Hi guys!! It has been AGES since I watched Home Fires, I am long overdue! Who's with me for a fun-filled view of the past, warts and all? Rolling S1:E5 after the break.
Oh jaysus, sorry mates, I'd forgotten that we'd left off with Jack (Adam Long! From Happy Valley er-ooh) dying when his plane crashed, life is not quite so fun-filled for his bride/widow Kate (Rachael Hurd-Wood).
We open with Steph Farrow (Clare Calbraith) watching in dismay as more conveys of army trucks make their way across the land; Kate's visiting Jack's grave and Our Lady of The Women's Institute Frances Barden (Samantha Bond) is looking for Miriam (Claire Price - who has what my grandmother would have called "fine eyes". I know Pudding thinks Claire does, but you canea miss Miriam's peepers).
Miriam's husband Bryn the Butcher (Daniel Ryan) gave Miriam the morning off because she's not sleeping, in between the air raid sirens and writing letters to friendless soldiers. They all turn and watch poor Kate walk by, a shadow of herself. Nobody is going to her; someone offer a cuppa and a shoulder pat already! I know it's awkward, but lord knows she needs it.
Miriam's not sleeping on her morning off; she's staring at a photo of her soldier son David (Will Attenborough) and crying.
Over at Chez Collingborne, Sarah (Ruth Gemmell) is completely confused when hunky Sergeant Nick Lucas (Mark Umbers - I don't know if he's a sergeant but he LOOKS like one) offers to cook.
Are they in Newfoundland????? It's like he doesn't even know he has to have a vagina to be able to prepare food!
They're FLIRTY! Danger, Sarah: Nick is just dishy enough to be a problem, with your gorgeous husband, the Reverend Collingborne (Mark Bonnar! From Unforgotten series two, my god he was magnificent in that, and also Apple Tree Yard! Where he mostly stood around and looked concerned until he redeemed himself fully in one of the last episodes: just brilliant) away at war!
Frances, Clare (Daisy Badger) and Cookie (Jacqueline Pilton) are all downtown to pick up their child evacuee from Liverpool. Isobel Reilly (Gillian Dean) is not exactly how they pictured her, for one thing, she's a woman, not a child and for another: she's blind. Frances introduces herself and explains her confusion, a disappointed Isobel moves to get back on the bus, this already happened once! She's stopped by Frances, who has no intention of giving up yet!
Our schoolteacher Teresa Fenchurch (Leanne Best) is making great progress teaching Steph how to read and write, yay! Especially since Teresa gave up the love of her life to stay there and do exactly that; I'd hate for it to be for nothing.
There are few moments in life that are so path-defining; I hope that Teresa's decision to not follow her lover to the United States doesn't mean that she won't ever open herself up to the possibility of romance. I know people weren't open about homosexuality in those days (or sometimes these days either) for good reason; I just hope she's able to make that leap because a life without ever having the courage to be one's true self is one long plod. Says someone who hasn't had to leap so should probably shut up, but you know what I mean.
Over at the Simms' residence, Pat (Claire Rushbrook - I can never get over how many CLAIRES there are on this show) is making her abusive husband Bob (Mark Bazeley from the third season of Broadchurch, I didn't much care for his character on that one, either) tea in a gorgeous china teacup, making sure to carefully stir in an extra teaspoon of the poison from the doctor's wife. Coz for sure that's what it is and BRAVA. Drink up, motherhumper!
Pat finds him slumped over his typewriter a while later, she rushes him to Dr. Campbell (Ed Stoppard) who wants to know exactly what this tonic his wife prescribed for Bob?
Erica (Frances Grey) can explain, honestly! She's put two and two together and come up with Bob being an abusive bastard, so she had Pat feed him a very dilute, VERY DILUTE dose of lithium salts to keep him calm. Aside from the fact that you can't dose people without their knowledge, it's kind of brilliant that Erica came up with feeding Bob mood stabilizers!
Frances and the gang watch Isobel try to find her way down to the fallout shelter on her own; this is attempt number four and it isn't going well. Is Frances sure she hasn't "bitten off more than she can chew?"
Laura Campbell (Leila Mimmack) is working away when her boss Richard (Philip McGinley) comes in for a snog with an invite to spend a night in a hotel the following week. She "deserves a treat." For the love of. OH and then OH and then his WIFE calls, and I need to sit down for a moment.
I'm not naive, but I'm very surprised to see that Laura is messing with and planning to throw her Flower at her Very Married Creepy Boss. I mean, back then saving yourself for marriage was a thing (a ridiculous thing, trust) and she KNOWS he's married? I guess back then it was also a thing to seize the day, as it were, being at war and all.
