'Atlantic Crossing' Episode 6 Recap

Märtha (Sofia Helin) and President Roosevelt (Kyle MacLachlan). Courtesy of MASTERPIECE

MASTERPIECE “Atlantic Crossing" Sundays, April 4 - May 23, 2021 on PBS Episode Six Sunday, May 9, 2021; 9-10pm ET on PBS America enters the war, and Olav arrives from England. Missy grows suspicious of ties between Roosevelt and Martha, as does Olav. Meanwhile, a dastardly Nazi plot unfolds. Shown from left to right: Kyle MacLachlan as President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Sofia Helin as Crown Princess Martha For editorial use only. Courtesy of MASTERPIECE.

The sixth episode of Atlantic Crossing opens with two American soldiers going off shift at the Opana Radar Site in Hawaii; one is anxious to get away, but the other wants to stay and improve his skills. He sees something unusual on the equipment, but when they contact their superiors, they’re told not to worry. There’s a calendar on the wall; the date is December 7, 1942.

At the White House Harry Hopkins announces what has just happened. Roosevelt barks orders and he and Eleanor exchange a long glance. And naturally, Roosevelt goes to visit Märtha and shares his guilt and sadness, admitting that she was right all along. Märtha sympathizes—this is how they felt in Norway. But they lost, Roosevelt insists. She disagrees—they lost only the first round.

The Norwegian royals and Cabinet in Britain hear the news and are relieved that now the U.S. will join the war. General Fleischer, Olav’s candidate for the Chief of Defense position, arrives in Scotland, where the Norwegian Brigade are quartered. Olav warns him that the Cabinet has unearthed a letter from him to the King, soon after the invasion, urging him to stay in Norway. Despite the fact that many of the Cabinet took the same position at the time, it will almost certainly be used against Fleischer. Olav asks his father the King for support.

When the Cabinet meet, Olav voices his support for Fleischer and is then informed that British Intelligence claims Märtha and Roosevelt are having an affair. Olav is cool, then angry, and demands an apology which is grudgingly given. But it’s enough to make him suspicious, and the King is annoyed that he was so easily distracted from the business of getting Fleischer nominated. Olav decides another visit to the U.S. is in order.

Olav (Tobias Santelmann) and Nikolai Østgaard (Lasse Kolsrud). Courtesy of MASTERPIECE
Olav (Tobias Santelmann) and Nikolai Østgaard (Lasse Kolsrud). Courtesy of MASTERPIECE 

U.S. Intelligence has been busy, too. Missy arrives at Märtha’s house and summons her to the White House (Missy is thrilled to see the new favorite in trouble) where Roosevelt and Harry Hopkins confront her with a telegram from a fellow Norwegian who has reached out to Germany for help in getting her back to Norway. She is shocked, and asks why on earth she would want to return to Norway, and relieved that Roosevelt and Hopkins believe her. But it may be a sign that Norwegians sympathetic to Germany are becoming active and possibly planning to kidnap her and the children. Pook’s Hill is put on lockdown.

Ragni is thrilled about her daughter’s upcoming wedding in London and Märtha gives her her Christmas present early, so that she has a new dress to wear, the assumption being that she’ll return to England with her husband Nikolai when he comes over with Olav. Nikolai and Ragni are thrilled to see each other, but eventually, he has to tell her that it’s unlikely, given the open-ended visit and slow wartime travel, that either of them will attend the wedding.

We don’t see a reunion between Olav and Märtha, but given their conversation on the way to the White House Christmas Eve party, things are rather cool. He brings up the topic of her relationship with the President and reminds her that it’s important for them to show unity, but she points out that they are a divided family. They are both greeted with great warmth by Roosevelt with whom Olav requests a meeting. Eleanor allows Olav to tease her about her pacifist stance, and Missy gushes about what a lovely couple Olav and Märtha make before wheeling Roosevelt away out of their orbit. She proceeds to harangue him in a corner. Märtha, surprised by Missy’s erratic behavior, asks Roosevelt about her. But Roosevelt turns on the charm and suggests they slip away for a ride in his car.

Missy Lehand (Lucy Russell),  Märtha (Sofia Helin), and Olav (Tobias Santelmann). Courtesy of MASTERPIECE
Missy Lehand (Lucy Russell) about to ruin the party at the White House for Märtha (Sofia Helin), and Olav (Tobias Santelmann). Courtesy of MASTERPIECE

Märtha is shocked and embarrassed. She mumbles an excuse, and slips away, noting that Olav has seen the exchange, and doesn’t look at all happy. She takes refuge in a bathroom, and on her way out, bumps into Missy, who is quite obviously drunk, and spills her drink. “Take your hands off me!” Missy hisses in true villainess mode and proceeds to warn her off Roosevelt in no uncertain terms. Again, Olav sees the encounter.

