Every season, the Drama After Dark team gathers ‘round the (currently virtual) conference room table to watch the latest and greatest in all things drama. This month, our colleagues at MASTERPIECE are bringing us Atlantic Crossing, a historical dramatization of the relationship between U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and Norwegian Crown Princess Martha set against the backdrop of WWII. I’m here to recap the show as it happens.

Last week, FDR gave Martha a literal ship, the gang caught Eliza the Spy, and Olav doubled down on trying to become the eponymous main character of the song “Mr. Brightside.” What’s gonna happen this week, in the final episode? Only one way to find out — on with the show!

Well, we’re off to a good start! Just kidding: Olav is once again attempting to drown himself with hard liquor at the Norwegian diaspora watering hole, when finally, a grownup comes to do something about it. Nikolai tries to gently suggest that Olav call it a night, but instead of being reasonable, our guy tries to order another drink.

One of the cute girls at the bar: Oh wow, is this your dad?
Olav, drunk: Nooooooo, he’s one of the best skiers in Norway!
Cute Girl: Ok?
Nikolai: Alright, let’s get you out of here. We’re not having another drink.
Olav: Please, just a small one, for Military Guy!
Nikolai: No, you’re hammered, we’re leaving.
Olav: I knew it! I’m gonna make a scene!
Nikolai: Well this is cute. Get in the car.
Olav: I don’t wanna. Go get my stuff that I just threw in the road, like a good doggy.

Nikolai, channeling his inner Demelza as we all have so wished to do for nigh on four episodes, hauls off and slaps Olav. This briefly appears to be the wakeup call Olav so desperately needs, but after a hot second of looking contrite, he pulls out that old mainstay, “you’re not my dad.” Bad news, buddy: Your actual dad is here for this cute scene, and is just as unhappy about it as we’d expect. Yikes!

Before we can dwell too much on Prince Sh*tshow, we head across the pond to Martha. We also get a remix of the theme song, which is kinda fun! Anyway, Martha’s chilling at her place at Pooks Hill and arranging flowers, when she overhears the royal kiddos talking about whether they’d rather stay in the U.S. or go back to Norway when the war is over. The verdict: They want to stay, and given the large percentage of their lives so far that have been spent in the U.S., I kinda can’t blame them. Martha, on the other hand, is super bummed, but she doesn’t say anything, letting them continue their game.

Back in the U.K., King Grandpa wakes up Olav by ripping open his blinds and dumping a glass of water on his face, which seems fitting given his behavior at the top of the episode.

King Grandpa: Rise and shine, dude! If you can be full of bluster at night you better do that during the daytime hours too. We’re leaving in 48 minutes.
Olav: *Splutters*
Nikolai: *Slams the door*

King Grandpa then proceeds to drag Olav around for all of his boring meetings for the day, including one with the cabinet. Predictably, Olav appears to be hungover as heck, which, let’s be real, he deserves.

The Cabinet, great timing: Well, given how much you appear to care about the military stuff, Olav, we’ve decided to make you chief of defense.
Olav, to King Grandpa, silently: Wait, seriously?
The Cabinet: Ok great, and we’re not even gonna vote on it, because then you can decline. We’re gonna ORDER you to do it.
Olav, still SUPER hungover, silently: WAIT. SERIOUSLY?!
The Cabinet: Great, we all vote yes.
King Grandpa: Well, let’s excuse the prince from the meeting...
Me: Oh damn, are you gonna stop this appointment?
King Grandpa: … because as chief of defense, he’s got important stuff to do! Go get ‘em, kid.

An absolutely flabbergasted Olav wanders out of there, and I have to say, I LOVE the one-two punch of tough love and respect. Maybe part of the reason Olav is such a jerk is because he’s like one of those dogs that don’t get enough enrichment, and now that he’s got a project, he’ll stop ripping up shoes and peeing everywhere. Time will tell! As he walks, Olav reads a letter, from FDR of all people, that basically says the following:

Hey dude. I know you’re super busy in London, but it sure would be great if you could come to DC for Christmas. Your family needs you, and you’re all more than welcome to spend the holidays with us as always. Yours, Frankie.