But Laura: disguy? Really?
And then she gets to hear him and his wife discuss her travel plans before signing off with "loves" and then he kisses HER and man. She has to be feeling hella conflicted right now.
Conscientious Objector Spencer (Mike Noble) finds his bike has been tarred and feathered by an unruly mob (well, English unruly mob, so they quietly call him a coward and ask him politely how he sleeps at night); former paramour Jenny (Jodie Hamblet) makes a point of shouting directly in his face about how disappointing he is. Claire watches but doesn't do anything.
Unlikely ally Joyce Cameron (Francesca Annis) stops all that nonsense; she won't have an angry mob braying at poor Spencer's back. There's an interesting juxtaposition of a one-legged man on crutches behind her as she's speaking, but he doesn't speak and we never know if that was to highlight his bravery as a contrast to Spencer refusing to have one of his legs shot off like a Man.
JUST as Nick and Sarah are smiling at each other across his lovely prepared meal, in comes Reverend Collingborne, SURPRISE! Yaayyyyyyyy: is what Nick and Sarah's faces look like; they're on the floor but Adam doesn't seem to notice. I'm just picturing how this meal is going to go:
Hey, what's for supper? Well, there's this fantastic meal I just cooked platonically for your wife, EVEN THOUGH I HAVE A PENIS! That I was maybe thinking of showing her quite a bit later on, dig in, lots for everyone!
Claire's come to see Spencer under the cover of darkness, totally coincidental I'm sure but she has to get past his extremely protective mother first. You know, Claire: you should just go now. You don't want to end up with that as a mother in law. She doesn't even listen to me! Instead she goes off on a trip with Spencer to find out why he won't fight.
His dad was in the last war; he committed suicide while in battle because he could not deal with the fact that he had killed people. Spencer doesn't want to kill anyone; he signed up as an auxiliary fire fighter and instead. If people don't respect that, it's on them. He's glad he got to tell her, anyway, and now he's off again.
The good reverend and Sarah are off to expend energy first thing in the morning, but upstairs, they're not French. Hahahahahaha what does that MEAN??
Teresa gets a much more unwelcome surprise; her lover's ship has been sunk by enemy torpedoes.
Richard just couldn't wait until the following week to take Laura to dinner, oh and that went by the wayside anyway, but he booked a room at that hotel for the afternoon! Guess who sees them leaving together with lots of meaningful and reassuring arm squeezes? NO, GUESS??!! I'd put money that is the lovely Charlotte Bowers (Elisabeth Hopper) watching her husband round up his reluctant young charge and guide her into his car. Because while Laura is willing, she's not sure either. I do not think Charlotte noticed those nuances.
Dr. Campbell has insisted that Erica tell Pat what was in the tonic and why she (totally illegally) prescribed it for Bob, it doesn't go over very well. I'm not sure if Erica expected Pat to fall on her hands and knees and thank her for looking out for her, but it goes back to a Ted Talk I watched once that explained perfectly why abused women sometimes don't seek help. Because THEY aren't being abused, of course, that's other people. They're helping a loved one through a hard time and if they could just find the magical combination to help them help themselves, everything would be fine!
There's also a lot of shame associated with being thought a victim, Pat's "WHO HAVE YOU BEEN TALKING TO??" is an example of that fear. Pat's fine! Bob never hits her, he doesn't have moods, he's just under a lot of stress right now.
Steph completed the paperwork properly and she gets to keep the farm, yay!
Teresa is recovering at home with Alison (Fenella Woolgar), who brings her tea and sympathy, before getting down to brass tacks. She's allowed Teresa into her home; what's the deal with this Connie, because it seems like a lot of grief for just a fellow teacher and friend. Teresa admits that she and Connie were lovers, which enrages Alison. She's got her position in the community to think about. HONESTLY
Frances tries to talk Joyce into coming to the grand opening of the air raid shelter; her influence still holds some sway in the town. Her presence might convince people to actually use the shelter and just when I had warm and fuzzies about how these two are being all civil: I see that Joyce is still maneuvering.
Frances comes 'round to see how Miriam is getting on and drop off some gloves; she's disturbed to see that Miriam has been writing the same message to all the Friendless Soldiers. Essentially: stay safe and her home to your mother which makes excellent sense for HER, not so much for Frances, who's been writing to grown men who are soldiers and expected to go and root out danger.
Miriam hits back with an unexpected low blow; child-free Frances wouldn't understand. Oh but she does, don't you dare presume and another thing: these cannot go out from the Women's Institute because as much as Miriam does care, she is not actually their mother. All the tears for poor Miriam, AND Frances.
