Previously on Bomb Girls: Marco’s dad is interned, Vera is kinda sorta hooking, and Gene put his creepy gross hey-I-just-met-you-and-this-is-crazy-you-have-a-fiance-but-fuck-me-maybe moves on Gladys. Unfortunately, he’s still around this week, so ready your rotten fruit everybody.
A bus rolls up to VicMu carrying fresh worker meat from the Maritimes, because the factory is losing productivity, so the answer is clearly hiring new workers who will need to be trained. Betty, rolling up in Gladys’s car, isn’t terrible impressed.
But an even bigger waste of everyone’s time and energy is on the horizon, because Gene Corbett has walked his mom to work and wastes absolutely no time in skezing up to Gladys and asking her to play bomb-making hooky with him. Gladys says no. Again. He pushes. Again. He jumps in her car and refuses to get out until she drives off. How much would I have to pay one of you fine people to beat Gene to death with a copy of Choice and Consent: Feminist Engagements With Law and Subjectivity? I’m a student, so I haven’t got much, but I’m sure we could work something out.
Lorna and Vera herd the new girls into the factory, while Betty quietly harrumphs to Kate about the fact that they have perfectly good workers already, so why hire new girls? Lorna hands the meet-and-greet line off to Betty so she can go school Gladys on how very Not Available Gene is to her. Lorna, I know you love your son, but do you really think Gladys’s standards are that low?
(Alas, as this episode will prove, they are.)
Betty snits at one of the new girls, Reggie (Jasmine Richards) because there’s no way she’s of age to work the factory floor and also Betty, as has been demonstrated in the past, may be a teensy bit racist. Reggie blows her off by saying that she used to work in a washing machine factory, so there. I have never blown anyone up with a washing machine, but I have heard of house fires being started with a dryer. Maybe she’s got promise.
Up in the office, the old office manager has been transferred out to a different factory, and Vera and Carol are flexing their claws at each other in anticipation for the battle for Queen of the typerwriter. My previous predictions about wig-yanking look to be fulfilled this episode!
Downstairs, tensions are also simmering as Betty schools the new girls and scolds Reggie for pouring too much amatol into the bombs. Reggie responds by snarkily calling Betty “mein Fuhrer” (“what did you say?” “Mein Fuhrer. Means Hitler.”) Gladys and Lorna have to peel them apart, and Lorna hustles Betty off for a chat while Vera arrives to tell Gladys that there’s an overseas phone call for her in the office. Gladys, assuming it’s James, scurries upstairs to answer it. The phone call goes thusly:
Gladys: Hi James!
James: Hi Gladys! Just wanted you to know that I’m manslutting it up all over London, so you should totally get down with that fine Gene-shaped hunk of manmeat who won’t stop drooling on your shoes.
No, it’s not James on the phone- it’s Gene. Oh my god. Why does anyone put up with this guy, ever? Gladys, rightfully, hangs up on him, and Carol pops up to blame Vera for not guessing that it was a prank call rather than Gene for making an asshole prank call in the first place. Gladys just rolls her eyes and goes back down to work on the line.
On the production line, Reggie hands one of her bombs off to Gladys, who cuts herself on the metal. Betty starts spitting angrily about how Reggie didn’t check properly for spurs, but Lorna just tells her to take Gladys to the nurse’s office for stitches and a lollipop. Lorna! Why must you keep getting in the way of the simmering knock-down, drag out?
A police officer- or someone flashing a police officer’s badge, anyway- has arrived at the factory and wants to speak to Marco, because Marco is a week late checking in at the police station (which he has to, because he’s Italian and . . . um . . . that’s about it) and being a week late clearly means he’s tunneling under the Parliament buildings with dynamite like Kenneth Mars in The Producers. The officer would also like to speak to him about what he said in interrogation at the internment camp, after being interrogated slash pummelled for five straight hours. “Yes, it says here that you accused them of being facists after they held you without charge for twelve hours and assaulted you; could you please explain your reasoning?”
Also, Mr. Moretti’s application for release has been denied. Woe.
In the office, Vera and Carol are still angling for that promotion by popping up whenever Mr. Aikens is around and offering him coffee and backrubs. Vera also has an idea for relieving the tension between the new workers and the old. Mr. Aikens harrumphs about how it’s just women being so damn emotional all over the place, and somehow neither Vera nor Lorna punch him and ask “was that emotional enough for you?” Instead, Vera suggests they have a mixer for the girls so that they can all learn to get along. Carol scoffs at the idea, but Lorna and Mr. Aikens like it, so there’s nothing Carol can do. Guys, remember when this show was about women being friends and supporting each other, and not cattiness and douchebags names Gene? Can we go back to that?
