Thursday 11 April 2013

Bomb Girls - It’s still a great dream.

Bomb Girls: 2x09 Something Fierce. 

In 1942, nobody knows how much longer the war will last, or what the outcome will be. Society as a whole is changing, but there is also a very clear idea – expressed in the past, and several times, in this episode – that things will go back to how things were when the war ends and the soldiers come back home. Female workers are seen as mere place-holders for absent men, but working, earning money, living on their own, changes them, and giving up all these new possibilities and previously impossible dreams isn’t going to happen without a struggle. Dottie Shannon (Rosie O’Donnell) comes to the factory to write about Women at War, and the ambiguous title of her series mirrors the conflict taking place in the episode: these factory workers are the home front, helping the war effort, but there is a whole different struggle taking place within society about what place they should occupy after the war, how much of a place (sometimes, like in Betty’s place, literally) they should be allowed to carve out for themselves.
These confrontations are the centrepiece of the episode. Sometimes they are impersonal, like Lorna’s struggle for a pay raise that includes a never-seen higher authority that Mr Akins appeals to on her behalf. Betty’s attempt to get a loan for a house rather than saving for one (considering that it took her two years to save $140, this seems depressingly futile) brings her face-to-face with a female bank worker who represents an institution that considers female workers as too risky (because if they do continue to work after the war ends, it will be in jobs that pay less money) but also her very personal views that the best thing for a girl like Betty is to wait for a husband. 
Then there are the two very personal struggles: Gladys’ appeal to her father to allow her to control at least the interest of her trust fund, which her brother before his death was allowed to do while she is supposed to wait to be married off, the trust fund functioning as an appealing dowry, and the fiancé bearing the family’s fortune (like James did, in the eyes of Adele and Rollie), rather than Gladys herself, their only remaining child (like she said at the beginning of the story: “I give away my precious things. Stockings to hacking canaries, fiancés to greedy fathers…”). 
All three characters learn something about the role that money plays in all of this: Lorna finds out from Dottie’s article that she (even though she is practically management) barely earns half of what even the least qualified male workers make in a year, and that this knowledge alone makes Donald believe that he can openly disrespect her at the factory. It’s not even the money itself that Lorna cares about, it’s the realization that money is the currency for respect at the factory, and she takes pride in her work, and she knows that she is one of the few irreplaceable forces at Vic Mu, someone qualified enough to walk away from the job and leave a painful void. Gladys learns, through the experience of trying to help Betty get a loan, that the one thing that growing up in the Withams household taught her (charming men) is of no use when the bank man suddenly turns out to be a bank woman. As long as she doesn’t have any money of her own, she will not have the same rights that are given to men (and Betty learns that she has to jump more hoops than a male worker in her position would have to). 

Don’t I get a say?

