The Man In The High Castle season 1 finale recap: A Way Out
If the cliffhanger that came at the end of the previous episode was a serious game changer, I don’t even know what to call the final scene of this finale. Seriously, I kind of figured something like that was coming, but oh boy, my jaw hit the floor when it actually happened. Let’s back up though!
“A Way Out” picks up in the moment after Juliana and Frank have seen the film where Joe, dressed as a Nazi, executes Frank. Tears stream down Juliana’s face while both of them try to comprehend what they just saw. It doesn’t make any sense, and when Joe shows up, as oblivious as ever, there’s clear tension.
That leads to Frank refusing to hand the film over to Joe. A fight ensues and after each of them gets a few shots in, Joe leaves with the film, leaving Juliana and Frank wondering what their next step might be. They reach out to the only people they can, getting in contact with Karen and Lem and telling them about what’s on the film and that it’s in Joe’s possession.
The Resistance realizes how important that film is and how volatile it is in the hands of someone they perceive to be a Nazi. So Karen and Lem propose a plan. In exchange for getting Juliana and Frank on a boat to Mexico, Juliana must get the film from Joe and then kill him. She refuses to kill him in cold blood, so Lem offers to do it. All Juliana has to do is lure him out of the Nazi embassy.
Meanwhile, both Kido and the Obergruppenführer are fighting for their lives in different ways. Kido finally finds the man, a Nazi agent, who shot the Crown Prince, and murders him on sight, explaining to his partner that it’s what needed to be done. If word had gotten out that the Nazis had attacked the Japanese, a war would break out, which is exactly what the powerful Nazis want.
For the Obergruppenführer, he’s walking into a trap, and he knows it. What he doesn’t know though is all the details and what it means for him. All he knows is that he’s on a hunting trip with Heydrich, a man who likely tried to have him killed, being led deeper and deeper into the woods. That can’t be good.
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Wegener is also potentially risking his life. When he arrives in Berlin, under the orders of Heydrich to get a meeting with Hitler and kill him, he visits his family. It’s clear he’s never there for them, but this may be his final visit, so he bids them a tearful, heartfelt goodbye before heading off for a potentially deadly confrontation with Hitler.
NEXT: Heading back (or sideways) in time
Back in San Francisco, Ed is caught trying to melt Frank’s gun at the factory. That leads to his arrest, meaning that Kido’s life is saved. When Frank finds out about it he leaves Karen behind, who’s just about to head out and meet at the docks where they’re hoping to kill Joe. He gets to the police station in time to see Ed being taken away. Frank is screaming that it’s he who should be taken, but Kido doesn’t seem to care anymore.
None of that matters in the grand scheme of this episode though because this is all about those final moments that change everything about this show. So much happens in the last few minutes, but all of it completely shifts not only our understanding of The Man in the High Castle, but also the character’s understanding of the world they live in.
Juliana manages to help Joe escape from the Nazi embassy, where it turns out Heydrich’s men are set to kill him. She tells him about Karen and Lem’s plan to kill him and assures him that she can get them both to safety. She brings him to the docks, but in that moment, he realizes this is where they’ll kill him. He pleads with Juliana to believe that he isn’t the man in the film, that he’s different.
Juliana believes him, throwing the Resistance’s plan right out the window. Juliana gets him on the boat meant for her and Frank before Karen or Lem can do anything about it. Does he still have the film? What will he do with it? And how does the final scene of the show influence everything else?
Before we get to that final scene, everything else has to come to a head. Namely, Wegener makes his way into a meeting with Hitler and sees him watching some of the Grasshopper films. He can’t quite grasp what he sees, but Hitler seems to know more than he’s letting on. Something surreal is going on with these films, but what that might be is still up in the air.
While Wegener holds a gun to Hitler’s face, Heydrich is asking the Obergruppenführer to join his mission, to start a war. The tension builds and builds, until Wegener refuses to shoot Hitler and instead kills himself, leaving the Obergruppenführer, who’s on the other end of a phone line, to get the drop on Heydrich and contain him as a traitor.
That moment has great consequences for the people involved, but nothing is more game changing than the final scene. As Tagomi contemplates everything that’s happened, he heads to the park, Juliana’s necklace in hand, to meditate. As he closes his eyes, sounds whir around him, building to a pitch before they stop and then start again, this time with a different tone.
He opens his eyes and he’s in the same spot, but everything’s changed. There’s an American flag hanging from the pole, rock music is playing over some speakers, and a newspaper nearby shows a report of John F. Kennedy setting up an arms blockade against Cuba.
While we won’t know the details until season 2, assuming there is one, it’s apparent that Tagomi has time traveled. Considering that the Grasshopper films seem to show an alternate universe where the Allies won WWII, it’s safe to assume Tagomi has somehow made his way to that timeline. That’s quite the moment to end your first season on, and it leaves a lot of questions and possibilities on the table for season 2.