When a new film, controlled by the Yakuza, brings Joe back into Juliana's life, everyone is suddenly in danger.
The Man in the High Castle is finally picking up speed! Seriously, more happens in the first 20 minutes of this episode than in the combined runtime of just about every previous episode. Everything’s been flipped on its head, with secrets exposed, and that means there’s an urgency to the story that just wasn’t there before.
The episode opens on Lem, who’s fishing with a young boy and teaching him about baiting. He’s approached by a few people with a postcard that seems innocuous, but upon further examination, it’s a coded message from the Man in the High Castle. He wants the new film brought to him, and he’s calling on Lem to help deliver it.
Back in San Francisco, Ed is warning Frank that he needs to skip town as soon as possible. The Kempeitai came to their workplace and had Ed make a real gun, just like the one Frank made, meaning that they’re closing in on him. Frank says the plan is to leave town with Jules tonight. In order to do so though he needs Ed to buy the bus tickets for him, as he can’t be seen trying to leave town.
Meanwhile, Joe finds Jules in a local diner — always with the diners! — and pleads with her for help. He says he has resources to deliver the new Grasshopper film, but he needs Jules’ connections in San Francisco. She’s reluctant at first, but eventually does go to see Karen, the high-ranking Resistance member she met at Randall’s apartment, and tells her that she has a contact that could help get the film.
Karen, and a returning Lem, don’t like the idea of trusting Joe. They figure they can get the film on their own. When they go to the proposed location for pickup though, their messenger has been killed and the film taken. They get a phone call from the perpetrators, the Yakuza, who say they will give them the film in exchange for 100,000 yen. Maybe they do need Joe after all.
Kido gets a similar offer from the Yakuza. The Yakuza leader ups the price for him though, saying it’ll cost him 150,000 yen to buy the film. Kido isn’t interested though — he mostly just wants to find the man who tried to kill the Crown Prince — but it does set up the explosive climax to the episode.
While all of this wheeling and dealing is going on, The Man in Tte High Castle actually manages to make me sympathize with a Nazi. When the Obergruppenführer takes Thomas to the doctor after he falls at school, he gets some seriously bad news. While the doctor tells Thomas everything is fine, he tells the Obergruppenführer that, in fact, his son has Landouzy-Dejenerine, a degenerative muscle disease that will result in his paralysis in just a few months.
Tears well up in the Obergruppenführer’s eyes as he confronts his worst nightmare, realizing that there’s no treatment whatsoever. That point is hammered home when the doctor gives him a vial and needle that contains a concoction that would painlessly kill Thomas. It’s heartbreaking, even if the Obergruppenführer is a ruthless Nazi.
NEXT: Great suffering and sorrow
The Obergruppenführer has other worries as well. He’s visited by a high-ranking officer from Berlin, who comes to take Wegener away. While the visit doesn’t accomplish much, as Wegener stays put for now, it does show that there may be those within the Nazi government working against the Obergruppenführer. It seems he can’t trust anyone working around him.
Meanwhile, Joe has his meeting with Jules, Lem, and Karen. He tells them that he can get the 100,000 yen for the film and make the exchange himself. When he calls the Obergruppenführer and tells him the plan (mostly), he agrees to send him the funds, but warns him that this time he needs to follow through on his mission.
As they get ready to make a play for the film at a Yakuza club called the Bamboo Palace, Frank is preparing an escape plan for him and Jules. He successfully makes the Sitting Bull necklace and Robert manages to sell it to the Kasouras. That nets Frank 46,000 yen, enough to get them out of town and start over somewhere new.
Of course, Juliana messes everything up like she always does. First, she wants to see her mother and Arnold before they go. Earlier in the day she told them that Trudy was dead, which her mother refused to believe — maybe because Juliana lied and said that “someone” saw her body. Arnold knows deep down that it’s true though, so when he sees Juliana at dinner, he tells her to stay out of whatever’s going down at the Bamboo Palace tonight.
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That sends Juliana right to the Bamboo Palace, as she needs to warn Joe that the Kempeitai are setting up a raid in an attempt to get the film. She gets there just before the Kempeitai do, but it’s still too late. Joe has the film in his jacket but Lem and Karen have taken off, having seen the Kempeitai approaching and realizing there was no way out.
Jules and Joe attempt to escape out the back door, but a black car pulls in front of them. A few men jump out and take both of them into custody. They don’t seem to be Kempeitai though, as Kido comes running out the back door just as the car pulls away. So who kidnapped Joe and Juliana, and what do they want with the film?
Bring on the penultimate episode of season 1!