In the cafeteria (I want that Don’t Throw Things sign more than I have ever wanted anything in my life) Marco reads a letter from Vera to the whole team. Afterwards Helen insists that they all write back to her with her special shiny new pencil. What she actually physically does is HAND AN EXPLODING PENCIL TO A HUGE BUNCH OF BYSTANDERS IN THE MIDDLE OF A BOMB FACTORY. God, you are all so bad at spies. You deserve each other. I will say that the ticking clock conceit worked nicely and terrified me as everyone passed around the pencil. The surprise is kind of spoiled when Helen tenderly kisses Ivan and is like “I was pretending about everything else but I do love your little chipmunk face. You deserve better than three women with ulterior motives.” Dude, Bomb Girls movie, you gotta stop telegraphing these deaths ten minutes before they happen.
So, right before the explosion, Kate goes up to Ivan and asks him to be friends, and Ivan is like sure, because everyone has to be a saint right before they die. Those are just the rules. Sure enough, he picks up the pencil right before the factory is rocked by a low-budget explosion.
Cut to: the hospital, where we see that Ivan is dead (unsurprising, since no one thought to put a bandage on him in the ambulance).
MIKE SEATER NOOOO I’M SORRY I GOT SO DRUNK BOTH TIMES WE HUNG OUT I WAS JUST EXCITED.
Kate is also injured and Betty runs to her side in anguish, because you cannot make yourself stop loving someone. If you could this world would have a lot more sense and a lot less magic.
When Betty steps out, Helen Buchinsky pokes her head in just to tell Kate that Ivan’s death is totally and completely her fault. If she didn’t have magnetic eyes and a voice you have to lean in to listen to then Ivan never would have been in that canteen.
Her tirade makes Kate take a long, hard look at the elephant in the room of this entire show: they make bombs. The fruits of their labor have killed countless Ivans and frankly, Kate it tired of juggling the moral complexity of it all. Betty holds her hand and strokes her forehead and promises—like she always promises—that she will protect her.
Over at the Hedley, Berman and Gladys finally figure out that Head Spy Davis in a bad guy (they figure it out because he basically tells them because they are all graduates of the Inspector Gadget School of Espionage). They come up with an immediate plan to arrest both him and Helen. JUST KIDDING THEY TRADE GERMS.
Determined to keep Kate from ever experiencing another moment’s sadness, Betty returns to the ring to throw another fight. But Marco busts in at the last minute and tells her he bet on her, and if she beats the odds and wins, she’ll have enough money to buy her house. This should be a satisfying scene, but it falls flat because:
1.It’s thirty seconds long. You barely have time to figure out what’s going on before it’s over.
2. Why Marco? Like, re-write this scene in your head with Gladys (Betty’s best friend) showing up to give her the money. Or better yet, Kate. Instead we have a character with whom Betty has only ever interacted a couple of times riding in on a white horse.
Anyway she wins, yay Betty and yay Betty’s house.
Back at the factory, Lorna gets fired. Wait, what? Lorna gets FIRED? JESUS, DON’T WE HAVE ENOUGH GOING ON WITHOUT THIS TWIST?
Way, waaaay more importantly, a soldier shows up on the factory floor and hands Marco a telegram. According to the War Department, Vera Burr’s ship was sunk by a U-boat and she is dead.
Excuse me sir, I have some total bullshit for you.
