Masters of the Air Ending, Explained

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Summary

  • The finale of Masters of the Air gives a comprehensive close to the emotional journey of the Bloody Hundredth.
  • Buck and Bucky survive as POWs in a heartwarming reunion, while Rosie faces the horrors of a concentration camp.
  • The series sheds light on the atrocities faced by European victims during World War II, delivering a gripping, satisfying conclusion.



Since its debut on January 26, 2024, Masters of the Air has had viewers ardently following the harrowing journey of the 100th Bomb Group. With names such as Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, and Gary Goetzman in the production seats, the nine-episode limited series was perhaps destined to have an impact from the get-go. The show stars Austin Butler and Callum Turner in the roles of best friend duo Gale ‘Buck’ Cleven and John ‘Bucky’ Egan. In telling the story of the 100th Bomb Group, also known as the Bloody Hundredth, the riveting narrative paints a picture of the realities of World War II.

The finale of Masters of the Air ran for over 70 minutes, giving the series a comprehensive close. Destined to be a limited series, the show provided closure on all its fronts. Primarily in the limelight during Part Nine were Gale Cleven, John Egan, and Robert Rosenthal. With the former being prisoners of war for most of the episode, Rosenthal suffers his own traumatizing experiences. The Masters of the Air‘s final chapter took viewers on an undoubtedly emotional ride. Here’s the show’s gripping ending, explained.



Do Buck and Bucky Make It Out Alive?

From the very beginning of Masters of the Air, fans have continued rooting for the friendship between Buck and Bucky. It is with bated breath that fans held on to hope that the duo would still be alive and kicking by the time the season finale rolled around. Thankfully, both Gale ‘Buck’ Cleven and John ‘Bucky’ Egan live to see another day at the end of Masters of the Air. Having both been shot down, Cleven in Episode 4 and Egan in Episode 5, and held as prisoners of war, whether the friends would survive in the German camps was in constant limbo.


The show’s finale shows the POWs being marched from one camp to another as the Allied forces advance. It is during one of these marches that Buck, Bucky, George, and another POW, Aring, decide to make a run for it. However, in a tense moment that truly toasts the friendship between Cleven and Egan, Bucky sacrifices his freedom, turning to stop a guard from shooting Buck as he makes his escape. Bucky, thankfully, is not shot and killed and remains a POW as the other three manage to get away. After a trying journey, where one of their comrades is killed, Buck manages to make it back to Thorpe Abbotts. Bucky continues life as a POW until the attack of a P-51 mercifully initiates their rescue.


The scene of the two friends reuniting is perhaps one of the most emotional moments of the series. Buck, having resumed his role as a pilot, flies a mercy mission to airdrop food to Dutch civilians. When the flight makes its way back to Thorpe Abbotts, Buck requests landing instructions. Upon receiving them, a confused Buck asks for a repeat. Making for the most perfect reunion, “You heard me the first goddamn time, Gale,” comes Bucky’s quippy voice over the radio as a smile slowly spreads across Buck’s face.

What Happens to Rosie?

After both Cleven and Egan are captured by the Germans midway through the series, Robert ‘Rosie’ Rosenthal claims the spotlight in Masters of the Air. A new recruit and a stellar pilot, Rosie flies the only aircraft from the 100th Bomb Group that manages to return to base after the Münster mission. Quickly becoming a fan favorite, Rosie goes on to complete his 25-mission quota but chooses to continue his stint fighting against the Germans.


The season finale opens with the harrowing scene of Rosie’s plane being shot down over Berlin. Despite his best efforts to fly the aircraft into friendly territory, Rosie parachutes into no man’s land. With people being shot down all around him, an injured Rosie drags himself into a ditch, steeling against what is to come.

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For a few moments, viewers are led to believe that Rosie might be killed. However, thankfully, those who find him are Russians. He arbitrarily shouts “Amerikanski! Coca-Cola! Roosevelt! Stalin!” as a means of identifying himself to the Red Army. Rescued, Rosie begins his journey back to Thorpe Abbotts. With a few grueling experiences in tow, Rosie is welcomed back to the camp with shouts of jubilation and palpable relief.


A Tribute to European Victims

Despite primarily following the story of the 100th Bomb Group, their triumphs and losses, Masters of the Air also sheds light on the true terrors that European nations faced at the hands of Hitler’s regime. In the show’s finale, the series uses Rosie to focus on the heartbreaking atrocities suffered by victims of World War II.

After being rescued by the Russians, Rosie moves with the Red Army till he can secure passage back to Thorpe Abbotts. The airman travels with the army through Poland, and it is during this trek that Rosie stumbles into a concentration camp in a Polish town by the name of Zabikowo. Having been advised to cover his nose due to the smell of rotting corpses, Rosie elects to stretch his legs and finds himself walking into the camp. Much to his horror, he discovers the corpses of thousands of Jews, frozen due to the cold, piled on top of each other and even tied to poles. Running his hands over a Hebrew inscription the dead had carved into a wall, Rosie reads “The Judge of Life will judge for life.” He is informed by a Russian lieutenant that this is only one of the many camps that they had come across.


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The episode goes further, providing viewers with a first-hand account of the horrors that individuals faced under the Nazis. While waiting to get confirmation of his flight, Rosie converses with an elderly man. A young woman acts as a translator, facilitating the conversation. Rosie casually inquires about the man’s family, likely not expecting the man’s traumatizing response. With a look in his eyes that seems here nor there, the man reveals that he was forced by the Nazis to bury those in his village, including his wife, daughter, and grandchildren. When Rosie wishes that the man “go with God”, he responds that if God exists, He has forgotten them. “Not even the earth that covers our bones will remember us.”


The finale of Masters of the Air delivered a truly deserving close to the gripping, heart-rending story of the Bloody Hundredth. Having touched on all aspects and answering all questions, the series has left viewers satisfied and with a sense of closure. The inevitable question now is whether there may be a follow-up to the show. It is unlikely that the series may get a sequel since it was created to stand as a limited series and has fully covered the story of the 100th Bomb Group. However, given that Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Gary Goetzman have previously teamed up for projects such as Band of Brothers (2001) and The Pacific (2010), the likelihood of another war drama being produced by the trio remains high.

Stream on Apple TV+.


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