It’s been just over a year since season 3 of The Man in the High Castle. Here’s a quick refresher: American Nazi John Smith is rising within the Reich but losing his family in the process. His only son Thomas voluntarily submitted to euthanasia because he had a disease the Reich considered unacceptable. Last we saw, John’s wife, Helen, took their two daughters and left because she feared losing another child to the Reich.
Juliana Crane teamed up with the Resistance, including handsome Irishman, Wyatt. They covertly watched the Reich test a machine that sends people into an alternate universe but it’s barely successful. What they don’t know that Juliana does is you can only enter another universe if the version of you in that universe is already dead. She’s captured by the Reich but escapes into another universe, something only John Smith witnesses.
And that’s where season 4 begins. Juliana falls into another reality, sustaining a bullet wound in the shoulder from Smith on the way, and lands in the street. A car screeches to a halt and she’s helped up by… John Smith! The nice, non-problematic version of him from this new universe. He and Thomas help Juliana into their car.
A Sudden Death
Then it’s one year later. Colonel Kido (no longer an Inspector) attends a funeral for Trade Minister Tagomi. In flashbacks, we see Tagomi was assassinated in a drive-by shooting, possibly meant to target the Crown Princess, whom Kido shielded. The Crown Princess’ eulogy chastises Japan for losing the true Japanese spirit that Tagomi embodied. General Yamori is not pleased.
Kido believes Smith may be behind Tagmoi’s murder but has no proof. So the Kempetai begin targeting black people to roust out the Black Communist Rebellion. At a checkpoint on the street, two men are pulled aside and beaten. A woman, Mallory Bell, makes it through thanks to paperwork (and a Japanese baby in a carriage) denoting her as a nanny. Jokes on them because Mallory is actually smuggling guns under that baby.
Mallory returns home to husband Elijah. They have a lot of guns hidden under the floor. The Kempetai force all of the men out of their apartments and single out a few to take with them, essentially as hostages. They’ll be returned in exchange for information on Tagmoi’s assassination. This makes Elijah concerned but Mallory urges him to stick to their plan. Later, she covertly meets with Wyatt.
The Kempetai raid a warehouse and detain a man there. They claim to find the gun that was used to kill Tagmoi as well as Communist documents. As the Kempetai are beating the man, a young corporal is nearly brought to tears before Kido dismisses him. We later discover this is Kido’s son, who is also living with him. They watch baseball together in the evening, you know, as you do after a hard day of beating defenseless people.
The Reich is marching into the Neutral Zone with only a small band of Resistance fighters opposing them. Wyatt and Lem barely escape. Smith arrives and damn if he doesn’t look super hot in all black with a leather coat and boots. It’s really unfair and extremely problematic. Anyway, he’s taken to a pile of “High Castle” films that have been recovered. He lights it on fire and heads to Montana for “family business.”
Helen and the girls have built a new life for themselves on a farm and seem to be loving it. John shows up and we learn he’s been visiting regularly for most of the last year. He also still looks really hot in non-Nazi clothes. Is Rufus Sewell getting sexier every year? Discuss.
ANYWAY. The farm is owned by Helen’s brother, Hank, who isn’t a fan of the Reich. He brings up one of the High Castle films that he saw somehow, one that showed the Allies winning the war. John dismisses it as propaganda. Later, husband and wife talk but it’s obvious they’re at a stalemate. John gave Helen the space she said she wanted but he thinks it’s time for them all to return home. She doesn’t want anything to do with the Reich anymore. “The Reich murdered our son,” she says, and she’s right. John reminds her that they’re only safe at Hank’s because John has guards posted all around. Their family is a potential target for rebels.
When Helen still refuses to return home, John reminds her they made a pact when they pledged loyalty to the Reich. They agreed it was best for their family and they’ve always made every decision together. “I need you,” he says. “I don’t even know you,” Helen responds. And that’s the end of it. John takes the girls with him and even as they beg Helen to come too, she stays behind, tearfully hugging them goodbye.
Juliana is living a nice life in AU Virginia. A man named Russ is sweet on her. She’s a karate instructor alongside Thomas. As they lead their students in mediation, Juliana enters some other plane of existence. She sees Tagomi there writing in the sand before dissolving away. Helen shakes Juliana awake. She’d been meditating so deeply, they were worried she wouldn’t wake up. Juliana assures them everything is fine.
Later, she returns to that meditative state and sees a large group of people walking towards her. It’s unclear who they are or if she knows them. When she wakes, she opens a journal she’s clearly been keeping since arriving. It has notes and newspaper clippings in it. She writes down what Tagomi had written in the sand, which translates as “64.” Juliana adds that the message may not be complete yet.
- In case you’re new to these recaps, get ready for a lot of Rufus Sewell thirst.
- The Crown Princess is a badass. The General tries to send her away and she flat out ignores him. I love her.
- My hope that John Smith will redeem himself before the series’ end is starting to really be challenged. I’d hoped that his family leaving him would make him ally himself with the Resistance or start taking down the Reich from the inside, but no. What happens if one of his daughters tests positive for an illness like Thomas? How will he reconcile losing another child with his loyalty to the Reich?
- Could the people Juliana saw while meditating be the ones trying to cross over to a new universe?