The Man in the High Castle picks up where we left off last episode. Juliana and Joe continue their quest for the Man in the High Castle while Frank struggles with his demons, and John Smith is increasingly suspicious of his inner circle. “Revelations” starts off strong this week, keeping you on the edge of your seat all the way through to the shocking end.
As always, ahead spoilers abound. Hit the jump at your own risk.
In Canon City, Juliana runs from the Marshal through a dimly lit warehouse. I have flashbacks to The X-Files and I want to yell at the cinematographer. The Marshal still annoys me, his dialogue is still hokey to my ears, but on the plus side, the tension in this scene is delicious and the music is perfect, upping the ante and overall this opening scene wins my love. Coming to a dead end, Juliana’s fate doesn’t look good, but Joe soon intervenes, delivering a smashing blow to the Marshall’s head and leaving him down for the count. They run, past the albino who informed on them last week, and into a local store.
Meanwhile, the Marshall is recovered and not a happy camper. He asks the albino where Joe and Juliana went, but he’s led in the wrong direction, leaving our duo free to learn the albino has hidden Joe’s truck for them. It seems the albino might not be as shifty as he first seemed. He also reveals the location of Lem’s house, sending Joe and Juliana on their way.
In San Francisco, Frank practices with his gun, looking every bit the crazed lone gunman. Meanwhile, Ed arrives to try and talk Frank out of whatever he has planned. Glancing around the apartment, Ed soon realizes Frank plans to kill the Crown Prince. Frank is a broken man, convinced that Juliana has left him, and Ed does his best to cool him off, having Frank promise he won’t give up. They hug it out and Frank promises to get rid of the gun, but his actions speak louder than his words and he looks anything but calm, cool and collected as they embrace.
Back in Canon City, Juliana and Joe make it to Lem’s house but he’s not happy to see them, greeting them with a shotgun in hand. Juliana tells him they came to warn him about the list and he begrudgingly lets Juliana into his home. Joe, however, gets to wait outside. Lem clearly doesn’t like nor trust Joe. They discuss the list, Trudy, and the films. When Lem learns of the fate of the girl they found, tortured, dead, and holding the list in the cave, he's clearly upset. Lem fears they are “dead” but Juliana assures him they are the only ones who know of the list. When Lem insists she hand over the film, Juliana demands on meeting the Man in the High Castle instead; she will deliver the film in person. Juliana wants answers as to why her sister died. When Joe learns of her plan, the music turns suspenseful and I hope to god he won’t double-cross Juliana.
Naturally, he places a call to John Smith and I growl at the screen and curse the writers. Smith tells Joe he’s in danger and wants him to leave the film in his truck, instead killing the Man in the High Castle, should he get the chance. “I want you to put a bullet in his head, even if it costs you your life,” Smith orders. Clearly, the Nazis want this mysterious stranger dead, and Smith’s orders contradict the West Coast Nazi’s claim that he’s been deceased for months.
In San Francisco, Tagomi visits the Crown Princess (Mayumi Yoshida). She asks for guidance with her husband’s anxiety over the state of the regime. Tagomi observes the Japanese cannot show weakness. If they do, the Germans will surely take the opportunity to bomb the Pacific States. But “peace is not weakness,” he remarks. This scene is both beautiful in its softness, highlighting the unexplained bond the two share, and as always with Tagomi’s storyline, frustratingly ambivalent.
Back in Canon City, the Marshall is drawling, aiming his shotgun, and generally being annoying, but Lem doesn’t answer his questions or genuflect to his threats and we cut to Juliana and Joe as they arrive to meet Lem in the woods. Joe takes his time getting out of the truck, seemingly deciding between taking his film, or his gun. Eventually, he hops out and Lem, Juliana, and Joe set off into the woods.
In San Francisco, we catch up with Wegener. He deposits some microfilm into a capsule and Tagomi pays him a visit. Tagomi doesn’t seem too happy about Wegener’s choice of in-room entertainment; she could be working for the Kempeitei. Down to business, and the two men discuss their plan to hand the information on the microfilm over to the Japanese Science Minister. Wegener will never have a chance to have access to the minister again. This will be their only opportunity and the stakes are high. If Japan doesn’t up the ante and catch up to Germany with their weapons tech, war will be imminent and Japan will almost certainly come out on the losing side of the battle.
Back to the woods and the scenery is beautiful. Unfortunately, it’s a trap; there’s no Man in the High Castle to meet them, and Lem reveals the Man in the High Castle isn’t the one making the films. Instead, Lem’s men ambush the couple, taking Juliana’s film. Lem again raises suspicions about Joe, but Juliana isn’t buying it; she’s sure Joe is simply a courier for the Resistance like her. Lem questions Joe’s incredible survival from the SS raid in the pilot, and for the first time Juliana’s face shows some doubt, but Joe hands over his film, proving himself for the moment and granting their freedom. However, how Juliana and Joe get out of town and away from the Marshal is up to them as Lem and his team abandon them in the woods.
In San Francisco, we bear witness to the reality of living in an occupied state for so long. Juliana’s mother, as staunchly anti-Japanese as they come, watches a Sumo fight on the down low. These are the moments I live for in High Castle. Moments where the everyday realities of living in this alternate universe are shown. Pop culture is pop culture, no matter your reality, and you can’t help but be sucked in. It’s a cute moment, broken when Annie learns of Frank’s sister’s fate.
