Previously on Bomb Girls: Betty got beat up, Gladys got into the spy game, and Ivan got into Kate. Metaphorically.
Gladys, Vera, and Betty cluster around the front gates of VicMu, reading a newspaper editorial that basically calls the generals in charge of Dieppe a bunch of pantsless dumbasses who screwed up the raid and got three thousand soldiers dead. It’s not wrong. Vera’s more interested in pointing out an ad for an all-sign singing revue to Kate, who perks up at the idea. Ivan isn’t impressed though, and deadpans “so?” “So Kate’s a singer,” Vera explains patiently, looking like she’s resisting the urge to sock him in the eye. Ivan loudly declares that Kate shouldn’t be up onstage with those SHAMELESS HUSSIES, and a new person breaks in: “He’s cute, honey, but I wouldn’t let him tell you what to do.”
The newcomer, Dottie Shannon- “the Dottie Shannon?” Gladys says incredulously, because of course she does- is here to write a story about the female workers at VicMu. She also wrote the Dieppe article, and is basically a walking talking conception of what Canadians think Americans act like. I’m in love. Lorna’s a bit more cautious though, and she makes Dottie take off all her metal jewelry and leave her fountain pen at the door before she can go in.
Dottie patrols the line asking the girls if it’s true that they’re called “canaries” on account of the bomb chemicals staining their skin- and possibly their lungs- yellow. Lorna doesn’t like this line of questioning at all, so she tries to shuffle Dottie away from the line, and ends up accidentally knocking her into a box of cordite. Mr. Aikens, Big Brothering from his office window, yells for her to come up and check in with him.
While on lunch break in the cafeteria, Gladys jumps when Clifford Perry arrives and pulls her aside for a chat. The chat doesn’t amount to much besides “wait and see,” but they do have a cute moment when he tells her she’s got food on her face. Congratulations on being ten times more interesting and appealing than either James or Gene, Clifford.
Betty, meanwhile, is staring longingly at the advertisement for homes being sold to war workers. Gladys drifts by and offers to go to the bank with Betty when she applies for a mortgage. “For raising a family!” Kate chirps, though she quickly denies that she and Ivan are moving that fast. I wouldn’t count on it, Kate.
In the office, Mr. Aikens lays it all out for Lorna: he doesn’t trust Dottie Shannon and thinks she’s a scandal-mongerer out to make the war effort look bad. Well that’s what happens when you don’t take precautions, Mr. Aikens. He also calls in Marco to tell him that he’s basically getting demoted under the new security measures. Marco is not impressed.
Vera and Marco show up at the auditions to support Kate, with Marco grumbling how he don’t get no respect and maybe he’ll just quit the plant if that’s how it is. Uh, have you mentioned this plan to your mom, Marco? They quiet down when Kate gets up onstage and starts to sing, but the casting director cuts her off to say that while she may have a pretty voice, she looks like “Little Miss Never-Been-Kissed.” Ivan, who’s also in the audience, looks pleased to hear it, but Kate isn’t so easily deterred. She marches over to Ivan, sticks her tongue in his mouth, then turns back to the director. “I’ve been kissed, Mr Jones, you’ve seen it yourself.” Ivan looks like he doesn’t know what the fuck just happened.
The casting director agrees to give Kate a shot at being onstage, and she happily skedaddles off, dragging Ivan in tow. Marco and Vera stay to finish their drinks, which means they’re in the audience for the next audition- a woman in a bustier and fishnet stockings.
Dottie Shannon gives Lorna a ride home, and Lorna makes her dinner in return. They bond over Lorna’s having collected Dottie’s recipes back when she was on the cooking beat, and the fact that Dottie checked up on Lorna’s sons before she came to VicMu. Lorna admits that she used to think Dottie was “uppity,” before she started working at the plant, but Dottie takes it as a compliment. Is . . . is this a date? It feels like a date. Well, it does until Reggie arrives with a toolbox to fix the broken oven, and introduces herself to Dottie. Actually, I take it back: Dottie’s meeting her new girlfriend’s kids. This is DEFINITELY a date.
Vera drops by the boardinghouse to give Kate a heads-up about the show being a burlesque number, and Ivan starts harrumphing about LOOSE WOMEN and whatnot. Shut up, Ivan. Vera says she only came to mention it because she knew Kate would “never do” a striptease, to which Ivan agrees heartily, but Kate objects- “don’t I get a say?”
