%$#@’s getting real, guys.
This episode opens with a funeral, and a chaplain asking us not to mourn the passing of eight men buried in a mass grave, but to “rejoice” in their great sacrifice. The language is flowery, and the sight itself is brutal. TCF is a show that has not shied away from the cost of war, but also from the things people do to cope in times of war. Like crack jokes, maybe.
One such group is the men of The Lucky Thirteen, whose leader, a man they affectionately call “Dad” gently and honestly tells them that there is no joy to be found in the death of good men, and reminding them that they are in it together and by luck before he asks them to bow their heads.
It’s Margaret’s birthday, and Grace is gently reminding Roland that he needs to make her feel appreciated, which he smartly calls out as her guilt at being chosen Matron, though she denies it. When she insists he show appreciation, he tells Joan he appreciates her because ROLAND IS A BOSS.
In line for breakfast, Tom asks Kitty about her plans for the day and she answers coyly that she though about tidying the tent and darning socks.
I am sure that is code for “making out.” He notices her uncharacteristic humor, and asks her quietly to meet him.
At her whispered, furtive “yes”, he is so surprised he takes a moment to come up with a location: the woods, around two.
These two dumplings are so adorable. I just want to gobble them up. I also want dumplings now.
Also at breakfast, one of the men of the Thirteen, Deeley, speaks to Dad about a secret they both share. Apparently Deeley is worried that Dad might get into problems if they listen to his chest, and it would kill the men to lose him.
Dad calms him, assuring him it won’t happen because it’s luck keeping them together. Don’t say that, Dad. Now you know bad stuff will happen, DAMN IT.
Back in their tent, Tom is making Miles blissfully happy by giving up his day pass so that he can stay and meet Kitty-even though he tells Miles he’ll be doing some darning and cleaning the tent.
Miles meets Roland on the way out, and he warns him to be back by seven. As he walks away, Matron hands Roland a note, and he comments that someone has “connections.” It turns out that the note is a summons for Kitty from Mr. Elliot Vincent, asking that she meet him in town that day. Matron gives Kitty the news and tells her to be at the entrance by two o’clock if she wants a ride into town.
Whoever Vincent is, he is a master c-blocker. Poor Tom.
Another romance facing hard times is that of Flora with shy, awkward Charlie from The Lucky Thirteen. His fellow soldiers try to hook him up by asking Flora her name and setting him up for a compliment, but he fails spectacularly, snapping irritably at her instead.
As they tease him, a Captain Oberston arrives to inspect and approve them for service, and Deeley tells Dad that his luck may be in, as the Captain is a bit deaf and obviously not all there. As Deeley watches him, he notices he is not listening to the men’s lungs, but his hopes are shot when Joan notices the exams are taking long, and offers to help him, picking up his unused stethoscope and hanging it about her neck.
As Kitty waits for her transport, she is surprised to note that it is Miles who will be driving her into town.
Margaret notes that it’s only a matter of time before all the girls want unchaperoned trips and get knocked up, because Margaret is THE WORST. On their way there, Kitty asks him about the hotel, and he tells her about his plans. In the woods, Tom waits in his dress uniform, and my heart just breaks for him.
Miles flirtatiously invites Kitty to a steak dinner and later a bath, and she becomes outraged and gets out of the car, saying she will walk there and back. Miles attempts to convince her to get back in the car, but finally tells her he’ll be outside the hotel at five to drive her back, and that he gives up on her.
Back in the wards, Joan wants Dad to come through her line, even though he offers to wait for the doctor. He pushes his chair back nervously when she insists, and the sound sets a patient off. The sick man dives under his bed in a panic, and as they all rush to his aid, goes into convulsions. Roland is there and goes to examine him, when he notices it is Prentiss, the man he thought he had Margaret send home in defiance of orders.
At the hotel Rose Sur Mer, Kitty waits for Mr. Vincent, who unknown to her, is sitting behind her, observing her as she fidgets. Miles sees her in the dining room, but goes on to his room without saying anything.
Back at the hospital, Tom gives up his wait and leaves the woods.
Flora is turning Joan’s motorcycle engine over to keep it running when Charlie comes up to her and shyly begins to chat with her.
