Meanwhile, in the straight world…
Lorna, the shift matron (yes really), yells at Bomb Girls’ primary male character, Marco Moretti, a dreamy, Italian-Canadian weapons expert, whose first line is “Go rustle your hands into the coop, Lorna. This fox here is taking his time.” And it’s just really hard to like him after that.
Inside, Lorna, Marco, and the craggy Vogon factory manager are arguing over why the factory is behind on its quota. The men contend it’s because the women are too frail to do their jobs, and helpfully suggest that Lorna hire “huskier girls.” Lorna shoots back that it’s because they’re employing traitorous Italians like Marco himself. Ah yes, because the best antidote for sexism is xenophobia. To be fair, if Lorna comes off a little prickly at first, it’s because she has to work to support her family while her embittered, paraplegic husband heckles her. Anyway, don’t worry, she thaws out mid-season.
Down on the factory floor, Kate is welcomed to the workforce with a little sexual harassment by a male co-worker. This so disturbs her that she drops a container of explosives which nearly kills everyone and gives the show a shorter run than Pan-Am (come baaaaaaaack!). Betty orders her off the floor, but Kate retaliates with her greatest weapon: The Eyes. One look and it’s all over for Betty. She falls straight in to those great green pools and is still there to this day.
And then when all the bombs have been stuffed full of…what looks like incense and vodka, everyone splits off according to sex and has a nice, hot group shower. Or wait, only the women shower while the men stare through a peep-hole. Apparently this did not qualify as a fireable offense in the 40’s; thank you feminism for fixing that. Anyway, in the midst of all this modestly filmed action, Betty “just happens” to look over at Kate, and notices some serious scar tissue on her back, relics of her old life with her father.
As there is now much steam to blow off, after work, the younger set meets up at the Sandy Shores, the show’s designated hot spot, for elaborately choreographed swing dancing and fist fights. Side note: Was everyone in the ’40s awesome at dancing, or have I just been brainwashed by this show and A League of Their Own?
Kate, eager to have any and all of the experiences she never could while under her father’s thumb, asks Betty for a slow dance, which was apparently passing under the collective gaydar in those days, and Kate smiles like someone has just handed her a puppy. While we can all infer how much this act of affection means to Betty, the challenge is decoding exactly what it means to Kate. If you watch this show, your hand will be hovering over the pause button as you scrutinize her reactions to Betty’s growing desire, which is really a testament to Charlotte Hegele’s talent in keeping us all guessing for so long.
Also jumping headfirst into sinful pleasure is Gladys, who sneaks out of the dance with a handsome soldier and his flask. He pulls out a rumpled copy of the “We who are about to die beg you to sleep with us,” speech, but Gladhands needs very little persuasion, and they engage in some suggestive groping against a wall.
The next day at the factory the soldier shows back up to propose to Gladys, who accepts because…it’s polite? I guess? These poor Canadians just can’t stand offending anyone.
Then, keeping things moving, the show takes a leaf out of the Grey’s Anatomy playbook, the basic tenet of which is: to make a frequently boring job into entertaining television, simply add copious portions of sexual liaisons in inappropriate places, and horrific workplace tragedies. Vera is the carefree and flirtatious one, whom I have declined to mention until now because the only interesting thing that happens to her is that she gets her scalp torn off. Yep, you read that right. Vera gets her scalp torn. The fuck. Off.
Which brings us to the other point Bomb Girls is trying to get across. It’s made bluntly, yet eloquently by Lorna, as she tries to persuade a doctor to reattach Vera’s scalp. Because that is how socialized medicine works, I’m pretty sure.
“Vera is a soldier…if you want to see our boys with bullets in their guns and bombs in their planes, you will show her the same respect.”
To round out our premiere, we have one very sweet scene in which Betty publicly declares herself to be playing every position—mascot, goalkeeper, biggest fan—for Team Kate.
Staring deep into her eyes, with all the bravado and all the vulnerability and all the heart that makes her character so wonderful, she says “Whatever you’re running from, you’re safe here now. I’ll make sure.” And the look on Kate’s face when she says that…she knows.
Join us next week for wild lesbian speculation, explosions, and more strange Canadian pronunciations — as in “I’m sore-y aboot the explosion.”