And yes, it’s a nice letter, but the sad backstory is that Martha has asked FDR to write it. She thinks it’s more likely that Olav will actually turn up if FDR invites him.

Martha: The kids really need to see their dad.
FDR: I get that, but you have to think of yourself too. Speaking of the kids, I have something for Harald. It's stamps, but I can’t remember where I put them? I’ll send them when I find them.
Martha: Thanks?

Folks, here’s the thing: FDR does not look great! He’s foggy, he’s out of it, and he’s frail. Martha isn’t a fan of this development, and neither am I. Back in London, Nikolai tells Olav that he better reply to this nice invitation. But Olav, who seems determined to be a jerk about this, says he’ll only go over there if FDR makes him, which is, predictably, super upsetting for Martha. On New Year’s Eve, Olav delivers an address to the Norwegian people.

Olav: I send you all best wishes, and hope that this is our year. Think of our family and friends back at home, who are constantly experiencing terror at the hands of the occupying Nazis. I know it’s hard to stay hopeful, but victory is coming. There’s still suffering ahead, but if we stick together, and keep up the good work, we’ll be reunited and able to rebuild our country soon.

I sure hope Olav wants to also rebuild his family, but so far it’s not looking great. On the plus side, he is showing some self-restraint re: carousing at the pub, so that’s a good sign. Back at the palace, King Grandpa lets Olav know that Martha called earlier.

King Grandpa: She said to wish you a happy new year.
Olav: Ok. I’ll call the kids tomorrow.
King Grandpa: Look, I feel really bad that you didn’t visit them at Christmas.
Olav, full of it: Well Norway is more important than what I want right now. That thing at Yalta is right around the corner.
King Grandpa: Well even so, I bet the other world leaders found time to be with their families. Even Stalin.
Olav: Yeah right, Stalin’s too busy re-drawing the European map. We need a strategy: I’m not interested in becoming Russian.
King Grandpa: And I get that, but you have to think about the future of your family too.
Olav: Ok, thanks, I don’t want to talk about this. Anything else?
King Grandpa: No, I guess not.

Olav, this is a major bummer! It’s ok to have fun once in a while, and you’ll never get your family back unless you try. Well, apparently he took that message to heart, because in the very next scene, he shows up to surprise everyone in the U.S. The downside is that it’s been so long that this is super awkward for everyone. Harald, the littlest kiddo, is more comfortable speaking English than Norwegian, and relates Olav’s promotion to the closest example he knows about: FDR. Surprisingly, Olav rolls with it pretty well, and then actually does something nice.

Olav: Thank you, Martha.
Martha: Uh… for what?
Olav, awkwardly: For taking such good care of them… they’re uh... They’re doing good.
Martha: Well yeah man, they’re our kids. Are you here on business?
Olav: I do have to talk to FDR before Yalta.
Martha: Oh. Right.

Later, Eleanor walks Olav into his meeting with FDR.

Eleanor: Hey, friend to friend, it’d be great if you could keep this meeting snappy.
Olav: Yeah, for sure, I know he’s busy.
Eleanor: Uh, yeah, that’s why. He’s busy. Head on in.

Inside, FDR looks even worse than the last time we saw him. The guys congratulate each other on their mutual successes, and then get down to business.

Olav: Eleanor told me not to take too much time, so…
FDR: Meh, don’t worry about it, she does that. I’m gonna smoke a cigar now, while you tell me what’s up.
Olav: Five years ago, Finland had to give up a bunch of land to Russia. I’d rather not have that happen with Norway. The Russians liberated part of our country, and they might feel like they deserve some land for that. Can you talk to Stalin for us when you’re at Yalta?
FDR: Yeah, of course, but I can’t promise anything. That guy’s a tricky bastard.
Olav: Oh, I get that. Thanks, I’ll just be going.
FDR: You came all this way just to ask me that?
Olav: Well, it is a big deal for us.
FDR: Yeah, but there’s this thing called a telephone. Or, ya know, your wife, who’s been basically your ambassador for the last several years. You came here to see her, right?
Olav: I’m going back tomorrow. Thank you, and good luck.
FDR: With what?
Olav: Yalta. And… everything.
FDR: Olav, I hope to see you back here when we win. You and Martha. Together.
Olav, internally: Oh damn.
Me: Oh damn.
Olav, out loud: Yes sir.