All of Ivan’s arguments against Kate performing at the burlesque are about what “a good girl” should or shouldn’t do, and they start the moment that Kate shows interest in the all-girl revue that Vera points out to her in the paper. 
Vera: Kate’s a singer. It’s a chance to sing.
Ivan: Kate has been singing, at the hospital, for soldiers.
Kate: Ivy, this could be a real gig.
Ivan: You have a real gig, baby, right here at the factory.
Dottie: Honey, he’s very cute, but I wouldn’t let him tell you what to do.
Telling Kate what to do is exactly what Ivan does throughout the episode. She shouldn’t perform at the burlesque because that’s what “loose” women do. She shouldn’t wear a revealing costume, because “nobody buys the cow when they get the milk for free”. The one thing that Kate expresses (and it is so rare that Kate expresses her true feelings) is this: “I’m a singer. With a chance to prove myself I might have a real career.” This is something she genuinely wants, because singing frees her, and she fought hard for it. 
And it’s telling that this is how the first on-screen kiss between Kate and Ivan happens, not in a moment of shared intimacy, but almost as a dare: when the guy who runs the revue tells her that she looks “like Little Sweet Miss Never-Been-Kissed” and just to make a point, she goes over to Ivan, kisses him fiercely for the benefit of the guy (“I’ve been kissed, Mr Jones, you’ve seen it yourself.”), and so earns her place in the revue (and hilariously drags a stunned Ivan out behind her). When Ivan later wants to repeat the moment in a private setting, it goes awry, and Kate jumps at the chance to put an end to it when Vera comes in, to tell her that the revue is in fact a burlesque (aka “hoochie-coochie girls”). 
Ivan: Didn’t I tell you this smelled rotten?
Vera: There’s nothing wrong with a burlesque show. It takes all sorts.
Ivan: Yeah, all sorts of loose women. And don’t tell me you disagree, you’re the way coming to warn us.
Vera: Because I know it’s something Kate would never do.
Ivan: Yeah, you got that right. I mean, there’s gotta be another way to be a singer.
Kate: Don’t I get a say?
She does. She makes a choice – against Ivan’s will, against her own fears as well, and it’s brave and fierce and glorious. Vera helps her with the burlesque part, she teaches her how to dress and move – it’s not about objectification, it’s about being confident in their bodies – and they have this shared history as well that hasn’t been recognized before, Vera’s struggle with confidence after her accident, Kate’s struggle with how Vernon saw women. With all that baggage, all those hateful teachings, you’d think that Kate would take an entirely different approach to Vera, but she doesn’t judge her. If anything, she admires her for her confidence and the way she insists on living her own life, regardless of what anybody else thinks of her. 
Kate: But you’ve got allure like nobody’s business.
Vera: Not here to build my spirits.
Kate: I was always made to believe that a woman’s body was a vessel of sin. And you got this confidence; you know who you are, and heck with the world.
Vera: Honey, I just fake it. It’s all an act. Now show me yours.
“It’s all an act” – Kate understands this. It’s exactly what she needs to hear in that moment, because of all the characters on the show, there isn’t a better actress than Kate Andrews. It’s not even that all her performances are necessarily hiding who she is, are fake somehow, because Kate Andrews herself started out as a role (one that allowed Marion Rowley to liberate herself from Vernon). Of all the things that Ivan does in the episode, bursting into this moment without knocking, without taking a step back after realizing that he is clearly not meant to be there (forcing Kate to hide under the covers and for Vera to scramble for her clothes) is the most unforgivable act. 
Kate: And I’m a bore?
Ivan: No, no. You’re not. You’re just not like those girls.
Kate: I fought hard to get my voice back, what’s wrong with wanting to use it. You think I’m this meek little mouse you can keep in a cage.
Ivan: No, I just don’t want you to degrade yourself
Kate: It’s not degrading if I want to do it.
Ivan: I don’t want my girl on stage.
Kate: Well, then maybe I shouldn’t be your girl.
Ivan: Maybe you shouldn’t.
Kate Andrews tries on new shoes to see which fit, she used to perform a role to stay alive and now she is performing them to figure out who she is, so someone telling her who she is – telling her who she is supposed to be, defining her – is a threat to her. To an extent, Ivan is her cover, her distraction, but being on stage and singing is the one way in which she can express herself, and it’s endlessly more important than keeping up the cover of a normal girl (and Vernon told her that a woman’s body was a vessel of sin, and now Ivan insists that she is degrading herself – it’s a different kind of control, one that isn’t as physically violent, but it’s an attempt to exercise power over her nevertheless). 
