Episode 6, History Ends, is a profound episode, full of movement and transitions, but also quiet mourning and contemplation. The episode takes place during the 2 days after Joe’s death, and before John Smith’s swearing-in as Reichsmarschall. We see Juliana silently, but intensely, mourning him and trying to process what she’s done, and what this act says about her. She always has a bottle of liquor and a cigarette in her hands, and looks at as few people as possible. Her time is spent tying up loose ends in San Francisco, including sending a message to her mentor Tagomi. Then she enlists Wyatt’s help to get back to her other family, Hawthorne and Caroline.
The Smith family, on the other hand, should be able to breathe a little more freely, with the Rockwell/Hoover/Adler threat taken care of and John’s newest promotion. Helen is back to her old self, even feeling a bit frisky. But John is feeling renewed pressure from Himmler, and hasn’t properly grieved Thomas. Helen’s therapy has helped her move on and find renewed purpose, while John has another Thomas’, from other realities, dangling before him. With all of his loved ones and confidantes dead or threatened, and nowhere on this world for him to go, traveling to a better reality has got to be appealing to Smith.
But for now, he has to help Himmler destroy American history, and possibly the rest of his family. In this episode Smith gets word that Joe, his surrogate son, is dead, which causes him to revisit the betrayal he still feels over the murder of his surrogate brother, Erich Raeder, who was also under his protection. He’s lost his actual son and brother and his replacement son and brother, and he might not have the strength to lose more. He’s begun closing himself off to Helen and the girls, so that when he loses them, it won’t hurt so much. He focussing all of his energy on his work and on the Thomas in the films.
Smith doesn’t see it, but he’s beginning to spiral, turning himself into a truly cold, heartless monster to avoid anymore hurt and likely sacrificing what’s left of his family in the process. Himmler is an obsessive misogynist who doesn’t give up. I have a feeling that he’s not ever going to believe that Helen is a proper wife, or allow the girls to grow up. He’s going to want to get rid of them, and pair John with a younger, more Aryan wife who will give him Lebensborn sons (possibly using a Lebensborn sperm donor).
History Ends begins with Juliana sitting on the floor, drinking and smoking, in her room. She’s been up all night. It’s the end of her history with Joe and the end of her history in San Francisco. Maybe the end of her time being able to live openly anywhere, since she’s just murdered an important Nazi official who reported directly to the Reichsführer and was close to the Acting Reichsmarschall.
Juliana makes a decision, grabs her duffel bag, and repacks it, taking the items that are most important to her, such as family photos. She won’t be returning. She puts the files that she stole from Joe in a package for Tagomi, with a note, keeping back the documents she needs. Then she calls Wyatt.
Wyatt is busy making a black market deal with one of his suppliers in an alley. He’s buying duffel bags of drugs, including the amphetamine Zed, from a group of 4 men, to take back to the Neutral Zone. The supplier, Mingus, complains that Wyatt didn’t pay him the full amount they’d agreed on. Wyatt explains that the bottom has dropped out of the Zed market in the Zone, plus there are home brewers cooking in the Zone to compete with. The amount he paid won’t even cover his expenses. Tense negotiations ensue, but Wyatt ends up with the drugs and promises to pay the rest, plus extra, in a month. Next month he wants penicillin and morphine.
Kido investigates the scene of Joe’s murder. He’s confused that Joe stayed in a cheap by-the-hour hotel instead of the embassy. He tells Nakamura to round up the prostitutes and bring them in for questioning.
Wyatt meets Juliana at her apartment. She asks him to deliver a package, but he feels it’s beneath him, especially without more information. He might as well have told her he couldn’t be bothered with her white girl problems. The entire way that Juliana has survived this long is by saying practically nothing to anyone, and letting them assume she’s whatever they want her to be, so it’s tough for her to give Wyatt enough information on the situation to satisfy him. Something about her pretty face convinces him to listen.
The Smiths have breakfast together. Helen made it herself, since Bridget called in sick. She tells John that, in addition to her therapy, she plans to take the girls shopping for dresses to wear to his swearing-in ceremony. She seems to be back to her normal self.