Nope. No. Sorry, Vera Burr is not dead. Let me tell you why Vera Burr is not dead: because if she were dead, it would be a travesty on par with the fate of Naomi Campbell. Like Naomi, Vera Burr is unique in all of television: kind, intelligent, unpretentious, vulnerable, brave. And she likes sex. Vera was written to be a woman who likes sex without needing to be punished for it, and without it meaning that she is somehow damaged or slutty or wrong. You don’t kill someone like that just to tug on our heartstrings. You don’t kill them at all because we need them so badly. So as far as I’m concerned, Vera is currently sitting on a life raft with a sail made from lingerie, and she is coming home. Lest you think that I have finally lost it here at the 4000 word mark of this recap, check out this quote from Adrienne Mitchell: “My whole thing is that things happened overseas and they never find the bodies,” she hints. “You never know! You never know. She might not be completely gone…”
Of course, the characters can’t read that quote, so they sob and grieve accordingly. Kate sings over the tragedy, which is appropriate, since singing has always been how Kate accesses the part of herself that is whole and undamaged. Charlotte Hegele is exquisite in this scene; I wish she had more to work with.
At the boarding house, Betty shows up with a bill of sale for her brand new house, and she tells Kate that there’s a room there for her.
Betty: I mean, our rooms will be right across the hall from mine, so if you have a bad dream or whatever, I’m just right there.
Kate: Oh Betty, I want to sing!
Betty: ME TOO.
Kate: No, like as a career.
Betty: Oh. Yeah. Me too.
Good. Kate should sing, and Betty should have her house, and they should be friends. I was really afraid that this movie would just toss McAndrews at us to shut us up. I’ve seen that kind of patronizing, fandom appeasing thing before, and I want more for these two. Also, the fact that they leave it in the air increases the chance for more movies, which I am totally in favor of.
So I know we have some more plot to cover, but I’m going to rush through it. You’ve seen the movie; you know that Gladys and Berman catch the bad guys. The best part of it is watching Gladys and Lorna play bad cop, worse cop. The worst part of it is when Kate is inexplicably used as a honey trap for Head Spy Davis and is nearly raped. Like, there is no need for it to happen at all and I have seen Betty’s tortured face PLENTY during this movie.
After the bad guys are caught, everyone gathers for the Vera Burr memorial service. They sing a song about looking to the future, which will be brighter and fairer and your favorite shows will run for fifteen years.
It’s almost as bold an ending as the season 2 finale; it’s the show telling us it’s not done yet. And I’m sure as hell not done yet. I want a sequel more now than ever. But I also believe that when you run into an old friend, you should hug them tight and tell them just how much they mean to you, because in this world you never know if you’re going to see anybody again.
So here is what Bomb Girls means to me. If you are like me (a patchwork creature made of stories) you know the feeling of a story finding you at the time in your life and the place in your heart where you most need to be found. When Bomb Girls found me, I was at my very lowest point. Like, Betty throwing her boxing matches low. I was reeling from a series of personal and professional failures and pretty much ready to write myself off as a lost cause. I dealt with these feelings by hiding in my room for days at a time, trying to lose myself in stories because they were the only things that made me feel anything at all. When I read about this new Canadian show on AfterEllen, I wolfed it down in one gulp, and then I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. I thought about it so much that I realized I was actually writing about it in my head.
For weeks, I got on AE every day to see if anyone was writing about it yet, terrified that I would be too late, that I would my chance. And at a certain point my need to write outweighed my terror of rejection, so I wrote a recap of the first episode and sent it to Heather Hogan with an email saying (and I’m only barely paraphrasing here) “HI YOU DON’T KNOW ME BUT YOU ARE MY HERO PLEASE READ THIS THING OK BYE.” I put my last little bit of hope into that email and fired it off like a flare in the middle of the ocean. And to my unending wonder, I ended up writing for this website I’d loved for so long. And what was even more amazing, I wrote it for the kindest, best fandom in the world. That’s not an exaggeration; I’ve been doing this for two years now and I know a thing or two. I don’t know if the optimism and warm-heartedness of this show has just worn off on us or it was what drew us to Bomb Girls in the first place, but I have never been so proud to be a part of something. In some magical, alchemical way we ended up recreating the courage and camaraderie of this show in our love for it. We fought for these characters and their stories, and we won. I hope the knowledge of that victory, and Betty’s victories, and even the way that Bomb Girls saved my own little life can give you strength and tide you over until we meet again.