Sunday, December 25, 2016

Foyle's War 4.4 - Casualties of War

Plot: Lots to get through here. Let's start with Frank and Terry Morgan, a couple of orphaned teen fishermen who try breaking into an empty estate, only to find it isn't empty. And it's occupant, a special observer attached to the Spanish Embassy, feels he can make use of them. Or kill them, whichever. Shortly after that, there are a series of acts of sabotage in the area for Foyle to investigate. If, that is, he can keep pushy new Assistant Commissioner Parkins off his ass about this gambling ring, which Milner is already working on.

On top of that, there's a research lab in the area, run by a neighbor of Foyle's, Professor Townsend. They're working on some sort of bomb for the RAF, and having some difficulties getting the kinks ironed out, and they're up against a deadline. And part of the staff, one Evelyn Richards, has an unhappy home situation. Her husband Michael was a teacher, but most of the schools in the area were closed and the buildings turned to war purposes. So while Evelyn works as a "typist" and assistant at this lab, Michael mostly drinks, frets over whether she's having an affair with her coworker Hans, and gambles. At those same places Milner is investigating. As do Frank and Terry, flashing some pretty serious cabbage. They all end up losing, though only the teens can afford to. Milner almost loses more than money when he isn't discreet enough with his questions and Mr. Hendry has his boys jump him. Fortunately, Frank and Terry are (mostly) upstanding lads who lend a hand.

But their next assignment from Mr. Olivera de Perez involves that lab, not to mention a suitcase full of dynamite. But when they reach the lab, they see two men hauling a body out into the woods. The boys don't plant their bomb, but they do lift the corpse's wallet and i.d, because Frank figures this might be the path to getting free and clear of de Perez. Blackmail: The hip new game everyone's playing! At any rate, an old man heard the shot the night before and alerted the police, so they quickly find the body of Mr. Michael Richards. But since Milner saw him losing, and saw a couple of Hendry's men outside Richard's home when he came asking questions about Frank and Terry, that's the direction they look, initially.

On top of all this, Foyle's goddaughter Lydia showed up on his doorstep with her son James. James was in a school that got bombed, and hasn't spoken since. Lydia had been estranged from her parents over the man she eloped with, and hadn't spoken to them or Foyle in over a decade. And now her parents are dead, and she needs help, so here she is. She doesn't stay long, before opting to walk into the ocean, but does not succeed in ending her life. Of course, that leaves Foyle with this youngster to deal with, which means Sam's left to look after him. A picnic might help, if only two someones didn't decide to dispose of a bomb right near them.

Anyway, it becomes clear Hendry was not involved in the demise of Michael Richards. It also becomes clear that while Townsend and the others have been lying to the Admiralty about how important Evelyn Richards is to the whole project, she's also lying about what happened the night Michael was killed. None of which matters, because military necessity dictates Foyle can't do anything to her, or Hans. Nor can he do anything about de Perez, because immunity, and it doesn't seem like the special services will, either. Which leads to Foyle throwing up his hands and leaving the force entirely.

Quote of the Episode: de Perez - 'I only do what I do to show the war is wrong.' Frank - 'But it's not you doing it. It's Terry and me.'

Does Foyle go fishing? No, but he'll have lots of time for it going forward.

Things Sam can do: Maintain composure in the face of a belligerent assistant commissioner. Keep trying to cheer up a traumatized kid. She can't seem to avoid nearly getting blown up, though.

Other: Well, that's it for Foyle's War. Or no, there's still four more seasons. Well, this must be that controversial point when it became a fishing show, all about making your own lures. Lot of dissension in the fandom about that direction.

Sam mentions this is the third time she's been blown up, to go with that pub being bombed in the very first episode, and the flat she was renting being bombed. She left out that time she was locked in a room with a time bomb, and only narrowly rescued from it. She just attracts explosives.

Hendry is the one who finally helps Milner track down Frank and Terry, but when he asks for a little leniency, Milner leans over and tells him, 'No dice.' Oh, that's terrible, but I laughed. I'm still laughing right now, thinking about it.