John gets a phone call from Dr Mengele, letting him know that they’ll be waking the traveler prisoner, Fatima Hassan, from her medically induced coma later today. He invites John to attend and question her.
Kido questions the prostitutes, and finds one who remembers seeing Juliana near Joe’s room. Kido looks pleased when the woman identifies Juliana, which in anyone else would be the same as exploding with joy. His obsession with pinning something on her is getting out of hand.
Fatima Hassan wakes up, naked, save for the thick straps that hold her to the bed. Smith is there and comforts her, telling her no one’s going to hurt her and covering her with a blanket before he starts questioning her in his best sickly sweet interrogation voice. He does have a way with the ladies.
She only answers one question, saying, “Nazis,” when he asks if she knows where she is. Otherwise, she’s silent, closing her eyes again and preparing to travel. When Mengele figures out what she’s doing, he rushes in with a sedative, but it’s too late in the process. With the room shaking as if there’s an earthquake, and a burst of light that shorts out the electricity, Fatima disappears.
Smith stands a few feet from her for the entire process. He’s astonished. I don’t think he really believed in the alternate realities and travelers until that moment. His mind is once again trying to sort through the possibilities this presents.
Kido calls Tagomi to his office to tell him about Joe’s death and the circumstances surrounding it. He doesn’t waste time before he accuses Juliana. He tells Tagomi, “Your relationship with this woman is perplexing.” He very much enjoys his perception that he was right and Tagomi was a fool about Juliana.
Kido’s next call is to let John Smith know that Joe is dead.
During therapy, Dr Ryan prompts Helen to remember when she brought Jennifer home from the hospital. She’d been worried about how Thomas would react to the addition of a second child to their perfect family unit, but he was happy to have a sister. He ran right over to her crib and called her his baby.
Helen was also happy that she and John could finally get back to… She stops herself before revealing the embarrassing information that she and her husband were looking forward to having sex. Dr Ryan pushes her to finish the sentence, then assures her that it’s not embarrassing. “Most married couples feel the same.”
Kido told John that Joe was killed by a prostitute, but Himmler doesn’t believe this story. He voices his conspiracy theories during a Himmlervision call with John. He’s especially upset that the Japanese dissed him by calling John about Joe’s death, instead of him. John doesn’t tell Himmler that Kido called him because they’ve had dealings in the past.
Once Himmler is done displaying his paranoia for John Smith, he turns to the next Lebensborn assassin in the queue, Hans, who can shoot down 3 fleeing prisoners in 19 seconds. Hans’ first mission will be to assassinate Tagomi.
Kotomichi brings Tagomi Juliana’s package, delivered, in the end, by a Chinese delivery boy. It contains the Kempeitai files on Wexler and Tagomi, an Ahnenerbe Institute file on the Lackawanna project, a Kokumin Energy file folder with blood on it and a photo of Tagomi and Tamiko in the park.
The last thing it holds is an unsigned note from Juliana that says, “We will see each other again.” One of them said this to the other in the alternate reality he visited, and she knows of it from her received memories. She’s telling him the file is from her, taken from Joe’s room, and that she remembers that moment between them. She’s not abandoning her relationship with him. She’s also telling him to be careful because he’s a target, and that she’s going to Lackawanna.
These two have a sort of mind link because they’re so much alike, so all of the nonverbal communication works between them.
Juliana and Wyatt stop for gas at an abandoned gas station on their way to the Neutral Zone, but the station’s tanks are empty. Which is what you would expect. Do the Kempeitai or the Yakuza normally keep gas in there? Two Kempeitai find them there and search them and the jeep at gunpoint. One finds Juliana’s gun, making things awkward. Wyatt ends up killing one of the soldiers while Juliana kills the other. They siphon the gas out of the Kempeitai vehicle, and plan a new route to the NZ. This isn’t the first time one of Wyatt’s smuggling missions has gone sideways.
