Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Man in the High Castle 2x10 Recap: “Fallout" (Secrets, Lies, and Videotapes) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]

Original Airdate: December 16, 2016

Things and people are rarely as simple as they seem. If you needed any proof of that, it comes in the opening scene of the season two finale of The Man in the High Castle.

It’s December 11, 1945. John and a very pregnant Helen Smith arrive at their new home and witness a bomb explosion from afar. “I think the Nazis just hit Washington,” John says. He’s not yet an Obergruppenführer. He’s not even a Nazi. He’s wearing an American serviceman uniform.


Heusmann is getting exactly what he’s always planned for. He preps for attacking Japan and its U.S. settlements, demanding that Tokyo be destroyed in the first wave so the Emperor is killed. It will take an estimated two weeks for the Reich to win “the last war.” The nuclear attack alone will kill 15-16 million people. Of the hundreds of thousands of Nazi lives lost, most will be American, which is perfectly acceptable. Purity right down to the last German bloodline. Heusmann believes preserving the master race will end the constant state of war and allow the Reich to progress and perfect the world.

Joe isn’t quite on board. He’s disturbed with how easily his father is willing to murder millions, even fellow members of the Reich. But Nicole urges patience. Soon all of the old men in the Reich will be dead and it will be Joe’s turn to lead. After she says she has placed her faith in him, they hook up. Because there’s not, like, a major military campaign being planned right now or anything.


Thomas is too smart for his own good. He returns home but demands an explanation from his parents. Smith finally breaks and admits to his son that he has a type of muscular dystrophy. The poor boy apologizes for being ill, calling himself a “useless eater,” but his father protests. Even though there’s no cure, he believes Thomas can have a full and happy life. Thomas is too worried about the law against “defective” people.

It’s strange the reaction one sick child elicits in different people. The Smiths are Nazis, members of the very state and race that orders people like their son to be killed, and yet it’s difficult to not pity them. Who wants to send their child to his death, especially at so young an age? But for George Dixon, Thomas is not worth saving. When Juliana learns Dixon plans to use the recording of Thomas’ conversation with her against Smith, she pleads with Dixon. They’ll kill Thomas if his illness is discovered. “He’s sick anyway,” he replies.

But at her core, Juliana is a good, compassionate person determined to do the right thing. When the Resistance tries to kill her, she fights back and escapes. She encounters Dixon outside. He’s dressed in a Nazi uniform for disguise. She pulls a gun on him to make him give her the recording. When he refuses, she shoots him dead, leaving him looking exactly as he did in the photo Abendsen showed her.


Even though he got shot and a building exploded around him, Inspector Kido and his glasses somehow survived intact. Everyone else is dead, leaving him the ranking officer. He is quickly whisked away by Tagomi, who shows him the film he’s brought back from the AU. Kido agrees to help Tagomi’s cause and goes to the American Reich to contact Smith. Even though visas have been revoked, Smith sends a car for Kido. They watch the film as his house. Both men know the Japanese are not responsible for Hitler’s death. The only victors in the war to come will be high-ranking German Nazis.

Smith takes up the mantle of saving the world. He sneaks his way into Berlin and visits Joe. It’s a risky move since Joe doesn’t trust Smith at all anymore. Smith asks him to put that anger aside because showing his father the film will save countless lives. Remember, this film shows the U.S. testing atomic bombs in Bikini Atoll. But in this world, the Japanese still occupy those islands. So the film actually makes it look as though the Japanese have nuclear weapons. Which is what Smith tells Joe.

When the younger man is still unconvinced, Smith admits Juliana is alive and under his protection in New York. And just like that, Joe takes Smith to his father and the film is played, with Smith claiming the footage shows the Japanese testing a hydrogen bomb. Then Smith goes a step further. Alone with Reichsfuhrer Himmler, he provides evidence of a conspiracy within the Reich and Heusmann’s part in it. Both Heusmann and Joe are arrested, the latter denouncing Smith the entire way. Sorry, kiddo.

Heusmann had planned to give a speech announcing the plan to declare war on Japan, but the Reichsfuhrer instead reveals the conspiracy to the massive crowd that has been gathered. His speech is televised in America, too. Helen and the kids watch as Himmler singles out Smith for his courage and loyalty. Smith is brought forward and saluted. But his expression is ambiguous. This is a man who was once an American citizen, who fought against the Nazis, who was terrified in Hitler’s presence, who in this very episode prevented Heusmann’s reinforcements from razing Savannah, Georgia in order to quell uprisings.

This is also a man who doesn’t know how his eldest child interprets his moment on TV. Thomas sees his father’s patriotism and decides to behave the same way. He gives himself up to the state, being willingly taken away to die even as his mother wails for him to come back.


At least Juliana escapes. She burns the tape to protect Smith and Thomas, not knowing the latter has taken his life into his own hands. She hitches a ride out of town and is soon found by Abendsen. He reveals that she was in every film he watched and the same people were always revolving around her. The key to saving the world is Juliana. Even while other people might shift their attitudes and choices from film to film, she was always the same. And almost like a reward for her righteousness, Abendsen reveals a special guest: Trudy, alive and well.

At his home, Tagomi also has a surprise visitor. It’s Lem and he’s got a box full of films.

Final Thoughts:
  • Thomas’ decision was foreshadowed again and again this season but it was still heart wrenching to watch. Is this the last we’ll see of him? 
  • Which Trudy does Juliana see: her actual half-sister or one from an AU?
  • You know morality has become murky when freaking Himmler is one of the protagonists of a story. 
  • I completely support Tagomi becoming the new Man in the High Castle.


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