Level 16 is the last step before the girls in the boarding school where they’ve lived all their lives graduate to placements with good families. This independent Canadian drama is a mix of sci-fi and horror. Danishka Esterhazy wrote and directed the drama, which you can see on Netflix.Continue reading “Level 16, obedience won’t save you”
“Things Which Have Never Yet Been Done” is episode 9 of season 2 of Orphan Black. The stakes are raised to the highest level for Cosima and Kira. Story wires stretched to breaking characterize the episode.
Allison (Tatiana Maslany, one of many) and Donnie (Kristian Bruun) provide some comic relief in a fairly dark episode by deciding to jackhammer up the garage floor and bury Leekie. Allison turns out to be handy with a jackhammer. Midway through the burial operation, Vic (Michael Mando) arrives talking bullshit about recovery. When Allison chases him off, he goes outside and climbs into a big, black police van.
Vic comes back later and peers into the garage windows. Donnie grabs him and threatens him with Allison’s pistol. Since becoming an accidental murderer who buries bodies in his garage, Donnie has learned how to put a pistol on safety and he’s grown a pair. He takes Vic out to the van where Detective Deangelis (Inga Cadranel) is lurking. He tells them to stop harassing his wife and takes a photo of them together while threatening to get Deangelis fired for her behavior.
When a filthy Allison and Donnie put the finishing touches on the wet concrete in the garage floor, Donnie draws a heart in it. Allison admits, “I’m more attracted to you than I’ve ever been.” Hiding murder victims is a bonding experience for the happy couple who “do it nasty” on the big chest freezer where once Leekie turned to ice.
Meanwhile back at the Prolethean compound, Henrik (Peter Outerbridge) is shooting fertilized eggs into Helena’s cervix with what looks like the same long metal tube he uses on cows. The nurse who helps with the implant, Alexis, is played by Kathryn Alexandre. This is the first time we’ve seen her face, although Kathryn Alexandre has been working hard on every episode of Orphan Black because she’s Tatiana’s double whenever more than one clone is in a scene. Hello there, Kathryn, love your work.
After the fertilization, Alexis takes Helena to the nursery. Helena bonds instantly with one of the children. She listens to Henrik tell a story, after which Alexis tells the children it’s naptime. When the little girl Helena bonded with lingers to feel Helena’s hair, Alexis is cruel to her. Helena shoves Alexis against a door frame and promises to gut her like a fish if she ever does anything like that again. Helena once knew a nun who was mean like that – I’m guessing that particular nun has trouble seeing these days.
Henrik tells Mark (Ari Millen) that he is expected to marry Gracie (Zoé De Grand Maison) and be a father to the babies she will bear. There’s also a military connection with Mark, who turns out to be AWOL.
We see Gracie, feet in stirrups, with Henrik peering into his own daughter’s vagina and implanting his own babies in her as hymns play in the background. Hymns. Not Gracie’s babies. Henrik and Helena’s babies. Gross in so many ways.
Gracie and Helena bunk in the same room while the eggs are taking hold and Helena learns that Gracie is carrying her babies. Mark comes in and Helena says, “You love her like puppy but you let him make her brood mare.”
Helena and Gracie decide to run away. Henrik stops them. Helena grabs Henrik while Mark and Gracie run. Helena straps Henrik to the same table where she and Gracie just were. Henrik’s feet are bound to the stirrups and his arms are bound to the bed. Helena does something to Henrik with the long metal rod used for inseminations. He doesn’t like it a bit, but Helena gets a good laugh out of it. Funny how men think they can do anything they want with women’s bodies, but when the situation is reversed they scream bloody murder. Then Helena sets the whole compound on fire and takes off.
Cosima grows sicker and sicker. She’s wearing an oxygen tube and coughing constantly.
Sarah can see during a Skype call how badly Cosima is doing. She realizes how crucial Kira is to saving Cosima.
In the Dyad lab, Duncan (Andrew Gillies) is there as Scott (Josh Vokey) puts together a bastardized computer system to read the old floppy disks. Duncan has the keys to decrypt the data in his head, and he’s only revealing the keys to the parts of the puzzle they need to help Cosima. He refuses to let them have it all, which is a good thing since nobody at Dyad can be trusted. Cosima watches. And coughs.