She goes on stage, but unlike the girl performing before her, she doesn’t use a stage name. In a way, Kate Andrews already is a nom de guerre, and it would be pointless to assume a new identity on stage, since being on stage itself is the most intimate expression of her identity that Kate has. The performance itself mirrors Kate’s development. It starts quietly, the way Kate was before she found her voice, and the men howl at her, but she finds her voice, finds her confidence, and she owns the stage, and stuns the audience. It’s a public transformation, but for nobody’s benefit except for her own (and we see the effect that it has on Betty’s face most of all). And I’m pretty sure that in the end, at “Baby you’re the man I need”, her eyes drift away from Ivan. 
But the thing is that Kate is only now learning how to take this confidence with her once she leaves the stage.
Ivan: It was incredible. Baby, you take the cake. How did you do that.
Kate: I don’t know! When I’m in the song I guess I forget to be afraid.
Ivan: Kate, will you be my wife.
Kate: This is so sudden, I wasn’t expecting…
Ivan: I wanna take care of you. I wanna make it so you’ll never have to worry about anything ever again. The way you feel when you’re singing, like anything’s possible, that’s how you make me feel, all the time. Great things lie ahead of us, great things.
Kate: You’re right, Ivan. Great things.
The episode deliberately contrasts Kate’s reaction to Ivan’s proposal (her hesitance, that initial step backwards that she takes when she re-appears from behind the stage after her performance to find him there, her reaction to him saying all the things that the girl she’s been pretending to be – Katie – would like to hear) with Vera’s enthusiastic consent to Marco. Kate, compared to Vera, very much looks like she is having doubts, but Ivan never really stops to make sure. 
I think part of why Kate says yes in the end is because in her current performance, it’s what she thinks would happen, it’s what she thinks her character would do. There’s a moment before that, when she finds Betty looking at the plans for the houses (a painful moment, because both of them certainly remember that they were thinking about living in one together, and neither of them mentions it) and Kate says “It’d be nice to have a real place to raise a family in a proper home.”, which earns her an unbelieving look from Betty, because Kate knows very well that this isn’t why Betty wants to own a home (these moments are always so ambiguous, Betty recognizing that Kate is performing, Kate knowing that Betty knows, etc., and yet neither of them breaking the illusion). Betty responds by asking if “you and Ivy started talking kids” and Kate reacts like the question is ridiculous, she hasn’t even considered it. She doesn’t apply her own statement about raising a family to herself, it’s merely the thing that would be expected, but it has nothing to do with her, personally. She knows that Ivan wants kids but never says if she wants them as well, because she doesn’t even come into the equation. Later she tells Betty that she knows that Ivan loves her, but Betty has to ask her, after gathering all the remaining bravery she has (because what a terrible question to have to ask someone you love, if they love someone else), if she feels the same way about him. Kate doesn’t express her own dreams or wishes in conversations, she is playing a part (the girl that would say yes to that proposal, and marry Ivan). There are several scenes where it becomes clear that this is the part she is expected to play: once Betty turns the flyer with the house around, it says “I’m going to ask my husband if we can”. The woman at the bank tells her to wait for the right man (and proudly shows her her own engagement ring, a scene mirrored brutally when she sees Kate wearing hers). Gladys knows that the one role the Withams have assigned to her is marrying, and that she is nothing, in their eyes, on her own, until she demands to be taken seriously. “Maybe your father could co-sign it”, says the bank woman to Betty, because in her eyes, as long as woman doesn’t have a husband, her father speaks for her (Gladys asks, exasperated, “Surely there are other ways for a woman to establish herself?”) 
So she says yes to his proposal, and wears the ring that he fashioned out of the agraffe of a champagne bottle.
Kate: It’s on the right finger, Betty. By which I mean, the left.
Betty: The Slav. Gosh, he’s not wasting time, is he.
Kate: He knows what he wants out of life, and that’s very appealing.
Betty: Sure you’re ready to take the plunge?
Kate: He’s a sweet guy, and he loves me.
Betty: Yeah? And… do you love him?
Kate: Yeah.
Betty: I’m happy for you, Kate Andrews.
Kate’s eyes when she answers Betty’s question tell the story that she can’t share with Betty, and the heartbreaking thing is that Betty doesn’t really expect any other answer. When she told Kate she loved her that last time, it wasn’t an act of hope, it was one of defeat. The best thing she can do now, from her perspective, is check that Kate is happy, and share that happiness. She doesn’t read all the other signs (or realizes that the hug they share is more enthusiastic than anything that Kate has done in reaction to Ivan’s proposal). But she does say her full name – Kate Andrews – and it’s almost like a tribute to how much they’ve shared, before Kate becomes someone else again. The forged papers, the tug of war with Vernon, that final act of helping Kate to free herself from his grasp. Betty needs to believe that this is what Kate wants, because the alternative is even harder to accept, that slaying the monster in the story isn’t all it takes to break free. 

