We start out three years ago with Elijah and Mallory attending a meeting of the BCR. The room is filled with “illegal” books and music. The group’s leader says they’re expecting guns from China and asks for volunteers to be soldiers. Moved by everyone naming the cities where they’ve lost loved ones due to the Reich or Kempetai, Mallory is the first to volunteer. Her mother and father were among those who were killed. Her unwavering commitment to the cause now makes even more sense.
Fathers and Daughters
At the Reich facility in the Lackawanna mine, a team of people returns from the other world with important intel. John Smith, who somehow still looks hot even in dumb safety glasses, is impressed but doesn’t quite believe this other world doesn’t know about their universe. The Reich has made a pretty spectacular 3D map of the multiverse to track where they’ve visited and other worlds that Abendson (the actual Man in the High Castle) has identified from the films. The Nazis are making plans to take over each universe. But Smith is more interested in the version of him in that other world. He learns that AU John Smith has no daughters but does have a healthy, happy son. He’s also a traveling salesman, which this Smith thinks is beneath him. However, he has more pressing concerns. In one of the photos from the AU, he spots Juliana.
The Smith girls return to school but things have changed. Year Zero signs are everywhere and teachers and parents fear their children, who may turn them in for any sign of disloyalty or dissent from the Reich. Henry, a classmate of Jenny, the eldest daughter, helps her get caught up on math and what else she’s missed. She confesses they were in the Neutral Zone and plays him a record from a black musician. He clearly loves it and they innocently dance together but are discovered by Amy, the younger daughter. Amy grabs the record and plans to turn Jenny in. As Henry makes a run for it, John returns home and intervenes between his daughters.
Talking to them separately, he tells Amy the record is part of an investigation he’s conducting. He warns her about making accusations against the people they love. To Jenny, he says everything she heard in the Neutral Zone is a lie. His warning to her is to remember he can’t protect her from everything. That night, he ponders over photos of AU Thomas. Jenny tearfully calls her mother and begs to come back to the farm but Helen urges her to stay there. John quietly overhears but does nothing.
After he reads Amy a bedtime story, she asks him if he knew black people when he was growing up. He answers vaguely so as not to implicate himself in any way. When she questions why there aren’t any black people in the Reich, he asks what she learned in school. The answer: they all went back to Africa to serve the Reich. John confirms this. Amy seems to accept this but Jenny knows differently. She tells him she knows that’s not true.
Despite meeting with Wyatt, Mallory refuses to join the BCR with his group. The BCR doesn’t work with white people. However, Wyatt hits close to home when he suggests they all want to be martyrs rather than heroes. It’s worth noting here that Jason O’Mara’s native Irish accent is absolutely fantastic. I could listen to him all day. Maybe that’s what convinces Mallory to make an exception… or maybe it’s that they need white folks to get into a room black people can’t.
Robert Childan is holding a major auction that has attracted General Ryuu Masuda, who Wyatt says butchered people in Manchuria. The BCR want to assassinate Masuda along with Kido in order to severely weaken the Japanese. To get Wyatt and his men inside the room, they’re set up as caterers for the event. Childan hastily agrees to hire them, unaware of their actual intentions, because the Crown Princess is visiting and he wants them out of the shop. She shows interest in a particular painting and says her assistant will bid on it at the auction.
The man Kido arrested for killing Tagomi has died during interrogation (shocker). It doesn’t matter though. General Yamori wants the case closed so it is. He warns Kido they cannot make mistakes while Masuda is there. This is most likely a warning about Kido’s son, Toru, who we see getting ready for an important job interview. But his PTSD from battle is so severe he can’t even wear a particular medal on is uniform.
Kido arrives at the auction site to inspect everything, including Wyatt’s BBQ. He’s suspicious of the caterer and orders a soldier to have Wyatt taste all of the food before it’s served. He watches Mallory and Elijah carry a slaughtered pig down to the cooler. Any further inspections have to wait because Kido is informed Toru missed his interview. Arriving home, Kido finds Toru sitting at the table. He reminds him that he fought bravely in Manchuria (where General Masuda butchered people) and earned that medal so he must wear it to the interview tomorrow.
Mallory and Elijah enjoy some intimate time together and afterward, talk about their dreams for their future. She can’t have children but she’d still like them. They think these assassinations will get them one step closer to freedom. Back at the auction site, Wyatt unloads guns from inside the slaughtered pigs.
Salesman of the Year
Juliana and Russ are joined by John and Helen in a bar. Alone with Helen at the table, Juliana asks if she thinks she really knows her husband. Helen says their secret is they never lie to each other. “He’s mine,” she says. “I trust him.” But Juliana isn’t convinced. It’s clear that every time she looks at John, she remembers his Nazi doppelganger, a devoted family man who let his son be consumed by loyalty to the Reich. This discomfort is only heightened when the couples split up to dance and Juliana ends up with John.
First of all, he’s incredibly adorable and loveable, which is unfair but also a nice change from brooding and, you know, a Nazi. John questions how much Juliana remembers before arriving in Virginia and doesn’t understand why she won’t let someone help her find the man who shot her. His prying, although couched as concern, has a hint of something sinister. We, and Juliana, wonder for a moment which John Smith this is. And indeed, Juliana is so bothered, she asks Russ to take her home. I get it but also, who leaves Rufus Sewell on the dance floor?
In the car, Juliana hears that a lead nuclear scientist has suddenly died. She voices her suspicion that this isn’t a coincidence. She knows the Reich is coming. Poor Russ has no idea what she’s talking about. That night, she spies a man watching her from his car. When she flips on a light and runs outside, he speeds off.
- As awful as it is to watch, it’s good to see the show acknowledging that in any oppressive regime, people of color, particularly black people, always endure the worst. For the members of the BCR, they went from slavery to Jim Crow laws to being murdered by the Reich and Kempetai.
- John may look down on his alternate self for his apparent mediocrity but that version of him is happy, untormented by inner conflict, and has a healthy, alive son. So who is the real loser? Also, he’s still really good looking in that world so it’s really not a total loss. That and Rufus Sewell is clearly enjoying playing another version of John Smith, which is a pleasure to watch.
- The town Juliana lives in is called Bailey’s Crossroads. My viewing companion noted that this could also be abbreviated BCR.
- Childan has a new assistant, Yukiko, who is very attentive and shows him a lot of honor and respect. But there’s something about her that makes me think she’s a spy of some kind. She didn’t like the Crown Princess talking personally with Childan.
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