LISBON 1940, neutral territory, the British mingle with Nazis. And Fleming is with Godfrey and Monday on a diplomatic meeting between SIS, NID and their American counterparts. Conversation turns to the French Navy – and its head, ADMIRAL DARLAN. France is about to fall to the advancing Axis forces and the French Fleet is at risk of falling into Nazi hands. Fleming sees a Nazi officer gambling in the hotel casino with a beautiful woman at his side and sneaks off to join the game. He takes on the German Officer at the card tables, gambling with the Admiralty’s petty cash. And he loses spectacularly. The German has won and leaves with the Beautiful woman.
However, behind closed doors the beautiful woman (who is in fact Jewish) murders the German. Ian walks in on her moving the body. Thinks quickly. And whisks her out of the building.
Back in London, Godfrey tears a strip off Fleming for gambling their funds. And seeks assurance he knew nothing of the dead German. Ian is office bound and desperate to be a man of action. But as Godfrey explains, the more he’s trusted with vital information, the more he’s a risk being captured in the field.
London is now a charged, heightened place to live. The possibility of invasion is giving the capital an ‘end of days’ feel and people are enjoying riskier lives and riskier relationships. Away from The Admiralty, Fleming receives an invitation to a dinner party with Ann O’Neill.
He arrives at Esmond’s Birthday party and when Ann comes to him, the air sizzles with sexual chemistry. Ian reveals that he’s brought Muriel as his date. Ann makes a point of befriending Muriel. Later in the evening, Ann’s mischievous friend Loelia sets up a game where Ian is blindfolded and has to kiss every woman in the room. Ian kisses Ann longest and hardest – and this is not missed by Muriel.
Back in his Ebury Street flat, with Muriel, a depressed Ian confides where some of pain came from – a girl, Monique, to whom he was engaged. His mother made it very clear the relationship was not suitable and all but forced him to end it. Ian was heartbroken.
Back in the Admiralty, France is looking like it’s about to crumble against the Axis advance and their fleet to fall into German hands. With potentially days or even hours left Fleming urgently pitches to Godfrey that he travel to France and oversee the destruction of secret files and papers at one of their bureaus. To his surprise Godfrey accepts.
In bed later, with Muriel, Ian seems like a different man – excited to go and give Hitler a bloody nose. She likes him this way and despite his treatment of her, we sense that Ian likes Muriel too. And he promises to come to her as soon as he is back from France.
The next day in the Dorchester, Loelia and Ann meet Ian’s mother Eve – who knows Ann by reputation. Eve makes a point of singing Muriel’s praise. Not a lover or a husband in sight! This is a meeting of two powerful women.
Fleming finds himself in a France gripped by panic as the Nazis advance. At SIS HQ he oversees the burning of all the secret documents they don’t want falling into Nazi hands.
With Ian away, Muriel has an evening drink with Ann and the two talk about him. Ann is clearly keeping her potential love rival close to her, while Muriel is more trusting and confides that she may be in love with Ian. Ann advises that the trick is not to show it.
With his official mission complete, Fleming and his driver HEPWORTH move on towards the Chateau D’Artigny in Montbazon. Where he hopes to appeal to ADMIRAL DARLAN to turn over the fleet to the Allies.
Fleming does his best to charm the Admiral but starts to suspect Darlan may have plans of his own to willingly surrender the fleet to the Nazis. He turns down Fleming’s offer of a safe haven for French Fleet. Impotent, Ian fails. There’s no disguising the limitations of his position. When air raid breaks out, Darlan swiftly leaves and Fleming – determined not to give up – hurriedly leaves in pursuit.
This leads them to some docks packed with desperate refugees being turned away from the departing merchant ships. Fleming realises here is a place he can really make a difference – he uses British Embassy cash to bribe the merchant seamen and in doing so saves the lives of hundreds of people. But Darlan is nowhere to be found. So for Fleming, the celebrations are bitter-sweet. They should have known where he was going. They should have had the intelligence… His mind is whirring.
He arrives back at his Ebury Street flat and immediately calls Muriel on the phone to say he’ll be over to see her shortly. However, as he puts down the phone he sees Ann has come to see him. She’s shaken, having narrowly missed being hurt in last night’s bombing raid. Ian comforts her and they tenderly kiss. The sirens starts again – and the bombs start falling – so Ann and Ian are forced to rush outside and to the underground for shelter.
The next morning, Ian makes his way through rubble-strewn streets over to Muriel’s bedsit, stopping at the florist. But when he enters he sees that Muriel had been killed in the bomb blasts, waiting for Ian to arrive…
He turns up at Ann’s room at the Dorchester and she sees how broken he is. She takes him in and comforts him. But ultimately ends up telling him what she feels to be the truth – that Ian would have broken up with Muriel, that she wasn’t right for him, and that he only thinks he loves her now because she’s dead. Afraid and angry, they fall into each others arms and have passionate, desperate, physical sex.
Back in the Admiralty, Godfrey reprimands Fleming for going rogue in France, but has to concede that his instincts were bang on. Darlan does seem to be planning to hand over his fleet to the Nazi’s and Churchill plans to bomb them, if this happens. Fleming pitches his idea of a special intelligence unit – intelligence commandos – to him. These would be soldier spies. They’d go in AHEAD of the front line and go one better than the Germans. If they’re going to win this war it’s through intelligence.
Ian walks out of the office feeling like something’s changing. In the corridor he passes a blonde woman who could just for a split second be Muriel. But she isn’t and Ian moves on towards his future…