Skip to main content

'World on Fire' Recap: Season 2 Episode 3

Daniel Hautzinger
Marga stands on a lawn in a pink dress and looks uncertainly at a German officer eying her
Marga begins to experience what it means to devote herself to the Reich. Credit: Mammoth Screen. Photo by Steffan Hill

World on Fire airs Sundays at 8:00 pm on WTTW and is available to stream via the PBS app and at Recap the previous and following episodes.
Keep up with your favorite dramas and mysteries by signing up for our newsletter, Dramalogue.

Marga arrives smiling at a picturesque castle in Brandenburg with a group of other girls. They are told that they no longer need their names or their families; they will simply be known as “Mutti” (mother) and are to build a glorious future for their country. They will take a partner for three days at a time, switching until they are pregnant.

A doctor examines Marga and says she can take a partner right away, since she is ovulating. He has her sign a form that she will give up her child once she gives birth. When she asks a female staffer how sex works, she is given a biology textbook and told that she doesn’t need to do anything; she can just lie there.

That is the tack she takes when a severe officer chooses her. He has already eyed her over like a piece of meat before listing his qualifications. When she hesitantly accepts his offer, he tells her he will come to her room. He does, and disrobes wordlessly. Afterwards, he tells her he will return the next day at the same time. She sobs.

The next morning, he sits down with her at breakfast, causing the other girls at her table to leave.

Stan also finds himself deserted when he returns to camp from a border patrol. Harry has brought back news of a German advance, so Stan’s unit has shipped out. Rajib’s unit is in the process of leaving, and he offers a ride to Stan. Stan hesitates, but his officer is already driving away, so he hops in Rajib’s vehicle.

Rajib’s sappers are being sent not to safety but to the supply trains – towards the Germans. They are attacked, and quickly run out of ammunition. Rajib and Stan flee into the desert rather than surrender.

They come across some German soldiers, and Rajib decides to steal one of their jeeps, despite Stan’s skepticism. They have no food or water, so they need to do something. They start the car and drive away under fire by the Germans, escaping unharmed.

Harry is not unharmed. An injury he sustained earlier in the desert campaign has festered. When he brings in an injured soldier, he himself collapses. They are both sent to a hospital in Cairo.

Lois is there, relentlessly focused on driving an ambulance. She sees Harry recuperating in a tent, and sneaks to look at his chart. He rouses and notices her, and wonders why she is there. She tells him that she almost committed suicide back in Manchester. Helping the war effort in Cairo is her way of fighting back against that impulse. Unlike Harry, she has no one back home to miss; she believed Vera would be better off without her.

Harry says he’s fighting this war as much for Lois as for Kasia or Vera. Lois responds that it’s their war as much as his, and he should find his own reason to fight.

Kasia and Jan are following the progress of the war in North Africa since Harry is there, but Robina asks Kasia not to encourage Jan in his enthusiasm for the war. She also asks Kasia to help with Vera, but Kasia doesn’t feel maternal. So Robina instead turns once again to her overworked maid, Joyce, who begins to argue and then tells Robina that she’s quitting. But Sir James appears at the right moment and charms Joyce into staying by giving her compliments, some money, and the rest of the day off. Meanwhile, Kasia changes Vera.

But Kasia is desperate to do more than just watch a baby. She searches James’ room and finds a pistol and fake German passport in his briefcase before hearing him approach. She hides under his bed. He notices the clasps on his briefcase are undone, but is called away by Jan.

Kasia finds James later in the garden and points his own pistol at him. She then dismantles it and hands it and the passport over. You must be military intelligence, she says to him. Help me get back to Warsaw, where I can fight. He says it’s out of the question.

James is getting along well in Robina’s house. Jan loves chess games with him, and Robina appreciates his way with people. He soothes a crying Vera with a drop of sherry and some rocking, and a conversation with Robina turns towards past lives. He has never been married; Robina says she felt obliged to accept her husband’s proposal. James says she could still marry by choice; plenty of men are probably interested in her.

In a Paris prison camp, Albert gives Luc a vial from his sister Henriette. It will send them to the infirmary, from which they can escape with Henriette’s help. Luc warns Albert that there are no Black people left in Paris. Albert says he won’t stay there.

But the doubt persists. After he and Luc take the vial during lunch and begin vomiting, they are sent to the infirmary. Luc asks Albert what he misses, and he reminisces about his old Paris. Luc tells him that none of that remains.

When a signal comes, Albert sends Luc out the window first, then closes it behind him and stays in the infirmary.

Organizing this operation has been dangerous for Henriette. An officer demands to know where the hospital’s morphine has gone. She lies and says she swapped it with another hospital for an antibacterial, because his soldiers keep coming to her with gonorrhea rather than face their own medics.

After Luc escapes, German soldiers storm through the hospital in search of Henriette. She barely escapes, then leaves Paris.

David also keeps getting closer to danger. His flight assignments, many of which he volunteers for, are riskier every time. Finally, he is shot down over France. He survives but soon hears German soldiers and hides in the woods, barely escaping their notice.

A German soldier in the desert doesn’t avoid capture. Stan and Rajib see a motorbike approaching and drive straight at him, causing him to fall off. Stan then fights him hand-to-hand, but Rajib ends it by pointing his (empty) gun at the soldier.

Stan wants to leave him, but Rajib insists they take him with, ordering him to strip to his underwear so that he won’t run away. When the German disappears from the back seat of the jeep anyway, Rajib demands that they go back and pick him up. A life is a life, no matter if they’re the enemy. Stan hesitated before evacuating with Rajib’s unit, knowing that he would be safer with a white unit – but that’s not how it should work.

Stan turns the car around and they find the German wandering in the sand.

When the car runs out of fuel, the three men start to walk. They finally reach a camp, and soldiers rush to bring Stan and the German water. Rajib lies weakly in the sand. Stan yells at the soldiers, telling them to help Rajib. He’s a British officer, he shouts. Rajib gets water.

Sir James offers to help Kasia – not to go back to Warsaw, but to work for him rooting out enemy agents in England. She accepts.