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Tenko (1981-84)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Episode 6 (BBC1, tx. 26/11/1981), written by Anne Valery

British leader Marion Jefferson is interrogated by the Japanese secret police seeking military information. Finally released, she recounts that British forces have withdrawn to India. The other women are distraught.

Building the new sick bay, Dr Mason asks Commandant Yamauchi about medicines and Red Cross parcels. Irritated, Yamauchi insists that when such deliveries arrive, she will be informed. A car arrives and carries Yamauchi away, to the bemusement of the women.

Blanche has developed a bond with teenager Debbie, whose mother, Judith, is also stricken with malaria. Standing by the grave of Dorothy's infant daughter, Violet, she tells Debbie that she once had a daughter of her own.

The women discuss the brutality of Lt. Sato, Yamauchi's deputy. Officer's wife Sylvia tells Marion that she suspects Blanche is fraternising with the guards for cigarettes and other goods. Next morning, Blanche spots Dorothy, grown bitter and hardened since Violet's death, sneaking off with a guard. Dr Mason begs Blanche to use her contacts to obtain some quinine. Blanche, in turn, asks Dorothy, who refuses.

The women celebrate the completion of the sick bay. Listening to a borrowed gramophone, they reminisce about times gone. Blanche visits the infirmary, where Judith is fading fast.

Learning that Red Cross parcels have arrived, Blanche, Rose and Dorothy decide to count them secretly, in case Sato requisitions some. However, they are spotted by three guards, who make sexual advances. Blanche plays along and urges the others to do the same, but Rose is horrified. Her screams attract Sato. In the confusion, Blanche steals a bottle of quinine.

Yamauchi, returned, summons the three women, accusing them of inventing a story to cover for their disobedience. Rose insists they were about to be raped. Dorothy denies it; Blanche, hesitantly at first, supports Rose. Thanks to Dorothy's disloyalty, Rose and Blanche are punished: left tied up in the sun without food or water.

Under pressure from Marion and Sylvia, Dorothy eventually admits that she lied. Later, Rose and Blanche are released. Yamauchi lectures Marion on instilling discipline among the British women, threatening to install Sister Ulrika as overall leader. Marion prevents Blanche enacting her own punishment of Dorothy, but Blanche vows not to forgive. In the infirmary, she finds Judith somewhat recovered, thanks to the quinine.

Yamauchi supervises the delivery of the Red Cross supplies. Blanche and Rose watch as their three tormentors are escorted out of the camp.