'Atlantic Crossing' Episode 7 Recap

Kyle MacLachlan as Franklin D. Roosevelt Kyle MacLachlan as Franklin D. Roosevelt (Photo: Courtesy of MASTERPIECE)

MASTERPIECE “Atlantic Crossing" Sundays, April 4 - May 23, 2021 on PBS Episode Seven Sunday, May 16, 2021; 9-10pm ET on PBS A Nazi agent slips through the cracks, putting the children at risk. Martha travels to England and gets a shock. A Norwegian war hero meets a tragic fate. Shown: Kyle MacLachlan as President Franklin D. Roosevelt For editorial use only. Courtesy of MASTERPIECE.

Julie VRABELOVA-julvrab.com

After the melodrama of last week’s episode of Atlantic Crossing, the arrest of the eight saboteurs is all over the news. We’d expect tightened security, but no. So when Märtha goes to visit Roosevelt at Springwood, NJ, she sends Ragni to visit her good friend Eliza (who we know is a villain) with the children. Didn’t anyone other than Ragni notice her disappearance that night, or question her?

Roosevelt takes Märtha for a drive, chaperoned by the Secret Service as usual, and they disagree about the fate of the saboteurs—he’s for execution, she’s against it. During the course of the conversation, he casually mentions it’s a shame they let Eliza “slip through the cracks,” since she is a well-known Nazi sympathizer and has connections with Norway’s Nazi Prime Minister. And, inexplicably, she's still at large. Worse, she’s entertaining the three children. All three cars roar off to nearby Hyde Park where they know Eliza lives and stop off at a public phone to look up her address in the phone book. (Don’t laugh. It works.)

Meanwhile, after their arrival, Ragni is happy to enjoy a cool drink in the shade and chat with Eliza who picks her brain about the relationship between Märtha and the President, but Ragni is noncommittal. And then Eliza has a great idea—she’ll take the kids for ice cream! She takes the children to a nearby park and buys them ice cream, waiting for her conspirators to arrive. When she sees a car drive up, she leads the children toward it, but the eldest daughter Ragnhild (Leonora Eik) is suspicious of Eliza’s ever-so-sweet attempts and Harald (now, aged six, played by Antonín Frcek) drops his ice cream and whines. Eliza tries to persuade the children to get into her “friend’s” car for a ride home. And at this point, Ragni, concerned that the trip is taking so long, comes to look for them.

 (Photo: Courtesy of MASTERPIECE)
 (Photo: Courtesy of MASTERPIECE)

Roosevelt, Märtha, and the Secret Service agents arrive at Eliza’s house to find it empty. But Märtha notices the open gate, and the armed agents find and arrest Eliza: “Step away from the children!” Ragni and Märtha don’t speak but exchange a long glance.

Märtha calls Olav to tell him that everyone is safe and that the children didn’t really understand what was going on. (Really? Armed secret service agents and an arrest?) But Olav has his own plans. He demands the children come to live with him in London, where, with supreme man-logic, they’ll be safer with the Luftwaffe’s nightly visits. He’s already arranged it with the Ambassador, and, one last snide shot, she’s so busy she won’t even notice the children aren’t there. Badly done, Olav. We expected better of you.

Upstairs at Pook’s Hill, Ragni is packing her suitcase, feeling that she has no choice now but to resign. As she comes down the staircase she meets Märtha and formally offers her resignation. Märtha, already upset by the call with Olav, bursts into tears and begs her to stay. As they hug each other, Ragni tells Märtha that her husband Nikolai is expecting her. And so Märtha decides to go with her.

When the two women arrive in London, the King greets Märtha with great affection. He is relieved that the children are safe in America and delighted that Märtha has arrived in time for his 70th birthday party. When Olav comes to greet her, they gaze longingly at each other before he spoils the moment by asking where the children are. Ignoring Märtha’s claim that Pook’s Hill is the safest place in America, he insists they should be with him, and then makes the mistake of denigrating Märtha’s work as “your little campaign.”

But she gets her revenge. When the King joins them, she breaks the news that Franklin (her emphasis) is going to support Norway by giving them a fully-equipped warship, to be named after him, for his birthday. Haakon hugs her and Olav looks on grimly.

At the birthday party, Märtha finally gets the public recognition she deserves in an affectionate and glowing speech from the King, and is awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav. She and Olav both go out to the balcony (oops. No blackout?) where Olav makes it all about him. He’s sulky and jealous, and asks her if she’s still “seeing” Roosevelt. “I choose you,” she responds. Olav unpleasantly suggests Roosevelt represents a Plan B in case she is widowed and/or Hitler wins; but what if the Allies win and he survives? Märtha ends the conversation by stating again, that the children stay with her. Her visit to London ends and they don’t speak again, but he watches as her car drives away.

