wealhtheow: sepia close-up of Medusa (Default)
wealhtheow ([personal profile] wealhtheow) wrote2014-02-17 09:36 am
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Bletchley Circle

I was enthralled by the first season of Bletchley Circle.  Four women who had worked at Bletchley Park (the codebreaking org that employed Turing and broke Enigma) have since tried to live ordinary lives.  They can tell no one of their war time efforts, but the experience gave them the tools needed to solve a string of terrible murders.  I loved watching the team come together, each with their own set of skills: Millie's audacity, Lucy's perfect memory, Susan's logic, and Jean's contacts and organization.  Millie, Lucy and Susan were close during the war, but they've drifted apart since, and there's additional tension as they butt up against the compromises each of them have made.  I particularly adored seeing the beginnings of tools and ways of thinking that procedurals today use as a matter of course. 

The second season satisfied me less than the first, and I'm not sure why.  In the first two episodes, the women solve the mystery of an army cover up, and save the life of a falsely accused woman.  That woman, Alice, takes Susan's place on the team for the last two episodes of the season.  I think part of my discontent with the second season was that I didn't really understand Alice.  She loves her daughter, feels guilty for giving her up, and is a little prideful.  But she seems to have become good friends with the other women very quickly, and have no other contacts or relationships.    She didn't feel entirely real to me.  I think the costume department was trying to give me clues about her through her clothes, which are impeccably tailored, with beautiful detailing and austere cuts, but I couldn't tell what. I was also dissatisfied with the actress who played Millie; I felt like too many of her acting choices were melodramatic.  And the use of the codebreaking machines by a gangster in the last episode was too improbable for me to enjoy.  

That said, both seasons are beautifully detailed portraits of post-war Britain, particularly the gorgeous clothes, lingering wounds left by the war, and the egregious sexism and classism.