J on the Character Development in Bomb Girls 1×04 “Bringing Up Bombshell”

“Bringing Up Bombshell” was all about characters crossing thresholds and venturing out of their comfort zones, both willingly and unwillingly.  Pretty much all the central ladies of Bomb Girls experience this in one way or another, from the timid Kate to the brassy Betty.  In crossing those thresholds, the power imbalances of 1940’s Canadian society become clear.  This is a world where there are major rifts between black and white, men and women, rich and poor.  And we can also see the rift between women who don’t conform and women who do.

For Gladys, a seemingly perfect socialite out for a jaunt in a bomb factory, staying within her social boundaries is too much to bear.  She wants to be one of the girls regardless of her wealth, and yet also wants to keep her job a secret from her domineering parents.  When she discovers that her fiancé James has had an affair to “get some experience”, she too yearns to shed the restrictions imposed on her by her status, family, and fiancé.  Gladys is infuriated by the double standard that condones James’s gallivanting while denying her any leeway in the relationship, and I kind of love that she gets drunk with the film director, plays strip poker, and associates with *gasp* bohemians.  By the end of the episode, it seems like James might be getting the idea that he can’t view Gladys as an angel if their relationship is going to work.

Kate is much more cautious in her pursuit of Leon, the black factory worker with a talent for melodious harmonizing.  He is reluctant to associate with her because of their racial difference, but does give her some good tips about strengthening her voice.  In her quiet way, she won’t give up on him and I for one would love to hear them sing together again.  Both Charlotte Hegele as Kate and Jim Codrington as Leon have really beautiful voices!

Whereas Leon does almost everything he can to push Kate away, Marco is insistent in seeking out Lorna (even though she’s given him the cold shoulder more than once).  It’s too perfect that Marco finally seduces Lorna in the factory office as she’s printing out celibacy pamphlets.  There’s no going back for Lorna, and although this will probably mean complications and heartache down the road, I think she sees Marco’s attention and desire as a welcome change from her married life.

Despite all these character developments, my favourite storyline from this week’s episode was Betty’s.  Cast as the face of Victory Munitions for a film meant to inspire women to join the work force, Betty is definitely out of her element.  She’s certainly not comfortable acting in front of a camera (I had to laugh at her awkward attempts to do what the director said), but she’s even less comfortable with the message the film promotes.  It’s not one that she represents or wants for herself, and she is mortified that the director had to invent a white picket fence story about her in order to appeal to the masses.  Ali Liebert does a great job showing the embarrassment, anger, and envy that are all a part of Betty’s response to the film.

Personally, I think Betty’s a great character: she’s got sass, she’s got savvy, she’s got strength, but she’s also got sadness and vulnerability that we see in glimpses as the series progresses.  Beneath her tough exterior, she is hurt and disappointed that she doesn’t fit in with the other girls.  Though she gives the impression of not caring what people think of her, she reveals to Kate that she actually wishes she could just be “normal”.  The fact that Betty doesn’t conform to ideas of what women should be, how they should behave etc. makes her an outsider.  I just wish that she and Kate could live happily ever after together in the house that Betty has been saving for, but alas, I think that her feelings for Kate may lead to a broken heart by the end of the series.

Other things I noticed:

  • Maybe now I’m the one judging people by a double standard, but Edith and Lorna’s husband??  Now wait just a minute!
  • It was great to see Lorna’s faith in Betty as a competent, reliable worker.
  • I’m a fan of many of the male actors on Bomb Girls as well as the ladies: Antonio Cupo as Marco Moretti (he’s dreamy), Peter Outerbridge as Lorna’s husband Bob, and this week Graham Abbey as the film director who shows Gladys a good time.

What did you think of “Bringing Up Bombshell”?  What do you suppose is in store for the ladies as the various relationships progress?  We love hearing thoughts and comments, so feel free to share!


10 thoughts on “J on the Character Development in Bomb Girls 1×04 “Bringing Up Bombshell”

  1. Great to see you taking on Bombgirls J. Another special moment occurs when Gladys challenges her beau James to get penicillin for Hazel (THE OTHER WOMAN!!!!) who probably also has a nasty STD. It shows Gladys venturing into new terrain for women…she is standing up for equal treatment possibilities for women (even though she hates her rival’s guts).

    • Thanks for your comments, Anon! I completely agree with you – I loved that moment too! Gladys feels strongly that it is not just men who are entitled to medical treatment, and the fact that she challenges James on that shows her to be fair-minded and forward-thinking.

    • So true! A lot of things that we take for granted now were uphill battles for Canadian women and other marginalized groups 70 years ago. We can see that not only in Gladys’s story, but also in Leon’s and Betty’s big time.

      • and don’t forget about Kate….it is pretty rough for a young white woman to follow her passion for a black man, especially a young woman who was brutally beaten by her father and has the added liability of singing from her throat

        • Perhaps it’s because I’m a Betty/Kate shipper, but I’m not sure I think Kate has a passion for Leon so much as a shared passion for music. Though to be fair, her interactions with both don’t strike me as particularly romantic on her side, at least in terms of what we’ve seen. She seems very friendly with him, but at the same time doesn’t seem to show any of the sort of awkwardness or eagerness to please in his company that sometimes goes along with crushing on someone. Like the way Betty behaves around Kate.
          If it turns out that the Betty/Kate thing is one-sided, or that Kate won’t allow herself to follow her heart in that direction, then I would ship her and Leon. He’s seems like a great guy.
          I do have to say, somewhat tongue in cheek, that I would be tickled if Kate’s statement to Leon “you’re just like Betty” turned out to be true in more ways than one. Maybe that’s why there doesn’t seem to be any romantic vibe to Kate/Leon (to me), on either side. He’s gay, too! 🙂

          • I’m with you, Charlotte. I think that Kate’s relationship with Leon is more about the music than any kind of romantic involvement. Although it’s hard to say because Kate is still something of a mystery. And Betty’s feelings for her are much more overt than Leon’s (which seem to veer more toward mentor/friend). I guess conceivably Kate could end up with either or neither, we’ll just have to wait and see. But I’m rooting for Betty/Kate too!

            It would be awesome if Leon was more like Betty than we all suspected! (Oh and I love Betty’s response to that statement: “he’s prettier”! I can totally see Betty and Leon becoming allies.)

  2. Pingback: Bomb Girls 1×04 “Bringing Up Bombshell” Is that 1940s Feminism in the air? | The Viewing Party

  3. Pingback: Bomb Girls 1×04 "Bringing Up Bombshell" Is that 1940s Feminism in the air? | Tard Scat

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