You hold deadly weapons in your hands all day, and you’re telling me you’re scared to knock on a door. You deserve it, Lorna.

Lorna gets her raise. She is the first through that door, through that glass ceiling, and she takes it, even though it’s just for her, not for her girls (but she won’t shut up about it, because she knows that sharing knowledge is important and will inspire others to do the same). Winning the great war alone isn’t enough. The war itself is a struggle for freedom, but so are all the smaller acts of resistance against the idea that women are somehow less than, or will quietly give back all their hard-earned privileges once the war is over. When Lorna finally stands up to Akins, it gives her back her self-confidence, because she knows that she is worth more than the factory is paying her. When she stands up to Donald in the canteen (“Don’t throw things!”), she fiercely makes clear that she has the support of all her girls, that the four men in the middle of the room are surrounded by women who are willing to stand up for her, because she is matron and mother to them and disrespecting her is the same as disrespecting them. Like Lorna says: maybe after the war ends, it will be her turn. And the other girls will follow. 

Random notes: 


I highly recommend Bruce McDonald’s (who directed this episode) Trigger


Gladys: These days, they have all-girl everything.

“Ms Witham, you have cream cauliflower on your cheek”. Gladys Witham, international spy extraordinaire.

I’m still not sure where the spy plot is going exactly – Clifford mentions that they are developing some kind of very potent explosive at the factory that could be delivered to soldiers via rations – and Marco gets introduced to some kind of group of people who have similar problems with being disrespected for being Italian. 

The scene where Ivan and Kate play Monopoly and he explains that his father told him to invest in land works really well as a contrast to Betty – because for Ivan, being able to own land is as easy as rolling a dice and moving a piece forward. “Investing in the future” is incredibly more easy for him than it is for Betty McRae.
(By the way my favourite Monopoly-related story is that the British Secret Intelligence Service distributed a special version of the game to POWs held by Nazis that included tools for escaping).

There’s also a great parallel between Lorna and Marco in the episode: Lorna starts feeling that the wage disparity is an expression of being given less respect, Marco feels that being overseen by someone he trained, by someone he considers to have less knowledge and expertise than he does, hurts his pride. Lorna asks for a raise; Marco asks his friend for help. 
Kate: Can you give me some pointers?
Vera: Okay, but if you get into hot waters with Ivan the Terrible, don’t blame me.
Only Kate would choose a song about serenading a girl and her wheelbarrow. I think the significant bit about the second song she performs isn’t that it’s one about “the man she needs”, but about how she performs it – she owns that moment, and the way she sings it makes it clear that the character in that song is an equal, someone who makes her own decisions (“fierce” describes it perfectly). 

Dottie’s description of her marriage “You know my husband Neville, he lets me be who I need to be. There are as many paths as there are men. You just have to make sure that you’re both travelling in the same direction.” is so painful considering what Kate has just gone through with Ivan. Bob and Lorna are working hard to get there, on the same path, but it’s hard to imagine that this is even a possibility for Kate and Ivan, considering that Ivan has created his very own fictional version of her, and is so eager to mould her into filling that space. Other things to consider: The scars on her back, the impossibility of inviting her remaining family to the wedding, the possibility of a wedding drawing attention that may reveal Kate’s most dangerous secret. 


bnofee said...

Great review as usual :)

It's incredible just how out of sync Kate and Betty are this season - they are trying to play out the role of friends, but neither can quite grasp the specifcs. Their unresolved history makes it too hard to let go of the hurt and bitterness and disappointment (and the memory of this very intense, very fulfilling relationship).

