With The Reich Closing In On Him, John Smith Considers Other “Happy Trails” On The Man In The High Castle

Credit: Liane Hentscher/Amazon Prime

A black and white show flickers to life. A hardworking white man is fired by his boss, a black man, and replaced with a younger black man. This is the Reich’s version of The Twilight Zone, complete with Abendson as the narrator. It’s also their way of persuading the public that his films are fake. They’re just another creation, like the show he’s narrating. The director calls for another take, yelling “Roll It” as the intro for The Man in the High Castle begins. There is a subtle implication there, as if maybe the show we are watching is just another of Abendson’s films. In a way, it is. We’re watching media about an alternate universe, and isn’t that what Abendson’s films show?

War or Peace?

The BCR gives Wyatt his guns. He seems to have put everything back in that box just like he said last episode because he’s excited to “raise hell in the Reich with [his] new toys.” Childan finally writes out a letter to the Crown Princess and includes a blood-spattered program from the auction so she’ll know it’s him. The letter reaches her and has the intended effect. She reports that the Crown Prince and Emperor agree to peace talks with the BCR in exchange for a ceasefire. Admiral Inokuchi, her staunch supporter, agrees to take full responsibility for the meeting.

The murder of General Masuda has hit General Yamori very hard. They had been young soldiers together. He gives Kido complete authority to do whatever it takes to find Masuda’s killers, including starting a file on Admiral Inokuchi. But Kido is still perturbed by Tagomi’s killer. He interviews one of his captains and tells him they found a partial print that implicates him in Tagomi’s assassination. The captain is relieved when Kido says he’s covered up this evidence and warns him to be more careful next time. But after the man leaves, we see the report specifying there were no fingerprints recovered and that Kido has recorded their meeting.

Guess Who’s Back?

Juliana meditates at the Lincoln Memorial until she falls right back into her old world. There, the memorial and all of DC is still rubble from the nuclear bomb dropped on it during the war. A Reich security guard arrests her but she’s able to escape and finds a kind baker with radiation burns to take her in. She tries to pay the baker with an American $5, not a Reich bill, perhaps as a signal. 

It works. The baker calls a Resistance member named Phil, who believes Juliana is a spy. She was last known to be in a Reich prison cell after all. But Juliana, knowing that Phil is aware of what the films show, convinces him she’s returned to get Smith. For now, the baker lets her stay in her bomb shelter and excitedly asks for details about the world where the U.S. won the war.

Who You Really Are

John Smith is dealing with a lot right now. Wilhelm, a high-ranking German officer, is in town with the Fuhrer to have dinner at the Smith’s and he’s more than a little threatening towards Smith. Juliana’s prints were also found in DC so Smith knows she’s returned. He orders increased security for his family and a manhunt to find Juliana. One piece of news he takes surprisingly well is the report that his alternate world self was killed and the body was hidden. Smith seems delighted. He doesn’t say it but we know he must be thinking he can cross over into that world and assume the dead man’s place. That thought is going to follow him throughout the episode. 

Margarethe Himmler, the wife of the Fuhrer, drops in unexpectedly on Helen and passive-aggressively chastises her for being away and for her lack of involvement in the Reich. At dinner, Margarethe gives Jenny and Amy gifts and asks after their uncle, whom Helen had said she was caring for. Amy promptly says Hank has never been sick. Helen ushers them away and accepts her own gift, a courtesan’s mirror.

The first moment she can, Helen tells John the Himmlers are building a case against them. He knows it. Earlier, Wilhelm boasted of killing off resistance leaders, prompting Himmler to wonder why John has had so much trouble. Himmler is also sick and borderline demented. His coughing continues and worsens as the night goes on. Initially, he has the girls sit on either side of him but Helen later insists on sending them to bed when the conversation becomes too gruesome. As they finally escort their guests to the elevator, John reminds Himmler of his loyalty. Himmler responds, “I don’t want your loyalty, John. I want your devotion.”

Again, Helen tells John they’re in danger and he agrees. The wheels are turning in his mind but any escape he may be hatching to another world has one, potentially two, major issues: Helen is still alive there and his girls don’t exist there. It’s time for him to get answers himself. 

John has Abendson brought into the map room in Lackawanna and asks him about the different worlds. Abendson talks about the theory that whatever happens in one universe, affects another. Cluing in on John’s plans, he remarks, “Careful out there, John. You might find out who you really are.” Maybe that’s his intention. John dresses the part and puts on his dead doppelganger’s wedding ring. He walks towards the portal. He’ll have 48 hours before he needs to return. 

Stray Observations:

  • Margarethe was almost creepily devoted to her husband, to the point that he lashes out when she tries to give him an oxygen mask he clearly needs. Could she be slowly poisoning him in the hopes of grabbing more power for herself?
  • This one dinner should be enough to convince John he made a mistake forcing his family to come home. 
  • Juliana has gotten smarter and more powerful every season. Since we know she’s dead is almost every other universe, she could theoretically hop to any of them. She also knew exactly how to connect with the Resistance without calling too much attention to herself. It’s hard to say when this transformation happened but I’d pin it on the moment she killed Joe in season 3. A switch flipped in her right then.
Stephanie Coats