“Manhattan” recap (1.11) Au Revoir, Ma Cherie

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When we last saw Abby Isaacs, she had taken a bold step forward to reclaiming her autonomy. No longer content with being the person she was expected to be, she wiped off her lipstick and crawled into Elodie’s bed. In this week’s episode, Elodie and Abby spend their post-coital bliss playing Elodie’s favorite game: Escape. Elodie asks Abby to pretend they have one hundred dollars to spend anywhere in the world. Abby suggests Paris, which brings about a melancholic response in Elodie. Paris is near and dear to the French native, but also suffering greatly during the war. “Before the war, before Tom, ladies lived there like the two of us. Together. Like this. Only without the lies.” After they both shake off the awkward moment, Elodie suggests Tangier. It’s a free city full of artistic types (i.e. gay people), Abby agrees that it sounds like a good idea, even if it is just a game. They seal their decision with a kiss.

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Elsewhere on base, tensions are running high because a vital German informant has been executed for spying. The government is tightening its grip on the scientists and everyone on the base in order to curb and catch any possible treason. Charlie’s anger over Abby’s disclosure regarding Elodie’s husband Tom, bubbles over during a game of poker. Charlie cold cocks him and warns him to stay away from his wife. Tom has uncovered a project that Charlie’s been carrying on, and now Charlie knows that this man is threatening not only his wife, but his livelihood. He and a fellow scientist hatch a plan to get Tom tossed off the base.

When Charlie arrives home that night, he asks Abby about Elodie. At first she thinks he suspects something, but in reality he wants Abby’s help to sneak a sensitive file into the crawlspace in Elodie and Tom’s home. Abby is appalled that these are the lengths her husband will now go to. “Wars have casualties, Abby!” he barks.

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When Abby gets the chance, she runs back into Elodie’s arms. She asks if their playful game about escape can become a reality. They sit down and figure out how much is would cost them to run away together to Tangier. If they can hold out for a month or two, they would have enough saved to start fresh. Abby isn’t concerned about money. She has a secret account that could bankroll their journey. Elodie asks what happened between her and Charlie. “Everything,” she responds. Abby reads off a litany of reasons why she’s angry with him. “I don’t know who Charlie is anymore, and I’m not sure if he ever knew who I am,” Abby sighs. Elodie leans in and gently asks Abby who she is, and Abby answers her with a passionate kiss.

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After they make love, a smiling Abby heads to the kitchen to grab some water (or in Elodie’s case, wine). She’s stopped in her tracks when she catches a glimpse of a husband, wife and their children, walking down the path outside. Behind that, she can see her home, where her own child sleeps and her husband waits for her. Suddenly, the reality of it all comes crashing down on her. Could she leave for a life of passion and uncertainty? Her eye turns to the crawlspace hatch in Elodie’s kitchen.

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When Abby comes home the next morning, Charlie is waiting up for her. She tells him that she’s been walking all night. As he starts apologizing for asking her to plant evidence in Tom and Elodie’s home, he’s interrupted by the sound of cars pulling up next door. From the window, Abby and Charlie watch Elodie and Tom be yanked out of their home and tossed into police cruisers. Elodie desperately looks for Abby as she is taken away. Abby then locks herself in the bedroom, away from Charlie.

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Wow, a lot a feels in this episode. Abby’s motivation is still unclear to me. Did she betray Elodie to save her marriage and family, to push the temptation of that fantasy life far away? Was it to save the comfortable, if unsatisfying life she and Charlie could have together? Did she simply feel a loyalty to Charlie that trumped her own desires? Maybe we will get some more insight in next week’s episode.

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