Sunday, February 26, 2017

Foyle's War 7.3 - Sunflower

Plot: I'm going to spoil the hell out of some this right off the bat.

Professor Van Haaren, art professor, is actually Karl Strasser, SS officer. MI-5 is hiding him because he's an expert on Soviet espionage. Besides, he was just a desk officer (this is a lie). He thinks someone is following him and means him harm. And indeed, a man named Tommy Nelson is following. Because he encountered Strasser in the north of France shortly after Normandy, when Strasser committed a war crime, and Tommy was fortunate to escape.

I didn't feel like burying the lede. Spoiler warning, the Nazi is a piece of shit. Bet you didn't see that coming. Foyle doesn't know any of this at the start, only that Sir Alec (no doubt on Miss Pierce's insistence) ordered him to investigate Strasser's concerns. Foyle isn't happy about the job, and Strasser can't give him much to go on. Foyle checks with the other people at Strasser's hostel, none of whom like Strasser, all of whom know he's a Nazi, even though they aren't supposed to. The Americans also know about Strasser, and they want him handed over, since his war crime was committed against an American artillery unit (which Tommy was attached to as an observer). And then Tommy, despondent over the fact the trauma he suffered (and is still trying to cope with) has cost him a chance to return to teaching, takes a shot (several actually) at Strasser. So it's time to move Strasser, but oops, right after his the guards at his home turn away, his car blows up. Welp, one less Nazi in the world. That's called a good start.

The other plotline is that Adam, while meeting his constituents, is approached by a Geoffrey Helliwell. Helliwell's land was requisitioned by the RAF during the war with the understanding he could buy it back after. But an independent valuation determined the land had doubled in value in 8 years, putting it beyond Helliwell's price range. Adam is working in a committee/branch under the Minister who seems connected, a Charles Roper. And Helliwell is mugged shortly after Adam brings the matter to Roper's attention. All of which sets Adam to investigating the matter, and which leads Sam to taking advantage of the powers of her position to track down the assessor. Which would be hinky enough, but she claims to be searching for Mr. George Gibson on Foyle's behalf.

Quote of the Episode: Strasser - 'I make no apology. I had to survive.'

Does Foyle go fishing? No, but he should really take some time for it now.

Things Sam can do: Abuse her position to track people down. C'mon Sam, can't be requesting probably illegal wiretaps.

Other: I hadn't noticed it prior to this episode, but Foyle's office seems extremely narrow and tall. At least from the few shots of him sitting behind the desk when Charlotte brought something to him. But there seem to be a lot of shots like that in this episode. The walls closing in, the sky somewhere out of sight up above. Or looking sharply up or down from a steep angle. Everything on a precipice?

Sam is mostly wearing this grey trenchcoat buttoned up throughout, along with one of those small hats where the brim is sharply angled down over one just one eye. That was a very good look for her. My dad doesn't like those hats, but I think they're pretty cool, assuming the person can wear it well. And Honeysuckle Weeks wears it very well. All thumbs up there. Now I want to see her in some noir film set in the '40s.

I wonder how much Miss Pierce regrets convincing Foyle to stay on now. Could have avoided all this, not to mention the embarrassment of demonstrating they abducted the wrong Evelyn Greene, if she had simply not tried implicating Sam as delivering documents to Russian spies as a way to use Foyle. Well, grab a tiger by the tail and it'll rip your face off.

On the other hand, props to Valentine. Not that, "I don't like protecting Nazis," is a particularly bold position, but he stepped up this week. When the Americans got irate about Strasser's apparent death, Valentine took some of the blame for Foyle. He got Foyle authorization to see the corpse and confirm his suspicions. And he's the one who alerted the Americans so they could show up and take custody of Strasser. Which was an incredibly satisfying moment. It was bouncing from one foot to the other, cackling with glee. So perhaps there's hope for Valentine yet, assuming Pierce doesn't have him killed by some more "Russian" agents (I'm still pretty sure it wasn't actually the Soviets who killed Marc Vlessing in his hospital bed in "The Eternity Ring").

Lt. Colonel Hoyt Jackson and Ambassador Ray Donovan were in the room with Sir Alec and Pierce for less than 5 minutes, and they both immediately grasped she's the one pulling the strings. Not bad. And credit to Jackson for being willing to go toe-to-toe with Pierce. Although perhaps he doesn't grasp just how dire a situation that is.

That quote I used from Strasser, he actually repeats the first line near the end, while instead offering excuses, most of which blame Himmler for wanting even the desk officers to have dirty hands. Which is nonsense. Strasser joined the SS in '33, ostensibly because he saw which way the wind is blowing (the same reason he deserted and defected), but if he wasn't a true believer, why pursue a single badly wounded soldier, hunting him through a field while casually whistling, before gleefully shooting the man? Answer: Because he was a true believer, at the bare minimum in the aspects of the ideology he could use to justify any actions he took. And now he tries to shrug it off like an overcoat and walk freely. Where's Brad Pitt to carve a swastika into a forehead when you need him?

Anyway, an entirely satisfying ending, even if Foyle seems lost and exhausted by the end of it. Which is understandable. Fighting against his superiors of his government when they put up roadblocks to his investigations always seemed the part of the earlier seasons Foyle enjoyed least (even if it did give him chances to make speeches). Probably because it seemed like such a waste of time and energy to fight people that are supposed to be on his side. And now he has to do it all the time. His bosses are deliberately protecting war criminals and ignoring people who served England honorably. Pierce actually calls him a traitor as the Americans roll up, prior to Valentine revealing he called them. Imagine the warped perspective that brings that about. Foyle would have been revealing a Nazi war criminal is alive and preparing to flee the country, and that makes Foyle a traitor, rather than the people protecting said Nazi.

OK, ranting over. Adam's subplot is actually somewhat more interesting than most of the one's involving him have been. Nothing against the actor, but I find the character rather bland, and only care about him due to proximity to Sam. Roper did get the land valuation rigged, because he's in the Ministry of Ag and Fish, and wanted that 1000 acres kept available for food production. Helliwell is a developer, who would have turned it into shops or houses. So, nobler end, questionable means. And Adam is able to probably stop him thanks to Sam getting illegal wiretaps authorized on the assessor. But this leads to Roper resigning, which means a parliamentary member with some real desire to help the overall public is lost, and Adam now has a real stink on him, which is going to make his accomplishing anything difficult. And Helliwell gets to build his buildings, whatever they were. Maybe it was homes for people whose places were destroyed in the bombing, we don't know.

Whether ends justify the means and all that, for the whole episode. Was 1,000 acres enough to justify Roper's actions? Were Roper's actions fraudulent enough to justify Sam's attempts to help Adam? Could Strasser have possibly given enough assistance to make up for what he did? The last one I'm firmly in the "No" camp. No deals for Nazis.

Well, that's an extremely depressing end to a mostly depressing season. Will the 8th and final season improve Foyle's mood? How will Sam and Adam deal with the baby they're going to have soon? Will my opinion of Valentine continue to go up?

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