Sometimes I'm aghast at Kate's insensitivity towards Betty - with the house as you mentioned, and the 'he knows what he wants out of life, and that's appealing' line. Kate knows Betty has goals too (TO BUY A HOUSE ONE DAY) but sort of just feigns ignorance? And Betty kind of just plays along with it, although her incredulous looks are priceless (Ali Liebert can do all sorts of amazing things with her face). The whole 'this is an act, and i know you know, but i'm going to keep acting anyway, play along' act you mention is spot on.

cathy leaves said...

They are SO out of sync. But I thought the "that's appealing" line was more about Kate herself than Betty (it wouldn't make much sense, Kate knows that Betty has a very good idea of what she wants out of life, even though she'll have a much more difficult time than Ivan to get there). Kate is the one who isn't sure, but by saying "yes" to Ivan, she at least chooses to have fewer choices (which makes it even more tragic, considering what everyone else is doing in the episode)?
And yes, Betty's REALLY?! face is fantastic, and definitely a life skill I aspire to learn.

bnofee said...

Yes i agree, but i wonder if Betty makes that connection r.e. Kate and not knowing what she wants in life? I think Kate partly said 'yes' because she's not ready for what saying 'no' would mean. If she says 'no' she knows it would hurt Ivan's pride and likely push him away, thus giving away her distraction and place in the comfort zone of conformity. If she says 'no' she might have to confront what she actually wants. I think she's in a lot better position to plot this kind of future now and an image of the type of person she wants to be - she's just not there yet. And i'm so proud of how far she's come in this season ^^ part of it ,i think, is because Kate is actually a pretty open and inquisitive spirit - just gonna take some time to challenge all those long held 'truths'.

cathy leaves said...

Oh no, I definitely think that Betty was hurt by the remark (as, I assume, was Kate by Betty's "gotta move on sometimes", which was a bit more intentional). Kate seemed to be pretty confident in her position with Ivan (confident enough to draw a very clear line when she felt like he was getting too controlling), and she just seems overwhelmed by how quickly it escalated. Also, it reminded me a bit of Gladys and her soldier, how awkward it would be to say "no" in that situation, even for someone for whom the stakes aren't as high as they are for Kate.
And it's amazing that Vernon didn't manage to crush that side of her. I think the episode really shines a light on who Kate is about to become if she's given the time and the space, and I hope we'll get to see this.

Lady Canuck said...

Wonderful job as usual.
Kate looked far more scared when she was proposed to than excited. The moment in the episode she looked the happiest was near the end when she got to hug Betty. (Other than getting on stage and performing).

I do think agreeing to marry Ivan is a very dangerous thing for Kate. She's living under a fake name, has scars all over her back and he doesn't know her at all. Hopefully Kate will start coming apart at the seams with this wedding being planned, I really hope she doesn't go through with it.

cathy leaves said...

I have a very very bad feeling that the wedding is somehow going to draw attention to the fact that "Kate Andrews" is an assumed identity. And Ivan was already so pushy about meeting her brothers, he'll certainly wonder why she can't invite them.

estherambhac said...

Thanks for another perfect analysis.

In my opinion, the theme in the episode is again the struggle in the patriarchal society, and I see that Donald stands for all the wrongs in it. Therefore, when all the women stand up threatening him with food, would represent all the uneasiness that was going on in the society of that time. Also, notice that the poster shows us a picture with a few men dressed in nice clothes throwing things at a woman, standing up and wearing coveralls. I don't know if it's a real poster from that time, but it actually fits.

The difference with the rest of "opressive men" we see in this episode (Akins, Rollie and Ivan) is that Donald doesn't evolve. Even though Akins, Rollie and Ivan eventually give in, Donald, that is, society itself, continues to be the same patriarchal system as always.

On the other hand, that hug in the locker room somehow made me the impression that the whole proposal acceptance was to find a reason to give Betty a hug...

I know that it is not actually like that, but that hug definitely broke the awkwardness that was going on between the two of them, I'm glad.

cathy leaves said...

