Previously on Bomb Girls: Kate checked out photography, Gladys checked out workplace activism, and Marco checked out Lorna’s mouth.
As the girls get ready for work, Gladys reads out loud from a newspaper—the Germans have taken Leningrad. There’s some chatter about whether or not the Russians will be able to hold out, but when Gladys asks Marco how he feels about the Russians, Lorna cuts in to say that they were Hitler’s allies anyway JUST LIKE THE ITALIANS, ISN’T THAT RIGHT MARCO? Marco just rolls his eyes, but as he goes inside, Lorna grabs the Italian-language newspaper he was reading out of the trash. Ohhhh dear.
As the girls go in, a car rolls up outside—surprise factory check! The Department of Defence heard about the bomb going off, and now they want to make sure everything’s running smoothly. They tell the women to step back from the production line and pat them down looking for “stray metal” (uh-huh) but Kate’s more worried about her fake papers getting discovered. Betty reassures her, but to be fair, I’d probably freak out if these guys showed up at my workplace too. They have a very “I want to see your papers” air about them. But as it turns out, it’s not the government agents Kate has to worry about so much as it is Lorna, who finds her locket—inscribed “to Marion, with love”—hanging in the locker room. Ruh-roh!
Over at the hospital, Lorna’s daughter Sheila brings Vera some breakfast, while Vera’s still pretty groggy and miserable. She wants a bandage over her scar, but no can do—it needs fresh air to heal. (Huh?) Well failing that, could she get some extra sleeping pills? Seems the ones she’s getting aren’t doing the trick. Sheila agrees to ask the doctor about it. I have a really bad feeling about this.
Back at the factory, the government inspection has wound up but Lorna’s hasn’t—she wants to know where the Marion locket came from. Kate, who is an absolutely terrible liar, fidgets anxiously and says she found it on the street. She’s saved from further interrogation—for now—when Gladys runs up and says someone stole her perfume. Her perfume? What was she taking perfume to the factory for? Did she want the bombs to smell good? Lorna wants to know the same thing, but more importantly, she wants to know if Kate’s the one who lifted it. Gladys sticks up for her, but Lorna isn’t convinced.
In the locker room, she announces that since Gladys’s perfume was stolen, she’s docking the money from everyone’s pay. Gladys, sensing another “how to win friends and influence people” disaster looming, tries to insist that it’s no big deal, but Lorna’s insistent. She may not like Gladys, but she refuses to condone stealing in her factory. Also, she’s putting Kate downstairs in the storeroom as “a chance to ask herself some questions.” Man, is anyone in this factory having a good day?
The government inspectors slap Marco’s newspaper down in front of him and inform him that while they don’t think it’s classified information, he’s still Italian, and he needs to come with them. WHOA. I guess I was right about them wanting papers! Marco tries to insist that he’s lived in Canada since he was two and the factory vetted him when they hired him, but the inspectors drag him off anyway. Lorna watches from around a corner as he’s driven away. I repeat: everyone here is having a REALLY bad day.
Over in Rosedale, Gladys bikes home and meets up with her fiancé and mother. She complains to James about her perfume getting swiped, but her mother quickly charges in with bigger problems—James’s cousin stepped out on his wife! He “ran away like a feral pig with the children’s nanny!” After I stop laughing and unpause the video, Gladys informs her mother that there’s a war going on and Leningrad is under siege so really, who cares about nanny-napping, but her mother insists that there are more important things to worry about—there could be SCANDAL! Gladys, like me, rolls her eyes, but James agrees to work something out with his cousin so society ladies won’t have to faint when he shows up at the wedding. Good lord.
Over at the hospital, Sheila delivers Vera’s second sleeping pill and switches out the light. Vera waits until she’s gone, then takes the pills and hides them in a cigarette box where she’s already stored a handful. Oh no.
At work the next day, Kate, Gladys, and Betty are buzzing about the news—Marco was apparently taken away to an internment camp the night before. Lorna’s shocked—well what did you THINK would happen?—but insists that if he was interned, then he must be guilty. Betty and Gladys look at her disbelievingly.
Kate, it seems, is still relegated to the storeroom, and hangs back in the changeroom to chat with Gladys. Gladys, it seems, is still fretting about the perfume—or rather, the docked pay—so she’s come up with a plan to catch the thief. She’s been watching the Thin Man movies, and deduced that the best way to catch someone in the act is… pour silver nitrate in her purse and wait to see whose hands turn purple. Um. That’s… um.
Down in the storeroom, Kate is keeping herself company by singing—specifically “Lonesome Valley.” Charlotte Hegele has a GORGEOUS voice, by the way. But the lonesome valley turns out to be not so lonesome, because a male voice from somewhere in the room picks up the song with her. Kate freezes, probably thinking of Gladys’s assertion that the storeroom is “a place where murderers lurk” (THANKS GLADYS) but as the voice continues, she brightens, presumably remembering family sing-alongs in better times, and picks up the end of the song. When it ends, she calls out for whoever was singing to say hello, but no one answers.