Rachel, Delphine, and Sarah
Rachel plays Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) like a master manipulator. She calls her in and makes her interim director in Leekie’s old job. She assures her, “We need to convince Sarah we have no designs beyond that treatment,” and sends her to Mrs. S’s place to once again plead for bone marrow from Kira.
Rachel goes into a dark room where a martini waits. It is a ritual she’s reenacting. She watches old videos of her loving family, her happy childhood. She laughs, she cries, she slaps her own face and mutters.
Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy), Benjamin (Julian Richings), Felix (Jordan Gavaris), Sarah, and Kira (Skyler Wexler) continue to hang at Mrs. S’s house. Mrs. S knows a clinic, not Dyad, where they could take the bone marrow. They ask Kira if she is willing to do it. She says yes.
All of them head for the clinic. When Delphine returns to Dyad with the bone marrow, she finds Rachel has been using her office. On her computer she sees something about Benjamin and Dyad. Delphine returns to the clinic, calls Sarah out to her car to speak without being overheard, and tells her about Benjamin.
Inside the clinic, Sarah enters and picks up Kira to carry her away. When Felix intervenes, she drugs him and we realize it’s Rachel disguised as Sarah. Seconds later the real Sarah reenters the clinic and Mrs. S snaps to what’s going on. It’s too late. Rachel’s taken Kira.
Delphine tells Cosima what she’s done, how she was played. At least we now realize where Delphine’s true loyalties lay.
The episode’s final scene explains Rachel’s internal tantrum from the last episode after she found out she was barren by design. It explains her ritualized watching of videos from her own childhood. The scene of her crazy sex life was a mere warmup glimpse into Rachel’s warped mind. Rachel is dangerously wacko.
Kira wakes up in a pink room. Far too pink. Rachel introduces herself and Kira withdraws from her. Rachel is the first clone Kira has been afraid of. Kira is cognizant of things that no one else gets, so her cringing away from Rachel says a lot. Rachel assures Kira that she will grow to like it there, just as Rachel herself did.
What Do We Know?
We ended season 1 with Kira missing. Surely we won’t end season 2 the same way. My fingers are crossed that Kira is rescued from Rachel’s mad clutches and Cosima is on the way to healing before season 2 ends. That wouldn’t leave much tension to pull us into season 3, however. Since I do want a season 3, I must accept the idea of a cliffhanger in the final episode. I just don’t want that cliffhanger to involve Kira or Cosima. How about it, Orphan Black, can you pull that writing feat off for me?
We know for sure that the Proletheans and Project Leda were somehow aware of each other, that Mrs. S was aware of both from the start. We don’t know what the military connection is yet, but there is one. We don’t know who or what the ferryman that Carlton mentioned a few episodes ago is. I’m almost 100% sure that Mrs. S is on Sarah’s side, on Kira’s side. And I’m almost 100% sure that Delphine values Cosima over Dyad.
It’s that almost that worries me.
The Francis Bacon quote for this episode is from The New Organon or True Directions Concerning the Interpretation of Nature
It would be an unsound fancy and self-contradictory to expect that things which have never yet been done can be done except by means which have never yet been tried.
The Orphan Black episode “Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est” begins in Rachel’s bloody apartment. Daniel’s body litters the floor, Helena’s signature art drawn in blood decorates the walls. Dr. Leakie (Matt Frewer) thinks Rachel (Tatiana Maslany) should take a kinder, gentler approach to the situation. She thinks not.Continue reading “Orphan Black: Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est”
The tension sizzles, everyone is sinister, and we don’t know who to trust in “Governed As It Were By Chance,” episode 4 of season 2 of Orphan Black. Everything ahead is a spoiler, but the story is not described in the order in which it happened.
The episode begins at the car wreck. Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) walks away with Cal (Michiel Huisman), leaving Daniel (Matthew Bennett) behind for dead. She hides the wrecked car under some brush with Daniel still inside.
Cal, for unexplained reasons (which makes him suspicious as hell), has a camper that isn’t registered in his name. Cal, Sarah, and Kira (Skyler Wexler) head off in it. Sarah trusts him, at least for now.
