Nuoc Cha Da Mon
Episode 8: “Nuoc Cha Da Mon”
Written by: Michael D. Fuller & Graham Gordy
Directed by: Greg Yaitanes
Ten months earlier at camp in Vietnam, Mac and Arthur read Joni’s first article. Capt. Thurston calls the men over and explains the mission to Quan Thang – securing a stockpile that will save hundreds of lives. Mac watches two villagers by pass on a boat.
Tommy holds Mac at gunpoint at the fairground. Mac lowers his gun and tries to warn the detective, but the ride lights come on and Tommy is shot in the head. Mac quickly reacts and shoots Credence Mason; the shootout continues until Mac and Buddy are the only ones left standing. Karl and The Broker arrive to help tidy up matters, but Buddy needs to take another pain pill.
Joni and Mac visit with Lloyd and Susan. Lloyd tells them he received an all-cash offer for the house – and that the buyers are very excited about the pool, offhandedly remarking they won’t mention that Mac built it himself. When Joni gets defensive and says she can’t sell their home, Susan accuses them of looking for a handout. Over Joni's protests, she offers them a check to stay out of their lives. Lloyd remains silent. Mac grabs his mother’s records and takes the check, then arranges a meeting with The Broker to hand off the $4000.
On their way to Quan Thang, Thurston observes that Mac is “cut from a different cloth” than many of the other soldiers, and that’s why he’s assigned to this mission. Surveying an abandoned building, Mac thinks he sees someone, but discovers an ornate red mask hung on the wall. Arthur warns him not to touch it, but Mac takes the mask down.
Interviewing for a job selling pools, Mac avoids mentioning his time at war. Joni is thrilled when he gets the job, and takes him out to celebrate but Mac panics at the bar, cutting the evening short.
Moses notices Marcus has spent money on himself and the house. After the kids go to bed, Ruth gets emotional talking to Moses about Arthur. She kisses Moses and they head to the bedroom, but Ruth can’t go through with it. After Ruth falls asleep, Moses heads to Marcus’ room and makes him reveal where the money is hidden. Pointing a gun at Marcus, he tells the kid to keep quiet, and leaves.
Joni goes to Veteran Affairs to find help for Mac, but only receives a pamphlet and advice to be thankful there’s nothing physically wrong.
Strung out, Buddy questions what he’s doing with his life. He heads out and picks up a guy, but the man and a friend beat Buddy senseless. They rob him and take off.
The soldiers move into Quan Thang, and the situation quickly escalates. The men find themselves surrounded by fire and screaming villagers as an airstrike flies overhead. Mac drops a grenade into a hiding hole, then discovers it was filled with children. Stunned, he and the other men look around and see only dead villagers.
Mac casts his vote then heads to meet with The Broker. He finds Capt. Thurston at the bar and Mac quickly realizes it is not a coincidence. The men tensely catch up, and Thurston mentions doing “someone a big favor.” He talks about how nothing has come close to being at war. Mac reminds him about Quan Thang: “I know what you did,” he says.
Mac stares at the dead villagers and listens as Thurston orders a soldier to execute a villager as punishment for calling the airstrike without orders. The solider hesitates until Thurston threatens to kill him. The men tell their captain there are no guns in the village, just fishing supplies.
Mac follows Thurston outside of the bar and goes at him. The brawl takes the men from the parking lot to the edge of the river. Thurston pushes Mac’s face down into the water, certain he's drowned him, and walks off. Mac revives and picks up his gun, shooting Thurston in the back. Dragging the body into the river, he sets it adrift.
The Broker meets up with Mac at the quarry. He mentions having set up the meeting with Thurston. Mac hands him the cash to cover the rest of his debt and tells him they’re done, refusing to take on another assignment. Before leaving, Mac mentions he wrote in "Otis Redding"; The Broker says he hasn’t voted since Truman. When Mac says he misses the war “every goddamn day,” The Broker tries again to hand him a dopp kit.
Thurston waits at Quan Thang alone. A car drives up, and The Broker gets out. Thurston mentions his soldier Conway, who took out a dozen men. The two head into the jungle, revealing a field of opium poppies. “It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” says The Broker.
Buddy arrives home beaten and bloody. Verne cleans up Tommy’s desk and finds Cliff’s notebook. Smiling, Ruth goes onto the diner floor, her face dropping when Moses isn’t there. Moses sits at home with his bass. Joni removes her books from the shelf and replaces them with her old figurines. The Broker watches a shipment of drugs come in.
Holding the dopp kit, Mac looks out at the Mississipi River. Stripping down, he wades into the water and starts to swim.