At the hospital, Vera is finally lured out of her room by the smell of cigarette smoke, only to find… Archie. Goddamnit. He greets her with “Nice to see a pretty face! Well, half of one” and when she tries to scurry off, tells her that if she can’t have a sense of humour about it, what can she have? HER STASH OF SUICIDE PILLS, ARCHIE. But the craving for a smoke is too strong for her to resist, and they end up oddly bonding over how much they hate people pitying them.
In the Victory Munitions cafeteria, Gladys rushes up to Hazel all “I KNOW YOU’RE ALL WONDERING WHY I CALLED YOU HERE TONIGHT.” Hazel has purple on her hands! She is the theef! Hazel just laughs in her face at the idea that Gladys poured chemicals into her purse. That was a pretty stupid move, Gladys. Betty and Edith agree, and both are sure that the thief couldn’t possibly be Hazel. Elsewhere in the lunchroom Kate approaches the men’s table, asking after the singer from earlier. One guy volunteers, and I’m sorry, but this guy is NOT who we heard before. He sounds less like a singer and more like a clogged exhaust pipe. But Kate, still thrilled at this connection to what was presumably a small part of her old life that she actually enjoyed, suggests that they sing together some time. Exhaust Pipe guy can barely stop drooling long enough to agree.
Down in the storeroom, Kate is singing sweetly to herself while Exhaust Pipe lurks nearby like a giant creepy rapist—which it turns out is exactly what he is. He looms over her, insisting that if she didn’t want sex, she wouldn’t have invited him, and tries to pin her against a box. But fortunately, Kate’s cries for help attract the man who was ACTUALLY singing earlier, who proceeds to club Exhaust Pipe with a shovel. And daaaaaaaaamn, he can show me his shovel anytime. If you know what I mean.
Up in the manager’s office, Lorna’s fretting about Marco—she wanted him to leave the factory, not get INTERNED. The manager has no interest in hearing it, and shoves Marco’s last pay envelope at her, laying on some guilt about how his family will go hungry now. I didn’t notice you trying to stop the arrest, asshole. But he wants Lorna to take the money to Marco’s family. Wow, this won’t be awkward at all!
At Casa Moretti, Lorna trudges up the steps like someone going to their execution and knocks on the door. To her shock, Marco is the one who answers. (“What are you doing here?” “I live here!”) He wasn’t interned after all, he just lost his job. Well… at least he can go hungry in the relative comfort of his own home? Marco accuses her of planting the newspaper, but before an argument can really get rolling, his mother comes to the door. She doesn’t speak English, but she invites Lorna in all the same. Apparently he hasn’t told her yet that he lost his job. Hawkward.
At the rooming house, Betty is horrified that Kate didn’t run and tell her what happened (read: she wanted to slay the dragon and possibly make out with Kate on his corpse) but Kate insists that she wasn’t frightened, since the other man took care of it. Betty is Not Happy to hear any of this, and scoffs when Kate asks her if she’s ever spoken to a black person before. “Don’t make a habit of it.” Eurgh. I mean, it makes total sense in the context of the time period, but still. Eurgh. But before this conversation can become any more squicky, Gladys comes knocking on the door. She wants to track down Hazel and catch her in the act of stealing so that they can get the girls’ pay restored. Kate is quickly excited at the thought of an adventure. Betty… not so much.
But Kate begs, and since Betty would probably strip naked and sing “The Maple Leaf Forever” on the factory floor if Kate asked her to, she comes along.
Over at My Dinner With Marco, Lorna is being served spaghetti, which she’s apparently never eaten before. I take a moment to shudder at the thought of a world with no Italian food in it. Since she’s never eaten it, she has no idea how to hold the fork, and ends up stabbing it awkwardly while clutching the handle in her fist. Marco’s mother looks like she’s wondering what kind of life this poor deprived woman has led. Marco just seems to think it’s cute. Lorna, finally navigating some into her mouth, beams in surprise. “This is delicious!” Well treat yourself to The Old Spaghetti Factory sometime! (No seriously, that’s some damn good food. And I can be honest, because I’m not getting paid to say it.)
At the hospital, Vera is looking sadly at herself in a mirror when Archie rolls in offering cheer and cigarettes. Vera’s not in the mood, so he opens her drawer to stash them for later, and finds the empty box she’s using to keep her pills. She tries to grab the box from him, but the pills spill all over the floor, and he looks at her, aghast. She tries to put him off with a story about how she gave them up because they made her queasy, but Archie’s not that stupid. She starts crying and yells at him to get out, scrambling on the floor to pick up the last of the pills. Oh Vera.