Oh goodness. Pat's had enough of being treated like a doormat; she finally gives Bob whatfor and runs upstairs to pack, she hates who he has turned her into! The whole time I was shouting internally "NOOOOOO, PACK FIRST!!! You can't get an abuser mad and then run AWAY from an exit!!!" But Bob isn't just a purveyor of physical abuse, he turns the screw on Pat's eroded sense of self-worth and beats her down that way. Go, Pat!
That was a hard scene to watch. In the end, Pat doesn't leave, but she's taken the first step, and once the freedom machine has been put in motion, it always outs. There are just a lot of fits and starts along the way.
Alison stops to visit her deceased husband's memorial; is she thinking about how unfair it is that Teresa will never be able to publicly acknowledge and mourn her lost love the same way? BECAUSE I SURE AM.
Kate is still locked deep in her sorrow, Joyce sees her standing outside the house that was to be Kate and Jack's first marital abode, red-eyed and drawn. The occupant of the house seems angry; this must not be the first time Kate's stopped and stared at what might have been. Surprisingly, Joyce offers Kate the first kind words we've seen thus far; she lost her son to Canada fifteen years ago (sorry!) and even though she thought she wouldn't be able to carry on, life found her again. She suggests Kate let life find her again, later on, beautiful words: "life will seek you out, and seep through once more." I really thought Kate would be pregnant by now, that would be life seeping in, wouldn't it?
I know it also doesn't compare but I wonder about that with divorce sometimes; will anything ever feel normal again and not fraught? They do tell me that dawn follows night, sure as spades, so.
Alison gets home to find Teresa packed to leave; she won't intrude on Alison's kindness any longer and she wouldn't want to put her in any hot water. Alison repeats something her George would have said: it could never be a sin to love someone. Amen, sister.
Oh but Teresa isn't the only one with a secret; Alison and George weren't married. In fact, they fell in love when he was married to someone else, who refused to grant him a divorce. They did the only option open to them: presented themselves as married and kept the truth to themselves.
Alison doesn't want Teresa to go; and neither does Boris! As long as she's as good a secret-keeper as Alison is, she'd love to have her companionship.
Miriam's exhausted and hasn't slept since David left; Dr. Campbell would like to run some tests just to make sure everything is okay. Now Miriam and I are worried about Miriam too.
Ah look, Joyce DID make it to the grand opening of the Greater Paxford Air Raid Shelter, yay! And just in time, because the sirens are going off and this is not a drill, folks. Step lively into the shelter! Oh but Joyce can't; she's claustrophobic and on the verge of an anxiety attack at the thought of being trapped underground with all those other people.
It's blind Liverpool evacuee Isobel who helps Joyce; "take my hand and follow me to safety."
Claire knows that Spencer won't be making his way into this very public shelter; she runs off to his house to beg him to return with her. When he demurs and tries to send her away, she kisses him, "I want to be with you!" He kisses her back and pushes her inside. Awww!
The close quarters in the shelter are making for interesting bedfellows; Little Stan Farrow (Brian Fletcher) approaches Laura, he won't say anything about what he saw but boy, he'd sure like to talk about it first. Laura shuts him down hard and I can't help but wonder if that wasn't a great idea, calling someone a little boy, especially when that little boy has direct knowledge of your affair with a married man.
Dr. Campbell asks Erica about Pat's reaction to the truth; he's worried that they could lose everything if Pat presses charges or tells anyone. Erica thinks it's contained, but Dr. Campbell starts to cough and everyone stares. He's coughing up blood now, goodness, not much time there, Doctor. And we're out
Next time I see we've got Sarah and Nick kissing, I legit gasped then oooooooh'ed. I'll be clear; I'm not encouraging anyone to cheat on their spouse, just appreciating their palpable chemistry. And he cooks!
This was a particularly messy episode, everyone and their cousin's neighbour is knocking boots with someone attached to another, I have to wonder if it's that wartime anxiety. You just don't know if you'll live another day, maybe that relaxed some traditionally rigid expectations of behaviour. So many secret keepers on our watch.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if life was uncomplicated and people only fell in love with who they were supposed to and everything worked out in a neat little package that everyone could stamp with their approval? Sounds groovy and completely impossible. Love is love.
Of course the main theme of this episode is the secrets we all carry, from forbidden love to the love who must not be speaketh of to fear. Joyce's secret claustrophobia, hidden no doubt because of her outwardly domineering exterior shows us what MOST secrets are about: fear. Fear of non-acceptance, of rejection, of societal disapproval. LOVE EVERYONE! DO THAT!
Until next time! Cheers