Sarah stops in at Mrs. S’s place. Felix (Jordan Gavaris) just happens to be there. They dig through old photos and scrapbooks and find clues about Susan and Ethan Duncan – as in Rachel Duncan’s parents – who are the people in the Project Leda photo. They also find photos of Carlton, the man who brought Sarah to Siobhan in the beginning. As they leave, the basement door opens and we realize someone has been listening.
Later, Sarah has a Skype conversation with Cosima. She shares her new intel and Cosima promises to investigate. Before Sarah called, Cosima was rewatching the videos of Jennifer’s slow death. She has to break off the call from Sarah quickly to hide her own tubercular-sounding cough and her own declining health.
Sarah wants to go to Rachel’s place. She gets Cal to agree to watch Kira.
Detective Art Bell (Kevin Hanchard) is hanging about outside the Prolethean compound taking photos. He cannot see inside, but we see Helena wake up. She remembers vague snatches of the strange wedding. Gracie (Zoé De Grand Maison) tries to smother her. Helena overpowers her and runs off. She passes through a lab on her way out and remembers something being “taken out of her.” The look of distaste on her face as she recalls being in the lab suggests sensibilities in Helena that we haven’t seen before. Outside, Helena runs past Art Bell. He realizes who she is and delays the men who chase her, allowing her to get a head start.
Allison’s story is interspersed with these events. She’s in rehab, where Felix tells her she went voluntarily. Allison remembers nothing. She broke her arm when she fell from the stage; she’s a mess. Felix thinks rehab will be good for her and help her get her dignity back. Plus, dear daddy Donnie (Kristian Bruun) shows up and threatens to take the kids away if she doesn’t stay. Allison will be peeing a cup for a few days while everyone else is in mortal peril.
Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) searches out Carlton. Carlton is played by Roger Cross, who must be the busiest actor in Canada – he’s in absolutely everything. Carlton just got out of jail for human trafficking. Siobhan is very happy to see him. She looks him over with an expression of pure lust, kisses him, unbuttons his shirt, tugs at his belt, and they get it on standing up in a hallway outside the men’s room where she found him. Why, Mrs. S, we hardly knew you.
Later they sit down for a pint and a talk. We learn that Mrs. S was in the know on Project Leda, that she’s known Sarah was a clone from the start. Makes me wonder if Felix is a clone and we just haven’t been told yet. Carlton mentions someone called The Ferryman, who will no doubt be important later.
Sarah talks to Cosima and Felix, who have news to share. Rachel’s parents were geneticists doing DNA research. Cosima tells Sarah the Greek myth about Leda. The god Zeus, in the form of a swan, seduces (or rapes) Leda. According to Greek mythology, Leda bore the half-human, half-gods Helen and the twins Castor and Pollux.
Through some smooth tricks, Sarah gets in Rachel’s empty apartment. She’s watching videos of Rachel with her loving parents when the left-for-dead Daniel walks in. He straps Sarah to the plumbing and is about to cut her throat with a straight razor when Helena comes in and makes a bloody mess of him. He’s really dead this time.
The sight of a not-dead Helena terrifies Sarah more than anything she’s endured up to this point. Helena addresses her as sister, says she followed her there from their mother’s house (meaning Mrs. S’s) and advances toward her.
Helena wants not to stab her sister with the huge bloody knife, but to give her a full body hug of hello. Helena is surprising in this episode – smarter than she’s seemed before in ways that show both intelligence and self-awareness. Her willingness to embrace the twin who put a bullet in her just a few days ago is also a surprise.
As the episode ends, we see that Henrik (Peter Outerbridge) took an egg from Helena, which is now fertilized and growing in a Petri dish. Big news: Sarah is not the only fertile clone. I imagine the sperm was Henrik’s, since he pictures himself as the godlike swan in Helena’s story.
The quote from Francis Bacon for this episode:
The spirit of man is in fact a thing variable and full of perturbation, and governed as it were by chance.
