A NOTE ON SPOILERS: Yes, they’ve leaked; yes, I’ve read them; no, I won’t be mentioning or discussing them here. Admittedly, it was nice to read episode descriptions slightly less misleading than Global’s, who advertised this episode based on a subplot that took five minutes of screentime. AHEM.
Previously on Bomb Girls: Lorna’s son Gene is on shore leave. As regards this episode, that’s . . . about it.
Lorna is crashing around her house before work, trying to polish, buffer, and shine everything within reach because PEOPLE ARE COMING OVER TO SEE GENE and EVERYTHING HAS TO BE PERFECT. Gene, meanwhile, is teasing his sister, chugging milk straight from the carton, and not wearing a shirt. Gene is totally that douchebag fratboy relative you have who crashes at home for a weekend, makes your mom do his laundry, and takes off with half the contents of the fridge. NOT THAT I KNOW ANYONE LIKE THAT.
Gene is also not terribly big on Lorna’s Let’s Show Gene Off party- neither, for that matter, are Sheila or Bob- but Lorna doesn’t care because everyone is going to see what an awesome kid she raised! You’ll see! YOU’LL ALL SEE! And first she’s going to parade him around the factory, because that will in no way cause a minor estrogen explosion from the sex-starved workers.
At the factory, Gladys is moping loudly about how her fiance has arrived in London and is preumably macking on every single English lady in his line of vision. Did this couple learn nothing last season? Betty has boy problems of a different kind: she’s been sneaking around the factory, trying to avoid Ivan and his sad puppy eyes every time she turns around. Given that we don’t see him at all for the remainder of this episod, I have to assume that he’d holed up in his room somewhere with the blinds drawn listening to Adele’s “Someone Like You” on repeat and tearfully crossing out all the “Mr. Betty McRaes” he’d written in his diary. Gladys suggests that to take their mind off their boy problems (and to cheer up Kate, who’s snitting at them) they have a girl’s night in instead of going out dancing like usual.
Up in the office, Vera proudly presents an article to Carol, for the employee newsletter, but Carol just snipes that deadline was an hour ago and she’s not publishing Vera’s HOLLYWOOD TRASH anyway. The “trash,” by the way, is an article about how Veronica Lake was asked to wear her hair up by the U.S. government in order to serve as a safety standard to factory workers. Yeah, THAT would have been helpful a season ago. Carol still wants Vera to know that she ain’t shit, though.
L0rna’s after-work seminar is going over about as well as usual- i.e. like a lead balloon- but the room perks up when Gene comes in because A MAN A MAN THANK GOD IT’S A MAN MY VIBRATOR RAN OUT OF BATTERIES AND REPLACEMENTS ARE BEING RATIONED. And say what you will about Gene- believe me, I fully intend to- but he knows how to play an audience, because he immediately launches into a description of all the wild monkey sex he’s having while stationed in London. Gladys broods. Kate, on the other hand, tries awkwardly to flirt with him, much to Gladys, Betty, and Vera’s amusement.
Carol trots up to ask Gladys to come to her care package party that night, but Gladys makes her excuses and skedaddles with Betty. Vera offers to take her place, but ugh Vera this party is for LADIES, not the unwashed proletariat who pay attention to Veronica Lake. She needs the extra pair of hands, though, so Vera wins an invitation. I’m calling it now, someone’s wig is going to get snatched by the end of this evening.
Betty and Gladys are crashed at the boardinghouse complaining about how cold it is because it’s April and the matron won’t turn the furnace on. Ha. Ha. Haaaaaaaaaa.
Kate skitters by on her way out the door, telling Betty and Gladys that she’s going to drop something off and she’ll be right back. Huh.
At Lorna’s house, Mr. Aikens and his wife Minnie have arrived, bringing with them a jello that looks like a petrified green Lifesaver. Gene is in the kitchen eating mashed potatoes right out of the pot, because Gene is a pig. Meanwhile, Sheila arrives with her date- Dr. Patel, the cute doctor from the hospital when Lorna had her miscarriage. Lorna is about as delighted to see him as you might expect. Also at the party is Lorna’s neighbour Ellie, played by Jayne Eastwood who has been in EVERYTHING filmed in Canada ever, and who people my age probably remember best from The Noddy Shop. Hi, Aunt Agatha!
