FOYLE’S WAR. ITV (UK), PBS (US). “The White Feather.” Season 1, Episode 2. 03 November 2002 (UK date). Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks, Anthony Howell; Lisa Ellis, Charles Dance, Maggie Steed, Paul Brook, Tobias Menzies, Mali Harries, Ed Waters. Series creator: Anthony Horowitz.

   The second episode of Foyle’s War pits Detective Superintendent Foyle against a group of despicable British Nazi sympathizers. Germany is on the march through the Netherlands and Belgium and into France and the British Expeditionary Force looks doomed.


   The Nazi sympathizers meeting at the appropriately named White Feather Inn welcome the German invasion that they think is right around the corner. Then one of them, the inn owner, is murdered, shot during their meeting.

   But was she the intended target, or was it the group’s noxious leader, Guy Spencer (played by the splendidly villainous Charles Dance, who also played the awful Mr. Tulkinghorn of Bleak House)? Foyle’s on the job!

   I thought the mystery plot in “The White Feather” was quite strong, though the overall story was not as compelling as that in the first episode, “The German Woman” (reviewed here ). There are actually two mysteries in the film, who murdered the inn owner and the whereabouts of a purloined paper, the publicizing of which would greatly embarrass the British government at this critical time. Both are nicely handled.

   Viewers should probably be able to guess the murderer (I did!), but the exact mechanics of the crime are very nice indeed, surprisingly more reminiscent of an R. Austin Freeman or John Rhode story than Agatha Christie.

   Though I enjoyed the mystery, I was not as drawn into “The White Feather” as I was “The German Woman.” Much of the time is spent with the repulsive Nazi sympathizers, who let us know they are Nazi sympathizers mainly by disparaging Jews at every opportunity. One gets tired of their company very quickly.

   There are a couple pf lower class characters we are supposed to sympathize with, a maid and her fisherman boyfriend, but these rather dim characters never make much of an impression, unlike their counterparts, the pub serving girl and shop assistant, in “The German Woman.” Only the thwarted intellectual son of the inn owners really drew my sympathetic attention.

   Scripter Anthony Horowitz links the plot to the Dunkirk evacuation, but this almost feels like another film and I didn’t feel like it came off too convincingly. We also meet for the first time Sergeant Milner’s wife, Jane, who tells him she doesn’t want to even see his prothesis leg in their bedroom!

   Personally, forced to choose between Jane Milner and the Nazi sympathizers, I might rather spend time with the latter. What a horrid woman. This marriage will not last, I hazard to guess.

   Once again the aristocratic types come off rather badly. After the first two episodes in the series, one might conclude that the British aristocracy spent most of its time getting their German wives exempted from internment regulations, when not actually attempting to help facilitate a Nazi invasion.

   In real life, while there were Nazi sympathizers among the aristocracy, there were plenty others who weren’t and gave their lives to the fight against the Nazis. Historically, the British aristocracy as a class has served the state in its many wars in large numbers.

   This may sound like a lot of carping, but I did enjoy “The White Feather” and would recommend it. It was not up to the top-flight level of “The German Woman,” in my opinion, but it certainly maintained my interest in the series and made me want to see what will happen next!