“REBELLION” Night 1 Recap: Episodes 1 and 2 (To Arms)
On the brink of WWI, Elizabeth Butler (Charlie Murphy), May Lacy (Sarah Greene) and Frances O’Flaherty (Ruth Bradley) perform a musical at a Dublin theatre. A bell later tolls, signaling that Britain is at war.
As the crowd sings UK’s national anthem. Frances remains silent.
Nearly two years later, Frances becomes an outspoken member of Irish republican women’s group Cumann na mBan.
May now works at Dublin Castle for English Assistant Under Secretary Charles Hammond (Tom Turner). A general asks Charles to round up all members of republican group Sinn Fein, whom he suspects are planning demonstrations. May and Charles (a married man) embrace, revealing their workplace romance. When Charles presents the general’s proposal to his superior, it’s immediately rejected.
Elizabeth, influenced by blacklisted publisher Jimmy Mahon (Brian Gleeson), is inducted into James Connolly’s (Brian McCardie) Irish Citizens Army as they plan an armed occupation of a public park. Her fiance, Stephen Duffy-Lyons (Paul Reid), returns on war leave, eager to marry. He gets Elizabeth’s parents’ approval, then asks her to wed in a few days. Before Elizabeth can reply, her family bursts in to celebrate, assuming she’s agreed.
May tells Frances she’s sleeping with Charles. Frances lends her sympathy, then asks May to steal documents detailing the general’s plan to suppress Sinn Fein—reported to republican higher-ups by a spy—hoping to publish a pamphlet to rile up Irish nationalists. May angrily declines, but later steals the documents from Charles’ office and gives them to Frances.
Elizabeth stores trunks of weapons, delivered in the guise of theatre supplies, for the upcoming occupation.
May tells Elizabeth she’s pregnant and that she and the father have been “talking about marriage. We’ll just have to do it sooner.”
Charles’ superior intercepts the Sinn Fein’s spy’s message, which would have revealed compromising information about Britain’s military maneuvers designed to provoke anti-English fervor. Charles is instructed to root out any collaborators in their administration.
As the ICA unloads its secret rifle stash, Jimmy warns Elizabeth that “there will be no going back.” She affirms her commitment by taking up a gun.
May tells her landlady, Frances’ aunt, Nelly (Niamh Cusack), she’s leaving for England, but she’s intercepted by a military policeman who tells her she’s been summoned to Dublin Castle.
On Easter 1916, Irish republican leaders cancel a long-planned uprising, outraging the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizens Army.
At Dublin Castle, Charles reveals he knows nothing of May’s espionage, explaining he’s summoned her because his wife left unexpectedly for the weekend and he hoped to spend it with her.
Frances tells an Irish Volunteer that Patrick Pearse (Marcus Lamb) is trying to convince James Connolly to hold the march despite the reduction in the uprising’s ranks. Word spreads of Connolly’s agreement and Frances leads her small battalion of youths out marching.
Elizabeth abandons her wedding to join the rebellion alongside Jimmy. The wedding party wonders where she is until they hear republicans are occupying Dublin and all reserve soldiers have been called to action. With Stephen forced to report, the ceremony is canceled.
Elizabeth and Jimmy’s battalion approaches Dublin Castle. When an unarmed guard refuses them entry, he’s shot by Sean Connolly (Jack Hickey) as rebels storm the Castle. Elizabeth tries to help the guard, but Jimmy drags her from the gunfire. Connolly directs the rebels to pull back from the Castle and take City Hall instead.
Frances is disappointed by Patrick’s refusal to assign women to combat, as putting women in visible danger would make the cause look bad. She later fires warning shots at a looter who thumbs his nose at the so-called provisional government’s authority.
May and Charles’ hotel room is commandeered by rebels. Outside, they find Pearse proclaiming the supposed establishment of the independent Irish Republic and see a rebel shoot an unarmed woman.
As Vanessa unexpectedly returns home, Charles sends May to his house until she can flee to safety.
Elizabeth tends to wounded rebels while Jimmy snipes at surrounding soldiers, including Stephen and Arthur. The rebels receive orders to “hold the building,” essentially accepting their imminent deaths for the cause. Jimmy and Elizabeth decide to flee, but Arthur holds them at gunpoint before telling them to get out. On the street, they pick up a badly wounded bystander at Elizabeth’s insistence.
Charles goes to Dublin Castle, where he’s told he can’t leave his post until the fighting is over. May arrives at Charles’ and Vanessa icily welcomes her.
Arthur’s daughter returns home from looting and is lectured by her mother. His son joins up with a rebel unit, offering the gun his father “took off a Turkish officer” in Gallipoli for admittance.
Meanwhile, newly armed rebels muster their forces nearby.