The Man in the High Castle recap: Season 2, Episode 4
At least The Man in the High Castle didn’t let that last cliffhanger hang for long: We open episode 4 with Tagomi, who exits his reality and enters (what looks like) ours. He finds himself in a house and walks to the window, where he can see cherry blossoms in his front yard. He sees a car pull up, his heart starts to pound, and as he watches a woman — his wife, it seems, alive — enter the house and turn to face him, he closes his eyes again and returns to his office, in his reality, before putting his glasses back on. But are we sure this is the same reality he left? Wasn’t Kotomichi there, too? Am I missing something, show?
Anyway, I’m hoping the answers will come down the line. For now, High Castle is more concerned with Frank’s psyche, especially after he shot a Kempeitai officer in the back and helped the Resistance. Instead of reeling, Frank’s… invigorated by the experience. “I’ve been knocked down for so long, I’ve forgotten how it feels to stand up,” he says, looking more confident in himself than ever and therefore officially joining the Resistance.
Yet, he’s forgetting how much he already has to do — for the yakuza, that is. Back at Childan’s, Ed reports that Heydrich has been reported to have retired, but guesses that Heydrich probably tried to overthrow the ailing Hitler and got himself caught. While Ed is right, Childan doesn’t care about the political ramifications of such a scandal, and instead reminds his new colleague that they need to deliver 60,000 yen in six days — and without Frank around, there’s no way they can manage. And even with Frank, the process is moving too slowly, as Frank decides to take Ed with him as they go to Mark Sampson — remember, he was Frank’s sister’s boss who sympathized with Frank’s plight last season and showed him how to keep his Jewish faith — asking for materials to create, uhh, “art.” Mark is suspicious, but still sympathetic toward Frank, so he agrees to getting the supplies Frank and Ed need, thinking the men will pay him back, when in fact they’ll have to use their earnings to pay off the yakuza.
Right after they make the deal, they hear shots ringing out near the open market and find that the yakuza have rounded up 10 random people and created an impromptu firing squad, taking 10 lives in exchange for those lost in the Resistance’s factory workers incident last episode. Enraged at the sight — and by the knowledge that the Kempeitai wanted people to witness this — Frank returns to the Resistance hideout and decides to help them on their next mission: to gather explosive material from a bomb from 1945 kept in the basement of a well-guarded shop.
Frank brings Ed with him, telling him he wants to get even no matter the cost, because he now knows what it’s like to fight. Ed is skeptical, but given how Frank had saved his life, there’s little he can say to his friend. They make it easily inside, but as& they gingerly drill a hole into the bomb, there’s almost a palpable tension emanating from the screen: If Frank made one wrong move, the bomb would blow. To try and calm his mind, he asks Sara to tell him about Manzanar, an internment camp she mentioned earlier as the reason why she, a Japanese woman, would want to work for the Resistance. She describes a difficult life on “a patch of dirt” outside San Francisco, concluding that she doesn’t in fact hate anyone, but wants to make things better.
Luckily, the Resistance team accomplishes their mission without detonating the bomb, and Gary drives them and the canisters of explosive acid away to another hideout. There, Gary tells Ed to go home, but when Ed asks Frank to leave with him, Frank opts to stay behind, leaving Ed (and Childan, far away) crushed. Later, as Frank and Sara wait for instructions, they talk about their spirit and why they fight for the Resistance now. She tells him more about her story, revealing that she had once watched people stand up again and again, even though they knew they had no way of making it out of Manzanar. Finding a kindred spirit in each other, the two are drawn to each other and, well, you know the rest.
Across the Atlantic, Joe is finding a spark with a new love interest as well. In Berlin, he asks his father for authorization to leave the city, but his father pushes back, telling Joe that he never wanted to lose him as a son, and that there’s a reason why they became separated. That, though, isn’t the ultimate incentive for Joe to stay: At his hotel, he runs again into Nicole Dormer, who asks him for a drink, flirts with him — she casually scoffs at his “construction job” in New York, picking up quickly on how sensitive he is — and then gives him a kiss goodbye. Joe can’t help but keep his eyes on her as she walks away.
NEXT: “I hear you’ve been looking for me”
Back in the Pacific States, the General chides Tagomi for sending him photos of Washington, D.C., destroyed by an atomic bomb during the war. The General has no pity for the people who perished; instead, he’s okay with sacrificing people to radiation if it means the Japanese can remain powerful against the Reich. Hearing this, Tagomi notices scars on Kotomichi’s wrist, matching the ones in the photos.
Kido, witnessing all this, decides to put a plan into action. He asks to meet with the General at the club where they previously had a very uncomfortable round of drinks. That evening, Kido and General talk about the importance of the films and as they talk, Kido makes eye contact with the woman he had met before, who comes over, pours a drink for the General, and joins the pair. Eventually, the General looks too far gone to work his motor functions, so Kido has him look at a “routine order” and sign it, which he blearily does.
Kido looks satisfied… but we’ll have to wait to see what he just achieved because the episode spends the rest of the time checking in on the Smiths and Juliana. For the former, John’s wife, Helen, receives the dead doctor’s wife, Alice, and hears all about how the doctor was found in his car, after his heart gave out. Helen, though, after listening to her distraught friend, realizes that her husband may have had something to do with the mysterious death. And after John returns from work, during which he received a report about the Japanese plans to acquire a fertilizer compound, arrives home to find his wife sitting alone, devastated by what Alice told her. “John, I’m going to ask you a question…” she starts, as he tries to stop her. “What have you done?” He finally tells her of Thomas’ illness, saying that he would never kill their son. Instead, he tells her that she should trust him to handle it, no matter what. Eerily calm, he promises that he’ll keep the Reich away from euthanizing Thomas.
But… how? Is there something he can use in exchange for Thomas? Would that something be someone, as in Juliana, who owes him for her asylum in the Reich? After all, the newly minted Julia Mills has been growing closer and closer to the Smiths. In this episode, she arrives at the Smith house to study for the ACT with Thomas, and even has a civil conversation with him about life in the Pacific States. As Juliana leaves, Helen invites her to dinner the next night.
At the train station, she tries to move out of sight from both the man and the woman she had just talked to at Dixon’s alleged home, but resorts to making a married stranger kiss her to hide. The plan backfires when the man’s wife walks out and makes a scene, and though Juliana eventually makes it back to her shabby unlocked apartment in one piece, she’s thoroughly shaken. She smokes in the dark, props the chair under the doorknob, and then receives a phone call out of nowhere that startles her. “Look out your window,” a voice commands. “I hear you’ve been looking for me. I’m George Dixon.” Ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we’re finally meeting Tate Donovan’s shadowy character!
Once again, however, the episode ends with Tagomi. This time, he stands and contemplates inside his office, but as the camera pans past the window — again, there’s Tagomi through glass — he’s no longer there. He opens his eyes and finds himself outside the house he had been in earlier, now standing under the cherry blossoms he saw before. He looks into the house and spots his wife at the window. Cut to black.
Both Juliana and Frank’s individual stories this week were filled with suspense, and I’m intrigued by what Kido wants, though less so by what Joe’s still doing in Berlin — and even less in seeing a romance blossom amid the mess Frank’s in already. Still, the show is brave for threading Tagomi’s strange story along amid it all, even if it meant ending with a similar cliffhanger to episode 3. For all that, this one receives…
Episode grade: B
Amazon adapts Philip K. Dick's 1962 novel about an alternate universe where the Axis powers won World War II.