It's tossed off in the rush of things Foyle tells Parkins he's sick of, but Frank and Terry are getting sentenced to years of hard labor for the acts of sabotage, while de Perez skates. As he points out, largely because the boys parents are both gone (mother deceased, father away on convoy duty), and there's no one to look after them or help support them. You'd think Foyle could at least contact Ms. Pierce and see if she could arrange to have de Perez' throat slit. I mean, arrange for him to cut himself shaving, really badly. Not Foyle's style, though.

The near-death by explosion shook James, sorry Jimmy, out of the state he was in. Which may not have been an improvement from Foyle's perspective. It took about three minutes of interacting with the more vocal version of Jimmy for Foyle to make threats about sending him to prison. And he ultimately left him in the care of the nuns looking after Lydia. One of whom threatened to backhand the kid about ten seconds after they met. She had also spent her entire initial conversation with Foyle tsk-tsking Lydia's decision. Oh, it's a mortal sin, and a crime. Let's pause here once again to appreciate the remarkable stupidity of prosecuting people for trying to commit suicide. Gee, why don't you just hang them? I bet that'll learn 'em good. Where was I? Oh, and when she learns Lydia has a son, she remarks that makes her sin even harder to forgive. Well, I can certainly see Lydia is going to make a rapid recovery under this lady's tender mercies, if only to escape them.

It's a little strange Foyle hits his limit right here, though. There was the military cock-up that led to the death of Elsie Jenkins in "Bad Blood", but that was more incompetence than any particular premeditated act (at least in terms of exposing an Englishwoman, since the Brits were presumably considering using the anthrax against the Germans). That was about 8 months ago. Before that, the idiot Captain Cornwall who kept Foyle from talking to the downed German pilots in "They Fought in the Fields", which also probably led to the death of Sabortowski. That was a 18 months ago. It seemed as though Foyle was being stymied more in the early going, but maybe the confluence of multiple instances right here, along with the sense that Lydia and James need him, is what makes it intolerable. Or the fact that a few people are getting punished for breaking the law, but not the ones doing the most harm.

There's a point, right after Foyle has taken Evelyn into custody for questioning, where Parkins shows up with Captain Boothroyd, the military liason for the project and demands her release. They march past Brooke and Sam into Foyle's office, and Sam gives this perfect contempt look at their backs. She knows nothing good is about to happen. There's also a big, when Milner is investigating Michael, he talks to one of the kids Michael home-schools, and the kid wants to know how Milner found him. He says he asked the boy's mother. The kid is visibly disappointed, having hoped it would be something more clever.

I can't quite figure how Lydia fits into this episode exactly. There are multiple kids who seem quite happy for the war to continue. The kid Milner talks to, Frank says he loves it because it makes stealing easier.. But here's James, who for part of the time is traumatized over his experiences. But he seems to bounce back. It doesn't go so well for Lydia, though, or Michael, and maybe even Foyle. So the older folks, the ones with fewer years left, it's hitting them harder than it is the kids, who presumably have more years to go. And the kids have fewer years without war to compare it to. But there's the whole thing about Lydia cutting off contact with her parents, even after her husband runs off, and then telling lies to herself and everyone else about it to justify her choices. The danger of not reconsidering actions while you still can? Frank and Terry didn't get out from under de Perez soon enough. Evelyn didn't leave Michael, or Michael didn't come to grips with the changes in his life soon enough. Things couldn't or wouldn't be taken back.

And for the record, the project being worked on is designing the bombs the RAF used to take out some German dams, which needed to be spinning inside the plane before they were dropped so they could skip across the water. And Evelyn is the one who made it happen, but she had to be listed as a secretarial assistant and let Townsend present it to get the Admiralty to even listen to the idea. I'm not sure blowing out the dams hampered the Germans as much as Townsend believes, but still a better use of airpower than Bomber Harris' indiscriminate nighttime bombing of cities.

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