The Man in the High Castle recap: Sunrise
After the relative cliffhanger ending of the series premiere of The Man in the High Castle, “Sunrise” dives right back into the action, showing the fallout from Juliana’s decision to leave with the subversive film and head to Canon City.
For Juliana, that decision seems to be a good thing so far. While she hasn’t found Trudy’s contact just yet, she is enjoying her life in Canon City, even watching the sunrise with Joe and landing a waitressing job at the Sunrise Diner. Back in San Francisco, though, Frank is paying for her decision in horrendous ways. The Japanese have locked him in a cell and torture him intermittently, trying to get Jules’ location out of him.
Back in New York, specifically Long Island, we see a traditional American breakfast unfolding, with a family gathering around the table for some bacon and eggs. All would be normal if it wasn’t for, you know, the Nazi uniforms. It turns out that the Obergruppenführer leads a relatively normal life outside of his Nazi beliefs.
With breakfast attended to, the Obergruppenführer can check in on Joe. He tells him that they have intelligence that suggests Joe may be looking for a woman, and it isn’t long before he realizes that Juliana is likely the one with the film. He still doesn’t know what the film is, but he’s under strict orders to retrieve it for the Nazis.
Meanwhile, Juliana is trying to figure out whom Trudy was supposed to meet. Her new job at the diner allows her to keep an eye on the people coming in and out, and when a mysterious man reading a Holy Bible strikes up a conversation with her, she assumes she’s found her contact.
After all, the man lends her money to go and buy a Bible, which is illegal to own outside of the neutral zone, and he says there’s a clue in a certain verse to his outlook on life. When Juliana reads the verse it mentions a grasshopper, confirming that this must be the man Trudy was supposed to give the film to.
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While Juliana is interacting with this man and buying a Holy Bible, Joe is keeping a close eye on her. He’s stalking her at the bookstore and asking the owner about her purchase — he feigns ignorance —and watching her in the diner while Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit” plays on his turntable. At least Nazi double agents have good taste in music.
There’s a stark contrast to the two story lines that dominate this second episode. There’s paranoia in the one that sees Juliana trying to find out who her contact is, with the added factor of Joe trying to determine who Juliana — or Trudy, to him — is and if she’s his target. It’s all implied violence, whereas Frank is going through literal violent interactions.
While he does get time alone to talk with Randall, the Resistance member from the bus station, his day is spent being tortured by the Japanese. It’s not just physical, though. When he refuses to give up Juliana’s location, Inspector Kido brings Frank’s sister and her two children into the Authority Building. Kido tells Frank that he has them locked in a room that he could fill with Zyklon B, killing his sister and her children instantly.
NEXT: No matter the cost
Back in San Francisco, the tension between the Nazis and Japanese is growing by the minute. The Germans come to the embassy to meet with Tagomi, a Japanese official, and basically imply that if that involves bringing Nazis to Japanese soil to find Juliana and the film, so be it. With Hitler ailing, it seems that war is on the horizon.
Of course, the Nazis are also dealing with the Resistance. While on his way to work, taking a different route every day to protect himself, the Obergruppenführer is attacked by a group of gunmen. His driver and right-hand man are shot and killed, but he manages to make it out alive. When he arrives at the Nazi headquarters, though, he makes it clear that this attack was coordinated, like many others, and meant to hurt the ranks of the Nazis. He’s not taking it lightly.
In the neutral zone, Juliana sets up a meeting with the Bible man who also makes origami birds. She tells him that she needs to talk to him alone, so they decide to meet at the bridge where she and Joe watched the sunset earlier.
While Juliana is sure this man is the contact she’s meant to find, Joe has the Obergruppenführer look into who he is, thinking he may be part of his mission. It turns out that the man is an undercover SD agent with the Nazis, though not under the control of the Obergruppenführer. He’s essentially a hitman, taking out a number of subversives across the country.
Before Juliana goes to meet the man on the bridge, she asks Joe to get a letter to San Francisco for her if she doesn’t come back. It’s addressed to her mother, and considering what Joe knows at this point, he can’t help but read it. Inside he reads about the “film that will change the world” that depicts a better state of living than they have now, removed from Nazi and Japanese occupation.
That leads Joe to watch the film for himself, to finally look at the cargo he’s not even supposed to know about. He breaks into a local, vacant theater and screens the film and is obviously moved. It looks as though Joe has dedicated himself to the Nazis without really knowing the truth of the matter, and this film calls his loyalty into question.
Knowing that this is the film that the Nazis want and that the Bible man will kill for, Joe rushes to the bridge to find Juliana and the Bible man fighting. After Juliana handed over the film, he reveals his true colors and tries to throw Juliana off the bridge. When Joe shows up and causes a brief distraction, Juliana gets the upper hand and tosses him over the side into the water below.
For now, Juliana is safe, and it looks like Joe is perhaps on her side. He gives her the film back and comforts her. Is his loyalty changing? Does it have to do with the film, his attraction to Juliana, or a bit of both? Whatever it is, Joe seems to be conflicted about his mission.
At the Japanese Authority Building, there’s a devastating twist. After the Japanese murder Randall, they string Frank up to be executed by firing squad. Just before he’s about to be killed, though, the Japanese receive information that they were looking for the film in the wrong place, that Juliana couldn’t have had it. But how?
Remember that woman who stole Trudy’s satchel from Juliana on the bus? The Japanese have picked her up, and the satchel contains counterfeit propaganda films. Thus, they determine that Juliana didn’t take the film after all and that Trudy and her satchel were just a bit if misdirection on the part of the Resistance.
That bit of coincidence saves Frank’s life, but sadly, his sister and her children are still killed. “We found out too late,” says Kido before telling Frank that he can still go free because, and I quote, “I’m not a monster.” We know he is, though. The question is, who else is a monster in The Man in the High Castle?
Amazon adapts Philip K. Dick's 1962 novel about an alternate universe where the Axis powers won World War II.