Sunday, January 22, 2017

Foyle's War 6.1 - The Russian House

Plot: It's June of 1945, and Foyle is wondering why he is still Detective Chief Superintendent of the Hastings' police force (in their new, much larger, much sunnier station house). The answer, he learns, is there's no one else available, or if there is, they don't want to try and follow him. Either way, Foyle informs his bosses he will be gone in four weeks, come what may.

Still, he'll be busy. As some trucks transport prisoners through a town, two of the prisoners decide to disembark. One, Ivan Spiakov, is able to escape. The other, is not so fortunate, and chooses to jump off a bridge to his death, rather than be recaptured and sent home.  Soon, Foyle's old commanding officer, a Brigadier Wilson, now with the War Office, shows up, asking Foyle to track down this "dangerous animal" of a Russian. In the meantime, the "dangerous animal" makes his way to the home of a Sir Leonard, a notable artist who employs Ivan's friend Niko as his groundskeeper (and Sam to take care of everything inside the house). Ivan convinces Niko to get him some money, so Ivan can make it to the Russian House in London, but can't convince Niko to come along.

Still, Niko is concerned, in spite of Sir Leonard's assurances that he will adopt the 17-year-old so he can remain in England (to the consternation of Sir Leonard's estranged son, Maurice Jones, fledgling Labour Party politician). And to top things off, Sir Leonard had promised a man named Tom that his job as groundskeeper would still be there when he returned from war. Well Tom is back, didn't pick up on the cues of his brother, and, heh, surprise, no job for you. As it turns out, Sir Leonard didn't move quickly enough, because the soldiers show up for Niko, who takes to the hills, as both Maurice and Tom (with a loaded shotgun) look on. And when Sam arrives in the morning - having been away for the christening of Milner and Edie's daughter - she finds Leonard shot dead.

The murder falls in Milner's jurisdiction as the chief detective in Brighton, but just as he's getting started, here comes Foyle. Foyle's contacts have suggested that if he wants to find Ivan, he should check with Niko at Sir Leonard's. Both Foyle and Sam are somewhat taken aback by Milner's abrupt manner with them, and quickly set out for London, for the Russian House. By this point, Ivan has already been found lodging by Monsieur Duveen and his assistant, Alexander Anokhov. Then he was promptly found and arrested by the British Army. Hmm. Still, Niko is in the wind, and despite Wilson trying twice to get Foyle to give up, Foyle's locked in. Duveen isn't forthcoming, although he does a poor job of concealing that Ivan did show up there.

Sam visits the hotel Ivan was staying at, which lets her confirm it wasn't the hotel manager who tipped off the Army, as Wilson insisted to Foyle, and she meets an Adam Wainwright, who runs a struggling guesthouse back in Hastings. Or will be, if the he can get money for repairs from the unexploded bomb that fell through the roof. Really, he ought to be getting ready for Spring Training for the Cardinals, and 70 years into the future, but he has bigger problems than temporal displacement. When Foyle shows up to get Sam, a man with a silenced pistol shows up as well, and Adam catches a bullet in the shoulder. Foyle and Sam flee, find themselves cornered, and are only saved by Anokhov, who had observed Duveen meeting clandestinely with Wilson's subordinate the night before. He clues Foyle in to what Ivan and Niko feared so much, so it's time to confront Wilson. And there's still the murder of Sir Leonard to solve.

Quote of the Episode: Foyle - 'Just a question of two incidents colliding.'

Does Foyle go fishing? No, but he receives some helpful information from another fisherman.

Things Sam can do: Shopping, housekeeping, managing the household budget, convincing a young man to confess his actions.

Other: Maurice is pronounced "Morris" here, which I don't know that I've heard before. I've always heard it pronounced closer to "More-reese". Like in that song about the pompatus of love. The episode ends with the Churchill government being ousted in favor of the Labour Party. Which makes me think of the book Small Wars, Faraway Places. This was probably the start of that 'cradle-to-grave welfare socialism' the author complained about. I wasn't sure about Maurice's exact politics, but they were the cause of his and his father's estrangement. Of course, Sir Leonard had a huge-ass house, so he was probably fine with the status quo as it was.

Sergeant Brooke transferred back to London, FYI. Andrew is also in London, up to who knows what. hanging around coffee shops writing bad poetry to impress girls like it's post-World War 1 France, no doubt.

The reason the three men didn't want to return is because they had heard what happened to a ship full of Russians who had been repatriated. Namely, that they were machine-gunned. Because Stalin. I had thought these guys had been fighting for the Soviet Union originally, were captured by the Germans, and then later used against the British and Americans. This episode positions them as White Russians, who were fighting against the Soviet Union because they hate Stalin. Either way, they're going to be killed when they get back to the Soviet Union. And Britain's plans to get back all of their POWs the Soviets wound up with are not going to come to fruition, based on what I read in The Forsaken. A lot of Allied prisoners wound up in Soviet gulags, while their governments sat on their asses and did nothing.

I should tell you now I'm going to be making stupid comments conflating the Adam Wainwright Sam meets here with the Adam Wainwright who currently pitches for the St. Louis Cardinals for as long as he's in the series. Which is the remainder of it. So you're just going to have to deal with Time Travelin' Adam Wainwright. Adam was shot in his right shoulder. Hopefully this won't diminish his already flagging velocity any further. Also hopefully 1940s medicine didn't fuck things up too badly. Maybe this was the shoulder injury he had when he was still in the Braves' minor league system.

Adam spent the war working in Bletchley Park, on something sufficiently classified he can't discuss it with Sam. But it most likely involved code-breaking or building a computer somehow. Maybe Major League Baseball got the wrong guy in that whole mess where the Cardinals' now former scouting director hacked the Houston Astros' databases.

OK, enough of that. As it turns out, Sam was also, among other duties, working as a model for Sir Leonard. A nude model, no less, despite some reservations of her part. Which only got worse when Milner and his men were nosing around to see if any of Leonard's art had been stolen. And then Foyle shows up, which is even worse from her perspective. Foyle at least makes a couple of jokes about it being a possible motive and refrains from any judgments.

The more I think about, the more it bothers me, because Sam was clearly not comfortable with the work being exhibited, and yet Leonard was planning to go ahead and do so anyway. And Sam, who is clearly still trying to find some sort of calling she feels comfortable in, may not have felt she could insist. Oh, Leonard seems like a well-meaning artistic type, but he's still a pushy enough guy to disinherit his son over a difference in politics, so I could see him firing Sam if she protested too severely. But he's dead now, and the art is probably in evidence for the time being. Although if or when it's released, I imagine there'll be quite the demand. Dead artists and all.

Milner's struggling with being the one in charge and establishing himself as his own guy. So he tries not to be drawn into banter with Sam, and he pushes back rudely against Foyle's presence. It's unnecessary, especially since Foyle tells him right off he's not there about a murder, but a runaway Russian. That said, Foyle's speech to him at the end of the episode felt like him being a bit of a dick. Yeah, Milner should have just apologized the first time, rather than saying 'I probably owe you an apology.' But Foyle's giving him grief because Detective Perkins, Milner's subordinate, addressed Foyle without being spoken to first, and Milner didn't back up Foyle's rebuke? Get the fuck out of here with that crap. That's the sort of nonsense where an arbitrary system says I'm better than you, so you have to defer to what I want Foyle usually pushes back against. All the times his superiors tell him to drop something, or some politco or businessman insists he is too important to suffer consequences. Foyle doesn't just accept that, so for him to get peeved that Perkins had the temerity to speak to him with something other than, "Shine your car for you, guvnah?" is pretty obnoxious.

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