Indian Summers: Foot, Meet Mouth

Indian SummersPreviously on Indian Summers: Alice fled her cheating husband to join her brother, Ralph, in India. Ralph, meanwhile, is being set up with heiress Madeline and toying with one of his clerks, Aafrin, who winds up taking a bullet for him. Aafrin’s sister is joining the nascent Indian independence movement, and Sarah, the creepy wife of a missionary who’s in love with a native woman, is desperately trying to become BFF’s with Alice.

I didn’t mention this last week, but cool opening credits. Thumbs up on that one.

Another lazy day in Simla. Natives, again, carry some heavy burden through the streets, destined for Ralph’s house.

A native man in a suit arrives at the viceregal offices.

At Ralph’s, Madeline lets herself into his room first thing in the morning. Finding it empty, she starts sniffing his sheets and pillows and curling up on the bed. Geez, lady, have a little dignity. You’re acting like some lovelorn teenager. Her brother sees this and suggests she give Ralph a couple more days.

One of Ralph’s staffers reads out a letter to the Secretary of State, reassuring him that things in Simla are well in hand, despite the recent disturbances. The letter goes on to say that guards around the British quarter have been doubled and a curfew has been instated for all natives not in public service. Ralph says it’s time to be seriously tough on Ghandi and his followers. He watches the be-suited native stroll towards the offices and wonders who he is.

Aafrin’s mother and Sooni prepare to head out and warn his younger sister not to breathe a word about Aafrin’s possibly fatal gunshot wound to his father. My God, lady, really? You really think this is the type of thing you shold be hiding from his father? She and Sooni set out and the younger daughter takes the paper in to her father, after it’s been checked for any traces of Aafrin’s story. Father asks where Aafrin is and the younger daughter says he just had to go away for a few days.

Aafrin’s still in the hospital, looking like he’s in pretty bad shape. A nurse suggests he be moved to ‘The Ripon’, where he’ll be with his own people. He’s moved, screaming in agony.

At Ralph’s, the women laze about. Alice runs her hands over the piano keys without actually playing anything and wonders if Aafrin’s all right. Madeline has no idea. I doubt she cares. Madeline asks if Alice plays and Alice says no, she never had the time. Really? What have you been so busy with? Seriously, I’m asking, because I kind of want to know this character as a person, instead of the somewhat boring, vacant creature she currently is. Madeline doesn’t play either—her hands are strictly ornamental. Like the rest of her. Alice suggests they go out, but before they can move Sarah comes bustling in, trailed by Douglas.

Ian and his uncle drive through a tea plantation. His uncle explains that the part they’re driving through is actually owned by a local. A ‘native’, that is.

Sooni and her mother go to see Aafrin. The doctor explains the move and says his wound is infected thanks to scraps of his undershirt getting into it. The ‘undershirt’ is actually his sudreh, a highly symbolic garment worn by Parsi. Sooni explains that it’s made of sacred thread, and the doctor, in the most snide, condescending tone possible, says it was filthy. Since that garment is supposed to be white, I kind of doubt that. This doctor’s an ass.

Sooni and her mother leave and are intercepted by Sita, who asks how Aafrin is. How did she find out about what happened to him but his father hasn’t? Aafrin’s mother refuses to talk to her.

The besuited native is a reporter with the Delhi Herald. He sits down with Ralph to ask about the shooting. He asks if Ralph knows the man who shot him. Ralph lies that he doesn’t. Nobody knows the shooter’s name, because the man’s refusing to speak. The reporter asks for a word with the district superintendent and Ralph says he can speak with whomever he likes. Ralph asks how this business came to the reporter’s attention and the reporter said that Ronnie Keene, one of Ralph’s guys, told him about it.

Ralph goes to yell at Keene and threatens to have him dismissed back to some hole in the wall. Keene says he was contacted by the Herald asking for confirmation of the incident and Keene asked the reporter to come up so they could control the story. Plus, an interview with the Herald is a chance for Ralph to shine right when he needs it. Ralph is won over. Extra won over when he hears that the reporter, Khan, is from the Indian upper class. Keene produces the hospital bill for Aafrin and Ralph suggests they push it off onto the board of revenue.

Khan goes to meet with the District Superintendent, who tells him the shooter won’t speak. Khan asks how they know the shooting was politically motivated, then, and DS hands over a cap the man was wearing when he was apprehended. It’s referred to as a Ghandi cap, and it’s currently prohibited.

Khan: Oh my god, you are an idiot. These caps have been worn for centuries to keep the sun off. As you may have noticed, it’s goddamn hot here. You, too, wear hats to keep the sun off. See how that works?

One of DS’s men calls him to the adjoining office and shows him a cloth of some sort with an identity card hidden in the folds. Apparently, it belongs to the shooter, so now he has a name: Chandru Mohan.

At the school or the orphanage or whatever it is Doug runs, Leena looks around at the children playing and notices Adam’s missing. None of the other kids know where he is, and apparently this isn’t the first time he’s taken off. She gathers the kids to organize a search party.