Out at the party, Olav finally catches up with his son, which is very cute. Martha, watching from the corner, seems to agree.

Martha: Ok, guys, it’s getting late and we need to leave soon. But Olav, maybe you’d like to come back with us, so you can keep talking at home?
Olav: Yes, I would really like to do that.

Back at the house, Olav reads Harald a bedtime story in Norwegian, which is just as cute as you want it to be. A little later, Harald finds Martha to tell her that Olav fell asleep (a classic parent move), and they go to check on him up together. Instead of waking him up, Martha nicely tucks him in, and then takes Harald to another room to sleep. Yes, it’s really nice that Olav is here to work on his relationship with the kids, but Martha is still sad and lonely. The next morning, Olav, who seems to be not quite able to get over his jealousy and bridge the gap yet, leaves without saying goodbye.

Several months later, after the Yalta Conference (the second of three major meetings between the U.S., U.K. and Russian heads of state, during which they planned out the postwar setup of Europe), FDR returns back to a waiting Eleanor and Advisory Harry. In the intervening months, FDR’s health has deteriorated even more, leaving both of his confidants extremely concerned. When he cancels his press conference the next day, Martha gets worried too and heads right over to the White House to see what’s up. When she arrives, Advisor Harry insists that she sit down before they talk, which does not bode well.

Advisor Harry, putting things a bit too delicately: Look, he’s resting. He’s not well, and will be going off site for treatment.
Martha, missing the implication: Oh, ok! I’ll come back and visit when he’s better.
Advisor Harry: I don’t think he will get better.
Martha: Then I need to talk to him.
Advisor Harry: He won’t want you to see him like this, you know how he is.
Martha: Don’t care. And make Jones the secret service agent get out of my way, or I will make a scene.

That does the trick, and she’s admitted into FDR’s bedroom. He truly does look crappy, and asks her to leave.

Martha, sitting on the bed: Franklin, I was going to ask you if you wanted to take me for a ride today. Just you, me, and the secret service.

That gets a chuckle out of FDR, at least, but then she starts singing “Happy Days are Here Again,” and there’s not a dry eye in the damn house.

FDR: Martha. Hold onto your butt. You’re about to see my Vin Diesel in Fast and the Furious impression.

It’s a lovely callback to their first joyride together. Am I regretting the Fast and the Furious reference in that earlier recap now? No, because as all fans of the franchise know, those films have some real emotional range. Anyway, this scene is really sad and intense, so of course we follow it up with an even sadder scene where everyone reacts to the news of FDR’s death. Between the historical footage of his funeral, we also see Eleanor, Martha, the royal kiddos, and the Norway boys in London grieving his death.

And the hits just keep on coming. In London, Olav and King Grandpa sign condolence letters to the families of their soldiers who have died in the war. Unfortunately, because they’ve only become more involved in the fighting, there are a lot of letters to sign, and one of them is to the family of Thorbjorn, the pilot we met last week.

Nikolai: Yeah, it’s him. He was shot down during a raid over France. Ulla and Erling aren’t doing great.
Olav: He was involved in the fighting when the Nazis attacked Norway. Dad — he should get an award.
King Grandpa: Ok, yes. I’ll tell the cabinet.

Back in the U.S., while Martha gardens, news comes over the wireless that Germany has surrendered. In Scotland, King Grandpa and Olav get the message via telegram. The Middlest Kiddo runs outside to tell Martha the good news, and in both countries, everyone hugs everyone they can get their hands on and starts celebrating. It’s a genuinely happy and sweet moment in what has so far been a very sad episode, and you know what, I’ll take it!

After the party, Olav pays an unexpected call to young Tulla, Thorbjorn's widow, who handles the surprise royal visit shockingly well, especially considering that Olav immediately puts his foot so far into his mouth it might as well be on the other side of the planet. He jokingly asks if they named their baby after her dad, referencing a fun conversation they’d had at the bar, and Tulla tells him no, and that they lost the baby. They’re both as supremely uncomfortable after that as you might expect, and fall back on the English tradition of just focusing on the tea.

