Episode 3 Recap

Catch up on the riveting action and high-stakes choices that are transforming World on Fire‘s characters—get a recap of the personal scandals, state-sponsored secrets, and clandestine operations of World on Fire, Episode 3, as seen on MASTERPIECE on PBS!


Nancy learns about disabled children being sent to Dr. Voller’s secret clinic from the Rosslers, who plan to educate Hilda at home to hide her from those who might send her away. When Nancy interrogates her Ministry minder, Schmidt, he denies the euthanasia program’s existence. But she refuses to back off, and when he threatens that she’ll be deported, Nancy counters that it’ll only make him look bad.

At the factory where he works, Mr. Rossler breaks up a fight between two women, one of whom is the woman from the theater, Frau Pessler. She is livid when Rossler won’t fire the woman she fought with. “I’m a member of the party,” she says, and gives him a poisonous look.

Stationed in northern France, Harry is a 2nd lieutenant in the British Expeditionary Force. But his men have no respect for him, and only listen to his sergeant, Stan. ENSA soon arrives at Base Camp and Harry finds Lois and apologizes for his terrible behavior, saying that he hopes they can be pals again someday. But she’s not interested in his friendship or his apology.

On the HMS Exeter, Tom is taking bets on when his canary will lay an egg when he starts needling Henry, who’s bullying Tom’s slow-witted sidekick. After Henry punches Tom in the face and knocks him down, Tom is insulted when his mate, Vic, points out that Tom wasn’t defending his friend; he was just winding Henry up for the thrill of it. Tom refuses Vic’s offered hand to help him up, and then suddenly, they’re under attack and sprinting to their stations. Tom is loading shells into their cages when they’re hit, and a moment later an explosion bursts into the shell room. Vic is killed and Henry’s arm is blown off. Tom saves Henry’s life, and as he makes his way through the smoke, he locates the canary’s cage—miraculously, it has laid an egg.

In a chilling conversation with Nancy, Dr. Voller is horrifying as he tries to justify the Child Euthanasia Program, suggesting that other western countries already share its goals and, if less cowardly, would share its methods.

When Nancy reveals her findings to the Rosslers and explains that “there is no treatment. There is only murder,” Mr. Rossler is furious and terrified that she’s led them straight to his door by digging up information and asking questions.

Kasia is engaged in dangerous, clandestine operations out of the café. However, Ludvig, a resistance fighter, wants her to do more—having observed that the Germans can’t keep their eyes off her, he wants her to pick one out and lure him down the bombed out ally, where they will shoot him. She hesitantly agrees, and her first potential victim is the Rosslers’ son, Klaus. When she lures him away and kisses him, he babbles nervously about his family, and she realizes she can’t do it, leading him away before he can be killed. When she tells Ludvig that he was just a boy, he says that a boy just like him killed her mother—they are all the same! He calls her a coward.

With a brisk pep talk, Robina enrolls Jan in school. But the kids are so cruel, chanting “German!” at him, that Robina awakens that night to hear Jan crying, having wet his bed. She marches him back to school and tells the boys assembled outside that his father, a war hero, was killed fighting Hitler, and anyone who is mean to Jan must be on Hitler’s side. She shames them, but good! Later, she learns from him that Harry was married to his sister, Kasia, and that night, she gently tucks him in to bed.

Douglas is riddled with anxiety when he hears that the HMS Exeter is searching for the notorious German pocket battleship, Admiral Graf Spee. He goes to the recruitment center to try to sell Peace News and learns of the attack on the HMS Exeter. In a full panic, he weeps in frustration and fear as he tries to get news about Tom’s ship from the radio, whose signal is going in and out. Banging the radio on the kitchen table he wails “I want my boy back!”

The surviving winner of the canary egg bet wants nothing to do with the winnings and  says it should go to the widows or the chaplain. Tom, filled with self-loathing that he hadn’t shaken Vic’s hand and now he’s dead, says that he’s looking out for Number 1. But he later  ventures down to sick bay and gives the money to Henry, who lost his arm but survived because of Tom’s intervention.

Konrad and Grzegorz beg a farmer for food, promising to leave quickly. The farmer is reluctant, as the Russians are looking for them, but agrees. Sure enough, the Russians show up, and though Konrad and Grzegorz hide in the basement beneath the trapdoor, the soldier sees their dirty plates and a crust of bread on the table. The soldier leaves, but when Konrad and Grzegorz head back out, they see a Russian truck pull up. Konrad flees and though Grzegorz urges him not to leave the farmer and his family defenseless, he follows.

The men go wild for Lois’ performance but it’s too hard for Harry to watch her, and he leaves. He looks for her after the performance, and when he finds her with one of his soldiers, it looks like they were intimately engaged (though she’d just told him she wouldn’t have sex with him). Without knowing the full story, Harry slugs the guy. Later, he finds Lois—she’s been crying—and apologizes. He tells her she doesn’t need to “be like this” (implying promiscuous) but she tells him it’s none of his business.

Harry soon learns from the soldier that Lois is pregnant, and when he confronts her, she asks, “What are you going to do, ask me to marry you?” She tells him she has to look after herself now, and leaves. But on the truck,  Connie soothes her and Lois tries to hold back her tears.

That night, Harry confesses everything to Stan, who is dumbfounded to learn that Harry isn’t a virgin. He cooly suggests that the war has solved Harry’s problems, that “the Polish girl’s probably dead by now.”  This is too much for Harry to bear—he staggers into the woods firing his gun into the darkness, roaring “Come on! Come on!”

Kasia’s delivery of grenades to Tomasz is interrupted when they hear noises across the street from their hideout. Through a blown-out window, they crouch and watch as Ludwig, tied to a chair and being interrogated, is brutally beaten by the Gestapo and then shot. Tomasz panics with grief and fear, and angrily tells Kasia, “Why did you let the German go? They’re all the same!”

Later, she steels her nerve then transforms herself with a seductive smile for a group of German soldiers. She chooses one, leads him away, and leans against the wall as she kisses him. Tomasz appears and puts a gun to his head. Kasia walks away, her face a cold mask, as he shoots him.

Discover more about World on Fire:

Learn more about the real events and historical features of Episode 3.

Hear Cole Porter, Billie Holiday and iconic artists sing the songs of World on Fire in MASTERPIECE’s playlist.

Hear an interview with World on Fire writer and creator Peter Bowker on the MASTERPIECE Studio podcast.


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