There's even more to that poster: the mob of men in the background start it all, and it causes the woman to drop the coffee on the man in the suit, which I think is hilarious since Lorna is incited by awful Donald and his mockery and then goes up to Akins (who supposedly appeals to unseen "suits" to raise her wages). And the men do give in, but only to an extent: Lorna doesn't quite get the 50 cents more she wants, Gladys only gains control over the interest, Betty has to take a smaller loan to prove she is worthy. But yeah, I don't think Donald will ever change, but that moment in the cafeteria was such a fantastic way of showing what he is up against (also that it was the mere THREAT of something breaking out, rather than the actual execution, which I feel captures the conflict perfectly).
I have mixed feelings about Ivan. Maybe he is just the nice normal boy doing what he's expected to do, propose to the girl he loves. On the other hand, it's an episode where Kate threatens to outgrow him (to grow into someone that isn't caged as easily), and while he is truly blown away by her performance, maybe he also realizes that if he doesn't propose quickly, she'll achieve these great things all by herself, and leave him behind. The deal breaker for me was the moment when he just burst into the room with Vera and Kate and seemed to have absolutely no sense of how violating it must have felt to both of them.
Btw, I don't think the interpretation of the hug is that far off... "I'm engaged now, so it's totally fine if we hold hands and hug and stuff, like normal girls do" could very well have been on Kate's mind...

MultitudeofGeek said...

The fact that the explosive could be smuggled in rations made me think that it'll be a type of plastic explosive. The below from wikipedia seems the most likely. If the show ever mentions a small of almonds, that'll be confirmation:

From Wikipedia
"One of the simplest plastic explosives was Nobel's Explosive No. 808, also known as Nobel 808 (often just called Explosive 808 in the British Armed Forces during the Second World War), developed by the British company Nobel Chemicals Ltd well before World War II. It had the appearance of green plasticine with a distinctive smell of almonds. During World War II it was extensively used by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) for sabotage missions. It is also the explosive used in HESH anti-tank shells. Captured SOE-supplied Nobel 808 was the explosive used in the failed 20 July plot assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler in 1944."

cathy leaves said...

Brilliant research! The article on RDX (one of the main components) explicitly mentions Canadian involvement in development and production, so I think that's exactly what Clifford is talking about.

estherambhac said...

Totally agree. However, what gives me mixed feelings is that they are actually about to throw food in times of war... A few episodes ago they were talking about rationing and victory gardens. Maybe there is more to it, maybe they threaten with food meaning that they are capable of fight with all their lives. I don't know if there were starving problems in Canada, but from a European perspective, we were always taught that these were tough times, that is why I'm pretty scandalized by the food sceene.

hubert said...

To me it seems that Betty and Kate are on course set out in motion in ep.6 of first series and reinforced in ep.6 of this series: Kate needs a time to process what life, love and everything is and who she really is but that's it. They're no doubt about the end and I'm not surprised at the steps. Kate wasn't just going to go dancing with Ivan once and then run to Betty, that wouldn't have been realistic when you think of Kate's story. Kate will go to Betty when she is ready and she is making bigger steps towards Betty in every episode. It's a one way street.

I don't think she ever considered Ivan seriously. Ivan is just something that happens to Kate on her way to Betty. Her freaking out at Betty kissing her, going away and coming back, talking to Leon about 'Betty, she has these feelings', going dancing with Ivan, going out with Ivan, these are all things that happen to Kate on her way to Betty.

