Before we continue, I want to say a word about Kate. Several of you have called me out for being too hard on our red-haired beauty, or not telling the story from her perspective. I would counter that Bomb Girls has never given us much of Kate’s perspective; it has always left her feelings for Betty ambiguous. But I think we find out more about them this episode than we ever have.
So: we return to Betty’s room, where she and Kate are having one of their pajama nights where they dance and cuddle and “practice” making out. But no. Betty has finally reached the point at which every self-respecting lesbian must arrive, when she can’t pretend anymore. And whether Kate is straight and just wants Betty’s friendship or queer and (understandably) terrified, she knows what Betty feels for her. So at a certain point you have to either kiss Betty on the mouth or cut the poor girl loose. And however you feel about Kate, I hope you’re as proud as I am when Betty tells her “you have to find someone else to dance with.”
Meanwhile, Bob attempts to help Gene by relating the story of how he accidentally strangled his best friend to death one time. Shockingly, this Does Not Help.
AND NOW IT IS TIME FOR WITHAM’S FREEDOM CAVALCADE, AN EVENT I FIND IT DIFFICULT TO DISCUSS IN ANYTHING BUT CAPS LOCK.
The shindig is hosted by a young but still very creepy John Waters. Backstage, Kate exchanges some words with Leon.
Leon: I literally serve no function except to be a fount of wisdom for young girls in trouble, so tell me what’s on your mind, Churchmouse.
Kate: It’s Betty–she has these boobs. I mean, feelings. She has these feelings.
Leon: Yeah, I noticed she’s very fond of you that time when she hated me for a year because I talked to you.
Kate: What she feels is a sin according to the Bible.
Leon: Well, sometimes the people who wrote the Bible were right, and sometimes they were tripping on mushrooms.
Kate: But I know it’s wrong. I can tell by the way it makes my stomach clench and palms sweat and all the colors brighter.
Leon: Man, figuring out white girls’ feelings can be a really frustrating raison d’être.
And boy, Kate, do I know the kind of “wrong” you mean. And when she goes on and sings a song about the one person who makes life worth living, she searches for Betty’s face, but sees only Ivan’s adoring visage. In that moment, a shadow crosses her features, and she comes a little closer to the truth in this whole mess.
When Gladys goes off in search of Gene–because everyone else seems to be fixing their own lives this week—she finds him feverishly humping Didi the movie star. She finally writes him off as a lost cause and goes off to find out if that Kai Lo gentleman is in town.
Back at the boarding house, Betty has discovered what every high school lesbian knows: boys aren’t allowed in the bedroom with the door shut, BUT GIRLS ARE. She’s giving Teresa the grand tour, very nearly overcome by nerves. Here is her actual soliloquy:
Betty: Here you got a wall…a dresser…another wall…window…wall…lamp…picture I’ve never actually looked at til right this moment…brush…and….well….BED.
Teresa: Lotta walls. Just the one bed though, I see.
Betty: HAHAHA gulp.
Teresa: Hey, we don’t have to do anything.
Betty: I want to do things! I want to do all the things. It’s just that I’m so used to getting love in slow, tortured increments that for a while I forgot if it was the love or the torture I wanted. But now you’re here and you’re just giving it to me all at once and I might burst. Like, you need to be prepared for me maybe to explode.
Except Betty doesn’t need to say all that, because she has Ali Liebert’s face to work with.
She manages to be crying and laughing and thanking god and figuring out kissing all at once. And I am overwhelmed with feelings about this scene, but the main one is gratitude. I am so grateful to this show, for giving me one of the only characters who has ever reminded me of me.