Sunday, February 12, 2017

Foyle's War 7.1 - The Eternity Ring

Plot: In the summer of 1945, scientists Max Hoffman, Helen and  Fraser meet in New Mexico to observe an A-bomb test. A year later, a man named Gorin successfully steals files from the Soviet Embassy in London. Files which detail a group of Soviet spies called the Eternity Ring. One British Intelligence knows nothing about.

Foyle returns to England in the summer of 1946. He gets to converse briefly with an old constable of his, Frank Shaw, finally back in England after spending years in a Japanese P.O.W. camp, before being pulled aside by Adam Valentine of the Security Service. Seems the FBI wants Foyle back for questioning about the suicide of Howard Paige, and the British will send him back unless he helps Valentine's boss William Chambers root out this Eternity Ring. And Foyle has another reason to get involved. While he may not know Professor Fraser, who is suspected of giving secrets to a Marc Vlessing, Foyle does know the woman who serves as Fraser's secretary and is photographed delivering the envelope: Samantha Wainwright.

So Foyle, over Miss Pierce's (Chambers' second-in-command) objections, and Valentine's condescension, sets to work. He quickly determines Sam is troubled by something, and that Professor Fraser hates Communists. He also sees that Helen Fraser is not in good health (which is why Sam was hired, as Helen Fraser was a nuclear scientist of some regard before her health failed), and Max Hoffman was meeting a mysterious person in the street. With the help of some police, Foyle locates Vlessing, but when they try to apprehend him, he's been forewarned by a voice over the phone, and while fleeing, he's hit by a car. He survives, but is shortly thereafter dispatched with a hypodermic after his guards mysteriously depart at a seemingly prearranged time.

By this time Hoffman has somehow learned Foyle is working for MI5 and warned Fraser, who then fires Sam. So Sam confronts Foyle, who explains himself, and the two set about trying to piece this together. And promptly get themselves irradiated snooping in Vlessing's apartment. Which makes Sam late for Adam's meeting to see if he'll represent the Labour Party in the West Peckham election, but she arrives in time to make a passionate speech and give him the win. By this point, Foyle has basically pieced together the truth of the Eternity Ring, and what it's purpose is, and also whether Professor Fraser is innocent or not.

In the other subplot, Frank struggles to adjust to life at home not being at all like it was when he left. Wife working, son working, can't get a job with the London police. He doesn't drunkenly beat the shit out of Valentine, though, which I appreciated, even if it was for the wrong reasons.

Quote of the Episode: Valentine - 'This isn't about bodies in the library or stolen petrol coupons or whatever you got up to in Hastings. It's called tradecraft. It's a different world.'

Does Foyle go fishing? I imagine he would have if he hadn't been intercepted.

Things Sam can do: Improve her typing. Make a speech when it really counts. Lie off the cuff (unrelated to the previous note). Still has trouble hanging onto a job.

Other: Spoilers for various revelations in the episode below.

So Frank's son John was working in a bar for gay men, or at least one where they're welcome, which Valentine frequents. He also, unfortunately, happened to be the first guy to leave after Frank came stumbling up there, all distraught about what he thinks his son is up to. Which is not really why I wanted to see Valentine get his ass beat.

His constant sneering condescension towards Foyle, that's why I wanted to see him get curbstomped. He keeps making those remarks to Foyle about him being out of his depth, and never seems to remember that Foyle doesn't want to be there, is only there because Valentine's superiors are forcing him to, between the dual threat of handing him over to that piece of shit J. Edgar Hoover and Sam being declared a traitor. They explicitly remind Foyle that he knows what happens to traitors, and so do we after last week's episode. So quite why Valentine feels the need to antagonize Foyle, I don't know, but it doesn't make me sorry to see him in the hospital.

The look Foyle gives Valentine when Vlessing gets hit by the car did a lot to tide me over until the actual beating. The side-eye is a great combination of exasperation and disgust for the incompetence on display. Plus, I'd imagine a little suspicion that it might not have been an accident.

I had made a note early that Sam's typing skills had improved if she'd finished typing several letters for Professor Fraser. Then he found her while she and Foyle were having lunch to mention she'd need to retype some of them and I had to amend that perhaps the skills hadn't improved that much. Oh well, progress.

I also have another note that is simply "Significant Thermos". I'll leave you to wonder.

So Howard Paige is dead after six months of Foyle hounding him. While I regret not getting to see it, I'm at least pleased to hear about it.

At one point, Fraser and Hoffman are arguing about Stalin and Communism. Hoffman reminds that the Soviets were helping fight the Nazis before the Americans (true). Fraser points out that now Stalin is a monster slaughtering his own people. And I'm left thinking how Stalin never really stopped doing that, before, during, or after the war. He might have slowed his pace, but only when the Nazis were picking up the slack.

It feels as though there's at least somewhat of a shift in Foyle and Sam's relationship. He's still looking out for her, but that's probably never going away. But I appreciate that when she loses her job because of Foyle, she goes to confront him immediately. And that even after he tries to explain, she is still understandably angry at him for not simply being honest with her from the start. And that she basically insists on accompanying him on the next leg of the investigation. She isn't going to sit in the car, she's going where he goes and looking around, and that's that. I think she's had to look after Adam quite a bit over the past year and the realities of that have matured her. Adam's an idealist, and he wants to help people, but he isn't very good at looking after himself.

OK, so the big reveal is that Miss Pierce slipped in a bunch of vague references to a non-existent Eternity Ring as a way to prove Chambers had contact with a Soviet agent. Because who else would Chambers turn to for information on this group when all other avenues failed him? Which gets him ousted as boss. Which does lead to a scene of him ever so carefully wrapping up his pipes as he cleans out his desk, while Pierce shows not the slightest interest in hearing why he did it. Also that she'd hoped he'd be executed, rather than exiled. Jesus, Pierce. But it's that ruthless streak that I assume is how she survived the war and maintained a position of authority, despite being in proximity to more than a couple of screw-ups (see "The French Drop"). She knows how to deflect blame, that's for sure.

Anyway, now she's roped Foyle into sticking around for awhile, despite the fact he knows he can't trust her, and she knows that he's going to bug the crap out of her every time he twigs to her doing something crooked. I can't really tell if she's amused or irritated when he goes on one of his, "I've figured it all out," spiels. I think she kind of enjoys them, from appreciating someone clever, and because Foyle is a little theatrical about it.

No comments: