austin butler as buck with a puppy in his arms in masters of air

Our Hearts Have Been with Buck Cleven in ‘Masters of Air,’ but What Happened to Him?

CORRECTION: John (Bucky) Egan died in 1961. Gale (Buck) Cleven died in 2006. The article has been updated to reflect this.

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Masters of Air has surely kept us on our toes. After the death of Lt. Curtis Biddick (Barry Keoghan), fans didn’t know who was safe after each harrowing dogfight. When Buck Cleven’s plane went missing, we wondered if that was the end of Austin Butler’s run on the Apple TV+ series.

Gale Winston “Buck” Cleven was seemingly the lead of the series, along with Major John “Bucky” Egan (Callum Turner). So when Buck’s plane disappeared, fans spent the next few episodes wondering if Cleven died offscreen.

The reality is that this show (like Band of Brothers) is based on the experiences of real soldiers. So if you’re worried about any of the airmen at any given time, you can do a quick Google search to see whether or not they make it out of the war. This is what I did with Cleven, but before we get into it, let’s talk about what happened.

The last time we saw Buck

buck shirtless standing in the wilderness in masters of air
(Apple TV+)

On a mission to Bremen, we see Buck’s plane get downed. It was so bad that Bucky cut a day pass trip to London short to come back to base. For an entire episode, we wondered whether or not that was the end of Buck Cleven and if the two friends would be reunited for more camaraderie and longing looks.

The reality is that Buck Cleven not only survived the war, but he did not die until 2006. So most of my confusion came from whether or not the show took artistic liberty with his offscreen death. How could they leave his beautiful puppy Meatball without his owner? What we learned by the very end of the sixth episode, though, is that Buck survived and reunited with his best friend Buck.

The reunion we were waiting for…well, not really

buck found in a camp in masters of air standing on a fence
(Apple TV+)

Now, we all love Buck and Bucky and their relationship. What I didn’t expect was that their reunion would take place at a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp called Stalag Luft III (famously depicted in films like The Great Escape). We only get a brief moment with Buck smiling behind a fence at Bucky, joking that he’s taken long enough.

Now, neither Eagan nor Cleven have been reported as being part of the Great Escape (a real historical event that happened at Stalag Luft III), but we don’t know where their story goes next.

What will happen now that Buck and Bucky are back together? We’ll have to wait and see. Still, it was inspiring to see Buck’s smiling face after everything Bucky endured since his crash. Now that these pilots are reunited, they are sure to give the Nazis hell.

Masters of the Air is currently streaming on Apple TV+.

(featured image: Apple TV+)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.