Joe and Juliana must act quickly as a vicious bounty hunter known as The Marshal arrives in Canon City. Tagomi makes plans with Wegener to pass valuable secrets from the Reich, and Frank plots his revenge against the Japanese. That’s the tagline for episode three of High Castle. The reality is a little bit more complicated.
Hit the jump for our review and recap of episode three of The Man in the High Castle, “The Illustrated Woman.”
The episode opens with Juliana and Joe still reeling from the events of last episode. Joe assures Juliana she had no choice, but she is clearly overcome by having killed a man, Nazi spy or not. He reveals that he too has killed a man, and tells her that the only way to live is to move on with her life. But is Joe telling the truth? As far as we know, this is his first job as a trucker and we haven’t seen him come across and kill any hijackers. When he uses her real name, she realizes he has read her letter and he apologizes. He soon convinces her that they must both flee Canon City before the Nazi’s come looking for their dead spy.
Cut to San Francisco. Frank returns home and examines his wounds in the mirror while recalling his experience in the Kempeitei prison. He falls asleep with Kido’s voice in his head.
Back in Canon City Juliana wakes to realize she’s lost her drawing. Joe is eager to leave with Juliana but she points out how suspicious it would look for them both to run. She heads off to work.
Ed awakens Frank with a letter left on his step. Frank must go identify the bodies of his sister, Laura, and her children. In typical High Castle style, the cinematography is both gruesome and beautiful; understated in a way that invokes a greater emotional response than something more graphic might. With absolutely no compassion, Frank is informed that his family’s bodies will be cremated, as they were enemies of the state and have lost all burial rights.
Frank is distraught, his hands shaking and unable to light a cigarette. Ed does the honors and asks what the visit was about but Frank tells him it’s better not to ask. They walk the city, noting a visit from the Crown Prince and Princess is about to take place. Frank tells Ed he’s skipping work and it seems he’s becoming unhinged. Ed tells Frank he will cover for him at work and Frank goes to deliver the awful news to his brother in law.
At Nazi HQ, John Smith is going over the attempt on his life when Joe calls to check in. He orders Joe back to New York for a debriefing. The scene is ominous.
From the diner, Juliana calls home, finally getting in touch with Frank. The conversation is strained to say the least. Some clicking clues Frank in that the Kempeitei is still listening in so he covers for her, leading her to agree that she’s off camping. Juliana apologizes for leaving him and asks if he’s okay. He doesn’t tell her what has happened to him. She tells him she loves him, but he hangs up on her. Though clearly devastated by what has happened, Frank is still covering for Juliana and it gives me a glimmer of hope for this dysfunctional relationship. The only question is: do I actually want them to be together? I am torn between two 'ships.
At the gas station in Canon City, Joe gets no love while trying to fill his truck. Instead, he meets a bounty hunter (Burn Gorman) who goes by the name, “The Marshal”. The Marshal pulls a sawn-off shotgun on Joe, demanding his papers. This guy is cartoonish in his bad guy act and it’s one of my least favorite aspects of this story. Joe learns he’s looking for the dead Nazi spy and quickly makes his way to the diner to inform Juliana. They decide to meet out back. Lem warns Juliana about who she chooses to hang out with as Joe leaves.
At the bookstore, the Marshal has a chat with the owner, Carl. After insulting the store’s aroma the Marshal gets around to inquiring about Line-Faced Man’s whereabouts; it’s clear everyone in town in afraid of this guy. Whether it’s the casting or the direction, I find it hard to get into this storyline. That being said, as the Marshal leaves the store he pulls out a pack of playing cards bearing the faces of wanted men. When he pulls a card bearing the face of the bookstore owner with the name of David P. Frees, dread still sets in. I like this detail. The US military has used variations on these most-wanted playing cards dating all the way back to the Civil War and it’s a nice touch. Not only is the Marshal a crazed lunatic, is he possibly working directly for the Reich? The Marshal promises he’s going to kill Carl… but he’s going to need something first. This won’t be pleasant.
Cut to San Francisco and the royal visit. The Crown Princess makes eyes at Tagomi as she enters the gardens with the prince for a ceremony. The prince does not appear happy. In the car, he claims the visit is false, that they are false, that they are just presiding over the end of the Japanese's reign while the Nazi’s seize power. Back in the gardens Tagomi and Wegener discuss their plans to give the Japanese sensitive Nazi information.
At his sister’s doorstep, Frank delivers the awful news to his brother in law, Bill (Darren Dolynski). The man is understandably angry and distraught, and yells for Frank to leave.
Back in Canon City, the horror continues. The Marshal has Carl strung up in the middle of town while he fondles a container of Carl’s fingers. Lovely. It’s a warning, and the fingers proof of Carl's identity, but again, I find it a tad comical. He’s one man, alone, in the middle of a lawless, nowheresville town. Could someone not just smack him over the head and string him up? Is there not a single illegal firearm hanging about? I doubt there would be any complaint from the locals and witnesses would be hard to come by should the Reich come looking for him.
In New York, Doc Meyer has been drugged to try and extract information about the assassination attempt. Smith wants to know if there is an informant in his office. It backfires spectacularly, prompting a rare moment of humor for the series when Doc proclaims Smith an angel. Smith informs them he will conduct the interrogation later.
Set to the tune of “Summertime,” Juliana and Joe dispose of Line-Faced Man’s body. It’s a lovely scene, right up until we get to the bloodied body. They need to find his keys and get rid of the car. Juliana searches Line-Face and retrieves the keys and Joe sinks the body into the water.
