“Bomb Girls” recap (2.3): Abracadbra: spelled WITHAM


Dear Bomb Girls fans, I have to open this recap with a thank you. Thank you for being so calm, so understanding, so amazing about this whole Ivan/Betty business.  Actually I think you are a lot more rational about it than I am, which I appreciate more than you can know. There have been times this season when I have just wanted to invade Canada and impose a dictatorship in which Betty and Kate are required to be together and happy and like, possibly in a punk band with Gladys? But you guys have been so great about sticking to the facts, and the fact is we don’t really know where this thing with Kate is going, but we do know the show has done us no wrong so far. As for showrunner Michael MacLennan’s “pushing buttons” comment, I was upset at the notion that straight people’s buttons are better or more sensitive than mine (yeah I hear it), but I’m going to withhold my outrage — I guess until I have a reason to be outraged. (This whole rationality thing is weird).

On to the episode, which I have so many feelings about that I want to grow an extra heart, a la The Doctor, just so I can contain them all. (Theory: lesbian fandom is the reason Gallifreyans have two hearts). We open with Betty and Vera riding in the back of a pickup, yelling into megaphones to recruit more impressionable young women to the lesbian lifestyle war effort. 

All men to the front line! All ladies to the Jewel Box? 8ish?

Down at the recruiting office, Marco is doing his best to heed the call of duty, having seen the marvelous selection of women at the department store willing to sleep with any old soldier. However—in a storyline from last season I’m glad to see picked up with a new degree of seriousness–he is barred from enlisting on account of he knows what spaghetti is. As a matter of fact, his father is stuck in an internment camp called—and you shouldn’t take it any less seriously because of this—Pedewawa. Gladys doesn’t have too much going on this week; she’s already rounded up all of Toronto’s criminals and tied them together in front of the police station, written several op-ed pieces for local papers, and knitted hats for all the house elves in Hastings Castle, so she decides to help Marco with the Canadian military. After all, it’s only an army and she is Gladys Hastings-Witham.

So, in the two months since Kate’s father gracefully pirouetted to his death, our favorite redhead has developed a drinking habit, which is a nice way to say: a drinking problem. Now, I think everyone who has been to college has gone through this phase or watched someone else go through it (guess which group I fall into). When you have something horrible you can’t stand to think about (you killed your father and have no idea how define yourself without the fear of him that ran like a layer of permafrost through your life and also you are maybe in love with your best friend) hitting the bottle can seem like hitting the snooze button on all those problems. Most people I know went through this, were the subject of a few jokes for showing up to class wasted, and are now either happy, productive people or graduate students. The difference is, at the University of North Carolina we did our binge-drinking away from high explosives. Mostly. Kate doesn’t have that luxury. Kate doesn’t have much of anything: no family, no money, and only one really solid relationship, which comes with its own set of complications. So when she steals that bottle from the storage room, I’m sad but also I understand. It seems that Leon feels the same way, and suggests to Betty that a little old time religion might straighten her out. Betty still hasn’t forgiven Leon for distracting Kate with his jazz, so she blows him off. 

“Church.Yeah I will totally go to church when hell freezes over and I

start having sex with boys in the backs of cars.”

Meanwhile, Lorna has halted production of bombs because she has Something To Say. And that something is: you can make a nutritious meal from the body parts of your enemies.

“I used the tongue of a little boy who used a dirty word, but with a grinder, you don’t have to be picky about who or what you are cannibalizing.”

The other bomb girls skive off, muttering that if they’re reduced to eating tongue, then the enemy has already won. Lorna is hurt because these girls are like her children, and she just wants to teach them the skills they’ll need to survive. (Incidentally, my money is on Lorna for Overlord of the Former Canadian Wasteland in any apocalyptic scenario. Kate, meanwhile, would run a zombie preserve, attempting to tame them through the power of song and long, meaningful glances).

That night, Betty, Ivan, Kate, and Kate’s beard are all listening to the hockey game, which is unrealistically portrayed as an enjoyable, exciting activity. When the Leafs score, Ivan and Betty embrace, but Kate pokes her date with a stick until he gives up trying to touch her. Ivan compares his unlikely relationship with Betty to the Leafs coming from behind to win the Stanley Cup, to which Betty literally says, “Yeah, it’s like Hitler: He thinks he’s won but the series isn’t over.” Keep that analogy in mind as the episode continues. The next morning, when Betty finds Kate passed out on the couch again, she attempts to put the brakes on the frenzied debauch Kate’s life has become. Kate says she’s just trying to live a normal life like Betty’s, with “a good job and a guy like Ivan.”  And Ali Liebert, who is just the master of subtext, manages to say “Kate I love you and I will hold your hair back from your face for as many nights as you need to drink yourself into oblivion, but I won’t play this game where we pretend I never kissed you” all with her face in about two seconds.

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