At an antique shop, Frank needs bullets for his gun. A Japanese couple interrupts, the owner groveling and scraping at their feet. Frank grows tired of this intrusion, rudely scaring them away so he can proceed with his business. The owner sells the bullets to Frank, disguising the transaction as from a Tibetan collector, but demanding Frank’s ID in case they need to revisit the matter. And you know this matter will be revisited. When he arrives home, Juliana’s mother is waiting. She gives him her condolences and inquires about Frank’s face, still bruised and battered from his time with the Kempeitei, but he soon sends her away. He has work to do… Oh, Frank.
In the woods, Joe and Juliana chat. Juliana asks about the Resistance and what he thought of the film. He claims he hasn’t watched his. He’s grumpy too. Damn it, Joe! Why must you be so shady? I really want to like you!
Finally in New York, John Smith and Captain Connolly (Neal Bledsoe) discuss the assassination attempt on Smith’s life. Connolly has no news for Smith, and Smith isn’t at all happy about it. They decide to pay Doc a visit. They’ve found his family and plan to use them as leverage in his torture. However, when they arrive Doc is found dead in his cell, a suicide by spoon. The question remains: Who ordered the assassination attempt, and now, who gave Doc the spoon? It seems there is indeed something dirty going on within Smith’s inner circle.
Back in the woods, Juliana and Joe hole up in an abandoned mine while outside it pours rain. Juliana wonders if Joe joined the resistance for his dad. A guy like him would have it made in the Reich. Why would he risk it all for some films he hasn’t even seen? As usual, Joe avoids the question and lights up a cigarette. In the meantime, they devise a plan to get out of town: Divide and conquer.
In San Francisco, Frank loads his gun with his freshly purchased, antique bullets. Ed arrives, trying to stop Frank from attending the Prince’s speech. Ed grabs the gun, accidentally shooting Frank in the arm, and in an amusing but unfortunate turn of events, Frank shuffles Ed into the closet, locking him in and making his escape so he can carry out his plan. I want to feel sorry for Ed, but he’s yet to really make his mark on the show, and all I can do is breathe a sigh of relief that he’s once again off-screen.
In Canon City, the Marshal is as ridiculous as ever, commenting on the albino’s whiteness while chewing on a toothpick. Yee. Haw. Meanwhile, Joe and Juliana’s plan is underway. The car won’t start and Juliana struggles to get out of town before the Marshal shoots her. Joe cuts him off with the truck, and with the Marshal's gun in his face, he reveals his position as a Nazi operative. The Marshall being the Marshal doesn’t care and chases after Juliana. “Back in the Saddle” is his road trip music of choice. Of course it is. In case it wasn’t abundantly clear, I really don’t like this Marshal storyline. I hope he dies a quick, quiet death, because unlike some other great villains, this one I’ve seen more than enough of.
Around a bend in the road, the Marshal comes upon Juliana’s car, engulfed in flames, and upon inspection, he takes it at face value that Juliana has gone up in smoke with it. Meanwhile, Juliana hides behind a tree in the woods as the body from the cave acts as a decoy. Joe picks her up and they drive back to town.
The last ten minutes of the show are upon us, and if we’ve learned anything so far, it’s this: The Man in the High Castle does not play around with its episode finales. Episode four is no different as the tension is ramped up when we join Tagomi and Wegener at the Crown Prince’s speech. Security is tight.
Cut back to Joe and Juliana. Juliana calls home, instead connecting with Ed and learning about Frank’s unstable mental state while Joe claims he’s going to make sure there’s no evidence left behind. In the warehouse where Juliana ran from the Marshal, he finds the portrait of Juliana and pockets it.
Back in San Francisco, Tagomi introduces the Prince and the crowd goes wild. The direction of the remaining scenes is beautiful. We cut between Juliana and Ed’s phone call, Frank as he moves ever closer to his target, and Wegener as he tries to deliver his envelope to the Science Minister. The Science Minister has been moved, complicating Wegener’s goals, while Frank takes his position. The music swells, and I hold my breath as Juliana and Joe share their goodbyes through a bus window. Frank pulls out the gun, preparing to make his move.
Suspense builds, Wegener attempting and failing to deliver the envelope while Frank cocks the gun. A small boy looks on, and Frank has a crisis of conscience. Rationality reigns supreme and humanity gains traction as Frank returns to himself, unable to complete the deed he set out to accomplish. It’s then that shots ring out, an unknown shooter firing multiple shots and hitting the Crown Prince. It’s at this point I have to wonder if Frank’s attempt on the Crown Prince is something of a parallel to the assassination of JFK. Having been spotted with a gun, Frank is clearly going to be a suspect, but will he be held accountable for the shooting, or an unknown assassin atop a grassy knoll?
All hell breaks loose and the episode fades to black.
Visually, this episode was stunning and that in large part is because we left Canon City and headed out into the woods and back to San Francisco for a heavy portion of the running time. The real star of this episode, though, was the music. Once again, the score knocked it out of the park, enhancing every scene and packing an emotional punch when the acting and/or writing weren’t quite up to snuff.
While “Revelations” didn’t reveal nearly as much as I might have liked, it was a vast improvement over last week’s episode. We finally learned, in broad strokes, what Tagomi and Wegener had planned, Joe and Juliana made a few more baby steps toward getting to know each other, and we learned so much more about Lem. I loved that. Rick Worthy is a severely underused actor in this series. Meanwhile, Frank’s story is moving on, and while that’s not good news for the character, it’s great news for me as a fan. Most importantly… the Marshal seems to be out of the way. For now.
It seems like all the storylines have been setup now and I can't wait to see how the rest of the series plays out.
Join me next week for our recap and review of episode five, “The New Normal”. As always, you can keep up, catch up, or binge all of The Man in the High Castle in one night, on Amazon Prime.