This review contains spoilers for The Man in the High Castle.
The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 6
This is one of the more troubling episodes of The Man in the High Castle simply from the standpoint that the characters have almost as many questions as the viewers as developments occur. Why is Wyatt helping Juliana? Why did the Japanese call Smith about Joe’s death? Why was Tagomi targeted? Why does Juliana ask for Lem to get her to Abendsen? Some of these questions may be answered in the normal course of the narrative, but the gears shifted a tad abruptly for audience comfort. The most successful story elements are actually along the periphery this time.
For example, the juxtaposition of Frank’s bar mitzvah with the ceremony in New York honoring John Smith’s promotion to Reichsmarschall and the beginning of Jahr Null was brilliantly done. With Mark Sampson talking about the 5000 years of history behind the ritual Frank is undergoing, it’s all the more jarring to hear Himmler saying that American history essentially ends here. And as if that weren’t thematically spine-tingling enough, Mark also asks, “How do we live with our own survival?” which could pretty much be the philosophical question that encapsulates both the Jewish experience and that of the conquered United States citizens for the entire series!
It’s Juliana’s journey that seems to meander confusingly a bit, even understanding that it may become clearer later. She shifts gears into working with Wyatt to get Joe’s intel to Tagomi out of necessity even though it endangers him, but does Wyatt’s cooperation mean he understands her importance? He recognizes that she’s killed a man before when they dispatch the Pons at the gas station, but his drug dealing seems to be a pursuit separate from the resistance. Yet he brings Lem to Juliana and stays with her even when he sees her picture all over town. Either Wyatt is smitten, reckless, or both, but his motivation is undoubtedly tough to nail down.
Kido’s unerring patience in the face of the unexplained is similarly hard to figure out, but at least that has been a consistent part of his character. His investigative skills are unmatched, leading him to uncover witness testimony placing Juliana Crane at the scene of Joe’s murder. He knows Tagomi was targeted, though, like us, he doesn’t know why, but he never pushes the Trade Minister to clarify where he got the Wexler files. Instead he focuses on ensuring that Hoover knows that the scales are not balanced and the fact that a traitor in his midst gave Tagomi’s file to Joe. It’s a logical trail of suspicion that yields little results, which becomes frustrating for both the chief inspector and the audience on his behalf.
Relief comes in the form of a much more chipper Helen Smith, who is happily feeling more useful with Bridget having the day off. It’s nice to see the wife of the new Reichsmarschall looking more confident as she shops for clothes with the girls. Even her discussions with Dr. Ryan about Thomas seem more like fond recollections rather than painful memories. In a sense, we were lulled into a false reassurance since John was clearly ensuring that Helen continued to have “good days” so that she wouldn’t end up a liability like Raeder, and her moment of realization was chillingly perfect.
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Things are more comfortable for Childan and Ed as well for the time being, and Ed’s reunion with his dear friend Frank was heartwarming in the extreme. Although Frank was riddled with guilt, Ed’s unquestioning acceptance despite his friend’s terrorist activities was like a balm on a burn. And speaking of burns, Frank’s explanation of the origins of the sunrise symbol he’s been painting carries the weight of a legend about to be born, and we know Frank is destined for great things. Childan, on the other hand, may have enough money to get home to San Francisco after the sale of the John Wayne belt, but what will he find when he gets there, especially without Ed to support him? The possibilities, both good and bad, are enticing.
So although some storylines are meandering a bit, others have the promise of great things to come. With Lem taking Juliana to Abendsen’s farm, a new quest is surely in store, and with Himmler recruiting a new Lebensborn to take Joe’s place, clearly the dangers are not over. Smith tried to get answers from Fatima Hassan, the traveler in his custody, but his failure speaks volumes. So although The Man in the High Castle reached a pivotal point in its story in the previous episode, it appears we’re still discovering the new direction of things in this one. That’s okay, but hopefully, the way will become clear to keep this stellar season going.