The Man in the High Castle
The Man in the High Castle asks a number of interesting what-if questions that are embedded in its very concept, one of which arose this episode. If different regimes ran different parts of the United States, how long would it be before World War III broke out on American soil? It appears this show is moving closer to that as Heinrich Himmler, who runs the Reich, refuses to cave to the demands of the Japanese Pacific States, even after being reminded that they have the bomb. Perhaps he’s feeling empowered by the way his people are rewriting history, as this episode opens with the Liberty Bell being melted down and turned into a massive swastika. It is a powerful image for the theme of revisionist history this season, and one of the few ways in which it feels like the show has, at least partially, tried to reflect the 2010s with its controversies over Confederate iconography and how we honor or dishonor chapters of our history through monuments.
Juliana Crain is in Sabra, ready to show the people there is an alternate version of history to give them hope. She shows the film to the people of Sabra, having gotten Ed and Frank on her side, but most of the people there seem unengaged. It’s good that the writers didn’t just turn everyone in the community into Resistance fighters, especially given the hidden nature of this religious group. They know a harsh reality; fantasy isn’t going to have an immediate impact. But there are a few who seem engaged, and Juliana knows that it only takes a few. Her plan, with Frank, is to show the film to everyone they can. Get it on the biggest screens in the Japanese Pacific States. Like Frank’s drawings of “Sunrise,” perhaps they will help feed a revolution. But first she has to get to Lackawanna.
Wyatt is in Denver trying to get the right papers to allow him to travel with Juliana across the country. Remember, everyone is looking for Juliana Crain, and so even getting her papers is a risky move. In fact, it leads to a shoot-out with Wyatt in the alley behind the bar. And it’s not long before Kido makes it to Denver, informed that Ed McCarthy was there at the Grand Palace by Robert Childan — who now has his life back, but at what cost? Kido orders Jack, Ed’s new boyfriend, to tell him if he contacts Ed. It’s only a matter of time.
Before then, Helen Smith faces a notable setback in New York. Her therapy is going well enough that she opens up on her negative feelings about the Reich’s opinion on genetic purity — you know, the reason her son Thomas is gone and she’s in therapy in the first place. Somehow, her shrink is stunned by this heresy. And then Helen takes it a step further by kissing her doctor. He’s stunned, although he also recognizes the common occurrence of “transference,” in which a patient can develop feelings for a therapist. However, it’s a lot more dangerous when that patient is the wife of the Reichsmarschall. The good doctor does the right thing, telling John Smith about both Helen’s anti-eugenics beliefs and the kiss. He goes home and orders Helen to stop going to therapy. This is not going to end well.
Meanwhile, Himmler’s latest assassin — the T-1000 of the German empire — ends up in San Francisco, assigned to kill Tagomi. He obviously didn’t do his research. After a little bit of recon, he kills a guard outside Tagomi’s house and storms into his living room. Tagomi takes his kata stick off the wall and smashes the German killing machine in the face, killing him. Don’t mess with Tagomi. Watanabe, his lady friend, seems startled but also grateful that her new beau saved her life.
What about Frank Frink? After a touching good-bye to Juliana Crain, he tells Ed McCarthy he wants to make a scene in Denver. This is an unexpected twist. Haven’t they set up that Frank is pretty afraid to go outside Sabra, using his art to send his message instead of his body? And now he’s going into a dangerous city, a place where we’ve seen gunfire erupt this episode? It feels a bit like a cheat, but it’s a good thing if it gets Rupert Evans deeper into the narrative. He’s the second-best actor on the show after Rufus Sewell, and had another nice moment this episode when he sold the emotion of having to say good-bye to Juliana so shortly after being reunited with her.
Just as Jack looked more like he might be a liability for Ed this episode, the curtain drops on Nicole and Thelma, at least to a degree. The gorgeous pair is dancing seductively at a “women’s club” when the cops break in, arresting everyone in sight for “decadence and perversion.” Nicole has a card that shows her importance as a member of the Reich, but Thelma isn’t as lucky. She’s carted off to jail and Nicole has to call in a favor — contacting her advertising buddy to both get Thelma out and obtain any possible photos of both of them from that evening. What will Nicole have to do in return for that favor?
“Kasumi” ends in a shoot-out. Wyatt and Juliana reach a checkpoint where Wyatt has a contact, but his loyal friend isn’t alone. The other soldiers there less easily won over, especially after it’s revealed that the papers Wyatt bought are obvious forgeries — they appear to be signed by a dead man. And then someone recognizes Juliana Crain. Uh-oh. Shots ring out, and everyone but Juliana and Wyatt are dead. They speed off through the checkpoint and over the horizon.
Join the Resistance
• In defending her feelings on genetic purity, Helen Smith speaks to her doctor about the rumor that Joseph Goebbels had a deformity. He did! He had a deformed left foot due to a congenital defect that stopped him from fighting in World War I. It’s interesting to see that this would still be a secret if the Germans won World War II.
• Is anyone else surprised there are only two episodes left? It feels like this season may be setting up more for the next one than we’ve seen in the past or that may be resolved this year. They’ve already been renewed for year four, and so could be playing a longer game than usual. What do you expect/want from the final two?
• And who’s your MVP? They’ve kind of trapped him in one arc, but Rufus Sewell is still the best actor on the show. And one of the problems with this season is the lack of exciting new faces to match him. Jason O’Mara is fine and Michael Gaston getting some good screen time is welcome, but this show could really a new, riveting character for season four. Let’s wrap this one up first.