 (Photo: Courtesy of MASTERPIECE)
 (Photo: Courtesy of MASTERPIECE)

Olav does what any red-blooded, jealous husband does—he goes to the pub. A young airman, Erling Hammershøy (Sjur Vatne Brean), seeing a man in uniform at the bar, invites him to join him and his friends. Then he realizes who Olav is, and Olav climbs out of his self-pity pit long enough to put the group at ease, although they do have a tendency to jump to their feet if he gets up from his chair. He breaks the ice further by offering to buy a round and is joined at the bar by another of the young men, Thorbjørn Tradin (Iver Innset) whose wife Tulla (Andrea Rudland Haave) is heavily pregnant. Olav asks him what it’s like, flying a mission.

The truth? It’s worst when we’re on the ground. Then I imagine what’s happening up there and can’t do anything … when I sit in the cockpit and hold the control stick, I’m in control. Maybe not in control, but at least I’m doing something.

This has to strike a chord with Olav, who has felt inadequate in his role in the war almost since the beginning. Almost certainly he must feel his age in the company of these very young men, and nostalgic for the early days of his marriage and the births of his children.

Back in the U.S., Märtha makes a difficult visit to Roosevelt. He’s looking worried, concerned about his son who’s in combat in the Pacific and whose unit suffered heavy losses. He doesn’t pick up on Märtha’s obvious sadness, or maybe he does and decides to cheer himself up—he wants a laugh and a drink. But Märtha tells him she can’t see him anymore, because she needs Olav back. Roosevelt looks shocked and points out that Olav sent Märtha and the children away. He didn’t protect her. We know it didn’t happen like that, and so does Märtha—she points out that Olav sent her and the children to be under Roosevelt’s protection. Roosevelt, who’s obviously been watching too many bad movies, comes out with this shameless cliche, and Märtha has the perfect etiquette-book answer:

Roosevelt: You and I, we have something special. Something that neither of us could ever experience with anyone else. We both know that.

Märtha: Thank you for everything you’ve done for my country.

But as she is driven away, she cries. And when she phones Olav to tell him she has broken off whatever-it-was with the President, he throws a hissy fit, afraid that Roosevelt will take back the ship. Really, Olav? He ends the call so he can talk to the Ambassador. What a royal jerk.

Across the Atlantic, Roosevelt is also trying to solve the problem of what to do about launching the ship (he’s not going back on his word, that was purely Olav’s interpretation, although he jokes with his advisors about renaming it King Leopold and giving it to the Belgians. It's probably a joke). He wants Märtha to do the honors since the official word from Britain is that the King is sick and so Olav has to stay with him. But the King, probably hoping for a reconciliation between Olav and Märtha, tells him he should go anyway.

Eleanor is planning a trip to London and stops by to say goodbye to Roosevelt as he’s going to bed. The revised version of his break with Märtha is that he initiated it, and Eleanor says it was the right thing to do. Their whole exchange is rather vague but friendly. He thanks her, which surprises her, and she asks for what. He responds:

For being my eyes and ears on the ground. For doing what I’m not capable of doing.

Well, no, considering she’s argued with his decisions all along. Eleanor has her own causes. Possibly this truce in the bickering is because they both know Roosevelt is not well, and this is confirmed by a visit from a doctor who wants to hospitalize him for tests. Naturally, Roosevelt refuses.

Eleanor arrives in London and is shocked by the rationed heat and hot water, and the results of the heavy bombing on the city. She has some tough love for Olav and shares with him that the only regret she has in her life is not fighting harder to save her marriage. She continues:

Over the past years Märtha has been torn between her country, her children, and you, but I have never seen her put herself first in any situation. She’s a truly remarkable person, Olav. Capable of love in a way that certainly I never was. You would be a fool to throw it all away because of some —

—and right at that moment, because this is England, and even though there’s a war on, tea is served!

Märtha visits the Norwegian Seamen’s Church and sees a familiar figure. It’s General Fleischer, now a military attache. He’s been trying to raise a fighting force but has found that Norwegian-Americans, most a generation or so away from immigration, want to fight for the U.S. He shares the concern that Norway may not survive the peace negotiations when the war is ended and the major powers are carving up Europe between them, leaving Märtha thoughtful.

Olav confronts the Cabinet about Fleischer. First, he was exiled to Canada on a task that was impossible, and now he has been demoted. Olav is furious that one of Norway’s heroes has been treated this way. The Cabinet is shamed, the King backs up Olav, and they vote to award Fleischer the Iron Cross. Olav pointedly reminds one of the Cabinet members to send a telegram to Ambassador Morgenstierne in the U.S.

Morgenstierne receives the telegram and goes to Fleischer’s apartment but there’s no reply and he leaves. Inside, Fletcher is shaving, and after a final look in the mirror, he shoots himself.

Märtha, Roosevelt, and Eleanor arrive at the Navy Yards for the launch of HMoMS King Haakkon VII, where he makes the famous “Look to Norway” speech, and the Crown Princess launches the ship. Roosevelt can’t resist quietly asking Märtha:

There’s something I need to know. Was it all because of this?

She replies “Yes.” But he laughs and says he knows she’s lying.

What a rollercoaster this episode has been, watching Märtha’s heartbreak again over Olav’s behavior, and her strength and courage in refusing to let Roosevelt gaslight her. We only have one episode to go. How will everything resolve? 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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