Flora’s natural honesty and friendliness cause her to talk about what a modern girl she is, and seemingly overwhelmed, he excuses himself to leave. Rosalie notices them talking, and warns her fellow VAD about giving the young man ideas, which makes Flora angry.
In the tent, Joan finally examines Dad and he confesses to pleurisy, a double pneumonia that “sounds much worse than it is.”
He begs her to keep it between them, but she will not. Dad begs Captain Oberston not to make the findings official, saying he “holds his boys together.” Still, Oberston stamps him C-3 instead of A-1, and Dad asks Joan what he is supposed to do. “Go home and wait for the telegrams to start coming?” Joan tells him gravely that she had to do what was best for him. Dad goes out to the beach and sees him men playing soccer, and when he tells Deeley, the younger man shouts that they’re all dead now and tries to run.
Dad warns him not to run lest he get shot, and that they won’t die because he won’t let them. The unit walks back as one in the dusk.
Roland confronts Margaret about lying to him, informing her that if she did as she said, it would be impossible for Prentiss to be there. “With me, Sister Quayle. Now,” he growls, and asks her to go to his office. There, together with Matron, he demands answers, and she tells him she was late, missed the convoy, and lied so he would think well of her.
Roland says he would have thought better of her had she told the truth, and dismisses her. When she leaves, Matron remonstrates him for going against orders, but he tells her that he had a chance, and now he has grand mal seizures and almost no control of his limbs. He is still angry that Margaret lied, and obviously tortured by Prentiss’s fate.
Matron notices a shadow in the doorway, and assumes Margaret was listening at the door, which she was. Margaret rushes to her room and finds the pass Roland gave her, hiding it in a porcelain figurine. Roland goes to Prentiss and tries to play the music that once soothed him, but it sends him into another seizure.
Kitty is anxiously waiting when Mr. Vincent shows up and strokes her as he comes around the table. He admits to being busy, but says he had to see her, and hands her papers telling her he wants her full confession so that proceedings may take place and he can marry again. So this is her husband.
She reads the confession he hands her and although she did not write it, she signs it when he tells her the fact is, she did have an affair. Elliot tells her to ask, as he knows she wants to. “How is she?” Kitty says, and he tells her she is getting taller, losing her baby teeth, and that she lives with his sister. “She’s happy,” he says, which causes Kitty to tear up and ask if she asks about her.
His response is that she scared her, and that she shouldn’t have taken her away. Kitty wants to write to her, to tell her she isn’t forgotten, that she loves her more than her own life, and that she thinks about her “every minute of every day.” Elliot says she can tell her herself, and slides a key towards her. Kitty is overjoyed that her daughter is there, and rushes up to the room to see her, calling out for “Sylvie.” Outside the room, she takes a fork she had hidden in her sleeve and leaves it outside, letting herself in…
…but the room is empty. It is a trap set by Elliot to get her alone. His calm demeanor is suddenly threatening, and Kitty begins to cry when she realizes Sylvie is not there and she will not see her again. She tries to get herself under control, telling him bravely that she is going to leave, as she is expected at the hospital and they will come looking, but as she tries to get out, he, slams the door on her, and grabs her by the hair and throws her into the hall.
She grabs her fork and holds it out, backing her way down the hall as he advances, but thank the Lord, Miles appears, and warns him off. He takes one last chance to call Kitty a whore and malign Miles’s rank, but as he starts after him, he notices Kitty cowering in the corner and goes to her.
She gamely picks herself up and casually says they must get back, but when he tries to hold her upright, she flinches and sobs in fear, pulling away. Poor Kitty. How limited her options were as a battered wife, and how badly her brave attempt to leave it all behind turned out.
That night, Matron tries to tell Margaret that Roland is mad at the situation, and not really at her. She asks if she destroyed the pass, and Margaret of course lies and says that she did, and never wanted to have it in the first place.
Matron stares after her when she walks away, and it is obvious she does not believe her.
The men of The Lucky Thirteen are being dismissed back to the front lines, and as Dad says goodbye to each individually with words of encouragement, he notices Charlie is missing. He has gone to see Joan, who he earlier recognized. He tells her that he was a waiter at a restaurant she used to frequent with her German fiancé.
