“Bomb Girls” recap (1.4): Swing it, shake it, get in lots of fights.

Facing the consequences of their own libidos are Gladys and James, who are finally talking about the whole Hazel fiasco. James’ excuse for his infidelity is that he “needed the practice” but it came with an unfortunate gift-with-purchase. Gladys yells “HAZEL MACDOUGAL GAVE YOU THE CLAP?” in a church and I have maybe never loved her more.

Mister big-shot news reel producer has chosen Betty as his second pick for the propaganda film, which she is none too pleased about, since he’s forcing her to wear about a pound of makeup. She actually looks good but it makes her feel like this:

Which makes all of us think of this:

They even have to bring in Edith as a hand double because Betty’s nails are so inexplicably short. Heh.

Later, they film a scene where Betty is welcoming the film crew into her imaginary “home,” which is a far cry from the boarding house we all know and love. Kate tries to get her to loosen up for the camera a bit, in a nice reversal of the photo shoot scene from episode two, and Betty reveals that her dream is to own her own home. No husband, no kids, just something of her own, unless of course Kate would like to be her roommate? Kate agrees and my heart breaks a little because Betty is in that stage of love where the object of your desire says “roommate” and you hear “bedmate.” And then she says boys are cute and you don’t hear anything because you have your fingers in your ears and are loudly humming. Be careful, Betts.

This episode gives us a new friendship between Edith and Lorna’s husband, Bob. Bob ghost-writes letters from Edith’s dead husband and takes her kids to outings in the park, and Edith persuades Bob that it’s time to write to his own sons, who are off at war. I’m glad to see them together because I think they are two of the more nuanced characters on the show.

But where are the polar bears? I thought this was Canada.

That night, it’s time for a screening of the news reel, and to Betty’s horror, the film director has portrayed her as a wife and a mother, who can’t wait to “return to her wifely duties.” Betty confronts him about why he spat on her dreams and he basically tells her to shove it and insinuates that he knows her big secret. She pushes him away and runs off to stitch her disguise back together.

Meanwhile, up in The Crag (which is what I call Snaky Akins’ office) Lorna is hand printing copies of her morality manifesto, which I’m guessing requires electrified chastity belts for men and women. She is joined by Marco who comes on to her in the grossest way possible: by saying how he was turned off by the “eagerness” of all the girls he slept with before, and it is Lorna’s reluctance he finds so alluring. It works for Lorna, though, and they make sweaty, inky love among the copies of her anti-sex pamphlet.

Later that night, Gladys has somehow ended up in New Orleans with the film guy, where she “sipped sazeracs with a lady of the night” and lost gloriously at strip poker. You and me both, hon. James is scandalized to find her so inebriated, which proves even more how much he doesn’t deserve her, since drunk Gladys is f—ing delightful. Gladys cautions him not to put her on a pedestal, “because when I fall, I’m going to hurt something.”

“I’m going to hurt something but hopefully not the woman I fall on top of.”

James has a total ragesplosion and beats the hell out of the film director but who even cares because:

At which point I make a sound so high it shatters glass.

Kate is the only person for whom Betty will take off her swagger at the end of the day, and today she feels ripped to shreds. Kate rises to the occasion with Dumbledorian wisdom though, and assures her that universal popularity is overrated anyway.

And this is why Betty’s character is not just great, but important. I’m not sure it’s possible to quantify how much we owe to people who were gay when gayness was considered a disease of the mind. For some clue, I highly recommend watching Before Stonewall. By making Betty not just brave and brash and funny, but scared and dealing with her own internalized homophobia, Bomb Girls and Ali Liebert have given us a gift. So get on Twitter and say thanks, is my advice.

Until next week, I’ll be the girl singing “swing it, shake it, don’t put up a fight” endlessly, because I can’t be bothered to learn the rest of the song.

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