Lorna’s dinner with Marco is over, and he walks her home, chatting about the brave new world of Italian food. She’s shocked at the fact that they have wine with every meal, and they joke about people showing up to church just for the free booze. They seem to be getting along, oddly enough, and the conversation emboldens Lorna to make a confession: she thought when she handed the paper in that he’d never lose his job if he was innocent, and now she feels horrible about it. She tells him she’s always been afraid of what she doesn’t know, and he guesses correctly: “so you come out swinging?” And just when I’m thinking hey, this conversation seems pretty damn shippy, Marco leans in for another kiss. Unlike before, when she backed off immediately, she leans in to this one, letting his hand curl behind her neck. Given what we learned in the pilot, it’s probably the most intimacy and affection she’s seen in years. But her conscience gets the better of her, and she pulls away and hurries off, leaving Marco calling “Bye, Lorna!” behind her.
Over at Hazel’s place, the three musketeers are creeping up behind her apartment when Hazel herself comes into sight, a man at her side. Gladys is initially confident that he’s someone else Hazel scammed, but hey look—it’s James! What could James possibly be doing with—
At the factory the next day, Gladys is simmering with barely concealed rage, and sidles up to Hazel to demand some explanation. Hazel sneers at her that “girls like you always get everything they want.” Well, unless what they want is a fiance who isn’t a cheating asshole. Gladys threatens to go to Lorna, but Hazel’s got one up on her—she knows how quick Gladys’s family is to freak out about potential scandal, and all she has to do is show up at the wedding and “throw rice in your face.” Gladys has nothing to say to that.
Up in the manager’s office, the hunt for Marco’s replacement is on. None of the candidates look anything resembling competent, so Lorna suggests an alternative: hire back Marco. The manager grumbles about having to fight with the upper-tier management about it, but Lorna points out that Marco is their best shot at keeping their standards high. “And I had a lot of fun playing tonsil hockey with him,” she does not add.
In the changeroom after the shift is over, a surly Hazel shoves the stuff she stole from Gladys back in her face. Gladys isn’t satisfied, and demands that Hazel come clean to Lorna. Hazel will do no such thing, thank you very much. Gladys, apparently wanting to believe the best of the other woman, suggests that James lied about being engaged—aww, honey—but insists that Hazel should “make it right.” Betty and Kate, stepping out from behind the lockers, agree. Hazel’s going to be on another shift from now on.
Outside, Kate waits for her rescuer, and hurries up to introduce herself. He says his name is Leon, but isn’t very interested in spending any more time with her. Kate looks like she’ll protest, but is quickly distracted when Lorna calls her by her given name. She tries to explain that she only reacted to the sudden sound, but Lorna is neither convinced nor interested—she checked with the other Marions working at the factory, and none reported a locket missing, so Kate has her necklace and her job back.
Leon, walking away, is intercepted by Exhaust Pipe and some of his buddies, who warn him to keep his hands off Kate. Uh, he wasn’t the one with his hands on her in the first place, buddy. Leon says much the same thing, and adds that if he sees Exhaust Pipe harassing her again, he’ll regret it. (Again.) Exhaust Pipe, in the face of someone much stronger and generally just a better person than him, slinks off, but the encounter pushes Leon to go and give Kate some parting advice—if she wants to learn to sing, check out Billie Holiday.
At the hospital, Vera is tucking away her latest addition to the pill stash when Archie rolls in. She thanks him for not ratting her out to the nurses, and he explains that if that’s how she wants to deal with her life, he won’t interfere. Uh, I really, really think you should. He does at least try to tell her that she could still go back to the factory or her family, but she turns him down on both counts—she doesn’t want to face her old coworkers looking the way she does, and she ran away from her family years ago. “Why give them the satisfaction of knowing they were right? I was just a pretty face. Now I’m nothing.” Ouch.
At home, Gladys meets up with James in the hallway—apparently they have plans to go out to dinner. Well that should be more or less as awkward as Lorna and Marco’s spaghetti earlier. After a veiled insult about liking “simple things” (oh come on now, that was uncalled for) Gladys’s mom practically bounces in with the news that James found an out so that his filthy adultering cousin won’t be attending the wedding. Might want to check closer to home there, Mrs. Witham. “I told him there’s no way he’s ruining my bride’s special day!” James smugs. Gladys is made about as sick by this as I am, and announces that she doesn’t have the stomach for dinner before heading out. James and her mother shrug at each other.
At the boardinghouse, Betty, Kate, and their hosuemates are winding up for a night of booze and Billie Holiday when Gladys walks in. She wasn’t able to stand the evening with James, she explains—can she spend it with them instead? Kate is happy to oblige, and as she pulls Gladys into a dance, we move over to Bob and Lorna’s house, where Lorna is serving up spaghetti with a suggestion that he “try something new.” Yeah, like she could try taking Marco’s pants off! I’m just saying. And back at the boarding house, as Kate and the other women partner up to sway to the music, Gladys stands sadly in the middle of the room, alone.