'World on Fire' Season 2 Remembers Coming Home Is As Hard As Going To War

Picture shows: Harry (Jonah Hauer-King) and Lois (Julia Brown) sit in on a garden bench surrounded by flowers and greenery. Harry is holding his daughter.

Harry (Jonah Hauer-King) and Lois (Julia Brown) and their baby Vera.

Credit: BBC/Mammoth Screen

In the season finale of World on Fire Season 2, Lois and Harry come home, Sir James’s romance with Robina ends, Lois embraces motherhood and work, and Kasia is called to duty in Poland. Others begin difficult and dangerous journeys to find freedom and continue the fight. 

Kasia: You should come with me, Robina. We need tough women.

But first, Harry Chase is in trouble again. He’s been ordered by Captain Briggs to return to England on a ship full of wounded soldiers for a month’s recuperation. If he refuses, the options are bleak. He’s not performing well, and there’s gossip about his behavior, particularly his treatment of prisoners. His men have lost confidence in him, and with his family history of suicide, Harry is considered unstable. His options are to return home or submit to a psychiatric examination, which will be followed by an honorable discharge and the end of his service. Harry is outraged but agrees to return home as the lesser of several evils.

First, he has the sad duty of visiting Stan’s widow, Eileen (Posy Sterling). Harry hands her Stan’s farewell letter — all the men were instructed to write one, just in case. Eileen sadly jokes the spelling is too good for Stan’s work. She doesn’t believe she’ll ever get over her loss and tells Harry she’s going to pretend he’s still away on service, probably for the rest of her life. It’s desperately sad for them both as Harry gets a glimpse of Stan, the bravest man he’d ever met, as a loving, playful father. Eileen begs him not to blame himself for Stan’s death, but of course he does. 

Picture shows: Harry (Jonah Hauer-King) visits Stan's widow Eileen (Posy Sterling) and share memories of him. One of the children is in the background.

Harry (Jonah Hauer-King) and Stan's widow Eileen (Posy Sterling). 

Credit: BBC/Mammoth Screen

Lois has returned to Manchester and calls on Robina to pick up Vera. Even though Lois has a job in a munitions factory and a place to live, Robina will not make the transfer easy, showing her the door with frosty politeness. Vera is out with Joyce, which surprises Lois, who phoned the day before. Sir James, passing Lois on his way in, asks Robina who she is. Of course, he’d notice a pretty young woman, Robina says with withering contempt. Robina’s anger strengthens his admiration, and he resumes his courtship. But she denies any feelings for him; her softer side, such as it is, focuses on secrecy (Her late husband’s death? Her disappointment in her son?) and duty to her family. Sir James isn’t convinced.

Harry is welcomed home by Kasia; they greet each other with affection. (He addresses her as Mrs. Chase.) Robina tells him he needs a haircut, as mothers do, then Joyce arrives with the baby, and Harry goes all dithery at the sight of his daughter. He clearly wants to hold her but frets his hands are dirty, and Robina gets annoyed at the sight of Joyce dangling Vera in front of him as though she was “some sort of fairground prize.” 

Later, Harry gazes at his sleeping daughter when Lois returns to collect her. Robina is furious and claims this is Vera’s home and Lois isn’t fit to be a mother. Robina knows all about being a damaged mother and bringing a baby up alone, and she claims that she can prevent Vera from being damaged as Harry was. Harry is impressed by Lois’s tolerance toward Robina but ends the argument, insisting Vera should be with her mother. Because Lois, as erratic as she is, is not Robina.

Picture shows: A reunion in a candle-lit pub between Grzegorz (Mateusz Więcławek) and David (Gregg Sulkin), who's made it safely home from occupied France.

Grzegorz (Mateusz Więcławek) and David (Gregg Sulkin).

Credit: BBC/Mammoth Screen 

Kasia finally makes peace (of a sort) with Robina, beginning with an apology. While Lois has returned to England, Kasia’s ambition to return to Poland is becoming a reality. She and Harry will both be leaving in a couple of weeks. But Robina is only convinced Kasia gives Harry a purpose he otherwise lacks. Kasia ends their conversation by suggesting Robina should come with her –– Poland needs tough women. It’s more difficult for Kasia to justify to Jan why she must go. He must stay in England, work hard at school, and return to Poland after the war when educated young men will be in demand to rebuild the country. 