Olav: I am SO sorry.
Tulla: It was sudden. They don’t know what happened.
Olav: That’s so awful, I’m so sorry for your loss.
Tulla: Thorbjorn felt so bad for being away from us so much, and then it was only two weeks later… I’m sorry for crying.
Olav: Please don’t apologize. The war asked a lot of you.
Tulla: Yeah, it took my husband. But not our love — we got to be together until the end.
Olav: I’m, um... I’m actually here on official business. I brought you this award; it’s for your husband’s efforts to get our country back.
Tulla: No — he was fighting for our future. For a new and better Norway. We can’t just go back, so we need to do our best to move forward.
Olav: Wow, it’s almost like everything you just said could apply to many parts of my whole situation. I’m gonna go have a breakdown in your stairwell.

But did he learn anything? Possibly not, because Olav’s new plan is to go to Norway, even though King Grandpa correctly points out that it’s still really not safe.

Olav: Look, someone has to get the Germans out of Norway.
King Grandpa: Dude, it just takes one guy who doesn’t want to surrender for you to wind up dead!
Olav: Dad, I love you. But you need to trust me now.

And so off he goes, eventually pulling up outside of the ransacked family home, where, I kid you not, there is a literal horse just chilling in the driveway. Inside, most of the family pictures are still up on the walls, but the rooms have been torn apart and used as a Nazi command center. Olav, like any normal person would, channels his rage at the scene by absolutely ripping the room apart and destroying a framed photo of Hitler. It’s very cathartic, both for him, and for those of us watching at home. In the process, he knocks over his satchel, which has a small paper-wrapped package inside that he’s been studiously ignoring since he left London. What’s in there? Well, it’s a bunch of super cute photos of the family, obviously taken by Martha. All this excitement is too much for Olav, who lets himself have a little cry while looking through the pictures.

Later, Martha and the kids sail back to Norway with King Grandpa. Despite being worried about going home earlier in the episode, the kiddos are all just excited now. And the people of Norway are also very excited to have them back, including Olav, who pulls up to their ship in a small boat. After a very professional salute to King Grandpa, he doles out hugs and kisses to everyone else, including Martha!

Harald, in Norwegian: We’re heading back to Norway!
Olav: Wow, it’s so nice to hear you speaking Norwegian :)
Martha: I thought you were going to meet us at the dock?
Olav, finally here to mend some damn fences: I couldn’t wait. I should have come on board sooner. Much sooner.

That’s all Martha needs to hear, and they smooch it out, and then hold hands while they wave to the crowd. It’s cute as heck, is what it is. When they dock, everyone gets emotional as they step back on Norwegian ground after so many years away. They wave to the crowd, and then Martha and Olav share a private smile that makes me actually believe everything will be ok. Later, the family has their longed-for return to their home. Olav has done a great job mostly getting everything back to how it was, except for one thing: He’s made Martha a new office. She’s so choked up it takes her a second to respond, but wow. That’s how you do a grand gesture, Olav!

He follows it up with a hug while they watch their kids play outside, until later he brings back the hilarious “dad is a bear” bit, much to everyone’s enjoyment. As the credits roll, and we see some of the actual footage of the family’s reunion in Norway, we find out what happened after: Martha, unfortunately, died nine years after the war ended. She never became queen, and Olav never remarried.
And, alas, that’s a wrap on Atlantic Crossing! We’ve laughed. We’ve cried. We’ve fantasized about slapping a fictionalized version of a Norwegian Prince right in his face. Ready for even more drama? Never fear: I’ll be back recapping another great show soon. In the meantime, find your new favorite show on GBH Passport.

Episode 1 Recap: Midnight Train to Hamar
Episode 2 Recap: The British Are Going
Episode 3 Recap: Happy Days Are Here Again?
Episode 4 Recap: All I Want For Christmas Is You (To Pass the Lend-Lease Act)
Episode 5 Recap: Elocution Solution
Episode 6 Recap: Come Sail Away
Episode 7 Recap: Rolling In The Deep