Episode 2 Recap
Need help keeping up with the propulsive action and drama of World on Fire, Episode 2? Get a recap of the episode that brings our characters to the brink of war, and to the point where everything in their lives is about to change.
Harry arrives home in Manchester with Jan in tow, and Robina interrogates him with her usual sarcasm, to no avail. She’s not buying the few answers he gives. Meanwhile, Lois and Connie give their ENSA audition all they’ve got. But Douglas doesn’t want her to join; they’ve got their hands full with Tom, who’s gotten out of his court date by saying that he’ll enlist. But he plans to declare himself a conscientious objector.
Preparing to get herself and her grief-stricken mother, Maria, out of Warsaw, Kasia is suddenly caught in a resistance cell’s attack on the Germans. A fighter pulls her to safety and she flees with him through bombed-out buildings. They race into Kasia’s flat, and when the pursuing soldiers break in and question them, Maria spits at the officer. She doesn’t back down, and the officer casually, inhumanely, shoots Maria in the head. She dies Kasia’s arms.
Harry assures Jan that he’ll try to get information about his family when he heads to London to learn about his next posting. As he shaves, Robina tells him, “That was the blade he used, your father,” and it’s the ghastly way she says it that makes us suspect that he took his own life. But Lois, singing on the Palais’ stage, dashes down to kiss Harry and tells him that she loves him. He tries to tell her that things have changed but doesn’t have a chance before she’s called back to perform.
After Eddie, Albert’s bandmate, recommends that they leave France, Webster tells Albert that everything that matters to him is in Paris—including Albert. Later, they part after spending the night together, Eddie spots them. He’s disgusted by his friend’s sexual orientation and his choice to stay. Webster overhears Albert telling Eddie that he’s in love with Webster.
Nancy’s censor allows her to report on the persecution of the Jews; he sees the German actions not as persecution but a “matter of national security.” Later, at her flat, she receives an affectionate welcome from the Rossler’s daughter, Hilda, whose parents are anxious to keep quiet about their daughter feeling sick.
Tom heads to the army recruiting office to register as a CO, approaching it with his devil-may-care attitude, and is met with hostility from the young men lined up to enlist.
Harry makes a disastrous trip to London, where he’s dismissed from diplomatic service because of behavior in Poland. On his return, he and Lois go out for a drive, and she tells him that she wants to join ENSA. They have sex, and afterwards she tells him its over—she suspects/knows he’s in love with someone else, and she’d wanted to get her virginity out of the way before leaving with ENSA. When he gets home Robina berates him for his failure and he confronts her about his father. He feels as though he’s messed everything up.
After a solitary funeral for her mother, Kasia returns to work at the café. When she stands up to a German soldier harassing her coworker, he hits her twice, knocking her to the ground. Later, as soldiers round up captured Polish soldiers in the square, Kasia and Gzregorz see each other! She watches in desperation as he and Konrad escape the soldier holding them at gunpoint. She finds him and urges him to leave or he’ll be killed. Konrad leaves her a gun, which she is about to use on a group of German soldiers cruelly taunting an old man. But suddenly, Tomasz, the resistance fighter, stops her from shooting. She insists that he help her join the resistance.
Nancy announces the surrender of Warsaw in her broadcast. Later, Hilda and her mother invite Nancy along to the movies. During the newsreel, Hilda has a seizure. Mrs. Rossler tries to hide it, but people—including a cold woman she’d recognized—witness everything. A panicked Mr. Rossler tells his wife, “The whole cinema saw it. It would only take one informer. Just one! And we will lose her! They will take her away!”
Harry has enlisted. He’ll be an officer, but Robina is disappointed and accuses him of running away…like his father. Meanwhile, Tom tells an extremely distraught Douglas that he’s joined the Navy—he didn’t believe in pacifism anyway. Douglas tries to get Lois to side with him but she can’t: she thinks fighting is the right thing to do, and she’s decided: she’s joining ENSA. As Lois packs, Douglas tells her that he’s not been much of a dad to her and Tom, but the least he can do is let her go.
The episode ends with each of the young people in a new uniform of sorts, ready to fight in the way each knows how: Lois on stage in her ENSA uniform; Harry departing in uniform as Robina, with an an almost imperceptible show of emotion, nods goodbye while Jan looks on; and Kasia makes her vows of initiation to become a resistance fighter. Everything is about to change.
Discover more about World on Fire:
Learn more about the real events and historical features of Episode 2.
Hear Cole Porter, Billie Holiday and iconic artists sing the songs of World on Fire in MASTERPIECE’s playlist.
Hear an interview with the actress behind waitress-turned-resistance-fighter Kasia, Zofia Wichłacz, on the MASTERPIECE Studio podcast.