This episode of Orphan Black, “Mingling Its Own Nature With It” starts with Sarah (Tatiana Maslany), Kira (Skyler Wexler), and Felix (Jordan Gavaris) sleeping in the woods in the stolen truck. We see Sarah struggle to find safety for Kira, Allison crack under pressure, Cosima do an autopsy on a new clone, and Helena get married. What an episode!
The clones each conducted their own lives without mixing together much in this episode, so I’ll summarize the stories clone by clone.
Sarah, Kira, and Felix make the mistake of stealing food from a convenience store in order to feed Kira. This puts a local cop and Rachel’s henchman Daniel (Matthew Bennett) on their trail. Sarah leads Felix to a house in the woods, seemingly empty, where they break in to spend the night. The homeowner shows up and turns out to be Cal (Michiel Huisman), who knows Sarah. Kira, in her prescient way, pegs him immediately with an, “Are you my dad?”
Yes, he is Kira’s dad, and even though Sarah stole $10,000 and his car the last time she was there, Cal lets them stay.
Sarah tries to explain to Kira why she was gone so much, and Kira talks about Mrs. S protecting them and comments that she likes Cal’s beard. Women from Nashville and every other show Michiel Huisman is on fall for his unkempt, bearded look – now even Kira likes it – I guess I should give up wishing he’d get a shave and a haircut.
Felix sees what’s going on and decides there is no place for him there. He leaves to be with Allison at her theater performance.
When the local cop shows up, Sarah is ready to take Kira and go.
Cal says, “Can’t you stop running for a minute?” and the look on Sarah’s face tells a story of wanting to do just that. They end up in bed together. (She must like the beard, too.) Their idyllic morning after is interrupted by the arrival of Daniel who tries to grab Kira, shoots the local cop, and leaves with Sarah driving the car at gunpoint. Kira is with Cal. Daniel making off with Sarah comes at the very end of the episode. The big cliffhanger is that they are t-boned on the road – a hit to the passenger side where Daniel sits – and we don’t know what happens to either of them.
Allison snipes at Donnie (Kristian Bruun) now that she knows he’s her monitor. The guy will never get any again, I can promise you that. She’s drinking and popping pills. She calls Cosima, but Cosima cannot do much to help her because of her own drama.
Detective Angie Deangelis (Inga Cadranel) simply won’t drop the case, as her partner Art (Kevin Hanchard) keeps telling her to. Angie stalks Allison, trying to befriend her and get information from her. Allison thinks she’s another monitor. Angie admits to being a cop and Allison and tells her to get lost. Detective Deangelis is going to prove to be a wild card in this story, I predict, because she’s relentless in her quest to find out more about Sarah and her former cop friend Beth, and because she’s the mama succubus – oh, wait, wrong show for a succubus.
By the night of the community theater performance of “Blood Ties,” Allison’s spaced out on pills and booze. She can’t remember her lines or sing in tune. (Tatiana Maslany is a pretty good singer if the few notes of real singing we hear are any indication.) Allison falls off the stage at Donnie’s feet and gets taken to the hospital.
Cosima and Jennifer
Cosima follows Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) into Dr. Leekie’s office, where she does a killer imitation of Matt Frewer’s Dr. Leekie by threatening to put an electric eel in a tank so Dr. Leekie will come along and say, “Great Scott! I’ve created life.” A hilarious moment in a very serious episode. The fact that Tatiana Maslany can do a perfect imitation of Matt Frewer reveals something about why she is so masterful at creating so many different women in Orphan Black.
Delphine has other things on her mind. She brought Cosima there to show her videos of another clone, Jennifer Fitzsimmons, teacher and swim coach at Sheldon High, who made a video diary of her illness after polyps were found on her lungs. Delphine says Jennifer was the first clone to show symptoms. When Cosima asks how Jennifer is, Delphine says she died 3 days ago. Cosima is the only clone who knows about Jennifer at this point (unless Rachel does). Cosima watches every video, horrified, seeing Jennifer slowly die of exactly what she herself has.
Delphine and Cosima do an autopsy on Jennifer’s body to try to understand more about the auto-immune disease that apparently killed her. Cosima is partly terrified of cutting into a woman with her face, and partly clear about needing to understand the biology of what’s going on in the clone’s bodies.