At a local bar, Frank drowns his sorrows and watches the royal couple on television. A woman approaches and she knows the details about what Frank’s been through. She tries to pump him for information about his neighbor in the Kempeitei prison. He still wants nothing to do with the resistance. He gives the woman hell, scorning their efforts and their “old movies.” She reveals she lost her husband and two brothers, and reiterates that the Japanese and Germans are on the brink of war. Frank’s not buying in just yet, but he seems to be teetering on the edge of madness.
At a meeting with the Japanese, the Germans inform the Prince there might be an attack on him by the resistance. The meeting feels false, and Tagomi and Kido confirm as much after the gathering concludes. Tagomi is anxious but Kido tells him he should not concern himself with security affairs.
In Canon City, the Marshal is being his usual swaggering self and I scoff a little. A local albino guy tries to bribe the Marshal for information, but some intimidation soon has him revealing Line-Face Man’s color and type of car. At the car, Joe and Juliana find a map and Juliana is insistent on following it.
Back in New York, Doc is back to reality and he’s been talking. Or so it would seem. Smith questions Captain Connolly (Neal Bledsoe) about whether he was involved in a conspiracy with the resistance fighters. A solider holds a gun to Connolly’s head in order to see if the Captain will crack, but he stays loyal, proclaiming his innocence until the trigger is pulled. Luckily for Connolly, it’s a blank, and Smith confirms that he knew Doc was lying all along.
At home, Laura’s husband visits Frank. He confronts Frank about Juliana, asking if he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, give them the information they wanted. The argument is heated and Bill leaves angry while a news story about the Japanese prince’s address plays. The guilt lies heavy on Frank.
On the bridge in Canon City, the Marshal finds Juliana’s lost drawing. Up in the woods, Juliana and Joe follow the map. In the truck, the two of them argue about the importance of the films. Still, Joe follows along. Again, I wonder if it’s because of his feelings for Juliana, his duty as a Nazi, or, hopefully, his own quest for the truth.
Joe has a confession to make; he says he lied too. Upset, he claims he’s never met his father, that his father never took any interest in him. He tells Juliana that maybe if he met her sooner, his life would be different. Juliana softens and I wonder if anything Joe says is for real or a part of his cover. Joe’s story can be frustratingly slow at times, and the ambiguous nature of his character only adds to this minor irritation on my part. I was glad to see a little bit of emotion on his part in this scene as I sometimes feel he’s only there as set dressing or a sounding board to Juliana and John Smith.
Inside the cave, they find the decaying body of a woman, strung up in chains. On her corpse is a list of names. All the names have been crossed out but for Trudy Walker and Lemuel Washington, Juliana’s boss.
Cut to the diner and the Marshal greets Lem. “I want some meat,” he drawls. I roll my eyes a little. After it’s established Lem is a Muslim but happy to serve pork, the Marshal decides he’d like some pork chops, “very well done, like shoe-leather”. I groan at the hokey dialogue. He’d also like some information about Juliana. Lem tells the Marshal what he knows, which is thankfully not much, and he is sent off to make the meal in grunty, Marshal style. I can’t wait until they kill this character off. They will kill him off soon, right?
In San Francisco, Frank has returned to work. But his mind isn’t on the job of making replicas. Instead, he’s making himself a real gun. I have a feeling this won’t end well.
Finally, the action picks up. Joe and Juliana drive back into town, discussing Lem’s part in the resistance, but the Marshal is hot on their tail, cutting them off in his car before stalking them down the street, duster trailing behind him, shotgun firing off blasts. It’s all very… “Western-y”.
Joe and Juliana separate, Juliana hiding in an abandoned building. The Marshal follows Juliana, blowing a hole through the door, and following her inside. The screen goes black and that concludes episode three.
Visually this episode wasn’t as striking as the previous two, Canon City is rather bland, and we spent a good portion of the episode hanging about town. The notable exception was the scene where Joe and Juliana disposed of Line-Faced Man’s body. Were it not for the bloody corpse, it would have made a lovely spot for a picnic.
The few New York scenes were as ominous and depressing as always but we spent a lot of time indoors this episode. Luckily, we had Rufus Sewell and his phenomenal portrayal of John Smith to keep us glued to our chairs. There was no cuddly family man this episode, just the methodical and ruthless SS officer with an axe to grind. God help the person behind the attempt on his life, because I don’t see Smith offering any leniency when it comes time for them to meet their maker.
San Francisco, as usual, had me gushing over how gorgeous it is and as always I cursed the fact that Tagomi and Wagener didn’t get more screen time. I’m highly intrigued by the relationship between Tagomi and the Crown Princess as well. Honestly, I’m interested in any storyline involving Tagomi. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is amazing as this character and I’d watch an entire show devoted just to him.
Episode three was something of a low point for me. So much time was spent on the Marshal and Canon City when the real action and what I’m interested in is going on in New York and San Francisco. On the plus side, Juliana is waking up; her resolve to fight for a better world is firming up with every new discovery and her belief in the films’ importance seems rock solid at this point. Having seen the entire series, I know this episode was needed to move the story along. That being said, it moved at a glacially slow pace, even for High Castle. If this episode had aired on network TV I worry it might not have been enough to hold on to its audience.
The cliffhanger was a little hokey, but effective, and I was glad the next episode was immediately available so I could continue and move on. Next week, the action picks up again. Stay tuned for our recap and review of episode four, "Revelations."