Gene entertains his guests with tales of German heads exploding, and then, because he can’t go more than five minutes without being an asshole, demands to know why Dr. Patel isn’t overseas. Dr. Patel politely explains that doctors are needed on the home front, especially to make sure prisoners of war don’t die in custody. Gene snits that that’s the difference between him and Dr. Patel (“Ned”)- he kills Germans, Ned saves them. I’m not going to wade into this particular political quagmire, except to say that if I had ever been that rude to a guest, my mother would have whomped me. And I would have deserved it.
Fortunately, the party gets interrupted by air raid sirens, and the news announcement that German POWs have escaped from a nearby camp. I have no idea if there were POW camps in Toronto during the war but hey, if I can buy death by fire escape, I can buy conveniently located POW camps. Everyone rushes to close the blackout curtains, and Gene offers to go outside and “check that there’s no one there.” Uh-huh. Uh-huuuuuuuh.
Kate, out on her walk, stops into Leon’s church where he’s playing the piano by himself. He left her a note asking if she wanted to come to choir practice, but since the blackout’s in effect, everyone went home early. She asks him why he wants her in the choir, and he says it’s because she has a nice voice and singing might help her get out of the funk she’s been in. Kate shuts him down by saying that she “can’t” sing anymore because “my father wrung it out of me,” thanks him for his interest, and walks out.
At Carol’s bag-stuffing party, things are moving slowly when their main benefactress Mrs. Beaverman shows up. Carol’s still snotting about Vera getting her dirty dirty hands on their goody bags, but Mrs. Beaverman is actually interested in what she has to say, agrees to reorganize the bag-stuffing like a production line, and is impressed enough by Vera’s Veronica Lake article that Carol has no choice but to jump in and agree to publish it. Vera glows. Carol seethes.
At the boardinghouse, Betty and Gladys are trying to play cards by candlelight when Gene practically kicks the door in, carrying booze he stole from his mom’s pantry. See, he IS a fratboy. Kate pops up a minute later to explain that she invited him over- oh dear- and he laughs that he couldn’t stand “the old folks” anymore, so he came over to party. What. A. Dick.
At the party, Vera gushes happily about the food being offered, and Carol snots about her usual special fare being “hamburgers at Simpson’s.” Vera makes her excuses and takes off, while Mrs. Beaverman scolds Carol for being unkind. My wig-yanking theory has gone unproven, but only just.
At the boardinghouse, Gene has a party in full swing and sits Kate down on his lap, much to Gladys and Betty’s suspicion.
But he’s not done wearing out his welcome, apparently, so he insists that someone go down to the cellar and grab a jar of pickles. Betty goes, mostly just to get his face out of her line of vision. I know that feeling, Betts. Meanwhile, Gene sits Kate down at the piano- and let me tell you, his manhandling is starting to make my eye twitch- and insists that she sing with him. Oh noooooo. Kate tries to demur, but he’s not hearing it, and she gets three bars into the song before she chokes. Oh, Kate. It happens to everyone. Gladys picks up the slack, to Gene’s delight, and Kate sadly shuffles off.
In the cellar, Betty rifles through the jars looking for pickles until suddenly UNEXPECTED ESCAPED GERMAN IS UNEXPECTED!Betty takes no prisoners, German or otherwise, so she knees him in the groin and stabs him with a fire poker in the wound he already got from hopping the barbed-wire fence. Betty McRae is a fucking BADASS, you guys. He tries to sweet-talk her into letting him go by calling her “Lili Marlene” and ohh buddy, you are trying your tricks on the wrong girl. Betty isn’t impressed, so she locks him in the cellar. Again: BAD. FUCKING. ASS.
At Lorna’s party, they’ve figured out that Gene ain’t coming back, though Minnie Aikens is more distressed at the fact that he took the hooch with him. Ned wisely decides that now is a good time to take off, and politely shakes Lorna’s hand and thanks her for dinner. Er, for appetizers- she promised Gene he could cut the roast, and since he skipped the party, NOBODY gets to cut the roast. Geez, Lorna. No reason everyone should starve because your son turned out to be a douchebag. Sheila says as much, which erupts into an argument over bringing Ned over when he knows Lorna had a miscarriage, which turns into every fight you’ve ever had with your mother. You love my brother more than me! You need to stop being so childish! YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAAAAAAAAAND.
