Friday, December 30, 2016

The Man in the High Castle 2x04 Recap: "Escalation" (Family Matters) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]


"Escalation"
Original Airdate: December 16, 2016

If you could hop into another reality, what would you hope to see there? If you came from a world of war, maybe you’d hope to find peace. If you lived in squalor, perhaps you’d want to find prosperity. Or maybe it is something far simpler than that: to see a lost loved one again.

For Trade Minister Tagomi, his deepest longing seems to be for his wife, who is dead in his world. After disappearing from his office last episode, he “wakes” in this other life and sees his wife. But he reappears in his office before she sees him.

BERLIN


Joe is having more family drama. The story he’s always known is that his dad abandoned him and his mom to a life of poverty. But the Reichsminister says Joe’s mother left him and wouldn’t contact him. He wants to make amends and tries to convince his son to stay in Berlin but Joe isn’t interested. At the hotel, he bumps into Nicole — the beautiful woman from the party. Over a drink, she again presses him to stay and do important Reich-related things in Berlin. “Did you come all this way just to tell [your father] how hurt you are?” she quips, and dang if that isn’t insightful. It’s very hard to believe she has any kind of pure intentions though, especially when she sounds so much like Elsa from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. She even kisses Joe as she leaves.

SECRETS IN THE REICH


Obergruppenf├╝hrer Smith is in a somewhat sticky situation because the widow of the man he murdered last episode has come to his house for comfort from Helen. That night, Helen confesses that she knows what John did but doesn’t know why. He reveals Thomas’ incurable illness to her and, like any other mother, she is terrified for her son. Moreover, she knows John’s position will make it impossible for them to escape the rules of the state. There’s a real possibility the Reich will take their daughters, too, if they do not comply.

But Smith swears he won’t let any of it happen: not Thomas’ death or their family being torn apart. “All you need to know is everything I do — everything — I do it for the family, to keep our children safe,” he tells her.

Even though Juliana has been granted asylum, she’ll need to pass a test to become a real citizen of the Reich. When she arrives at Smith’s house for tutoring, Thomas steps in to help. As we expect, he teaches her justice comes from the Fuhrer. The clever and startling part about this show is sometimes things that should be outlandish and incorrect are actually horrible truths. So when Thomas asks Juliana about “American exterminations” prior to the war and she is confused, he clarifies simply by saying, “The Indians.” And that’s when I feel a bit sick.

Continuing with her theme of not waiting for anyone else to help her, Juliana hunts down George Dixon, Trudy’s dad, and visits him. A man recognizes her at the apartment complex and pursues her through the train station, even shooting at her. Juliana manages to get away. That night, Dixon calls her at home from the payphone on her street.

SWINGS AND ROUNDABOUTS IN THE PACIFIC STATES


The General is getting angrier with Tagomi by the episode. The Trade Minister sent photos of the effects of the atomic bomb in D.C., attempting to persuade the General against creating another bomb. The plan is dead on arrival. Over drinks, the General tells Chief Inspector Kido the Japanese nation is seen as weak. The bomb is the solution. Kido attempts to probe about the High Castle films but the General will not discuss them. Instead, he gets drunk and Kido uses his inebriation to have the General sign an order that we don’t get to see yet.

In addition to touting the benefits of nuclear armament, the General also seeks retribution for the death of the Japanese soldier during the Resistance’s good deed. See, the Resistance has been feeling pretty good about saving that busload of innocent people. Frank, in particular, feels great and isn’t even bothered by having killed someone. “I kept my head down so long I’d forgotten what it feels like to stand up,” he says.

But the Japanese demand retribution. Six soldiers grab people at random in the market and shoot them. Frank and Ed witness this but Effin’ Gary is coldhearted and literally doesn’t care. Instead, he’s glad the Japanese are scared enough to retaliate. He and Sara convince Frank and Ed to help disassemble an old war bomb for the parts. Slowly but surely, they’re able to do this. While Ed rides off with Gary, Frank and Sara have a heated hook-up. Last episode we learned it had only been two weeks since the show started. Which means two weeks ago, Frank was in a relationship with Juliana. Just sayin’.

Left with less hope and even more questions than at the start of the episode, Tagomi again jumps into another reality. In a brilliant shot, the camera shows him disappearing gradually. As it pans left through the windows, Tagomi is slowly wiped away against the window pane. This time he spies his wife through the window of the house and doesn’t leave.

Final Thoughts:
  • During her tutoring session, Juliana definitely noticed a tremor in Thomas’ hand. How long before Smith asks for her help concealing his son’s diagnosis? 
  • In a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, Kotomichi — Tagomi’s aide — is seen to be hiding radiation burns on his long sleeves. Was he in D.C. when the bomb dropped? Or was he in Japan in another reality? 
  • Is it possible I care about Frank even less than I care about Joe? Yes. Yes it is. 

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