Helena is still in bad shape, but recovered enough to sit up in bed and talk to Gracie Johanssen (Zoé De Grand Maison), Henrik’s (Peter Outerbridge) daughter. Gracie is not with her dad’s program to fertilize and breed Helena. She’s another wild card who may gum up the works later on. Her dad thinks he has Gracie under his control, but he may be in for a surprise.
Henrik has Helena dressed in a white wedding dress, even though she lays in bed stupified by drugs, and marries her in a strange ceremony involving tying their hands together with ribbons while talking about God’s will. Then Henrik carries his bride off to begin his fertilization program. Helena is too drugged to fight back. If she ever gets clear headed, Henrik better watch out. At this point, we have no idea what Henrik has in mind as a fertilization technique. We did see him artificially inseminate a cow in the last episode.
The title is another quote from Francis Bacon:
“The human understanding is like a false mirror, which, receiving rays irregularly, distorts and discolors the nature of things by mingling its own nature with it”
Francis Bacon, Sr. quotes (English Lawyer and Philosopher. 1561-1626)
All photos by Steve Wilkie via IMDB
Episode 2 of season 2 of Orphan Black, “Governed by Sound Reason and True Religion,” launches a brand new day, to quote the new character Henrik. New plot lines, new characters, and new developments everywhere you look. I’m going to mention a few key points.
One of the more interesting developments in this episode is the expansion of Mrs. S’s (Maria Doyle Kennedy) character. I’ve been eager to learn more about the mysterious Mrs. S, partly because Maria Doyle Kennedy is such a strong actor with a very strong persona and we haven’t seen behind the curtain on her very much. In this episode, we learn she can be a stone-cold killer and that she will do just about anything to protect Kira (Skyler Wexler). It’s also looking a bit like Mrs. S. might be Sarah’s monitor and that she has known about Sarah since her birth.
Skyler Wexler is a terrific choice as Sarah’s daughter. Physically she and Tatiana Maslany look enough alike to be convincing as mother and daughter. Skyler Wexler is as precocious as an actor as Kira is as a character. There’s something special about Kira, we don’t know what yet, but she has an unusual ability to see things and understand things.
The religious group called Prolethians seem in on the clone secret as well. Peter Outerbridge joins the cast as Henrik Johanssen, the leader of the Prolethians. Religious leadership aside, he’s also a stone-cold killer. Helena is snatched from her hospital bed and taken to the farm where the group lives. As she’s recovering from her wounds, we learn that the reason she survived the gunshot is that she is a mirror – all her organs are on the reverse side from that of her twin Sarah. Helena’s heart is on her right side, not her left.
Cosima joins Dyad where she gets her own lab. As she’s setting it up, she meets the clone Rachel for the first time. Rachel wants her to figure out why Sarah is different from the rest of the clones – meaning why Sarah can have children. Rachel seemed surprised to learn that Cosima is a lesbian. Her reaction to catching Cosima and Delphine in a kiss felt a bit off to me. She should have known already because she knows that Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) is Cosima’s monitor and how Delphine managed to get close to Cosima. This is one of the first off moments I’ve noticed in the writing of this series, unless it’s foreshadowing something about the clones that Rachel knows but none of the rest of us know.
Allison finds out at Aynsley’s (Natalie Lisinska) funeral that her husband Donnie (Kristian Bruun) has been her monitor all along because she reads his text messages. This means she let Aynsley die a gruesome death by garbage disposal for no reason. Neither of these pieces of information are sitting well with Allison who is popping pills and downing drinks in a paroxysm of guilt. Methinks Donnie better be careful, too – like maybe he shouldn’t wear a scarf in the kitchen.
We learn about a program called Project Leda in this episode, which may be where all the clones originated. Sarah knows about it and apparently so does Mrs. S.
With Project Leda, the Prolethians, and the neolutionists from the Dyad Institute, we have three potential sources of danger for the clones. Are they all bad guys?
Much of the episode is about Sarah’s search for Kira. By the end of the episode, Sarah manages to get Kira back, collect Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and make ready to run.