Tagomi brings the files to Kido, who says they are highly classified. Tagomi confirms that he was working with Wexler on a highly classified synthetic oil project. Kido sneers at Tagomi as he asks why the Nazis would want him dead. Tagomi calmly replies that there are any number of the usual reasons for the Nazis to want a high-ranking Japanese official like him, who’s thwarted their plans in the past, dead.
Then he finally turns the tables on Kido, and asks, but what is Kido going to do about the traitor in the Kempeitai, who passed information about Tagomi on to the Nazis, making the assassination attempt easier? Kido has been attempting to avoid this question, since he’s the one who actually royally screwed up, not Tagomi.
It’s the woman Kido loves to hate, Juliana Crain, who brought them the files, which is why Tagomi kept their source a secret. Kido would use the knowledge to try to discredit the information. He must be able to guess where it came from, though.
At the end of the day, Helen finds John sitting alone in his office, thinking. She guesses that he gave Bridget the day off to give her a boost. Since it worked, she doesn’t mind.
John is close to breaking down when he tells Helen he needs her. He says that Joe is dead, and is the one who killed Erich, under Himmler’s orders. Helen is shocked. John explains that Himmler is getting rid of anyone who he sees as a threat to John’s standing in the party. Though Erich was loyal, Himmler still saw him as a threat.
Then he loses his air of vulnerability and drives his point home. Helen has to continue to have good days. Himmler has big plans for John, and nothing will stand in the way.
Helen understands that she’s being threatened. The scary thing is, that it’s her husband who’s threatening her. He was going to try to get Thomas out of the country, but he’s not working on an escape plan for the family or Helen and the girls. Helen has to meet Himmler’s expectations, or die.
John said that he wouldn’t want to be able to communicate with Thomas’ ghost, even if he could. This is the result of him seeing Thomas’ ghost, and believing that it’s real. He’s losing interest in his real life. He wants to bring the ghost to his world, or get to the ghost world.
Robert sells John Wayne’s belt buckle to a Japanese man, after telling him a skewed version of its story that plays up American vanity and foolishness. He gets enough from the sale to get him back to San Francisco, so it’s all good. Then he shares a congratulatory toast of Kenbishi sake with Ed and Jack at the bar.
While Robert, Ed and Jack are at the bar, Sampson stops by to pick up a case of red wine for the bar mitzvah. He pulls Ed aside into a private alcove to share the news that Frank is alive, after telling Ed that he can’t outwardly react to the news at all. He doesn’t appear to swear Ed to secrecy or give Ed a very detailed and explicit lecture on the importance of keeping Frank safe by keeping his continued existence a secret, never mind his location, which is the kind of instructions Ed needs to fully understand danger and evil.
Juliana and Wyatt quietly make it past an unmarked border crossing into the Neutral Zone. Wyatt gives Juliana a flask to share in celebration.
She remembers back to after the first time she killed someone, when Joe helped her through the shock, in Season 1, episode 3, The Illustrated Woman. She’d thrown a Nazi SD agent over a bridge. He’d tried to kill her when she mistakenly delivered the film she got from Trudy to him. Joe brought her back to a hotel and helped her make sense of it. Now he’s the Nazi agent she’s killed, defending herself from his assassination attempts and Himmler’s crazy schemes.
Is there any comfort left in the words he said to her then, or do they just make her feel more alone and betrayed? He was a Nazi agent who was lying to her even then, even though some of the feelings were real. In the flashback, he says to her, “You did what you had to do.” By the time she killed him, Joe had taken that attitude to its logical extreme, believing in the Nazi excuse that it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re following the Reichsführer’s orders.
Juliana killed the SD agent in season 1 because she mistakenly walked into a trap, while Lem stood on the sidelines and watched her do it. There has to be part of her that’s worrying about that right now, after experiencing so much betrayal, from all sides. She barely knows Wyatt, and she’s on another road trip with him.
Juliana hunches down in her seat and turns her face to the window as she cries a few tears. Now that the risk of being caught by Kido is greatly reduced, she can relax a little and let herself feel something for a minute. But she’s still private and silent about it, and I’m not sure whether Wyatt notices her tears and decides to ignore them or doesn’t notice them at all. He does refer to the “silence of bad memories” and get chatty, which could be his way of trying to cheer her up again.