Cynthia spies on some nearby guards, who fail to be tempted by some cute girls trying to flirt with them. She’s joined on her porch by Eugene, who’s helped himself to a drink. She asks after his sister and Eugene says that Madeline is having relationship troubles, because Ralph’s losing interest. ‘I feared as much,’ Cynthia sighs.

Ralph receives news that the investigation into the shooter’s background has revealed his name and the fact he’s from the Madras district. He also gets a note from Cynthia, but he crumples that up. His Indian servant asks if he can help but Ralph sighs that this is out of his league.

Ian and his uncle finally reach his uncle’s fields. They are not impressive. There are very few workers and not much going on. His uncle takes a moment to sexually harass one woman. Ian looks up and sees an extremely polished-looking Indian man coming down the road, riding a beautiful horse. He asks his uncle who the man is and his uncle sniffs it’s their neighbor, the one who owns the giant tea plantation they drove through. Uncle tells Ian to tell the man to get the hell off his land. Ian approaches the man, screws up his courage, and insists the man make an appointment if he wants to speak with them. The man politely introduces himself as Ramu Sood and passes along a letter for Ian’s uncle before bidding him good day and riding off. What a surprise to find that Ian’s drunken, grabby uncle is less successful than the family thought.

Doug tunes the piano nobody plays while Sarah helps Alice unwrap bric-a-brac and gives her advice about running the household. Madeline finds one picture of Alice and Ralph’s family when they were kids. Sarah asks if there are any pictures of Alice’s husband and Madeline jumps in to say that it’s healthier to leave it all behind after a tragedy. Sarah finds a Staffordshire shepherdess and Alice insists she take it, as a gift. A servant appears and tells Doug that Adam’s missing. He excuses himself and goes to leave, but Sarah bitchily insists he stay. Sure, what’s one less native kid? Alice looks uncomfortable and goes to get some air.

She escapes the compound and gets into a rickshaw, despite one servant trying to stop her, on Ralph’s orders. Kind of mean of her to leave poor Madeline with Sarah.

Leena and the kids search the jungle-like woods for Adam. A message arrives from Doug, saying he can’t come. She gathers the children and sends them home before curfew. Some of the kids have been eating cherries, in case that becomes important later.

Sarah unwraps the shepherdess and finds an advertisement in the newspaper it’s wrapped in for roller skates. She’s amazed by these, though I’m pretty sure they existed long before the 1930s. I might be wrong about that, though (ETA: nope). She sighs about Piccadilly Circus and how she never got a chance to go before she came out to India. Doug’s at work on a sermon and not really listening. She asks about it and he says it’s about duty. She wonders if it’s just duty to God, or if wives count too. He says both. ‘He’s willing to share you, is he?’ she asks. ‘What if I can’t? What if I want you to myself?’ she asks sadly. He looks up at her and it looks like they’re both about to cry. He suggests they go over (to the school, I suppose), and her tears spill over and she turns her attention back to the newspaper.

Ralph has kept Khan waiting for half an hour, and the reporter is not pleased. He’s put off by one of Ralph’s men while Ralph goes and looks into the prison cell where the shooter is being held.

Alice goes to Aafrin’s house to royally put her foot in it. His mother is desperately cleaning, the obnoxious doctor’s words clearly having cut her to the quick. When Alice appears, she’s politely and even rather enthusiastically welcomed. Aafrin’s dad explains they’re having a spring clean and introduces everyone. Alice says she knows his wife and Sooni, and utterly fails to notice the DANGER, DANGER! look of alarm on Aafrin’s mother’s face. Alice goes on to ask if there’s anything she can do. Send a note next time? I know you meant well, but damn, Alice. Aafrin’s mother puts her arm over her husband’s shoulders and leads him out of the room. Alice slooooowly realizes what she’s done. From the adjoining room, she hears the man begin to weep. ‘He didn’t know,’ she finally guesses. Sooni shakes her head. Her sister explains that their father has a weak heart. Nice job, Alice. She sits there, watching the man cry for a moment, then flees.

Ralph offers the prisoner a cup of water or something. The man takes it and puts it down on the floor beside them. Ralph asks what they’re going to do. The man reaches out, touches Ralph’s face, then drags him down to the floor and starts beating the hell out of him. Someone comes in and rescues Ralph.

Alice wanders through the Indian quarter and sees Ralph, bloodied, drive past in a rickshaw. She stares rather vacantly after him. Curious lack of reaction there.

Ralph goes to Cynthia for tending. She chatters about how her husband Reggie tried growing apples as she pours him some apple brandy. She asks about the prisoner and Ralph says they have his name. She hugs him and murmurs that he should have come to her sooner, to spare himself a lot of fuss. She promises to get Kaiser onto this.

An Indian man types something on a sheet of paper, then fills it in with Chandu’s name. Kaiser looks on, and pays the man afterwards.

Back home, Alice looks over at her brother, who urges her to play something on the piano. She tells him she doesn’t play, but he remembers how she used to play and he would sing and their father would listen. She insists she doesn’t play. He offers her lessons but she says she doesn’t want them. He brings up her tea with Sarah and asks about this shepherdess she gave her, which was a bad move on her part. See, the government was going to give Doug a little something for his school, since he’s constantly got his hand out, but now they can’t give him a cent because if they do everyone will say it was a personal favour because Alice and Sarah are friends. Alice can’t do anything right today. She mentions she saw him in the bazaar. He asks her to repeat that and instead she just stomps out.

