Bomb Girls Episode One Recap
09.12.12 by Chris
This is not folly. It's war.
It was war, silk stockings, and scalping in the series premiere of the new Reelz original series Bomb Girls.
Bomb Girls takes place in 1941, just as World War II is accelerating in Europe. Back home, women are taking the place of men in the workplace, including the bomb factory Victory Munitions.
Right away we are introduced to our Gladys Witham (Jodi Balfour), the only daughter of a wealthy businessman. We learn that she's engaged and that her fiance is working with her father to secure some lucrative military contracts. Right away we can see that she's not comfortable with her comfortable and privileged life. Next, we meet the young Kate Andrews (Charlotte Hegele), though not her real name, who runs away from home (with help from her mother) to avoid her abusive father and ends up in the boarding home that houses the girls who work at Victory Munitions, where she meets Betty McRae (Ali Liebert), a trainer at factory and who becomes more or less a den mother to all the newbies. Instantly, Betty warms up to Kate, who seems to bring out the kinder side of people (her father aside).
The next scene shows the girls of the Blue Shift outside the factory waiting for their shift to start. Betty, Vera Burr (Anastasia Phillips), and Edith McCallum (Lisa Norton) are giving Kate the unofficial orientation to working in a bomb factory (including the factoid that cordite turns your hair and skin yellow). When Gladys shows up to the factory in her uppity clothes and daddy's town car, it's not hard to see why the other girls don't think she belongs, especially Betty who quips: "little rich girl on a field trip." Gladys, who at home doesn't feel like she belongs soon finds she might not fit in at Victory. She has an abrasive introduction with Lorna Corbett (Meg Tilly), a shift matron at the factory. She unkindly informs Gladys that she can't wear her dress shoes nor her engagement ring in the factory. She takes Gladys' engagement ring and puts it in her pocket.
While Betty gives Kate and the rest of the new girls a tour of the factory floor, Gladys is shown to the office where she'll file papers while the rest of the girls get their hands dirty making bombs.
In his office, boss Harold Akins (Richard Fitzpatrick) laments about being able to keep up with quotas and this is where Lorna's ugly prejudice toward Italian-born Marco Moretti (Antonio Cupo) comes out. Marco is a materials controller at the factory and is unable to join the war effort as a soldier because he's Italian (his father is locked away in an Italian internment camp). Lorna questions Marco's loyalty. Akins defends Marco, calling him a decent man and a great materials controller. But we learn that Lorna has two sons fighting overseas and that "secrets must be kept" to win the war.
After Kate's scary near-explosion on the factory floor, we get a good scene of girl talk in the cafeteria, where we learn that Vera is not engaged to just one soldier but three. Vera calls it charitable work, giving the soldiers something to think about when they're sweating in the their bunks.
When two servicemen arrive at the factory, we know they're delivering the dreadful news that someone's husband (or son) has been killed. When Akins calls for Lorna, we first think that they're about to tell her that one of her two sons was killed but we discover that Edith's husband was shot down in Germany. While Lorna is relieved that it's not one of her sons (you can see her nearly holding back a smile) she now has to tell Edith the bad news. One of the servicemen, Private Lewis Pine, asks Gladys to that night's military dance, to which she replies "I don't dance with soldiers." Gladys forgets to include the fact that she's also engaged.
After her first shift, Kate is surprised she has to take a shower and we learn why — her back is marred by slashes and bruises, undoubtedly at the hand of her father. And it looks like the men are getting an eyeful of the lady's locker room when Lorna discovered a peep hole. She confronts Marco about the hole and accuses Marco again of spying, calling him a fox in the hen house and threatens to turn him in. Marco then threatens Lorna saying she'll regret saying anything about the peephole.
At home, we learn that Lorna's husband is a disabled vet of the first World War and actually defends Marco. While Lorna's daughter is doing laundry, she finds Gladys' engagement ring, putting Lorna in a panic she heads straight over to the Witham home to return the ring and inadvertently gives up Gladys' cover of her whereabouts for the evening.
At the dance Kate is enamored with Gladys' silk stockings and after several stabs from Betty about not sacrificing for the war effort and an awkward request, Gladys gives her stockings to Kate. Wouldn't you know it, Gladys runs into her admirer at the dance and let's just say the two share more than just a dance. When she returns home, Gladys' cover is blown and she has an ugly confrontation with her father. The next day she returns to the factory (on foot this time) to resign but before she can she's stopped by Lewis who gives an impromptu proposal. Even though she's already engaged she says yes, most likely to just give him something to think about overseas. So that makes two fiances.
At the end of the episode we learn the dangers of working in a factory. In a terrible mishap, Vera is badly disfigured. At the hospital, the doctors tell Lorna that she's simply not a priority but that's not going to cut it for Lorna, who sees her girls sacrificing just as much as the men overseas. "Vera is a soldier. Vera risked her life every day to help win this war. Don't turn your back on her," she tells the doctor. "If you want to see our boys with bullets in their guns and bombs in their planes, you will show her the same respect."
Betty confronts Kate about her bruises and Gladys makes it clear to her fiances that she's not content with office work. The episode ends with Gladys working the assembly line. She leaves a lipstick kiss on a bomb.
So what did you think of the episode? Who's your favorite Bomb Girl? Watch the next episode of Bomb Girls next Tuesday at 10p ET and 10p PT and come back Wednesday for our episode recap.