The Man in the High Castle has arrived on Amazon, and if you’re binge-watching the series, EW has you covered with postmortems for each episode. Creator Frank Spotnitz, who adapted Philip K. Dick’s original novel for the small screen, answers burning questions and talks in-depth about the major story beats. Read on for his thoughts on episode 9, “Kindness.”
In the episode before the finale, the drama kicks things into high gear. Not only do Juliana (Alexa Davalos) and Frank (Rupert Evans) watch an entirely different news reel, but they also spot Frank himself in the reel getting shot in the head by Joe (Luke Kleintank). And though answers are coming in the finale, several other questions are raised: For one thing, what’s Kido’s (Joel de la Fuente) plan in the aftermath of the shooting? Will Obergruppenführer Smith (Rufus Sewell) stop Heydrich (Ray Proscia) in time? And will Juliana and Frank ever catch a break? (Read EW’s full recap here.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When we began discussing each episode in depth, you spoke about how it was important to bring in a love triangle element with Juliana, Frank, and Joe. Is that something that’s still in play in this penultimate episode? Does Juliana actually feel torn between the two men?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: The way I read her character is, she still loves Frank, and she still cares about him, and I think she fully means to leave San Francisco with him on that bus at the end of episode 8. And obviously, or I think it’s obvious to the viewer, she has feelings for Joe as well. But I think you’re meant, as a viewer, to be unsure about how much she’s doing for Joe is out of just decency because he saved her life, and how much is out of her own feelings for him that she may not be fully admitting to Frank or to herself. That’s kind of something for the viewer to try and sort out.
As for Frank, why does he go to the trouble of delivering the money to the Yakuza? Is he angry? Does he have a death wish? Is he just trying to make Juliana feel bad?
I think Frank knows it’s true that if he lets Joe die, which I think he’d very much like to do, that will become an obstacle between him and Juliana for the rest of their lives. There’s just simply no way he could let Joe die and expect her to get past that. That’s such a giant thing, to let somebody die. And I think he senses correctly that that would poison his relationship with Juliana, so he assesses that if he wants to keep her and get out of town, he needs to get this guy out, and get him away from the girl he loves.
In this episode, Smith pushes Connolly off the roof after discovering his connection go Heydrich and the attacks on him back in episode 2. Could this be a sign of Smith losing it? Isn’t this a reckless move, compared to how calculated he’s been with his schemes before?
I thought it was calculated. He coolly decided to go to the roof and he did it, he killed Connolly in such a way that there was no way to prove he was murdered. Smith knew full well, and he entraps Connolly. Once it’s confirmed [that Connolly is working with Heydrich], Connolly has no use to him alive, so I thought it was still Smith being his clever self.
Now, for Kido, can you tell me about how you’ve thought about writing his storyline up to this point? He suddenly turned into someone sympathetic.
Weirdly, right? He murdered Laura and the children because they were Jewish! But, you know, this is what’s really challenging about the show. it forces you to see the point of view of people who are doing terrible things. I obviously have no sympathy for what he did in episode 2, but I recognize that he has a code, an honor, and that he’s quite brave. He’s heroic to his cause. It doesn’t make his cause good, but this is the way I think the world works.
So finally, that film reel that Juliana and Frank watch: It wasn’t until this point that I realized the reel that Joe watched must have been a different one from what Juliana watched in the pilot. We weren’t meant to know that these were all different films until this closing scene, right?
In fact, it was likely you would draw the conclusion that Joe saw the same thing, because we very deliberately didn’t show you what Joe saw in that movie theater in episode 2, but it clearly looked like a news reel. It was black and white, [which you saw] from the glass that you saw it reflected on. But that was a very deliberate strategy to make you think, ‘Oh, it’s the same movie.’ But now you realize, wait a minute, by episode 10, there have been three different films. They’re all quite different.
The Man in the High Castle is available for streaming on Amazon.