We begin with a flashback: Three soldiers stumble through a forest in France. One is blindfolded, with his hands behind his back. One leads him, talking about how he hates a coward, and raising his gun. The third is Garland, younger and in uniform, watching this in silent dread. As the officer goes to shoot, Garland raises his own gun and wakes up, in present day, disturbed and restless. Emma enters his office, busying – there’s a wedding today, and she’s holding the fort while Garland goes to the East End to help Peggy with some housekeeping. Garland’s reluctant, but Emma’s firm – he needs a day off. He’s not the only one: Robbie notices Max is in low spirits: not engaged and flat with life.
With Garland gone, Emma’s in charge, and she’s put to the test with a society wedding: Lady Hamilton’s friends, the Ashworths, are using the hotel for their reception. Everything must be perfect. Lady Hamilton tells Toby she’s going to invite Lucian to the reception – and announces, to his unease, that she’s setting him up with a date too.
Garland arrives at Peggy’s: with Jim, her husband, at the front, he’s helping out with household chores. He meets Dora, her six year old daughter Dora, and her prying-eyed neighbor, Ada. Peggy and Garland have errands to run, and they leave Dora with her. Peggy and Garland go through the East End. As he waits for her outside a shop, Garland tenses at being called a name we’re not familiar with: “Sam”. The man moves along, though Garland looks like he’s seen a ghost.
Celina Radimsky comes to the hotel to meet Freddie, who tries to offer consolation after her husband’s death. He is shocked at her devastation: she and her family really are all alone now. With Freddie’s situation so precarious in the skies, he’s uncomfortable watching grief this close up.
Lady Hamilton invites Lucian to the wedding reception. He demurs: there’ll be a lot of eyes on her. There’s an awkward moment where she tries to brush it off. Lucian explains that he’s only trying to protect her, but relents: he’ll come after all. It seems they can’t resist each other. Romance isn’t flowing so well for Toby who finds his blind date, Lady Theresa, completely intolerable. He runs through the back corridors, trying to avoid her. But she’s insatiable – eventually, in desperation, he runs through to the back bar, where Adil is getting some stock. How will Toby respond to this new intimacy?
Peggy and Garland, obviously trying to prolong the day together out of work, walk through the East End when sirens start to sound. They’re heard in the West End too – hundreds of planes. This isn’t like a normal drill. Emma takes the threat seriously and stands up to Lady Hamilton, whose priorities are the smooth running of her friend’s wedding. Max has agreed to work on the food in the kitchen above ground while bombs fall: Robbie works with him, and calls him out on his recent nihilism. He pushes him until Max snaps, and bursts into tears: he’s been hiding his desperation.
Meanwhile, Peggy and Garland are trapped in a public shelter: and they’re not the only ones – Douglas, walking nearby, has been trapped too and away from Peggy’s ears, we hear how he knows Garland. He’s interrupted by Peggy, who’s lost her nerve: she can’t stay in the shelter when bombs are falling over Dora. She’s going to brave it and go home. Garland hurries out with her. They struggle through the streets as bombs rain down: it’s a horrifying sight. Ash everywhere, broken streets, and blasts nearby.
The wedding continues – Lady Hamilton gets sharp words from Lady Ashworth, who tells her that she and Lucian are the centre of society gossip. The behavior indulged and accepted under her husband won’t stand for her. She’s mortified, and distances herself from the advancing Lucian. Emma goes to Freddie, indulging in romantic thoughts about whether they might one day marry. But Freddie has hardened himself: he can’t face hurting her in the long run.
Peggy and Garland reach her street: they see the rubble of her house at the end of it. Amidst the chaos and screaming, Garland breaks a window and they climb in, bombs still overhead, and rubble crashing in. It’s hard to see how she could have survived: what state will she be in if they find her?
The next day, smoke rises from the streets. Bombed out houses are seen from a distance. Lady Hamilton and Lucian have spent the night together, and Emma cries in Garland’s arms – whether the night’s distress or her heartbreak, it’s difficult to say. And Toby faces Adil: how will they respond to their earlier, intimate connection?
And Emma watches Freddie leave. Joe interrupts her tears and blunders in with an agreement that they probably would never have worked out – not what she needs to hear. She leaves the window, and therefore doesn’t see her father joining Freddie in the street: issuing a warning.
Written by TomSouthwell on Jan 17, 2017