Oh, Eldridge. Let's be real: he's got his flaws, but we have a lot of sympathy for him. While his buddies Will and Sanborn are acting all macho, aggressive, and crazy, Eldridge is pretty much just trying to stay alive—and thinking about how close he is to death at all times. Can't be easy to be him.
Apparently, dude's intense anxieties are well known. A doctor comes around from time to time trying to get Eldridge to talk about his feelings. Unfortunately, the chitchat doesn't seem to do much to lift Eldridge's spirits or get rid of his worries:
CAMBRIDGE: So, you getting along with the other soldiers in your unit?
ELDRIDGE: Oh, yeah, my team's great. My team leader is inspiring.
CAMBRIDGE: Are you being sarcastic, soldier?
ELDRIDGE: No. He's going to get me killed. Almost died yesterday. At least I'll die in the line of duty, proud and strong.
CAMBRIDGE: You know, this doesn't have to be a bad time in your life. Going to war is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It could be fun.
ELDRIDGE: And you know this from your extensive work in the field, right?
CAMBRIDGE: I've done my field duty.
ELDRIDGE: Where was that? Yale?
CAMBRIDGE: Look, you don't want me to come around, I won't come around. These talks are voluntary.
ELDRIDGE: Look, I'm sorry. I appreciate what you're saying, I do. I appreciate our sessions together. But you need to come out from behind the wire and see what we do.
CAMBRIDGE: Well, if the circumstance calls for it, I will. Just like every other soldier.
It seems like Eldridge is trying to get something out of his chats with Cambridge, but he has trouble believing that the doc really understands what he's going through. And if that's the case, then how much is the doc's advice really worth?
As we'll talk more about in "Colonel Cambridge (Christian Camargo)," the doc is super rah-rah about the whole war experience (not like he's really out there putting his own life on the line that much), and he seems to think that Eldridge could just snap out of his anxious state if he just changed his 'tude:
ELDRIDGE: Hey, it's Mr. "Be All You Can Be." What's up, doc?
CAMBRIDGE: Not much. How are you?
ELDRIDGE: I'm good. Got a question about that song, though. "Be All You Can Be." What if all I can be is dead on the side of an Iraqi road? I mean, I think it's logical. This is a war. People die all the time. Why not me?
CAMBRIDGE: You got to change the record in your head. You gotta start thinking about other things, okay? Stop obsessing. Right now, what are you thinking about?
ELDRIDGE: You want to know what I'm thinking about, doc?
ELDRIDGE: This is what I'm thinking about, doc. Here's Thompson, okay. He's dead, he's alive. Here's Thompson. He's dead, he's alive. He's dead, he's alive.
Eldridge has a huge problem wrapping his head around how you can be alive and here one moment, and dead the next—dead and, in the case of a bomb, totally obliterated.
Unfortunately, Cambridge ends up in that exact sitch when he decides to take Eldridge's advice and tag along on an operation—he gets blown up by an IED. Eldridge once again can't immediately process the fact that Cambridge is gone, and he starts looking for him in the smoke. The other guys have to tell him outright that Cambridge is gone before Eldridge will accept it.
Some good news for you, though: Eldridge makes it out of Iraq alive...after Will shoots him in the leg, thereby getting him removed from duty. Eldridge is super peeved at Will and cusses him out as they prepare to helicopter him out, but hey, at least he lives, right?