Sunday, December 04, 2016

Foyle's War 4.1 - Invasion

Plot: The Americans have arrived in England, and not everyone is happy to see them. Like David Barrett, a local farmer whose land has been requisitioned and is in the process of being turned into an airfield by Captain Kiefer and his engineering unit. On top of that, Barrett has a nephew he looks after, Ben, who is serving on convoy duty out near Iceland. He's engaged to Susan Davies, but Susan has been seeing one of the Americans, a James Taylor, and seems to have gotten in a family way, much to Taylor's surprise and dismay. On top of that, Milner had been having a drink with a war comrade home on leave at the pub where Susan works. They say their goodbyes, although Jack isn't finished drinking yet. He eventually staggers home to his father's, but that night, the blanket in his room catches on fire from a stray spark, and Jack is somehow unable to find the key sitting on the table right next to his bed to let himself out of his room. Perhaps all those hushed conversations between Susan and her boss, Mr. Carter, had something to do with it.

As for Foyle, he gets dragged into the mix with the Americans because of David Barrett's hostility, and then Captain Kiefer asks Foyle to give a talk to his men about England, help them not feel so lost. Which is the start of a friendship between the two men, which includes fishing and sharing of alcohol. A friendship which will immediately be put to the test when the Americans host a dance at their quarters for the locals, and Susan Davies is found strangled there. With Taylor's dog tags in her hand. On top of all that, another soldier, Joe Farnetti, tries to chat up Sam, and fails repeatedly, as have so many chaps before him who thought they were charming as all get-out. Farnetti's luck turns when Sam gets a letter from Andrew, stating he's met someone else, and she figures there's no reason not to accept an invite to the dance. Problem being, she doesn't explain the situation to Foyle, which creates some tension in the workplace.

Quote of the Episode: David Barrett - 'The Yanks, nobody invited them. We can with the war without them.'

Does Foyle go fishing? Yes, with Captain Kiefer. Unfortunately, he lets Kiefer use his rod, in exchange for getting to try Kiefer's fancy new one. That's not a trade that works well for Foyle.

Things Sam can do: Keep giving the brushoff to guys. Survive the cold shoulder from her boss (up to a point). Not so great at the jitterbug, though.

Other: Foyle's response to that quote from Barrett was simply, 'Can we?' I mean, sure, possibly you can. The Soviets are going to have to do even more of the heavy lifting than they already did. There's a fellow in the pub at the start of the episode that opines the Americans were late to the last war, and now they're late to this one. Well, look, we have to be fashionable about this. We can't simply show up for a war at the start. We have to insist we want nothing to do with it, but send some snacks over for your friend. Then we stand outside and sing and dance and throw rocks until someone comes out and drags us inside just to shut us up.

In the opening scene, the Americans are already lost in England and have to turn around to get where they're going. Certainly bodes well, can't find their way even when people aren't shooting at them. Maybe that's why we're always late to the war, terrible sense of direction.

Phrases or references I learned today would include "Lord Haw Haw" referring to a WIlliam Joyce, who was a British Fascist who would get on the airwaves and tell Britain to roll over, give up, or in the case of this episode, consider the Americans the invading enemy rather than the Germans. Look, all we want to do is pave over your farmland so we can bring a bunch of engines of death to inaccurately bomb Germany. And Barrett references that his family's name is in the Domesday Book, a survey conducted through England and Wales in 1086 under the orders of William the Conqueror. I assume so he knew who to tax for properties.

The morning after Susan's death, the drive over there must have been really awkward for Milner, stuck in the backseat while Foyle is being abrupt with Sam. At one point, Sam mentions she did see Susan talking to Sgt. O'Conner, who isn't really a fan of the English or the war, but she didn't see much else because she was dancing. Right as she mentions dancing, Foyle noticeably shifts so he's as far away from her as possible, and gets terse with her. Sam does eventually explain about the letter, and Foyle does apologize for his behavior (and he will, in his own way, let Andrew have it when he reenters the scene, next season, I think).

Susan was fooling around with Taylor in David Barrett's barn. Which, if she was going to break things off with Ben, a letter would have been polite at the minimum, but using his uncle's barn as a hook-up spot is just extremely rude. Not the worst thing Susan did by any stretch, as she's a pretty ruthless customer, but indicative of her complete indifference to anyone else's feelings.

As it is, the episode has an undercurrent of the distance developing between parents and their children who are fighting this war. Foyle has not heard from Andrew recently, and did not get any sort of a heads up he was planning to break-up with Sam, or had done so. That gap has been in evidence before, as Andrew struggled to explain the toll it was taking on him, and Foyle, being a reserved person himself, couldn't really bridge the gap with his own war experiences. He discussed them briefly, once, but not after that. Maybe because he'd struggled to come to peace with them, and didn't want to relive them, but this left Andrew with no solid point of comparison, where he can see that it hurt his dad, but he was able to pull together and be the man Andrew knows. So it's OK to struggle, it isn't irreversible.

Beyond that, there's the brief interaction we get between Jack Perry and his father, who notes Jack's been out drinking each night of his leave, and they've barely seen each other. And Jack, kind of brushes it off with a promise that they'll see each other tomorrow. Then he locks himself in his room to drink, because he worries what his father would say, presumably. Even as his father notes to Milner that Jack never needed to hide anything from him, but Jack clearly felt some kind of reproach with the comment on his drinking. And Jack's father didn't know who Milner was, because that was a war experience for Jack, something his father wasn't privy to.

There's also Ben and David Barrett. Ben's parents were killed in a London bombing, and David tries to look after him, but misunderstands him. He wants Ben to be angry at Susan's infidelity, then fears Ben killed her. But Ben was unsurprised at the news, because he knew Susan was always looking over the next horizon, trying to find the next adventure, the next step up, and that probably wasn't going to involve him. And after months in the Atlantic, it just doesn't matter. They haven't kept in touch, she's got her plans, Ben has, something, presumably. And he doesn't really want to hang around Barrett's farm, where he ahs someone expecting him to snap back into old patterns that don't fit. There's no point in resuming an old routine, when he has to go back to sea in a week and hope he doesn't die from a torpedo.

You could add Susan to that. She wasn't fighting the war, but she had gotten a job at a chemical plant because there were places available because of the war. And the knowledge she gained there, gave her the idea of running a still, taking advantage of the lack of hard liquor available, combined with plenty of people still wanting it. Her mother still expected her to marry Ben and settle down. Her father seemed more realistic about Susan's personality, how she had big dreams, but he didn't know anywhere close to all that was going on with her, on the professional side or the personal. Things have changed rapidly for the new generation, and the previous one, while they've recognize something's happened, haven't grasped how much different things are for people they thought they knew.

2 comments:

Kelvin Green said...

Universal did a couple of Sherlock Holmes movies during WWII; they brought Holmes forward so that he was operating in the then-current era, and if you can get your head around that they work quite well. One of them -- Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror -- sees Holmes rooting out the true identity of a Lord Haw Haw analogue.

CalvinPitt said...

Kelvin: I think I've seen one those, with Basil Rathbone? I think my dad had them somewhere among his DVDs. Although the one I saw, Holmes was trying to root out a Nazi spy, maybe?