In the final episode, battles are waged on both the front lines and the home front. Christopher faces the atrocities of war, while Valentine wins a small victory for sexual freedom.
Valentine fights back at her job and wins permission to return the illicit literature she discovers in the girls' locker room.
Stoppard, explains that the book Married Love, written by Dr. Mary Stopes, "was a very proper, almost technical, book written by somebody who was aware that millions of young men and women had a miserable time in their early sex lives as married couples because they didn't know what to do or how to do it or what it meant. Stopes understood more clearly than anyone of that generation that a lot of marriages were unhappy due to sexual ignorance."
In March 1918 a small publisher took on the book, the only place that would, due to its “racy” content. Bigger publishers must have realized their error when it began selling out at lightning speed – it was in its sixth printing after only two weeks. Almost 750,000 copies were sold by 1931. Of its many novel ideas, it was the first book to argue that marriage should be an equal relationship. On April 6, 1931, Judge John M. Woolsey finally overturned the US Customs ban.
Here is an excerpt:
“The idea that woman is lowered or "soiled" by sexual intercourse is still deeply rooted in some strata of our society. Many sources have contributed to this mistaken idea, not the least powerful being the ascetic ideal of the early church, and the fact that man has used woman as his instrument so often regardless of her wishes. Women's education and the trend of social feeling have largely been in the direction of encouraging the idea that sex-life is a low, physical, and degrading necessity which a pure woman is above enjoying.”
“The husband who so restrains himself, even if it is hard to do it, will generally find that he is a thousandfold repaid – not only by the increasing health and happiness of his wife, and the much intenser pleasure he gains from their mutual intercourse, but also by his own added vitality and sense of self-command. A fortnight is not too long for a healthy man to restrain himself with advantage.”
“The supreme law for husbands is: Remember that each act of union must be tenderly wooed for and won, and that no union should ever take place unless the woman also desires it and is made physically ready for it.”
Life in the trenches was miserable -- death and disease daily occurrences. Ten percent of fighting soldiers died, and for every two soldiers one could expect to be wounded or killed. The unsanitary conditions of the trenches meant infections like dysentery, typhus, and cholera were common. There were also parasites and fungal infections like trench mouth and trench foot to contend with, and with winter temperatures often falling below freezing, death from exposure was a big risk. Those who made it out physically unscathed might have suffered from a little known or understood condition of the time: “shell shock.” Benedict Cumberbatch, describes his feelings filming in the trenches: “When you go into the trench, you are stepping into a bit of dug earth which is the same depth as your grave. The tin helmet blocks any kind of peripheral vision above your eyebrows. And that was how they experienced death raining down on them in the most awesome way unimaginable to us now. The level of ordnance has never been surpassed in modern warfare.”
Nearly a century later, the cast and crew were able to understand the suffering that took place on the front lines by filming in real war locations. Director Susanna White reveals that scenes were actually filmed in Flanders Fields – the battlefields in the Belgian provinces of East and West Flanders and the French Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. The cast and crew were fortunate enough to be there on Armistice Day which White describes as “very, very moving.” The holiday, celebrated annually on November 11th, commemorates the armistice signed between the Allied forces and the Germans, effectively ending the war. The cast and crew also observed the two minutes of silence dedicated to the living and the dead – the first minute for the nearly 20 million lives lost in the war; the second minute for those left behind – wives, children, and families of the dead.
Benedict Cumberbatch elaborates on the experience, revealing how he tapped into what Tietjens and real soldiers would have experienced at the time. “It was a very powerful thing to be there. I was fortunate enough to go over there a little bit early just to walk around. You stand there, and you think, ‘At least I've got the sky in common. That's something to hold onto. They would have looked at the same sky.’"