HOLLYWOOD —On Sunday night, “The Pacific” took a tragic turn, but viewers are on board for the long haul. Fans of the HBO series feel as if we are being transported back in time to WWII. In this pivotal episode, many things changed, but the theme of the soldiers’ awareness of their evil Japanese enemy is very palpable. The Marines, including the newly christened ”˜Sledgehammer,’ continue the battle of Peleliu against an enemy determined to fight to the last man. The actors portray brave young men, many in their teens who went to war in the 1940s knowing that most of them would never return home. Also knowing that if captured, they would be at the hands of people who were so brainwashed and trained to kill relentlessly.

Devastated by the loss of a revered leader, and witnessing unimaginable barbarity on both sides, ”˜Sledge’ veered to the very edge of moral collapse. Seeing the actor who plays ”˜Sledge’ was hard to watch. However, a general once said almost one century earlier, that, war is hell.” How these actors got into the dirt, into foxholes, into the characters they portray is beyond me. The grueling performances are demanded because of the intensely realistic writing by Bruce C. McKenna.

By the end of the night, their objective finally secured, the Marines returned to Pavuvu fundamentally changed by their experience on Peleliu. You could see that they were young men who knew they were walking into a brutal battle at the beginning of the episode. Yet by the end of the hour, they looked visibly aged by the horrific events they endured. The episode was directed by Tim Van Patten, who deserves an Emmy for his work in making this television miniseries to realistic, it gives me a whole new respect for the men who fought in the Pacific theatre during WWII. I knew before that it was tough and hard, but not until last Sunday night did I respect the magnitude of how these events must have changed every man who returned home, forever.

“The Pacific” is an HBO Miniseries presentation of a Playtone and DreamWorks Production; executive producers, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Gary Goetzman; co-executive producers, Tony To, Eugene Kelly, Graham Yost, Bruce C. McKenna; producers, Cherylanne Martin, Todd London, Steven Shareshian; co-producers, Robert Schenkkan, George Pelecanos, Michelle Ashford; supervising producer, Tim Van Patten; directors of photography, Remi Adefarasin, BSC and Stephen Windon, ACS; production designer, Anthony Pratt; music by Hans Zimmer, Geoff Zanelli and Blake Neely; music supervisors, Evyen J Klean, Deva Anderson; casting, Meg Liberman, CSA, Cami Patton, CSA, Christine King; editors, Alan Cody, A.C.E., Edward A. Warschilka, Marta Evry, A.C.E.; visual effects supervisor, John E. Sullivan; special effects supervisor, Joss Williams; costume designer, Penny Rose; historical consultant, Hugh Ambrose; senior military advisor, Capt. Dale A. Dye, USMC (Ret.). HBO Miniseries president Kary Antholis is the executive in charge of the production.

Photograph Courtesy: David James/HBO