Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Man in the High Castle 2x07 Recap: "Land O’ Smiles" (Family Men) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]

"Land O’ Smiles"
Original Airdate: December 16, 2016

Most everything on The Man in the High Castle comes back to family. Bad men kill to protect their families. Good men kill to avenge their families.

Frank falls into the latter category. Having gone from an artistic factory worker to a member of the Resistance in a matter of weeks, it’s sometimes easy to forget his motivation. A startling dream reminds him and us. He sits with his sister and her children around a dinner table. As gas starts to pour in from above, Frank tries to block it and screams to his family, “Don’t breathe! Don’t breathe!” Having your family killed like that is enough to motivate almost anyone to do almost anything.


The Resistance wants to use their new bomb to take out high-ranking Japanese. Doing recon to figure out where to place the bomb, Frank and Sara argue over whether being Japanese or Jewish is a worse sin in the eyes of others. “It makes no difference to me who you are,” Sara says. “But you can’t say the same about me?” He can’t. But she still saves him when he’s nearly shot scoping out a warehouse that Frank realizes is where the Japanese are building an atomic bomb.

Now, the Resistance is in a bind. If the Nazis discover the bomb, they’ll destroy it and everyone else. So where then should the Resistance plant their own bomb while also preventing the Japanese from continuing their work? Frank has an idea.


At Childan’s shop, Ed helps sell two counterfeit cufflinks by weaving a darn good story about them to the potential buyer. Once they have the money in hand, Ed offers to make the drop to the Yakuza himself but Childan decides to accompany him. He wonders when Ed will decide to be his own person rather than continue on as just Frank’s friend, essentially. He also tells Ed than he and Frank are “uneven,” and though he means it as a jab at Ed, it really ought to be the other way around. Frank’s entire character turned on a dime whereas Ed has remained steadfast and loyal.

While making the drop to the Yakuza, Ed and Childan are forced to hide when the Kempetai show up. Kido knows the Yakuza were at the barn where the films were burned and sees this as proof they are working with the Nazis. He shoots Okamura and the rest of the Yakuza present. When his Sergeant finds Ed and Childan, they are allowed to leave before Kido sees them. They’re pretty excited to be a) alive and b) free from the Yakuza, but Frank, too busy brooding, does not join in their celebrations. He and Ed are “uneven,” for sure, but one thing they do share: a love for Juliana. Ed hints at his feelings when he tells Childan about a girl who was “special” but “had to go away.”


One of the most awkward parts of killing a family friend is attending, and being asked to speak at, the funeral. That’s exactly the position in which Smith finds himself. He gives a stirring speech about why the doctor was such a good Nazi, perhaps even hinting to those who know the truth (just Helen and the viewers) that the dead man was a better Nazi than him. When Smith speaks about the doctor’s devotion to his family, it’s clear he’s really talking about himself and his willingness to do anything for his own family.

Juliana is at the funeral as well. She had helped the other ladies arrange the flowers into a nice swastika. She witnesses Thomas having an “absence” seizure, but Helen quickly ushers her son away. Later, the two women have a loaded conversation about the incident wherein Helen urges Juliana not to jump to conclusions because of the “consequences” such conclusions could carry. Juliana swears all she saw was Thomas getting emotional, nothing more.

Every time the Smiths sigh in relief that their secret is safe, something else happens. In addition to Thomas’ seizure, the doctor’s wife is asking questions. She wants an autopsy for her husband because she thinks he was murdered. That evening, Smith asks Helen if anyone else saw Thomas’ episode and she says no. Before he can even question her answer, a call comes from Himmler. Hitler has collapsed.

Final Thoughts:
  • A church funeral for a Nazi seems hugely contradictory 
  • Lucy tells Juliana she’s on a litany of medications, including cocaine. For her sinuses, of course. 
  • Watching John Smith get ready (for the day or for bed, I’m not picky) is reason enough to watch this show. The most problematic fave there ever was. 
  • Childan: “The devotion you and Mr. Frink have to each other would be touching if you hadn’t so thoroughly ruined my life.”
  • Inspector Kido continues to be very layered. On the phone with his wife, who is in Japan with their children, he tells them the Pacific States are no place for them. He clearly misses them and cares about them. Even though it put under scrutiny, he placed his family in protective custody before taking on the Yakuza. 

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to say that even though I haven't been commenting I've really been enjoying these reviews, thank you:-) Intriguing points on family BTW - I didn't spot that as a linking theme before, but it's obvious now! And TBH Frank needed something to remind us why where supposed to care about him and all his irresponsible lone wolfing...

    Apologies though, "A church funeral for a Nazi seems hugely contradictory". It wasn't a church, Juliana calls it one, but I suspect that's because she lacks the vocabulary to call it anything else - there were swastikas everywhere and crosses nowhere and the room was dominated by a picture of Hitler, not Jesus (and the song at the end was a traditional German song sung at military funerals, not a hymn). I tend to notice this sort of thing because one of the things I've liked most about this series (other than the acting, writing, cinematography...) is the extent to which they've clearly done their research into the mad extremes the Nazis were prepared to go to remake the world in their own image, and this was another example.

    Thanks again!