Olav confronts Märtha, but her refusal to clarify her relationship with Roosevelt makes things worse. Soon after, he and Nikolai leave to travel back to Britain, leaving the children sad at the short visit, and both Märtha and Ragni in tears.

In Britain, on her wedding day, Ulla (Maria Annette Tanderø Berglyd) is also in tears because neither of her parents can be there. Her bridesmaid tries to comfort her, but a knock at the door reveals King Haakon, with a bunch of flowers. He very sweetly tells her that her parents send their love and offers to give her away. It’s a side of him we haven’t seen since he was with his grandchildren in Norway.

Ulla Østgaard (Maria Annette Tanderø Berglyd)
 and King Haakon VII (Søren Pilmark). Courtesy of MASTERPIECE
Ulla Østgaard (Maria Annette Tanderø Berglyd) and King Haakon VII (Søren Pilmark). Courtesy of MASTERPIECE

Things really aren’t going well for Olav. He has a chance meeting with Fleischer at an airfield in Scotland, about to board a plane to Canada. In Olav’s absence, the Cabinet has decided to send the General to establish a ground force in Canada. In other words, he’s being sent into exile.

Märtha confides in Roosevelt having, as she tells him, no one to talk to now she’s estranged from Olav. He has her, he offers hopefully, and plants a chaste (more or less) kiss on her forehead. But Missy sees them, staggers, and collapses. An ambulance is called, and on the steps of the White House, Märtha sees and hears the servants whispering about her. She has to go, she tells Roosevelt.

Fast forward to summer and a family vacation on Long Island. Everyone is happy, the children are having a great time at the beach, and Ragni’s friend Eliza Forbes (Kirsti Lovas), the Roosevelts’ masseuse, has a vacation rental nearby. Märtha seems a lot happier, too, and is expecting a visit from Roosevelt that evening. Unfortunately when Olav calls, his daughters announce that godfather is coming to visit, and he ends the call before Märtha can get to the phone.

Eliza and Ragni are having fun together that evening, with Eliza eyeing up the security guards who came with Roosevelt. On the pretext of fetching cigarettes from her car, she takes out a flashlight, makes her way to the beach, and signals to a German submarine.

Meanwhile, Roosevelt and Märtha are talking. He thinks she’s avoiding him, but she’s been busy, she says, and asks how Missy is doing. Reluctantly, he admits that Missy is holding up, which translates as being partially paralyzed and can’t speak, and is being cared for by her sister. He turns the conversation back to Märtha who tells him that she needs time to think and that it’s important to keep a clear head.

We’ve seen two people leave the submarine, heading for the shore, and although we’re not clear on what happened next, one of the agents receives a call in the house and announces that there is a situation, code red. Family and staff are instructed to lock themselves in their rooms, but they won’t allow Märtha to be with her children. Instead, she is sent to the basement with  Roosevelt. In this forced intimacy, listening to the creaks and sounds of the agents on patrol, he shares the details of a dream in which he sailed a great three-masted barque through heavy seas. Yes, it was a wonderful dream, he tells Märtha.

…Until I noticed that the knots on the ropes holding the sails were starting to loosen. I called out to the crew to tighten them. But there was no crew. Suddenly the sails just blew off the masts and took to the sky like a flock of large white birds. And as I turned around I saw a massive wave approaching, three times larger than any of the others and I knew everything was coming to an end. Without you, Marthä, my ship has lost its sails.

She reaches out to him as the scene ends.

Olav receives the news about the failed, possible kidnap attempt and learns that everyone is safe, although buried guns and ammunition have been found on the grounds.

In the White House, Roosevelt is informed that there are two known groups of Nazi saboteurs on Long Island. Possibly there is no connection with Märtha or her household, but finding the saboteurs is of prime importance.

What did you think of this episode? Did you feel that Märtha handled things badly with Olav? I’m beginning to feel she should drop Roosevelt like a hot potato, but it seems with every episode that neither of them has anyone else to confide in. Let’s discuss!

Janet Mullany

Writer Janet Mullany is from England, drinks a lot of tea, and likes Jane Austen, reading, and gasping in shock at costumes in historical TV dramas. Her household near Washington DC includes two badly-behaved cats about whom she frequently boasts on Facebook.

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