Down in the basement, Betty enters the secrets cage, where she keeps her feelings and memories and also some pickles, when one of the escaped Death Eaters emerges from the shadows to threaten her with a poker. Betty de-pokes him and locks him in the cage with an efficiency that would make Buffy Summers
aroused proud. Knowing that Eugeezus I Hate You will murder this Nazi in cold blood, she keeps his presence a secret while she tries to find a way to alert the Aurors.
Because she is merciful as well as tough, she is morally obliged to tend to the man’s wounds, forgetting that the secrets cage works a little like a pensieve, and after five minutes inside, he has already learned her two most preciously guarded truths.
1. She is a gigantic gaymo, which anyone who has seen her walk out of a room could surmise.
But more surprisingly
2. Y’all, Betty is German. Though she is a Canadian by birth and by sore-y, she knows how to chomp down on consonants and onion cake.
Her family hid their heritage during WWI, but Betty was interested enough to learn the language. This explains so much about how she is able to live as she does, since she has been living a double life since forever. What makes her remarkable is that, rather than just ignoring the parts of her that don’t conform to society’s standards, she made them their own little room, even if it is the basement.
The Nazi assures her that, were she in Germany she wouldn’t have to hide who she is, which was actually true before Hitler showed up and ruined the party.
Back upstairs, where no one is threatening anyone else with broken glass, Gladys is performing a spectacular bait-and-switch. She lures Eugene in with her singing and her charms to distract him from Kate and when he takes bait she shoots him down (unfortunately not literally).
When Snaky Akins and his drunk wife (“The blackout is over but the blackout has just begun!”) leave, Lorna and Bob bond over how much they hate their child.
Bob: So Eugene: what a dick, right?
Lorna: Tell me about it. How gross is it that he used to live in my body.
Bob: You know honey, I think we’re going to make it after all.
When we return once more to the secrets cage, Betty is promising the Nazi that he can run to freedom and she won’t tell on him.
Nazi: I knew I could trust you. We’re the same, you see. You’re persecuted because you love the way women look and feel and smell and I’m persecuted for insisting that only blonde people have souls.
Betty: Yep, peas in a pod of persecution. Now please leave my secrets cage.
Two seconds later…
Betty: Help! THE WORLD’S STUPIDEST NAZI is getting away!
Eugene catches him and nearly beats him to death before Betty pulls him off. Kate, whose rebellion is no fun at all without someone who actually loves her around, takes Betty by the hand and pulls her upstairs, without so much as a goodbye to Eugene.
Upstairs, she tends to Betty’s wounds with so much tenderness that I know that one way or another, I’ll be going down with this ship. Here is the actual (perfect) dialogue.
Kate: So what did the Nazi say to you?
Betty: He told me none of us can hide forever.
Kate: We do what we have to…to survive.
Betty: But when we’re finally safe, it’s ok to stop fighting.
And that is how you write and act a scene that says a million things in four lines.
I know I’ve spent a lot of time this week hating on Eugene Corbett. Frankly, when a character like Eugene comes along and gets in the middle of a pairing I’m attached to, I want to hate him, and maybe I would have even had he been a perfect gentleman. But when I see him the next morning, stripped of bravado, I see a damaged, scared child. So I guess I can’t just hate him, which is really too bad but I will cope.
Damn you, nuance!
Lastly, Kate returns to Black People Church, which probably only convenes when there is a white girl in crisis. She stands among the choir, still a little off-key, and discovers that goodness isn’t a coin that you spend one time and then it is gone. And as much as I want her to be singing to Betty, it makes me happy to see her singing to herself.
So, those of you who follow me on twitter know that the night before last, I spent the evening with Ali Liebert and Michael Seater. Just looking at those words makes me feel a little like I’m dreaming, and I will never stop being grateful to them for letting me show them around new Orleans. There was drinking, there was dancing, and multiple souvenirs were acquired and subsequently lost. We mostly didn’t talk about Bomb Girls because I was Trying To Be Cool, but I did tell them where I stand on the McAndrews situation.
I think we all agree that if Betty and Kate don’t end up together, we will find the strength to carry on, but if Betty doesn’t have a very happy ending, there will be riots in the street. They accepted this with the grace and good manners which are truly the hallmarks of their people.
See you next week.