This review contains spoilers for The Man in the High Castle.
The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 7
There’s a sense of confluence in this episode of The Man in the High Castle that comes from the growing understanding of the alternate realities and their importance for characters like Kido and Smith, who have yet to weigh in on what they plan to do with their new knowledge. And although Juliana’s mission to spread the word of the films still seems somewhat impromptu, the idea is certainly inspirational especially when combined with the happy reunion of Juliana and Frank. The first half of the season was an amazing buildup to a midpoint shocker, and the now the second half has us leaning forward in our seats in anticipation of where all this is headed.
It’s helpful to be reminded that Kido is a ruthless enforcer for the Kempeitai, but we know him so well now that we almost agree with his execution of the traitor that gave Tagomi’s file to Joe just because it’s consistent with his character. That being said, the fact that he refused to help Tagomi keep Juliana out of GNR hands without being told the truth about what was really going on is so refreshing — finally! The evidence of a second Trudy was probably enough for Kido to be convinced of the existence of other realities, but Tagomi’s admission to being a traveler himself must have been quite the revelation.
We have to wonder if Tagomi is playing into Kido’s suspicious sensibilities when the trade minister says that Juliana is “on our side, at least for now.” He explains that Juliana is trying to stop the Germans from building a machine that can cross worlds, which he may himself believe, but Juliana seems to be on a different quest altogether at the moment. Even John Smith points out to the Ahnenerbe doctor that “Fatima Hassan didn’t need a machine; she just closed her eyes.” Whatever crazy human experiments are going on with this machine, it can’t be good for the JPS or the GNR.
But Juliana (and perhaps Smith, too) is more preoccupied with the films. It makes a certain amount of sense that Juliana would seek out “The Grasshopper Lies Heavy” since it’s the film that initially inspired her to join the cause, but after visiting Abendsen to get the film, it’s awfully coincidental that the man in the high castle suggests St. Theresa’s as her first stop, since Lila and Mark aren’t looking to join the resistance. But it brings her to Frank, who has his own movement going with the rising sun, so there’s a sense of destiny there. As for Smith, does he realize the film he’s watching contains images of “High Castle” Abendsen himself? It feels like everyone will be walking the same path before they know it!
Frank even suggests that they’ve all been led here for a reason once Juliana has shown up so close to Ed’s arrival. The joy of the trio’s reunion, especially with Ed talking so openly about kissing a man in a cowboy hat, is incredibly liberating, and that positive feeling carries over into Juliana’s entreaty to “Help me change it.” Her assertion that the films are needed because their world is throwing things out of balance with all the death is quite a leap, but it makes all kinds of sense. Even though Frank says he can’t go, Juliana’s insistence that they “pretend, just for tonight,” sealed with a kiss, gives us hope that a big change is coming, with Frank’s art and Juliana’s films at the center of it.
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Of course, it’s not all hopeful and optimistic. With men from town snooping around Sabra looking for their friend whom Lila killed and the bounty hunters in Denver using their terrorist deck of cards (a nice touch) to target and kill a resistance operative right in front of Mark, the danger of discovery is real. Wyatt continues to assist Juliana against all logic: getting someone so high-profile papers to enter the Reich can’t be easy. The smuggler must really be getting a taste for the new mission; either that, or he’s competing with Frank for Juliana’s affection.
Elsewhere, infatuations seem to be infiltrating the stories of some of our characters. Thelma is letting herself get carried away with her love affair with Nicole, who reminds the reporter that the prejudices of their society won’t allow deeper feelings by saying, “not in this world” — an interesting choice of words. Helen meanwhile appears to be carrying a crush for Dr. Ryan, manifesting both in her dreams and in her suggestive touch as she departs his office. Whereas Nicole’s indulgences have seemed mostly purposeless, perhaps this “Double D” club will lead to something, and Helen’s temptation will almost certainly result in unforeseen consequences. For both tantalizing storylines, we’re on board.
Poor Childan has the only truly hopeless situation in this episode, and our sympathy abounds. The very idea that his antique shop would be taken over with no way for him to even reclaim his hard-won merchandise is unthinkable. And though it may seem faintly ridiculous when he hires a prostitute to dress like a geisha and drink tea with him, how can we blame him for seeking solace in his culturally specific desires? But all we can do is shake our heads when he reveals to Kido the name of the cowboy in Denver that might lead the chief inspector to Ed and in turn to Juliana.
We can hold out hope that Kido will honor Tagomi’s request and that all of the characters can somehow see a common cause against the Nazis, and even Smith might see the horror of his own regime’s mission to mechanically break through the barriers between realities. But with the picture slowly taking form in a more subdued but no less compelling manner than in the first half of The Man in the High Castle season 3, the players are in place for a truly epic showdown.