Episode 4 Recap

Need help keeping up with World on Fire‘s characters as they struggle to save their lives—and their humanity—during the Battle of France? Get a recap of all the drama and action of World on Fire Episode 4, as seen on MASTERPIECE on PBS.


Harry tells his men, as they’re camped in a bombed-out building, to write their letters home in case they don’t make it. At dawn, a German tank rolls up and soldiers prepare to fire on the house. Stan waits for Harry’s orders, but he’s frozen and utterly fails. Panicked, Stan tells the men to fall back and not engage.

Later, Harry shares their new orders to head north. He gives his men a nod to move but one is mowed down by machine gun fire. To save the injured soldier, Harry has to take out the machine gunner, so he hunts down the two Germans firing from a window. One is shot, but the other turns and sees Harry, who raises his pistol to shoot him, but loses his nerve. The soldier hurls himself at Harry and as they struggle on the ground, Harry finds a brick and smashes it against the guy’s head. He then manages to reach the German’s knife and stabs him. He closes the dead man’s eyes, shocked that he’s taken this life and nearly lost his own.

Kasia and Tomasz meet in a church as they continue their resistance work. She sees an SS officer and jokes about him being her next target. Later, she brings him to the designated place, but as he kisses and gropes her, Tomasz doesn’t appear. She fights him off but he persists. Desperate, she pulls out her pistol and shoots him in the stomach, then has to fire again to kill him. Tomasz arrives too late, as he’d been caught in a roundup. Kasia acts like it was no big deal but it’s like something has died inside her.

Douglas already guessed that Lois is pregnant, but when Robina and Jan pay a visit to the Bennetts to share what she’s learned about Harry marrying Jan’s sister, Lois keeps her own news quiet. Later, Douglas makes an awkward visit to Robina’s house to tell her about Lois’ pregnancy. She doesn’t react, but before long, Robina invites Douglas to tea to discuss the baby. As they hash it out—she’s convinced he wants money, and he wants her to have the facts and be involved in the child’s life—a furious Lois interrupts them. She states in no uncertain terms that she wants nothing from Harry or Robina.

Helen Hunt as Nancy Campbell in World on Fire Episode 4

Mr. Rossler arrives home and is angry to see Nancy visiting. When he refuses to hand over his coat, Mrs. Rossler forces it and finds a swastika pin. She’s horrified but he says he’s supporting the Nazis to protect their daughter, that they have to be on the Nazis’ side to keep Hilda safe.

Nancy’s reporting on the euthanasia program is being heavily censored, so she writes up the story and smuggles it out. But she’s soon confronted by Schmidt, who returns it and threatens the Rosslers if she persists. Nancy immediately agrees to back off. She wants assurances that Hilda will be safe, but he gives none. Later, Hilda and Mrs. Rossler come to say goodbye to Nancy—they’re going to their summer house on a lake. It’s an emotional parting, but the women hold it together for Hilda’s benefit.

Against the rules and with nurse Henriette’s encouragement, Webster treats a Jewish patient who was attacked by anti-Semites. Henriette reveals to Webster that she’s Jewish and that she will stay and fight if he wants her to. Meanwhile, the outside of Albert’s apartment has been vandalized with a huge red-painted swastika and a pig’s head left at the door. Albert tells Webster that he’ll never be safe anywhere in the world.

Grzegorz and Konrad awaken in the forest to the voices of soldiers of a German panzer crew. Fleeing, they separate, and the one pursuing Grzegorz tries to shoot him but his gun jams. He drops his gun, preparing for Grzegorz to shoot him. But Grzegorz lowers his gun and holds out his hand. “We shake hands” he says, and as the soldier shakes Grzerogz’s hand, he’s shot dead by Konrad. Konrad, angry, tells Grzegorz to run.

Their argument about the killing continues as they make their way through the forest. The sudden sound of trucks on the move silences them, but to their relief, it’s the British. Later, they’re holed up alongside British soldiers waiting to attack Germans as their tanks roll through. Konrad tells Gregorz that his father would be proud of him, then joins in the open fire on the Germans. A moment later, he’s dead, shot in the head. In utter horror, Grzegorz howls, “Somebody help me!”

Tom has returned home! But to Douglas’ worry, Tom tells him that he’s deserting—he sees that the war, the killing, is all senseless, so why should he risk his life? But when he asks his dad for help, Douglas says Tom should go back because he if he’s court-martialed for going AWOL, he could be hanged. Plus, it would undermine the peace movement if they take people who are AWOL rather than genuine pacifists. Deeply hurt, Tom puts a tough, cynical face on.

Later, Tom comes downstairs in his uniform, and when Douglas tries again to explain, Tom feels like it’s personal. Nevertheless, he puts out his hand to shake with his father, because he never accepted Vic’s hand on the ship, and then it was too late. After Tom leaves, Douglas wants Lois’ understanding, but she’s still mad about him going to Robina. He tells her that she’ll understand once she has the baby and everything changes. Furious, she tells him “Everything’s changed already!”

Kasia is sickened to discover that thirty people have been rounded up for her murder of the SS officer. One of them stumbles as she’s being marched by the Germans and leaves a crumpled-up paper for them to retrieve—it’s a jeweled brooch and an address. Kasia and Tomasz witness as the group is lined up and shot by firing squad. Kasia takes the brooch to the woman’s family and tells them, as the daughter sobs, “I’m sorry, it was my fault.” Kasia’s will deepens: she will kill as many Germans as the firing squad killed Poles.

There’s no radio contact or word for Harry’s unit as they hole up in an abandoned chateau. After the events of the last few days, Harry has bonded with Stan and finally begun to understand his own father. But as the two talk outside, they’re suddenly under attack. There’s an exchange of fire; their machine guns are unleashed, but more mortar falls, and explodes. And Harry finally finds his voice and his command, yelling “Everybody out!”


Discover more about World on Fire:

Learn more about the real events and historical features of Episode 4.

Watch Julia Brown, World on Fire‘s Lois Bennett, answer fan questions when she took over MASTERPIECE’s Instagram

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

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