troy replies, "I didn't get a thing to eat!" Hitch grins and says ";Aw, come on. Don't hand me that!" "Hitch, who was there, you or me" Troys says, then adds: "All right. Shake it!" More euphemisms than you could poke with a big stick! Off into the sunset...

    A fair-to-middle-ing episode, with the slower parts kept interesting by the unusual location and interesting camerawork. This is the second episode in a row that features a dysfunctional couple and no Hauptmann Dietrich, and has somewhat of a filler feel to it.