Foyle’s War: Killing Time on Masterpiece Mystery PBS – Recap & Review

Image from Foyle's War: Killing Time: Michael Kitchen and Adam James © 2010 MASTERPIECPrejudice and bigotry permeate Killing Time, episode two of season VI of Foyle’s War on Masterpiece Mystery PBS. Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) is faced with the unpleasant reality of American vs. British solutions to racial tension in post war England. While attending a local civic meeting, segregation between the black GI’s stationed at a Bristol military base and the locals of Hasting is proposed by the commanding officer Major Wesker (Adam James) in reaction to recent altercations. In his usual cool and stoic manner he reminds them that segregation is not practiced in England, but is voted down by the committee. Meanwhile, Sam Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks) is experiencing her own challenges with racial prejudice when Mandy Dean (Charlotte Riley) a young mother residing in the boarding house that she and Adam Wainwright (Max Brown) are running together causes other residents to depart because of her mixed race baby. When Mandy’s ex-boyfriend Tommy Duggan (Sam Spruell) a conscientious objector during the war returns home to find her disowned from her family and a mother of black GI Gabe Kelly’s (Obi Abili) baby, he throws her off and hits the bottle in despair. The local police are also investigating a spree of highway robberies under way on the local Bristol and Hastings roads. When Mandy’s dead body is found on the US military base, Major Wesker locks up the black boyfriend and conveniently overlooks the possibility of the white ex-boyfriend. Foyle is unconvinced of Gabe Kelly’s motives and suspicious of his confession. Are the local robberies and the murder connected, and why is the US Army using all its power to stymie his investigation?

I found this episode very disturbing, stirring up the ugly and painful issues of racial prejudice and greed, two of the worst and in this instance deadliest of human failings. I squirmed when Foyle reminded us that racial segregation was not practiced in England, however they did use it in their colonies in India, Africa and the West Indies so it is a wash; not that anyone should be keeping score. I particularly enjoyed the performance of Charlotte Riley as the young mother caught between two worlds. She gave a much more convincing portrayal as a distraught mother then her passive interpretation of Cathy Earnshaw in Wuthering Weights on Masterpiece Classic last year. That may be due to director David Richards’ succinct and un-melodramatic rendering of David Kane’s smart script. This is a serious subject that could have all gone south if they had not played it straight.

The friendship/romance between Sam and Adam is developing in an interesting way with a few roadblocks thrown in for good measure. He is obviously attracted to her, reticent to make the move or to shy to be open about his feelings. She on the other hand is bound by the strictures of the time to act like his employee until they have reached some kind of mutual understanding. If memory serves, isn’t the “who can make the move” thing reversed in Britain during this time, so maybe that is why he is holding back? US service men were warned of this so they would be prepared when they were stationed in England. The robbery story had a nice twist in the end. Honestly, I was suspicious of the murderer from the get-go. Weren’t you? In next week’s episode The Hide we meet Nazi’s. As Indiana Jones says in Raiders of the Lost Ark, “Nazi’s. I hate these guys.” DCS Foyle is too much of a gentleman to ever admit to hating anyone, but we can for him.

Image courtesy © 2010 MASTERPIECE

8 thoughts on “Foyle’s War: Killing Time on Masterpiece Mystery PBS – Recap & Review

  1. I thought Charlotte Riley was just terrific in this episode – nice to see this kind of range and emotion in her performance. Excellent review as always, though I confess in this case I saw the ending coming a bit earlier than is usual when it comes to Foyle episodes. I wish this series would go on forever.

    I am enjoying the Adam/Sam relationship, though I do wish there would be some sort of off-hand mention of what happened between Sam and Foyle’s son to send the latter off to London, apparently for good. That’s just the completist in me wanting closure I guess.

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  2. Oh, forgot to say…I finally caught up with all of my Masterpiece Classic posts, so hopefully I will start blogging about the Mystery season soon. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, though!

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  3. It was excellent as usual & very accurate acc. to stories told me by family in UK at time. I wish they’d just go ahead & make another season. They were so dumb to stop in the first place. Plenty of drama post-war & the WW is not over anyway–plenty is going on in Pacific. They could use that in stories…I know a Kiwi who survived Burma long march & woke up (literally)….in Britain! He doesn’t remember how (& never did, it’s not his age now)…but there he was & he’d been in the Pacific. Now, there are some stories that would be fascinating. We could just make it up for my older friend….eh?

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  4. “I squirmed when Foyle reminded us that racial segregation was not practiced in England, however they did use it in their colonies in India, Africa and the West Indies so it is a wash; not that anyone should be keeping score.”

    I will squirm with you Laurel Anne.

    You are absolutely right. People in Britain hadn’t seen too many black people in this country by the time of the war.Those that did come here from the West indies were treated with respect and accepted into communities. Yes, there were the colonies, South Africa, a prime example, practiced apartheid.So you can talk about double standards.
    In the 1950’s,after the war, Britain was rebuilding. It needed a boost to it’s workforce. People from the West Indies were encouraged to come here to work.We needed them in The National Health Service, on British Rail, as council workers and in a multitude of working class employment. They came in their thousands to begin with and then their tens of thousands. They lived in the poorer areas of our cities. Then the local white populations noticed them big time. They were different in everyway, looks, clothing and culturally.Their expectations were different. The indigenous population thought the immigrants were alien and they didn’t understand their culture. Racial tensions were born. Some of our politicians didn’t help either. Enoch Powell talked about ,”Rivers of Blood.”

    Now in 2010, I think we are getting to a position where different cultures are seen as a strength, creating new synergies. There is acceptance and friendship and an awareness that we are all the same as humans and that our individualties should be applauded.We would like to think there is equality but nothing is perfect.

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    • Hi Tony, thank you so much for sharing your personal insights. I am happy to hear that in Britian different cultures are seen as a strength. I can same the same here in the states. Things are much different than the late 1940’s when this movie transpires. Did you happen to catch Small Island on Masterpiece Classic last month? It deals with some of the same issues that you are mentioning.

      Cheers, Laurel Ann

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  5. Hi Laurel Ann,
    We don’t get Masterpiece Classics over here unless we can get it through a subscription to SKY TV or VIRGIN. I don’t subscribe to either of those.

    We see these programmes on the BBC or ITV, (Independent Television),depending on who made them.

    I did see Small Island about a year or two ago.

    My wife read the novel and I’ve read half of it.( Half of it!!! Work tends to get in the way sometimes and I forget I’ve started a novel)

    Being born in the 1950’s I’ve lived through a lot of the ratial tensions that we have suffered here. My wife worked for Lambeth Education authority for over ten years before moving to Kingston upon Thames authority.

    She worked in Brixton as a teacher during the riots of the 1980’s.Often she would walk to the nearby tube station in Brixton and come across groups gathering on street corners. Sometimes she recognised some of them as parents and they would recognise her.

    Some of our best friends are from that time. We have Barbadan friends that Marilyn used to work with.

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