An interesting side note on the title of this episode. According to Entertainment Weekly, the title is a quote from Francis Bacon’s book The New Organon: Or, True Directions Concerning the Interpretation of Nature. The book, written in 1620, is an early reflection on nature, science and religion.
Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy will premier in the U.S. on the Reelz Channel on Memorial Day, May 26. The Canadian drama about women working in a munitions factory during World War II began as a TV series. The two hour movie Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy is the completion of the tale.
The film is set in 1943 as the Battle for the Atlantic rages and the demand for bombs from the women working at Victory Munitions is at its highest. The press release from Reelz Channel explains:
Under constant pressure to turn out more bombs, as well as work on a new secret sonar line, the women of Victory Munitions band together in a tight bond of support and friendship. But when a disturbing menace appears in the form of a saboteur among the factory workers, Gladys Witham (Jodi Balfour), a fiery young woman from privilege, is covertly recruited by Allied Intelligence to find the traitor, forcing her to spy on her best friends, co-workers and fellow agents and call into question everyone and everything she trusts. Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy also stars Oscar(R)-nominee and Golden Globe(R)-winner Meg Tilly as Lorna Corbett, Charlotte Hegele as Kate Andrews, Ali Liebert as Betty McRae, Anastasia Phillips as Vera Burr, Antonio Cupo as Marco Moretti, Peter Outerbridge as Bob Corbett, Michael Seater as Ivan Buchinsky, Jamie Elman as Jakob Berman, and Catherine Berube as Helen Buchinsky.
The press release didn’t mention Tahmoh Penikett, but I’m sure he’s going to be in the cast of the movie since he’s the fellow from Allied Intelligence who recruits Gladys.
Sundays are for watching Bomb Girls on Reelz
Set your DVRs, people. Reelz will run the original TV series in full as well. Announced times for that are:
- Sunday, April 13: Season 1- episodes 1-3 starting at 11am ET
- Sunday, April 20: Season 1- episodes 4-6 starting at 11am ET
- Sunday, April 27: Season 2- episodes 1-3 starting at 11am ET
- Sunday, May 4: Season 2- episodes 4-6 starting at 11am ET
- Sunday, May 11: Season 2- episodes 7-9 starting at 11am ET
- Sunday, May 18: Season 2- episodes 10-12 starting at 11am ET
- Saturday, May 24: Season 1- all six episodes air back to back starting at 11am ET
- Sunday, May 25: Season 2- episodes 1-6 air back to back starting at 11am ET
- Monday, May 26: Season 2- episodes 7-12 air back to back starting at 3pm ET
Bomb Girls was a Canadian series, canceled after 2 seasons. It was a WWII story about women who worked in a bomb factory called Victory Munitions. It ran in Canada on Global TV and in the U.S. on Reelz. It’s available on Netflix.
The show had a huge and enthusiastic following. After it was cancelled, a #savebombgirls campaign started on social media, especially Twitter, lobbying for a movie. The campaign worked!
Here’s a report from The Star, Bomb Girls return with TV movie.
The original cast, including Jodi Balfour, Charlotte Hegele, Ali Liebert and Canadian Screen Award-winning actress Meg Tilly, are all back for the movie, which is set in spring 1943. The workers at Victory Munitions are tasked with making newly developed sonar equipment, but there may be a saboteur in their midst.
To celebrate the upcoming TV movie, I decided to rewatch the entire series on Netflix. I am up to season 2, episode 6, “Where There’s Smoke,” which is the episode these screen shots came from since that’s what I was about to watch when I started writing this post.
The series focuses mainly on a few of the many women who work at Victory Munitions. They are led by Meg Tilly as Lorna Corbett. Meg Tilly so seldom appears in movies or on TV, and she is so wonderful when she does. It’s worth watching this series just to see her in action.
Lorna has grown children – played by Natasha Greenblatt and Brett Dier – and a husband crippled by his service in “the great war,” WWI. The husband is wonderfully played by Peter Outerbridge. Brett Dier does a great job as the son, a tail gunner home from the war to go on a Victory Bond tour as a hero, but he suffers from what we now call PTSD.
Lorna is the “floor matron” and mother hen to all the young women who come away from their former lives to work in the bomb factory.
