|In which both explorers face tough choices, and we meet the supporting crews.|
Episode Two: "Minor Diversions"
This episode introduces our favorite member of the British expedition as portrayed in this series, Cecil Meares. As played by Bill Nighy, Meares is an uppercrust gentleman of eminent good sense. When Scott proclaims his belief that "When a man knows an animal, really knows any animal, he knows them all," Meares's expression of disbelief in the face of absurdity is priceless.
Amundsen and Scott are both faced with unwanted additions to their parties, and the script alternates between each man's predicament and how he handles it. The cause and effect of each man's decision is illustrated quite well here and later on in the series.
This episode's delightful details:
Kathleen Scott, on location in Norway with Scott to discuss the expedition with Dr. Nansen and Tryggve Gran (later Scott's ski instructor), comments to Scott, "I need [my] husband's protection from such stunning men." In Scott and Amundsen, Roland Huntford asserts that Nansen and Kathleen began a prolonged love affair while Scott was sledging to his death on the Barrier. While this upsets traditional polar enthusiasts, Huntford provides some pretty persuasive proof, including letters from him to her and vice-versa.
During a scene at the Terra Nova as she is being loaded with supplies, Titus Oates (played by Richard Morant) arrives at the quay on a motorcycle. Oates was, in fact, one of the first to own this type of vehicle, still in its infancy. To anyone who has read Scott and Amundsen, this would be a dead giveaway as to this characters identity. It's this type of attention to detail which makes this series so satisfying!
As Amundsen is walking off after saying goodbye to Betty, his housekeeper and mother-figure, he calls back to her "I'll name something after you! 'Mount Betty,' how do you like that?" And so he did. Mount Betty is a small ridge overlooking the Ross Ice Shelf, located on the NE extremity of the Queen Maud Mountains. Check it out
Just before Amundsen announces the true objective of the expedition to his suspicious crew, Lindstrom, the cook says to Hassel, the dog driver, "That's why I haven't asked him about Beck." It is not revealed until later that Beck is the second ice pilot in the crew, brought on by Amundsen to ensure a safe journey through the Antarctic pack ice. The inclusion of a second ice pilot would indeed have raised the eyebrows of the crew. This line is an excellent but obscure detail that shows both the crew's knowledge of polar travel and their trust in their captain.
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