I almost hate that I had to break up the remaining six episodes, but I told myself that I wouldn’t spend six hours straight binging this show, and that’s a promise to myself I’m keeping.
Today, we continue The Man in The High Castle binge review with episodes 5 – 7 (if you’re looking for episodes 1-4, you can check that out here!). Man, ish is really about to hit the fan. Where the first four episodes of this season pushed us into a new adventure for all 800 of our main characters, the next three episodes set up how terrifying their world is becoming and how it appears that inevitably half of them will fail.
Before I even talk about what’s happening with our people though, it’s important to note that in episode seven (“Land O’ Smiles”), Frank discovers that the Japanese have already begun building an Atomic Bomb. If that doesn’t scream DANGER to you, let me remind you that everyone’s fear is that if the Nazis find out about the bomb (as predicted in one of the films) the Nazis will destroy San Francisco, killing….everyone in it. Bad stuff. That’s why Tagomi is trying to keep the peace between the Japanese and the Nazis, which General Onada does not give a rat’s hat about. So while everyone’s working hard against the repressive powers, the battle may already be lost.
So let’s catch up with our people:
Tagomi spends the entirety of episodes 5-7 in the alternate reality world, but we still don’t learn much more about what’s going on. Episode 5 (“Duck and Cover”) begins with Tagomi in what appears to be his home, finding what seems to be partially signed divorced papers for him and his wife, Michiko. In this episode he learns about the real version of WW2, and sadly, the Atomic bombing of Hiroshima. At home, his son calls him out for always being gone and treating his wife terribly. Tagomi promises he’s here to stay for a while (does that mean he’s missing in the real reality??). Tagomi then meets his son’s wife and child, and learns that his son’s wife is none other than…. JULIA. His story continues in episode 6 (“Kintsugi”) and 7 (“Land O’ Smiles”), as he learns more about his family. He learns that Julia and his son are a part of the 60’s Ban the Bomb campaign. We don’t learn much more about what’s going on with him, but they have three more episodes to wrap that up.
We catch back up with Julia and the mystery man George Dixon in episode 5. Dixon lets Jules know that he and his people don’t trust Julia, considering she let Joe off with the important film. He tells her that in exchange for sparing her life, she must become a Nazi by getting in close with the Smith family. She acts all shocked and scared, which I can’t understand why… girl you already live in Nazi territory and have been to the Smith’s house, chill out. In episode 6, Julia befriends Obergruppenfuhrer Smith’s wife, Helen, and becomes particularly close with her friend Lucy. We’ll see where this goes….
Speaking of seeing where something’s going, we learn that the Man in the High Castle has destroyed all but a few of his films, and is picked up by Lem to be transported to who knows where.
Ya’ll, Joe isn’t really worth the paragraph but here goes. In episode 5 he learns that he wasn’t born in Brooklyn like he’s been told his whole life, but he was born in an SS birthing house in Berlin. While he thought his father abandoned him, the truth is that his mother stole him from the birthing house and took him to Brooklyn. This spirals Joe into a rage for some reason and for the remaining two episodes he sulks around, hanging out with a woman he met at his father’s party.
General Kido has been the one to look out for this round of episodes. Kido wants Julia for her involvement in the shooting of the two police officers that occurred when she escaped the Resistance. He goes to Smith and demands the extradition of her, but Smith isn’t about that life. Things get real shady when Smith asks for the “real reason” that Kido has come to him. The scene cuts off, with Kido giving Smith a sly smile. Hmm….
In episode 7, Kido learns that the Yakuza are working as Nazi spies. He confronts one of the Yakuza bosses, killing him.
Meanwhile Obergrupperfuhrer Smith deals with his son. Smith’s son gets invited to some SS excursion getaway in South America, which we know he can’t go to because of his health. Smith’s wife Helen (Chela Horsdal) refuses to let him go, but Smith has another plan. He’s going to allow Thomas to fly out to South America, but will stage a kidnapping, and Thomas will be able to remain hidden forever, maybe never to be seen again.
After the doctor’s funeral, the doctor’s wife approaches Smith with her suspicions of foulplay regarding her husband’s death. She lets him know that she didn’t cremate the body in case she wants to do an autopsy. Uh oh. Episode 7 ends with Smith finding out that Hitler has collapsed, and that he should anticipate something big.
Lastly, we pick up with Frank who in episode 7 gets brought on to help with a new mission – to plant a bomb to kill General Onada. When General Onada arrives at the site, Frank blows the plan. Frank tells the group that it’s too late to do anything, and that he realized that the Japanese are already building an atomic bomb. He brings up the missing film, and that if the Nazis find out the Japanese are building an A-bomb, they’ll wipe out San Francisco.
OHHHH before I wrap this up – in episode 5 we learn that Ed is working with the Japanese government to spy on the Yakuza. So Ed has a bad side that could end up getting Frank and their bougie friend Robert in trouble.
I really try and keep the recaps brief, but there are so many things happening with so many characters that it’s hard, especially since, like I said, these three episodes have been so action packed. So far, this chunk of episodes has been my favorite of the series. Every scene presents a new mystery, a new twist, or a short-lived triumph for our characters. What I truly enjoy is the counterbalance of the protagonists and “antagonists” of the show. While Jules, Frank, and the Resistance work so diligently on their own adventures, there’s a whole system working against them – stronger than they are anticipating. It almost feels like whenever I watch the “good guys” I’m watching in pity, because this show has set up so many layers and complications between the Japanese and the Nazis, it feels as if its inevitable for the worse to happen.
My only complaint, once again, is the rate at which we’re learning about the films/alternate reality. It’s at a point for me where there is so much going on in the regular stories that I forget that we are supposed to be wondering about that. So far, all we’ve learned is that in the alternate reality, Jules ends up being Tagomi’s son’s wife and they protest against the atom bomb. Are we to think that that’s the reality that could’ve happened if they won? Will this ever be a true reality that our characters will be able to live in? When Tagomi leaves his “real” reality to go to the alternate one, does his body go missing? There are three episodes left, and I would hate for them to jam in a quick and confusing explanation last minute.
Welp, there are only three episodes left and a WHOLE lot to resolve. Will San Francisco remain standing by episode 10? Probably, but I can’t wait to see how this season wraps up.
Season 2, Episode 5-7 (S02E05-07)
The Man in the High Castle streams on Amazon Prime
Vanessa Jay | Contributor