Part of the story deals with the fear and ostracism of Italian and German Canadians who were sent to camps as soon as Canada entered the war. Lorna’s character is involved with trying to get a particular Italian, Marco (Antonio Cupo) fired from the bomb factory as a security risk. Marco is a handsome Italian and is a temptation to Lorna as well as several other women in the story. I don’t want to give you any spoilers about Marco, but he is important to many storylines in Bomb Girls.
The theme of prejudice and bigotry appears in other ways in Bomb Girls, with German POW’s, Italian internment camps, Japanese-American soldiers, and an Indian doctor that Lorna’s daughter falls in love with.
Jodi Balfour plays the rich Gladys Witham. Her parents own Witham Foods, an important supplier of rations to the soldiers. Gladys is engaged to an American (Sebastian Pigott) who her father (James McGowan) is bringing into the company. When America, enters the war, Gladys’ fella enlists.
Gladys is a rebel and wants to work in the factory, on the floor, making bombs. She does this, although it causes a lot of family conflict. She becomes friends with the other girls who work on the floor. She also rebels against the sexual standards of the day in ways that her parents think “could ruin her.” She rebels against her parents view of the war as a great opportunity to make huge profits. If one member of the cast could fill the role of what modern women were set to become after the war, Gladys would fit the bill.
Tahmoh Penikett joins the cast as factory security head toward the end of season 2 and gets Gladys involved in security. This storyline apparently continues in the movie, because Tahmoh Penikett is in the movie and the mention of saboteurs would fit his and Gladys’ part of the story.
Charlotte Hegele is Kate, a runaway from her oppressive and abusive father. She’s using an assumed name and trying to find a new life. She’s a wonderful singer and performs a number of songs as the stories unfold.
One of the times Kate performs, she’s part of a trio doing a jingle for Victory Munitions. In those days, women’s trios all sounded like The Andrews Sisters, but Kate also sings jazz, religious songs, and ballads.
Kate spends a lot of time hiding her real identity and name, a habit which causes her problems when she finds a steady boyfriend.
Kate and Betty (Ali Liebert) live in the same rooming house, work the same shift at the factory, and soon become fast friends. Betty’s feelings for Kate run to love, not friendship. Kate is not able to return Betty’s feelings in the way Betty wishes she would, which causes some conflict between them. Even so, Betty is very protective of Kate and helps her escape from her father for good.
One of Betty’s ploys to try to fit in at the factory was to have a boyfriend – a very unsatisfactory relationship for her. About midway through season 2, episode 6 to be exact, Betty meets a soldier named Teresa (Rachel Wilson) who makes it plain very quickly that she understands Betty’s sexual inclinations and shares them.
When Betty is with Teresa, she finally has her first sexual experience that feels right to her. Betty is what might have been called “a tough cookie” in the 40s, yet she is complex and vulnerable in surprising ways.
Anastasia Phillips as Vera is the final major female character in the story. She is injured while working the line and has a terrible scar.
The scar affects Vera’s self-esteem in interesting ways – it brings her near suicide, but she comes out of it. She uses sex to help heal herself on the inside as the scar heals on the outside. In her job at the factory, it turns out she’s really smart and capable and she ends up bringing all sorts of good ideas to Victory Munitions. Vera is the kind of woman who probably went on to run a business of her own after the war.
Themes of friendship and feminism permeate the stories in Bomb Girls. All of the women in Bomb Girls teach each other lessons and offer each other strength. They also teach their male bosses, boyfriends, and families exactly how vital and important women are to the war effort. It was an exciting time for women in Canada and everywhere, and their stories explain how women’s early steps into feminism and the workplace happened.
Rosie O’Donnell does a turn as a newspaper reporter who inspired Lorna to ask for raises for herself and the girls, making equal pay another theme in the series.
You may not be old enough to remember how things looked and sounded in the 40s, but I am. The details in Bomb Girls in costuming and sets and props and music and radio broadcasts and magazines and every other way are perfect. And all those women’s hats! It’s a complete treat to watch just for the way it looks and sounds.
If you haven’t watched this series about women’s lives during a pivotal period of history, I think you’ll enjoy checking it out.