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Masters of the Air: Episode 7 Review

Austin Butler in the dark in Masters of the Air episode 7

The positives outweigh the negatives in episode 7, but Masters of the Air takes a few too many narrative shortcuts.

If Apple has carved a niche for itself since launching its streaming platform, it’s in the almost limitless budget it puts into its films and television shows. Masters of the Air is no exception, as evidenced by the extensive art direction, visual effects, A-list actors, and virtually every other aspect of the show’s production. Of course, all of this is on display throughout episode 7. But what baffles me this week in particular are the shortcuts taken that hold the episode back from an emotional and action standpoint.

The most egregious of which comes during the mission around the halfway mark of the episode. While Rosie (Nate Mann) and the rest of the Hundredth prepare for another bombing run on Berlin, it’s well established how incredibly dangerous it will be. In fact, it’s the exact same mission the force attempted the day before, which left half of the fleet dead. To add an extra bit of tension, it’s Rosie’s 25th mission, the one that will send him home, if successful. 

The action scene is pretty enough to look at – with the exception of some uncharacteristically sketchy VFX – but it simply ends too abruptly. It felt as if there were several minutes that were cut from episode 7, perhaps the shortest of the season, and ends right as the danger is at its highest. But where Masters of the Air gets major points is in how it uses that extra time to explore Rosie’s murky psychology, building off of what worked so well last week, to stay in the war. It’s revealed during Rosie’s celebration that the Air Force brass has changed the threshold to be sent home from 25 missions to 30, but since Rosie has already cleared the bar, he’ll be free to go.

Rosie has really come on strong as a character worth investing in lately, and Mann gives a solid performance in episode 7, especially in the episode’s final moments. Command tells Rosie straightforwardly that, if he chooses to stay and partake in more missions, his crew will simply be used as bait for the Luftwaffe to be destroyed. It’s an interesting turning point for the character, and it says a lot about the running theme throughout Masters of the Air of the US military’s insistence on eradicating the Axis forces by any means necessary.

Nate Mann in episode 7 of "Masters of the Air"
Nate Mann in episode 7 of “Masters of the Air”, now streaming on Apple TV+. (Courtesy of Apple TV)

I wish I had as much to say about Buck (Austin Butler) and Bucky (Callum Turner) and their adventures in the POW camp, but it’s another example of the show taking unnecessary shortcuts. Episode 7 opens showing how the Americans have adjusted, finding whatever means they can to find news of the outside world. But when a raid is conducted by the guards, their equipment is found. This is harrowing stuff, but the next time we see them, life is almost exactly the same, except they don’t have a radio. Buck sets out to MacGyver a new one, and Bucky tries to sell him on an escape plan. I understand that there is only so much which Masters of the Air can do with this storyline, but I would have been fine with reducing the time here and focusing more at the air base.

It’s hard to believe that Masters of the Air is already nearing the end of its nine episode run, as I think it’s shown some real growth compared to how it started. And hey, next week we’ll finally get to spend some time with the Tuskegee Airmen! While I’d say episode 7 doesn’t build to the highs that you’d expect for a limited series entering its final stretch, it’s easy to say that the positives outweigh the negatives.

Watch on Apple TV

Episode of Masters of the Air is now available to watch on AppleTV+.

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