Speaking of douchebags named Gene, Gladys apparently decided that since she’s on injury leave for the rest of the day, his proposition that they go out to the beach sounds like a great time. UGHHHHH. Gladys, did you really not have anything better to do? Maybe your toenails could use some clipping or something? Awkward flirting is awkward, and watching it makes me want to puke. NEXT.
Betty, Marco, and Kate are hanging out at the bar, as Betty complains to Marco about the new girls and Kate ineptly tries to flirt with one of the bar patrons and ends up spilling beer all over his shirt. Marco helpfully goes to rescue the barflies from Kate’s well-meaning shirt slaughter, and Betty explains that she doesn’t know any better because she wasn’t allowed to talk to boys growing up “unless she was reciting the Bible.” Marco nearly has a heart attack.
But Marco’s a good buddy, so he offers to help Kate out with her flirting by standing in for a potential boyfriend, telling her to look him in the eyes and laugh when he says something funny. Kate “Bad At Heterosexuality” Andrews does about as well as you’d expect.
Then Marco gets the EVEN MORE BRILLIANT idea to have Betty stand in for the flirtee, because wouldn’t that make Kate feel more comfortable? Oh Marco, bless your heart. Kate actually does manage to laugh in a way that isn’t terrifyingly forced with Betty, because as we all know, Kate wants the v.
Over on Yonge Street, Vera chills out waiting for a soldier to drop by while Carol stands nearby waiting for a cab. One of her old buddies shows up, and Vera goes off with him arm-in-arm, while Carol’s eyes pop out of her head and go rolling down the street. This is going in the Burn Book for sure.
Lorna shows up at Casa Witham to complain to Adele about Gladys running around with Gene, and Adele sensibly says that if Lorna has a problem with Gene seeing Gladys, she should take it up with him, not her. Lorna tries to appeal to Adele’s scandal-phobic sensibilities by pointing out that if Gladys gets caught out with a man she’s not engaged to, all hell will break loose, but Adle just shrugs it off, because Adele don’t care.
Out on the beach with Gene, Gene, the Harrassment Machine, Gene starts showing off his scars to Gladys by taking off his clothes and pointing out all the wounds that depressingly failed to kill him. Then he makes a run for the lake- which I’m assuming is Lake Ontario- and invites Gladys to come take a dip with him in her underwear, which she does. Gladys! I have no objection to underwear-swimming, but must you do it with a guy who’s likely to grope you underwater and claim it was the Loch Ness Monster?
The next morning at the factory, Reggie is showering before work when Lorna walks in and finds her open suitcase sitting on a bench. Reggie hems and haws for a bit before admitting that the woman running the boardinghouse “took one look at me and lost my assignment,” but insists that she can find a place to stay- she’s been “on her own” since she was fourteen. Lorna will not stand for one of her girls having to fend for herself, though, and promises to find Reggie a place to stay.
Apparently I was wrong about Adele not giving a fuck, because she shows up at Gladys’s hotel room to tell her off for fooling around with Gene. Gladys snarks that she’s not going to do to James what her dad did to her mom- OUCH, Gladys- but Adele ominously tells her to wait and see, and storms out.
In the office, Carol goes snooping in Vera’s desk drawers, and palms one of the earrings she got from her soldier boyfriends, then skitters off to gossip to Gladys about it. Gladys just laughs and Carol a snob, but Carol snarks that “at least I’ll be able to wear white on my wedding day!” You know Carol, maybe if you were seeing some soldiers, you wouldn’t have such a massive stick up your ass.
At the mixer, Vera starts off by introducing everyone and ignoring the seething tension between Betty and Reggie, but then Carol elbows her way in and introduces a game called “pass the orange,” wherein you pass oranges to each other without using hands. Well, if you want to help everyone to get to know each other by getting to second base . . . sure, that’s one way to do it. While everyone else is alternately passing oranges or cringing in embarrassment at the orange-passing, Ivan and his buddy joke about the paint-peeling awkwardness, and Kate laughs like a seal in an effort to seem flirtatious. It does not work. Ivan’s douchebag buddy Buster tells Kate he only went out with her because Ivan asked, and that’s quite a hubristic statement coming from a guy who looks like this.
Betty marches over to Reggie and informs her that she called the school (the school she was going to while “on her own” at the age of fourteen? Huh?) and Reggie’s only seventeen, ergo she’s too young to work in the factory, ergo Betty’s going to get her fired. Upon delivering this speech, Betty turns around and struts away, leaving Reggie with the perfect opporturnity to throw an orange at her. Betty turns around slooooooowly, while Kate looks on in awe in the background, because she knows Betty will fuck a bitch up.