Joan asks if he is blackmailing her, and he says that for two weeks he said nothing, but now he has to use what he has to keep his mates together. He tells Joan to work out what means more to her, giving Dad the green light or having her situation come to light, and Joan stamps an A-1 on a new report, handing it over in tears.
Before he goes, Charlie tells her again that he takes no pleasure in what he has done, and almost apologetically tells her that she and her man “look good together. Right.” War is hell, guys. Charlie runs back out to the line and tells Dad to line up and not ask questions, and he gets through.
Miles and Kitty arrive back, and Miles tells her he will not gossip. When she thanks him, he says there is nothing to be thankful for.
That night, at her birthday celebration, Margaret brings up publicly that Joan is engaged and asks to know about her fiance. As Joan demurs, Rosalie realizes she may have spoken out of turn.
At Margaret’s insistence, Joan shows them the ring from around her neck. Margaret continues to ask his name and rank (Charlie, Lance Corporal in the Royal Engineers, she lies), and Joan, upset, starts to cry and leaves. Later that night in bed, she reads of the German casualties, and throws the papers away, frustrated.
Matron observes this unkindness and also leaves, but she goes into Margaret’s tent to look for the pass. Margaret finds her there and accuses her of turning against her, her oldest friend, in favor of her new master. Matron tells her that it is because she has known her for so long that she knows she did not throw away the pass because she knows she can use it against Roland, and all because she still resents not becoming Matron.
“You should have turned it down!” Margaret shouts in perhaps her first honest utterance of the series. “But I didn’t!” shouts Matron, and keeps looking as Margaret complains about the humiliation of everyone expecting her to get the position, and the shame of being passed over for her protege instead. Margaret reminds her that she saved her, and expected her loyalty. “Perhaps I’d have been happier if you hadn’t,” Matron says, and Margaret sneers that instead she would have been “ruined, a laughingstock, a pariah,” and certainly not Matron.
She tells Grace that there is a rumor she and Roland are “especially close,” but she could dispel that, as she knows her tastes are much more exotic. Matron is shaking with anger, but her voice is calm when she says that Margaret is obviously exhausted, and that she is sending her home on two weeks’ leave, and that while she is on leave, she should think about whether or not she can continue to work there, under her. If she cannot, she will arrange for a transfer “as far away as possible.”
Margaret is shocked into silence, and Matron leaves with her head held high, but once outside appears shaken.
At dinner, Kitty finally sees Tom, and walks outside where he follows so they can talk by the supply crates. She tells him she could neither get him a message or turn down the pass. He says with a chagrined smile that “no one turns down a pass.” He mentions she probably made Miles’s day, to which she says she only saw him in the car, and he was very polite.
They both smile, and Kitty, weighed down by the events of the day, drops her bomb. “Maybe it was for the best…not meeting.” When Tom asks why, she clarifies, ”I’d be the one sent home. Not you. I don’t want to be sent home.” They hear the click of a lighter, and Tom pulls her down into a crouch. It’s Sgt. Soper, stealing some whiskey from a crate, but as they stay quiet so as to not be noticed, Tom and Kitty stare into each other’s faces, and the attraction is practically a third presence.
Tom notices as well, and leans in to kiss her, when Kitty blurts out that she came to work, “not to get entangled.” It’s about all the rejection poor, proud Tom can take for one day, and he removes himself from her person, standing and quietly voicing his acceptance. “Understood.”
Kitty shuts her eyes in frustration as he walks away because COME ON. She could have locked lips with that and it’s gotta sting.
Outside the camp, the men of The Lucky Thirteen are marching to the front and as promised, Flora is there to wave them off. “Goodbye! Good luck!” she calls out sweetly, and when he hears her, Charlie finally decides to go for it. He breaks ranks and runs to her, even as Dad has to reassure his Sergeant he is not making a run for it. He stands in front of Flora and takes her face in his hands, and kisses her as his mates coo at them.
He tells her that he “reckons she’s the prettiest girl ever” and at her delighted, “Ooh, Charlie Dawlish!”, kisses her again and runs back into line with a smile on his face, where Deeley gives him a hug, and the men of The Lucky Thirteen march off as Flora waves. I can’t hate, kid. Carpe diem.