When Kate says 'It’d be nice to have a real place to raise a family in a proper home' in response to Betty saying that she is still thinking of her dream house, I didn't interpret that as Kate referring to Ivan but to her and Betty. It's just the closest Kate can come to saying what she wants without actually saying it (because, again, she will only go to Betty when she's ready). She does not say this when Ivan talks of houses or family or whatever else.
When she says that it's very appealing when people know what they want she is again referring to Betty and she is again saying it to Betty, not to Ivan, not in any conversation with him. In fact she rejects the things Ivan knows that he wants.
I know this might sound far fetched but I think Kate is also pushing Betty to fight for her. I thought she did it even in their first moment, the time when they were sitting on Betty's bed looking at the photos the photographer took of Kate. Kate needs Betty to keep trying, much as she can't say anything about it. It's perhaps not fair but that's how it is.
When it became too painful for Betty and she went with Teresa all that Kate could do is to wait for Betty to come back. That's the significance in my mind of her standing outside the door, but not intervening. When Betty is giving her space (to be with Ivan) the most that Kate can do is to pull away from Ivan (on the stage, not wanting to kiss, clenching her fist so that Ivan can't hold her hand).
The writing and acting in the scene where Kate says annoyed 'this is so sudden' to Ivan's proposal is brilliant. Look, she needs to rehearse her lines, you can't go off script like that.
When Betty puts her hand on Kate's later on, Kate does not pull it at all. Not fair, again, but she's forcing Betty to react, to show that it still matters to her. The rift between them is gone. When she hugs Betty (like they've never hugged before) she's not only got her friend back, but she's got her Betty back (especially with Teresa seemingly gone).

hubert said...

I thought that Kate's private lesson with Vera gave her the chance to experience physical intimacy with another woman's body without there being anything sexual about it. And I think she needed that and not just to overcome the 'body as a vessel for sin' problem. But rather getting used to that level of intimacy as a sort of dry run. The camera follows Vera's back and then lingers on her panties. The camera is Kate's gaze. Yes, Kate sees naked women every day at the factory showers but that is a public place devoid of any sexual connotations. This is in private, just like it would be with Betty.
I totally agree that Ivan bursting in and then just standing there was the worst transgression ever. Against her, Vera, their friendship moment, their fun moment together, women's intimacy, everything. It would be even now, let alone then.

As mentioned, contrast with Marco's friends keeping their advances off Vera because she's Marco's girl and then Marco making sure that Vera does want to go along with it, even though, like Vera says, she doesn't look like somebody who's having doubts. I don't know if the show is making a subtle comment here on how we shouldn't judge men by the cover. Marco, the 'womaniser' is the one that actually respects women, whereas Ivan. the 'nice boy next door' is the one who walks all over their rights and desires. How can Ivan be so blind to Kate's rejection when he's already gone through something similar with Betty, just before this??

Speaking of Marco's friend, Gladys would do worse than to get into business (or pleasure) with him instead of all sort of potentials that are more suited for what Rollie wants for her than what she wants from men. But hey, considering Gladys' new found feminist streak (thank god for that) she might just not marry at all. She seems to have far better ideas when she's on her own. Besides, men keep disappointing her (including agent Cliff).

The way Kate sang that song, she said 'baby, you're the man' (looking at Ivan) and then there was a pause and then she moved her gaze elsewhere (possibly looking for Betty) and said 'I need'. She did exactly the same when she was on the stage for the radio thing: she finished the song looking for Betty.
And speaking of that song, somewhere in it there's these lyrics: 'I don't need a boy who's trouble / To come around and burst my bubble' Indeed you don't, Kate, but Ivan is too lost in his own dreams to understand.

i'm over myself with Joy at the thought of Betty getting a car. Imagine Betty, one hand on the wheel, the other holding a cigarette, gently rolling past VicMu's gates.

Quite the irony, right, bank woman telling Betty to just buy Victory bonds and then wait for the war to be over so that she can have somebody find her for marriage. Betty's learned her lesson on that, thank you!

I'm sure this was by accident, but at the opening scene, after Gladys says 'These days they have all girls everything' and Ivan says 'So?' in response, Vera is looking incredulous at Ivan, Kate is looking at Betty and Gladys and the credits show Charlotte and Ali's name. If this was a show that you'd be watching with Kate and asked her who she identifies with she'd says that Gladys is the woman she'd be, Betty's the woman she'd be with and Vera is the woman she'd be friends with. It makes total sense that she would get along with Vera so well, they both lost something fundamental to them and then got it back through their own effort / sheer determination (Vera her looks, her femininity and Kate her voice).

hubert said...