Betty slaps, Reggie punches, and FINALLY all hell breaks loose. Oranges are getting tramples underfoot! Dollars bills are getting thrown at the participants! (Well okay, not really, but the dudes are cheering them on.) Mr. Aikens and Marco pry them apart, and Vera brings up the idea of playing a trivia game because really, it can’t get any worse.
Betty pouts out in the hallway with a cold compress on her face, and Lorna lays it out for her: Reggie’s been dealt a shitty hand, and even if she is young, that’s no reason to throw her out of the factory, especially since there’s plenty of young men enlisted who lied about their age to get there. Betty threatens to go to Mr. Aikens herself, and Lorna pulls that old mom chestnut “I won’t stop you, but I will be disappointed.”
Lorna’s actual kid, meanwhile, is out on the road with Gladys, test-driving her car and rhapsodizing about what it feels like to fly. Gladys is laughing along, because for some unfathomable reason, she likes this dick. Then another car comes along, and Gene hits the accelerator instead of the breaks, swerving at the last minute over Gladys’s shrieks because he hasn’t indulged his inner adrenaline junkie yet today. Okay, I know this is meant to be a manifestation of the way war has fucked with his head, but after his long history of being a douchebag to every woman on this show and refusing to take “no” for an answer, I’m finding it extremel difficult to care. Gladys starts making out with him, because I guess danger gets her hot, and I refuse to screencap this.
Betty and Reggie sidle up to each other at the mixer, still hissing like angry cats, but angry cats who have a healthy amount of respect for each others’ right hooks. Betty admits she’s not going to rat Reggie out, and asks if she’s going to start pouring amatol the way she taught her. “Not on your life.”
Carol hands one of the male workers- Donald- a question, and he stands up on a table to ask it. “This one’s for the boys! Which factory girl lines up at College and Yonge to show soldiers a good time? Vera?” Oh noooooooo. Donald, because he’s a gross asshole, says that he might not be a soldier but maybe she’ll give him twenty minutes in the storage closet anyway? Vera, cool as a cucumber, snarks that “word is, you’ve never lasted more than three,” and hands the earrings Carol pilfered back to him saying that “they look better on you,” before striding out. Bad. ASS.
Gladys and Gene are still rolling around on the grass, but it turns out that humping in a public park is a bad idea for multiple reasons, because the cops show up with a flashlight and call Gladys’s mom, leading to the most awkward car ride ever.
Adele starts to read Gladys the riot act, but Gladys- still in Bratty Teenager Who Got Caught With Her Boyfriend mode- just snips that she doesn’t want her mother’s life. Well yeah, but surely there’s a middle ground between Adele’s life and sleeping with Gene Corbett? Adele, stung, coldly informs Gladys that keeping this incident out of the papers is the last time she’s going to haul her daughter’s ass out of the fire. She’s not wrong.
Vera is crying out in the factory hallway when Marco shows up to comfort her and give her a hug. Aww, Marco. I’m not sure that I ship this romantically- I don’t think she’s really his speed- but I love their friendship. Vera makes it very clear that she’s pissed the hell off at Carol and Donald, but only for airing her laundry in front of the whole room: she’s not ashamed of who she is.
Kate and Betty are chilling out in the boardinghouse while Kate paints Betty’s nails and confesses that Ivan asked her out, but she won’t go if Betty’s not okay with it. Oh, Ivan. You have a long, illustrious career as a beard ahead of you, don’t you. Betty says it’s totally fine if Kate dates Ivan, and Kate happily strokes her fingertips. Yeah Kate, tell me more about how into dudes you are.
At the factory the next morning, Mr. Aikens calls Vera into his office and breaks the news that she’s right for the office manager job, but he can’t hire a girl with her “reputation.” Dick. Carol apologizes to Vera, saying that she didn’t expect it to “go that far,” but Vera reasonably asks her where exactly she expected it to go instead. Mr. Aikens comes out into the office and asks Carol to place a newspaper ad for a new office manager- he’s hiring outside the office. Carol is apparently not sorry enough to look pouty at this news.
Reggie is camped out at Lorna’s house, and cheerily compliments her cooking before pointing out that there’s a man sitting on her fence. Lorna glances outside and sees Gene, who is sitting on the fence pretending to steer an airplane, making bomb noises and spitting unattractively all over himself. Again: this would be so much more moving if he hadn’t long since used up all my sympathy. Lorna yanks the curtains, because that’s how we deal with trauma in the 1940s. Repress! Repress the shit out of that trauma! Repress until your inevitable nervous breakdown!