Leena’s still looking for Adam. She finally finds him deep in the forest and is horrified to see that he’s stabbing himself repeatedly with a large pin. Yikes! She leaps for him, grabs the pin, and slaps him to stop him hurting himself. She them pulls him in for a hug and he cries.

Ralph and one of the other men take part in some riding exhibition at the club. Sarah applauds excitedly and exclaims they look like kings. Whatever you say, hun. Doug is clearly bored and uncomfortable. Sarah hurries over to Alice and asks how she’s feeling (I guess Madeline lied that she was taken ill, to explain her sudden absence from their tea). Sarah introduces herself to Ralph way too enthusiastically and rather awkwardly and is almost immediately brushed off by his whole party as they head up to the club. She gets all bent out of shape and snaps at Doug for just standing there and not saying anything.

Aafrin’s father prepares to go out and see his son. His wife urges him not to go, because he’ll be breaking curfew. She bursts into tears and flops onto the bed. He calls his younger daughter in to tend to her.

Khan finds Keene and angrily reminds him he’s had to waste his whole afternoon. Keen explains that Ralph was called away. Khan storms away. Keene rushes after him and Khan surmises the shooter and Ralph knew each other from Ralph’s days serving in the Madras district in the 1920s. Keene tries to scare him off the story but Khan will not be deterred.

People dance to Irving Berlin at the club. It’s the stupidest looking dance I’ve seen since Gagnam Style. It’s the Grizzly Bear, according to Eugene. ‘They still do that?’ Madeline wonders. Seriously, wasn’t that dance featured in series one of Downton Abbey? Eugene says that India is kind of behind the times and tells his sister to buck up and not exhibit any self-pity. She kisses him on the cheek and grabs Ian’s uncle and attempts to teach him to dance. Cynthia, sitting with Ralph, tells him this show is all for his benefit, and then she hands him a copy of Madeline’s doctor’s notes, explaining that Madeline was unwell on the trip over to India and the ship’s doctor just happens to be a friend of Cynthia’s. Is anyone not a friend of Cynthia’s? Then it gets downright creepy as Cynthia goes on to say that she thought it prudent to make sure that all of Madeline’s plumbing is in the right order, and apparently it’s just as it should be. Holy shit, this woman scares me. That’s just so, so creepy. And gross. Apparently the notes also reveal she lied about her date of birth. She and Ralph share a laugh over that, for some reason.

Khan insists on speaking to Chandru, but when he’s let into the cell, he finds the man sitting there, blood flowing down his neck into the brass cup Ralph brought earlier. He sure won’t be talking now.

The news is brought to Ralph, who seems rather stunned. Chandru said at the end that this was a matter of honour. Ralph asks if Mr Khan is still around and requests a few moments at the DS’s desk. DS hands it over readily. On it, Ralph finds a child’s drawing and really focuses on the little girl in it.

Aafrin’s father reaches his son’s bedside. Aafrin’s looking a little better, and when he comes around, he sees his father there. His father takes his hand.

DS’s Indian sergeant goes through Chandru’s things and finds the paper Kaiser was having worked on earlier. It’s a receipt of payment from the Indian National Congress Movement, I believe. So, it looks like Chandru was paid to shoot Ralph.

Ralph goes to find Khan, who’s being harassed at the road out of the city (on Ralph’s orders, to keep Khan there long enough for this encounter to take place). Ralph smoothly switches Khan’s briefcase for another one while asking about his story. He calls Chandru a terrorist who took the coward’s way out. He then offers Khan an interview with Aafrin and takes him to the hospital so they can take care of this right then and there. Aafrin agrees to answer a few questions. Khan mentions Chandru’s name and produces the paper that was found. Apparently it’s a certificate of membership in the Congress movement. Khan checks it out, then folds it up and hands it back to Ralph. He turns back to Aafrin and asks what he remembers. Aafrin remembers the man shouting ‘Rakshas!’ but says he only wants to do his duty. ‘Well said!’ Ralph says heartily before posing for a picture with him.

Ian and his uncle play cards. Ian asks about the letter from the neighbor and asks if he can read it. His uncle’s in no fit state to disagree, so Ian helps himself to it from the man’s pocket. It’s a final notice, giving Uncle a week to pay up the hundreds of thousands of rupees he owes the man. Colour me shocked. Kaiser comes by, takes the letter, and returns it to Uncle’s pocket, telling Ian this is no time for business.

Madeline comes to visit Ralph while he takes a bath. She asks if they’re a thing or not and he reassures her they are, he’s just been super busy at work. She goes to leave but he calls her back.

Chandu is burned on a pyre, Ralph and Madeline get it on, and Alice goes to see Aafrin in the hospital. Sarah sits down to write a letter to a friend, asking her to look into Alice’s history. See? I knew it was only a matter of time before that happened.

Aafrin continues to see Alice standing in his hospital room, but it turns out it’s not Alice at all, it’s his girlfriend, Sita.

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