‘The Halcyon’ recap: Joe has a decision to make in Episode 4

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It’s now August of 1940 and Americans are leaving London—and the Halcyon—in droves.

German propaganda leaflets are being dropped along the coast and dogfights are taking place in the air above the hotel. Rather than run for cover, the intrepid Brits stand in the street and applaud RAF victories.

Joe O’Hara’s boss has offered him the job of a lifetime—to anchor a television show. The only problem is that the show will send Joe back to New York. “It’s a simple choice,” his boss tells him. “Do you want to stay in a war zone or be a star?” The choice isn’t so simple for Joe.

Meanwhile, Toby hears that one of the planes in Freddie’s squadron has been shot down. Emma learns the disquieting news and continues in her duties with a steely resolve, all the while keeping her eye on the door for an unwelcome telegram. Freddie walks through the door, instead, and the couple seizes the opportunity to indulge their feelings for each other.

In the morning, Emma turns to Freddie to ask if they are safe in London. He replies that they’re doing their best to hold off the Germans but that they need help from the Americans. He advises, “We hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”

Emma is now more determined than ever to convince Joe to continue his broadcasts from London. The Americans need to understand how desperate the situation has become in the UK. When Joe offers her a job as his assistant in New York, she replies, “I’m in no hurry to abandon the people I care about. I’ve found that war makes you realize what really matters.”

Under the guise of a trip to a pub, Emma takes Joe to the hospital to visit the downed pilot from Freddie’s squadron. The courage of the dying man goes straight to Joe’s heart. When Joe later asks Toby why the Brits aren’t scared, Toby replies, “Don’t mistake fortitude for fearlessness.” Joe changes his mind: he’s staying put in London.

While the other main characters in this drama are drawn with depth and restraint, Joe O’Hara is the stereotypical American reporter—tough and brash on the outside but a marshmallow on the inside. We never doubted for a moment that he would remain in London.

Meanwhile, Betsy’s boozy mother shows up at the hotel, intent on free loading on her daughter. Sonny Sullivan has witnessed this scene too many times, leaving Betsy broke and broken-hearted. He pawns the trumpet that his father left to him—an item he cherishes—so that he can pay her mum to go away. He believes he’s accomplished his task without Betsy knowing why he sold his trumpet. We’re not so sure. She’s far too sharp to have the wool pulled over her eyes. We’re hoping that she figures out the sacrifice Sonny has made for her and buys that trumpet back for him.

Lady Hamilton is having the time of her life, playing the part of the merry widow on the arm of Mr. D’Abberville. She’s thrilled to attend her first picture show until she realizes—at the intermission of Gone with the Wind—that Kate, Billy, and Feldman are also in the theater and have spotted her. A comical scene ensues where she invites the three of them to tea and attempts to silence any gossip.

D’Abberville is clearly a self-interested opportunist who sees an easy future for himself as Lady H’s second husband. This relationship is bound to turn sour and we think Ricard Garland will be called upon to save the day. Maybe then Lady H will see his value.

Joe’s final broadcast focuses on the “stories unfolding everyday of heroism, heartbreak, honor and despair.” His boss is moved and decides to let Joe continue on in London—albeit on a reduced stipend.

Joe returns to the Halcyon to collect his things and get a recommendation for cheaper, decent lodging. Richard and Emma assure him that they have a room that he can afford, provided it doesn’t include his bar bill.

Aired at 9pm on Monday 23 January 2017 on ITV.

Visit Barbara Hinske’s official website here.

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