Gladys, dressed up in adorable tennis whites and a blue hair bow, is playing tennis with her father when he asks her if she’ll stop by to host a dinner because Adele “isn’t well enough.” I’m assuming “well” means “sober” in this context. Gladys doesn’t get why her mother is taking James’s death so hard, but Rollie explains that they hoped that he’d be a sort of replacement for her brother- a substitute heir, if you will. Gladys isn’t terribly impressed by this at all, and asks what Rollie plans to do if she never gets engaged again. He tries to brush her concerns off by assuring her that her trust fund is well-stocked, but she insists that that’s not her concern at all- she wants to control her own finances, like her brother did. Rollie’s like “what, you want a pony too?”
Dottie’s article appears the next morning, and Reggie excitedly reads it out loud to Lorna- until she gets to the line about Lorna doing twice the men’s work and only getting half the men’s pay. Well thank god we’ve jumped that hurdle, right? Lorna shrugs it off by saying that the men do more heavy lifting, but Reggie is doubtful. She’s not the only one.
Kate, walking into VicMu with Marco and Vera, protests that she can too do a burlesque show, but Marco points out that she can’t even say the word “burlesque” without turning red. Vera laughs that she’s seen a couple of shows, and they’re no big deal, so Kate asks if she can give her some pointers. Vera agrees, though she warns Kate that she won’t be held responsible when “Ivan the Terrible pitches a fit about it.
In the cafeteria, Lorna’s getting a hard time from Doland- he of the slutshaming and attempted rape fame, an all-around delightful person- about why she’s not doing “women’s work.” She’s been getting comments like this all morning, and when Marco chases Donald off, she asks him what the hell’s up. Marco reluctantly explains that Dottie’s article ruffled some feathers, and the shitty workers- like Donald- are starting to get antsy because they’re afraid that the women will take their jobs after the war’s over. Since they’re, you know, actually competent. Lorna scoffs at the idea, and depressingly, she’s right- because we know from history that women workers got a pat on the head and a dismissal slip after D-Day.
Kate and Vera are in Kate’s bedroom practicing burlesque moves in their underwear in a scene that I’m almost positive I’ve seen in a lesbian porno.
Kate’s about as awkward and shy as you’d expect, so Vera sits her down and explains what’s what: her “allure” is a front she puts on until she believes in her own badassness. Kate explains that she was raised to believe that a woman’s body was “a vessel for sin,” and Vera looks like she just said she was raised to believe that Thetans are monitoring her soul. They give it another shot, though, and Kate’s actually having fun until Ivan kicks in the door like the Puritan Patrol. Who the hell let him in?
At Gladys’s dad’s dinner, Clifford Perry shows up, briefly flustering Gladys, who heads out onto the terrace for some air. He joins her, and she asks what’s up- does her dad have something to do with the spying? Because she’s not spying on her dad, Clifford. He tells her to cool her jets, because Rollie is on their side. He compliments her on her ability to “move between worlds,” and says that’s what he finds attractive about her. Clifford Perry is one smooth dude. Even if Tahmoh Penikett can’t fake a British accent to save his life.
At the boardinghouse, Ivan’s stomping around yelling at Kate about SEXPOTS and SHAKING HER TAIL and THOSE GIRLS while a hilariously unimpressed Vera sips tea in the background. Kate’s had it up to fucking here with Ivan, though- as have I- and tells him that she worked damn hard to feel okay about singing again, and if he wants to take that away from her, he can just get the hell out. Which he does.
At the factory, Mr. Aikens stomps around the office yelling at Lorna about how Dottie Shannon is making his life difficult, and now she wants a RAISE? Well that’s just un-patriotic of her. “What’s more important: making the same amount, or BEATING HITLER?” I . . . what? Will an extra fifty cents a day be the vital component that loses them the war? Does Hitler sit in his Berlin bunker pounding his armchair shouting “Curses! They still have not given equal pay to their women workers! I will never win this war!” Is there a Downfall version of this? I don’t understand your logic, Mr. Aikens. And quite frankly, I’m not sure I want to. But the long and the short of it is, she’s not getting that raise.
Gladys takes Betty (or “Miss. Elizabeth McRae,” apparently) to the bank, where they’re surprised by the appearance of a female loan officer. Betty’s hopes crumble quickly, though, when the loan officer tells her that she doesn’t have any kind of credit history or husband to vouch for her, and maybe she should just sit tight and wait for a nice man to put a ring on it. I wonder how much Teresa’s salary brings in?
Lorna strides into the cafeteria to confront Dottie about spilling her salary into the paper, but Dottie’s unapologetic- she thinks Lorna should stride into Mr. Aikens’ office and demand that raise.
