Our Girl S1E4 - "Episode 4" Review

On tonight's Our Girl, we find the level of drama cranked up both personally and professionally for our three leads. There are some secrets about to come out regarding Captain James, and Smurf's mentally unbalanced hot-headedness will make another return, at perhaps the worst time possible. As for Molly, she'll have the responsibility of helping a team of Americans who are on the hunt for Bashira's father, Badral. So let's take a look at yet another hour of Tony-Grounds-penned goodness!

"You really hurt me."

All of our three leads find themselves with hurt feelings as this love triangle hits a breaking point. It all starts off with sweetness as Molly and Captain James dance around one another with their newly admitted feelings. But it has to be kept secret, as romance is against army regulations. Then comes a figurative bomb to blow up the short-lived happiness: Captain James is married and a father. Also, Smurf still hasn't taken a hint and wants to propose to Molly, having been sent an engagement ring from his mother. But when Smurf peeks in on Captain James and Molly while they're all out on a mission, he spots them kissing and declaring their love for one another, sending him on one of his signature tantrums.

The revelation regarding Captain James' marriage and fatherhood had us throwing up our hands and shouting at the screens. We should have known he'd be too good to be true. When he tells Molly that he and his wife are separated, we're inclined to believe him but it doesn't change the fact that he lied. He of all people should know the importance of not violating the trust amongst the soldiers in the platoon. Perhaps we're not as mad at Captain James as we could be, given the continued questionable behaviour we see from Smurf. Though Molly has made it clear that she only sees Smurf as a friend, he refuses to back down. It's not romantic; it's male entitlement. It will be sorely disappointing if Molly abruptly has a change of heart and decides to settle for Smurf, who is in serious need of psychological treatment and maybe even medication. For better or worse, Molly will treat Smurf with kindness and respect. It's nice to see that Molly's not leading him on, as that would only exacerbate the problem, and we can't help but sympathise with her. If she's nice to him, he'll continue to delude himself into thinking she's interested deep down. If she's more blunt ("rude") to him, he'll just be set off and lash out, putting the lives of those around him at risk. This part of the writing speaks to the dichotomy women face in navigating a world dominated by men, and how nice men will be to women they want something from but how quickly and aggressively they can shift when their advances are spurned. When Smurf loses it out on the mission, we can't help but wonder how someone so clearly mentally unstable is permitted to work in a profession where he handles dangerous weapons on a regular basis. Following the death of his brother, shouldn't he have undergone some sort of psychological evaluation? But there's something we take away from Smurf's speech, in which he expresses the betrayal he feels from the two people he held in higher regard than anyone (Captain James and Molly). It can be very dangerous to put people up on pedestals, as they'll inevitably make mistakes and leave you disappointed from the unrealistically high standards placed upon them.

"You're the only person who's eyeballed Badral. You'll be needed to positively ID him."

American soldiers have gotten involved in the mission to hunt down Bashira's father Badral. Having put a dossier together on him, it's discovered that he's a higher-ranking member of the Taliban than they had originally thought. As Molly is the only one on their side to have seen him, she'll need to come along on any and all missions to find him so that she can provide a positive ID. The episode's dramatic conclusion puts Molly right in the centre of it all. Her personal drama bleeds into the mission, as Smurf fires at an unarmed farmer. Captain James tries to talk him down and then Molly realises that one of the "women" in the back of the truck the troop is meant to be searching is actually Badral. Then it's time for a shoot-out with Badral on the one end, and all the soldiers on the other.

There's something slightly over-the-top about this showdown, almost giving it the feel of a cheesy old Western film. How is it that Badral manages to stay alive as long as he does when he's so clearly outnumbered? Then Molly's two suitors end up shot, just wounded enough to take them out of the fight, though not enough to kill them, but of course Molly's still alive and fine. In the end, she's the one that grabs a gun, turns around, and fires the kill shot. It all seems ridiculous, right? But think of all the storm troopers in Star Wars firing their weapons and hitting nothing and no one. Think of all the big-blockbuster action stars that always manage to be just in the right place and the right time to save the day, while their girlfriends (or booty calls) end up taken out of the action with a gnarly-looking flesh wound, if not just dead altogether to further the hero's "man-pain." So here's what's so brilliant about this happening on Our Girl: it's the girl who saves the day. The girl is the hero. This show has always placed a large focus on Molly's struggle as a woman working in a male-dominated line of work. Following this kill shot (which technically, we don't know is a kill shot since we didn't see if Badral was killed or just injured), Molly turns right back around to tend to the wounded Captain James and Smurf. Molly's not now, nor has she ever been just a pretty piece of flesh.

"I just hope that she's alright."

So now that Molly's suitors are all in the know about one another, as she is about them, the selection of one over the other may very well be part of next week's conclusion. Love triangles are a largely overused source of plot conflict. This episode arguably put too much of that type of drama into the episode. This show thrives best when it's closer to 2/3 military action and deeper philosophical ponderings and 1/3 Molly's romantic entanglements. Molly continued to show concern for Bashira's well-being, and expressed an interest in returning to Afghanistan after her tour is over to check in on her. Molly may have brought the best out in Captain James and Smurf, but it's Bashira who brings the best out in Molly, as seen when she risked her life to reassure Bashira that things would be all right as Bashira was strapped up in a bomb. If next week is the last we'll get of this show, as it's yet to be determined whether there will be a second series, the ending we're most hoping for is not Molly wrapped up in the arms of either of her suitors, but reunited with Bashira.

Our Girl airs on Sundays at 9PM on BBC One.


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