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'World on Fire' Recap: Season 2 Episode 6

Daniel Hautzinger
Harry sits with Vera on his lap on a bench next to Lois
Harry and Lois both return to England. Credit: Steffan Hill for Mammoth Screen

World on Fire is available to stream via the PBS app and at Recap the previous episode. 
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Nearly everyone is converging on England. There have been mutterings amongst Harry’s men about his mental state ever since Stan was killed. Since Harry’s father committed suicide after serving in World War I, worries about his mind are acute. He is given the option of shipping out with other casualties to regroup for a month or so, or being evaluated by a psychiatrist and likely being discharged. He chooses the former.

David has recovered enough to escape from France, but that means he must part from Henriette. He tells her he will find her after the war in Paris before boarding a boat to England. As Henriette leaves him, she is captured by German soldiers.

Lois is also back in Manchester from North Africa and has arranged a bedsit and a job in order to support her daughter Vera. She’s feeling more like her old self after a period of depression, and is eager to be a mother to her child. But when she arrives to pick up Vera from Robina’s house, Robina tells her Vera is out for the day. Lois will have to come back.

Fortunately, Harry is there when Lois does return. He is uncomfortable around Vera, his daughter, but Robina has clearly come to love the girl and doesn’t want to give her up to Lois after she abandoned her. Robina thinks Lois is not fit to be a mother, an accusation she understands well: she herself was damaged and passed the damage on to Harry, and wants to avoid the same thing happening to Vera.

Harry doesn’t understand his mother, but Lois does. She thanks Robina for taking care of Vera, and then takes her daughter back – Harry insists on it.

Harry and Robina later argue about Lois. Robina tells Harry that he thinks he knows the people around him well, but he can’t even tell that his own wife is lying to him.

Kasia is going to be airdropped into Poland as a British intelligence asset in a couple weeks, thanks to Sir James, but Harry isn’t even aware she is a spy. He asks her about it, guessing that she will be sent back to Poland. She lets Sir James’ name slip, so Harry confronts the older man. But Sir James says that he didn’t force Kasia to do anything or even recruit her – she figured out he was a spy and fought her way to an assignment in Poland. This is all her choice.

Once again, another woman understands better than Harry. Robina tells Kasia she knows why she is returning to Poland; she just wishes Harry wasn’t harmed by that decision. Kasia gave him a sense of purpose that he needs and lacks. Kasia simply tells Robina that she should join the war effort: they need tough women like her.

Indeed, Harry’s only way to justify the things he has done in the war, like murdering Stan’s killer, is by telling himself he’s fighting for Kasia. He had to inform Stan’s wife himself that she was now a widowed mother. She asked about the man who killed Stan; Harry simply said he was dead. She told Harry not to blame himself for Stan’s death.

Kasia tells Harry she can’t fix his anger, sadness, or feeling of being lost. He has to let her go; the woman she was a couple years ago when he fell in love and married her no longer exists. She tries to return her wedding band, but he tells her to keep it for safety – married women are less likely to be bothered. They fall into bed one more time.

Kasia’s brother Jan has guessed that she is leaving. She asks him to be brave and keep getting a good education so that he can help Poland after the war.

As Harry’s marriage breaks apart, Robina is on the verge of a new one. Sir James tells her that he cares about her, and he thinks the feeling is reciprocated. They should get married. She says the idea is ridiculous – but doesn’t refuse.

Marga’s parents think she should get married. She has fled home, claiming homesickness, to finish out her pregnancy. When asked about the father of her child, she extols him – but becomes upset when her parents press her to marry him so that she is not an unwed mother. She later overhears them discussing an abortion. She has to cede the child to the Reich otherwise, and no one will want to marry her. But they know that aborting a baby that belongs to the state would lead to torture or worse.

When her brother is home on leave from the air force, he realizes something is off and asks what is happening. When he learns that Marga is carrying an Aryan baby for the Reich, he is proud: she is giving her body to the country just as he is, as a soldier. He insists that his parents should also be proud, menacingly telling them to report anyone who tries to shame Marga. He leads everyone in a toast of his sister.

Henriette is also a woman taken captive by the German state. Her captors have realized her papers are forged and tracked down her real identity, learning that she is Jewish. They put a bag on her head, beat her, and send her to the camp near Paris where her brother was held and where Albert still resides.

In order to not be killed, she gave up the names of two fellow Resistance comrades who were already dead and another who already knows the Germans are coming. Albert knows that she will be sent to a camp for women in Germany, and that she won’t come out. She must escape before she gets there.

He gives her goods to use as bribes and a sharpened spoon for a weapon, which he tells her to hide in the gauze dressing a wound on her hand from her beating. He then has her slap him before walking away and being sent off, to prevent any suspicion from falling on him.

Rajib has also suffered a horrific reversal of fortune. His unit is ordered to dig in as the Germans bear down. When German soldiers overwhelm them, he negotiates a deal with them. But as he turns his back, they shoot at him and hit a mine, killing his whole unit except his lieutenant and badly injuring him. As Rajib recovers, he tells his lieutenant that they must finish fighting this war, and then the real battle will begin back home in India, against the British Empire.

As Harry prepares to return to combat, Robina tells Sir James that she can’t marry him. In a different life, if different choices had been made…but they weren’t. He accuses her of being afraid to be happy: she feels guilty for her husband’s suicide and Harry’s struggles, and so refuses to allow herself happiness. But she believes she must choose between happiness and responsibility, and has chosen the latter.

Harry guesses at some of his mother’s relationship with Sir James and tells her he is sorry it didn’t work out. He asks about his father, but she doesn’t want to discuss it. She assumed her husband would eventually snap out of his depression after the war, and considers him a coward for leaving her and Harry behind.

For once, Harry understands something his mother doesn’t: he gets how war can affect someone. He wants it out in the open, but Robina is and has always been afraid that if she talked about the suicide, Harry would dwell on it. In the end, they have to carry on and cannot think about the past. That’s all they can do.