Lorna: I’m not you! Stop trying to turn us all into pioneers!
Dottie: You handle deadly weapons all day, and you’re telling me you’re scared to knock on a door? You deserve it, Lorna!
Okay seriously, is this story line going to end with them eloping? I feel like that’s where this is headed.
A lingerie-clad “Roxanne” opens up the burlesque show while Betty sits in a corner and mopes to Gladys about how she’s never going to get that house and she might as well just resign herself to making half salaries and not owning a house for the rest of her life. Gladys tells her to cheer up, but gets called away to loan Kate- who’s wearing an evening gown- her gigantic fur shawl as part of her act. The director introduces her as “the newest, steamiest, Andrews sister of them all,” and Kate comes out to sing. In the audience, Ivan plunks himself down in a chair and scowls. Oh, whatever Ivan.
Kate starts to sing, and the audience yells at her to show more skin, but are hushed by Gladys and Vera. Even Ivan stands up and tells them to “show the lady some respect,” but given that he’s shown her nothing but disrespect, I don’t see where he gets off being there at all. Kate slips off her shawl and gloves, and the audience stands up and cheers as she finishes the song. Betty gives her a standing ovation. Somewhere, Teresa feels a pang of jealousy and doesn’t know why.
Ivan helps Kate down off the stage as the room clears, and sits down next to her, pulling- oh shit, seriously? A ring?- out of his jacket pocket. He’s decided that since she’s sexy enough to tempt him but not sexy enough to be one of THESE GIRLS he was ranting about, she now qualifies as marriage material. Kate reacts much like I used to when my cat would bring me dead headless mice as “gifts.” That cat is dead now, a quality he unfortunately does not share with Ivan, who’s still whining “c’mooooooooon, lemme put a ring on it so I can stuck my penis in youuuuuu.” Kate hems and haws and gives in, and none of her clear confusion and apprehension tips Ivan off that maybe she doesn’t want this.
Vera shows up at Marco’s place and joins the party he’s throwing, proving that she can do kegstands and chug grappa with the best of them. She stays afterwards to help clean up, too, because she’s cool like that. Marco puts some music on, and then he-
He starts to-
So that happens. And then Vera sets to ripping the rest of his clothes off, because why the hell not.
Gladys is playing tennis with her dad- again- and brings up the trust fund- again. She promises she won’t touch the money, but she wants a chance to prove that she can manage the responsibility. Rollie, impressed with her argument, agrees.
At the factory cafeteria, Donald is once again getting up in Lorna’s face about how she should get back in the kitchen because the food tastes awful and she should be making him a sammich, dammit. Lorna’s had enough. She grabs her plate, marches over, and tells Donald, “if you can’t eat it, wear it” before dumping the food on his head. Everyone’s reactions are hilarious.
One of Donald’s buddies asks if he’s gonna “let them do this,” but they’re considerably outnumbered, as all of the women on the blue shift- all forty of them- stand up, plates in hand. Yes! Food fight! Donald knows he’s been beat, though, and stomps off.
In the change room, Betty spies the rock on Kate’s finger and congratulates her on her engagement. Kate gushes that Ivan is “a good guy and he loves me” (he is? he does?) to which Betty raises an eyebrow. “Do you love him?” Betty asks, which would seem to be the pertinent question. “Of course I do!” Kate says. Attempting to subsume my gay panic under a thin veneer of heterosexuality is love, right? Betty hugs her, and she does seem genuinely happy for Kate’s good fortune. (“””Good””” “””fortune.”””)
Lorna and Dottie get sloshed at her place and seriously if this does not end in sloppy drunken lesbianism I will be SHOCKED. They flirt- no seriously guys, this is flirting- and Lorna drunkenly confesses that Bob hated it when she started working, and now? Well . . . Dottie wisely pours her another shot.
Mr. Aikens calls Lorna into his office the next morning to warn her that he could, by rights, fire her, but- as Lorna rightfully points out- with people already hurting for workers, it’s not like she’s replaceable. Instead, he announces that she’s getting a thirty-five cent an hour raise, and warns her not to mention it to the others. Lorna smirks triumphantly and promises no such thing.
Betty- now bolstered with Gladys’s loan- goes back to the bank and signs her loan as Lorna writes a letter to Bob in Cambridge. She reflects that it feels strange to be writing to him, which she hasn’t since he first went overseas, and wonders if he misses her. The sloppy drunk lesbian night with Dottie is wisely omitted from the letter.