Vera’s arrived at the boardinghouse to commiserate with Gladys about what snots all her friends are. Gene, because he can never ever have a conversation that doesn’t revolve around himself, interrupts to say that his goody bag sure came in handy when he was watching “the life drain out of” the Germans he shot. Gladys and Vera’s faces say it all.
Betty, hearing this, decides that maybe she doesn’t want to raise a stink about the POW in the basement while Tyler Durden is hanging out in her living room, and goes to call the cops instead. Gene stops her, pointing out that they aren’t allowed to use phones during the blackout, so she just scowls and stomps back downstairs. This is some straight up Question of Loyalty shit.
(At least, I think it’s Question of Loyalty shit. I ordered that book from a book order when I was in middle school, but the school year ended and it never showed up. AND DON’T THINK I’VE FORGOTTEN, SCHOLASTIC.)
Betty dresses the POW (“Fritz”)’s wounds, explaining that she won’t let him die, but she WILL call the cops as soon as the blackout’s over. Fritz tries to sweet-talk her, saying that he knows she hides who she is (wait, what? How does he know that? WERE THE NAZIS REALLY BREEDING PSYCHICS?) but it turns out he’s just referring to the fact that shespeaks German. As it turns out, her Oma on her mom’s side came over before the first world war, and it became a well-buried family secret after the war broke out. He tells her that in Germany, she wouldn’t have to hide, and- excuse me for a minute.
And then he slips his ties and tries to escape, so she sweet-talks him by saying that they’re totally the same, for real. Yep. This is in no way is a plan to keep him subdued while she’s locked in the cellar with him.
Upstairs, Gene tries to insinuate himself with Gladys by telling her that her fiance is probably cheating on her with every girl in London, so why not get it on with him instead? Gladys is too smart for that bullshit, but Kate- who’s lurking at the door- doesn’t hear that end of the conversation, and slinks dejectedly off down the corridor. Oh, Kate. You can do better than him. A goat would be better than him.
At the Corbett’s, Minne Aikens is now completely wasted, so her husband picks her up off the couch, thanks Lorna for a lovely evening (Ellie has already sensibly vacated the premises) and leaves. The remaining Corbetts, recognizing the humour of the situation, can’t help but chuckle, and Lorna gives her daughter a hug. Aww.
Kate sits sadly in her room listening to the record scratch when Gladys comes in to have a talk with her. She tries to brush her off, but Gladys rightly points out that it’s not really Gene Kate’s upset about, and asks what it is that she’s afraid of now that her father’s gone. “Everything.”
Now that the blackout is over, Betty unlocks the cellar door, lets Fritz out, and immediately starts screaming bloody murder as soon as he climbs out the window. Gene jumps on him like he’s a football quarterback (actually, from what I remember of the football players at my high school, he probably WAS) and punches him out, but Betty drags him off before he can knock too many teeth loose, and leans down to tell Fritz that she’s nothing like him. Damn straight. While Gene and Gladys stand guard over Fritz, Kate takes Betty’s hand and leads her inside.
Inside, Kate tenderly bandages Betty’s hand, and okay- I’m convinced. We are now watching a Kate/Betty fanfiction come to life. Kate asks what Fritz said to Betty, and Betty explains:
Betty: “None of us can hid forever.”
Kate: We do what we have to. To survive.
Betty: But when we’re finally safe- it’s okay to stop fighting.
I’m gonna . . . chew on that for a bit.
Gene comes crashing home the next morning to find his dad sitting up for him with the kind of “son, I am disappoint” face that only Bob Corbett can provide. Bob doesn’t read him the riot act, exactly, but he does inform him in no uncertain terms that he had better make things up with his mom.
Sheila shows up at the hospital with leftovers for Ned, and they tend to a newly-hospitalized Fitz. Vera arrives at work to find a bouquet of flowers on her desk from Mrs. Beaverman. Gladys contemplates her photo of James. Kate, finally on the road to recovery, sings in Leon’s church choir. Uh, I’m happy she’s found her place, but isn’t this supposed to be an all-black church . . . ?
And finally, Lorna reads the paper and gushes over Gene being named as the hero who caught the POW. Gene stares morosely out the window, pondering his life. Is he really a hero? Does he deserve that credit? And most importantly: do I give a shit?