I like the comment about the never seen higher authority that Mr Akins invokes (and not for the first time). I've thought often how brilliantly is Richard Fitzpatrick's portrayal of Mr Akins. if I had to imagine what a regular guy factory manager of the time was like that's exactly how I would have imagined him. He's a man of this time but he's essentially a nice guy (including how he takes care of his wife when she gets a bit drunk). He knows more than anybody how valuable Lorna is (or Vera). And he grows as well, more so than Rollie. Rollie still makes concessions because Gladys is his daughter rather than because he's evolved when it comes to women's rights.

Funny how singing makes Kate be another person in an instant. From Kate getting flustered and confused at Carol's suggestion that she would play a boy's role to Kate not even blinking at all girls burlesque show. From being hopeless at talking to boys to not hesitating at all to look for the guy that sang with her in the store room. Give Kate a song and a dance and she becomes 'Shakespeare in love'.

It's tragic and fantastic at the same time the transformation that Lorna goes through over time in realising that life is (for her too) about happiness and personal fulfilment. It's a snowballing effect amongst the women, shame it never reaches Adele (possibly because she's locked up in the castle).

cathy leaves said...


Well it was only one wasted meal (a full-out food fight would have been a different story) :) I think there wasn't a serious scarcity of basic food in Canada, but rationing of some items that were important to the war effort or had to be imported (sugar, meat, coffee, tea), but I (also European) grew up with ghastly stories of war and post-war hunger as well, so I get your point.


I agree with everything you've said but would like to add that one of the things that this show gets so very right is that Kate needs to be her own person, needs to find a way to overcome her demons and figure out what she wants out of life without this constant feeling of terror. And yes, Betty is an important part of that - because running towards something is easier than just running away, etc. - but this is Kate's own story. The show allows both of them to grow separately (and frankly I think Betty is growing too, she's not a fixed point).
I saw the scene with Vera as Kate reclaiming something else that Vernon tried to spoil for her, her own body, her own sexuality, with someone that she felt safe enough with, and comfortable enough with, to talk about Vernon (which she's only done with Betty and the soldier last week if I remember correctly). Vera presumably didn't know a lot about Kate's background before the scene, at least we haven't seen them hang out with each other (without anyone else) before. The scene is extremely powerful considering what brought Vernon back the last time - the photos that were taken of her. It's incredible how far Kate has come to be able to say with absolute conviction that it isn't degrading if she wants to do it (she isn't "seduced" into anything, it's her choice). I quite like that she is finding this strength in herself, isn't gaining the confidence from anyone else. Vera helps, feeling like she is in a safe environment helps, but the performance itself on stage made it clear that this is Kate's amazing achievement (which is so transformative for the audience). I think the two scenes together are my absolutely favourite thing that ever happened on this show.
But yes, I do think that her gaze moved towards Betty at the end of the performance, even though the camera didn't clearly show it. There were too many parallels to previous performances that also ended that way (that first one, where she held out her arm towards Betty, the one at the fundraiser, where she ended up looking at Betty's empty chair).
And yes, Kate singing "Molly Malone" after being so scandalized by Carol as Frederic was hilarious. That whole performance, really. I'm glad she didn't get to the part where Molly Malone dies a tragic death.
I really liked that line that Gladys says, something like "we always think the worst of each other" (about Rollie and her). If I were to make predictions, which obviously is pointless with a show that seems to have plans for years ahead, it's that Gladys is learning to be perfectly fine all by herself. She's already taken steps in this episode, considering what would happen if she was never to marry and taking steps to ensure that she'd be a heir to the Witham's fortune (if I were in Gladys shoes, I'd also argue that I deserved a piece of the pie merely based on the fact that her face basically single-handedly sells their products?).
Lorna, fantastic Lorna. Also somehow significant that the change she went through in the episode, realizing she had every right to ask for things and seek her own happiness, was important enough to be put into writing rather than to be shared over the telephone. It really made a point about her finding her voice as well, to hear her thoughts put on paper.