When Harry asks Sir James what he’s up to, curious about his influence on Robina rather than his work, he winds up with an earful on how Kasia fought for the right to return to Poland, and letting her do her duty, obviously a speech not meant for him. But Robina, becoming more upset and angry as the days pass, suggests to Harry that he plans to resume his affair with Lois now that she’s back in England once Kasia is gone. She cannot resist a chance to undermine her son. 

Harry has no idea of Sir James’s intelligence work, and tells Kasia how hurt he is about her secrecy. He can only keep going because he knows she is waiting for him, and their love protects him from the terrible things he’s seen and done at war. Again, she reminds him the Kasia he loved has long gone. She offers to return her wedding ring, which he refuses, pointing out it might help protect her to pass as married, and they make love for the last time. 

Picture shows: Harry (Jonah Hauer-King)

Harry (Jonah Hauer-King).

Credit: BBC/Mammoth Screen

Sir James proposes to Robina, and she’s flattered and amused. They hit it off, as he says, but it’s not enough for her. Why not? The rest, according to Sir James, is window dressing. But after that promising start, his efforts go downhill. She thanks him and turns him down. Sir James is not happy. Harry asks Robina about his father and tries to get her to tell him why he killed himself. She thinks he was a coward for leaving his family to bear his shame but refuses to acknowledge Harry’s need to understand. Suicide, she believes, is contagious.

But we’re still not done in Manchester. David also arrives home, delighted to meet his old friend Grzegorz in a pub. But he’s no longer the carefree and cynical young man he was. Now, he prays before he flies out on a mission. He’s said good-bye to Henriette, probably for the last time, before boarding a ship back to England. They agree to meet in Paris after the war, but shortly after he leaves, she’s captured by German soldiers. As she suspected, her papers do not stand up to a close inspection, and she’s sent to that same camp in Paris where Albert is. Her brother escaped, but Albert was too conspicuous to even attempt to accompany him. 

Albert now helps Henriette, warning her she’ll be sent to Ravensbruck. Her face is badly bruised from her questioning, where she gave the Germans the names of two Resistance members who died recently. Albert warns her she will be treated as a Jew first, and once she’s imprisoned, she won’t be able to get out. Her only chance is to escape on the journey there. He gives her money and other items to use as bribes and a home-made weapon, which she tucks into a bandage on her wrist. Finally, he tells her to slap him if the guards notice their conversation.

Picture shows: Marga (Miriam Schiweck) and her brother Ralf (Carl Grubel) toast the Nazi regime, while their parents (Frederika Ott and Matthiew Lier) go through the motions, having discovered they have spawned monsters.

Frau Kuhne (Frederika Ott), Herr Kuhne (Matthiew Lier) Ralf (Carl Grubel) and Marga (Miriam Schiweck).

Credit: BBC/Mammoth Screen

As Henriette travels towards Germany, we also check in with Marga, still a true believer in her destiny as a mother of German heroes. She’s escaped back to her parents, finally pregnant. Her mother, who doesn’t seem to comprehend the Lebensborn program, is upset Marga is having a child out of wedlock. She suggests an abortion, but Marga sets her straight: She is honored to be having this baby for the Fuhrer. Her brother Ralf (Carl Grubel) arrives, full of blind optimism about the successful German invasion of Russia and how proud he is of his sister’s service. Their parents dare not criticize their children’s beliefs, realizing how easily Ralf and Marga could turn them in to the authorities.

As the episode closes, we return to Rajib waking up in a field hospital, wounded. His sergeant, Ishwar (Jay Sajjid), is by his bedside and breaks the news that they are the only survivors of the unit. Two German soldiers approached them, and Rajib persuaded them not to fire. As they lowered their weapons, one of the Germans fired, followed by a massive explosion as a landmine was tripped. Both men weep, but there’s anger too. Ishwar says Rahib has foolishly trusted the enemy all along, the Germans and British. Rajib says he would rather have the British, not the Germans, in control of India, but this is a turning point for him. After they have fought this war, they will fight for their own country.

The episode ends with a series of brief scenes: Henriette in a truck on her way to Ravensbruck and David flying a mission. Gathered around the radio, the Chase family listens to news from Russia and Africa, Japan’s attack on China, and, at last, the promise of support from the U.S. Harry leaves for Africa, and Kasia parachutes into Poland. 

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World On Fire

Emotionally gripping World War II drama World on Fire premieres on Sunday, April 5, 2020.
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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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