Charmer that he is, Wyatt opens the conversation by complimenting Juliana’s fighting skills. He assumes she’s killed before. Then he tells her she reminds him of the guys he knew in the Rebel Army. That perks her up. She asks if he’s still in contact with any of them. The Rebel Army became the Resistance, and there’s someone she needs to find.
But first, she wants to know why Wyatt’s helping her? He tells her good dance partners are hard to find. I’d say he misses fighting for the good guys, and she seems like as good a lost cause as any. Maybe he senses that there’s something special or important about her. And smuggling isn’t paying as well as it used to, anyway.
Hoover meets with Kido to discuss Joe’s murder and his activities prior to his murder. Hoover explains that as far as the Reich is concerned, Joe assassinated traitors who were loose ends that needed to be tied up. Any retaliation for those deaths on the part of the JPS would be seen as an act of aggression, since the Reich feels that the scales between them are balanced. At the end of the meeting, Kido lets Hoover know that, in fact, the scales are not balanced, since the JPS knows that at least one of Joe’s targets was a high-ranking Japanese official. He puts the Reich on notice.
Hoover calls Smith from his car to give him the results of the meeting, and share that he thinks Juliana was with Joe the night of his death, since the Kempeitai and Yakuza are looking for her in the Neutral Zone. The Nazis will try to get to her first. Given Joe’s Japanese target, Hoover doesn’t think the Kempeitai will search too hard for his killer.
Only as an excuse for Kido to get his hands on Juliana. I can’t even remember why he hates her anymore. Because she took the film Trudy was carrying?
Wyatt brings Juliana to his home, which is an unfinished brick warehouse or factory. She notices that he was smuggling drugs, and he tells her that he makes people feel better. Then he leaves to put out feelers for whoever she’s looking for.
Hmm, the morphine sounded like medicine when combined with the request for penicillin. Combined with selling amphetamines and using that reasoning, it doesn’t sound as honorable.
Childan checks out of the hotel, then he and Ed say goodbye. Ed says that he’s not staying in Denver, he’s going on a trip with Sampson. He does at least look around before he spills Frank’s life or death secret in the middle of a hotel lobby, but then he goes ahead and tells Childan that Frank is alive and exactly where he’s living. And confirms the existence of Sabra and where it is to someone going back to San Francisco who’ll sell out most anyone else to protect his own skin. Who’s so self-absorbed that he won’t think twice about someone else’s secrets before he reveals them.
This won’t end well.
Ed gives Robert a big hug goodbye, which Robert cringes through.
The next location in Juliana’s non-pub crawl is a set of stairs at Wyatt’s place, where she continues cuddling his flask, until Lem knocks on the door. She tells Lem that she needs to see Hawthorne to deliver some important intel. Lem immediately decides that he should deliver it himself instead. Lem is as dismissive and condescending to her as ever, with an added splash of possessiveness over Hawthorne, which does not look good on him. He may think he’s the one in the loop, but if he doesn’t know how important she is by now, he’s not in the loop at all.
Old Resistance. Worse. Than. Useless. Actually. Detrimental. To. The. Cause.
Luckily, Wyatt comes home just as Lem’s about to wrestle the intel away from Juliana so that he can be the special one again. He brings the news that the SD and the Yakuza are looking for her, so it’s about time she was honest with him about what’s going on. Juliana says that she needs to see the Man in the High Castle. Judging from the way he looks at Juliana and Lem, Wyatt either thinks he’s a myth or that no one gets to see him.
Sampson brings Ed to Frank’s workspace, but asks him to wait outside while he prepares Frank. Frank is nervous and says he isn’t ready to see someone from his past. Ed comes in anyway, not giving Frank the chance to refuse, just because he’s scared. Ed cries out of happiness at being reunited with his best friend and hugs Frank. Then Ed sees the paintings and is overwhelmed again.
Kido calls Nakamura into his office to do some explaining. The jig is up.
Wyatt, Lem and Juliana drive to a record store in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Lem and Juliana go inside and ask for Hawthorne. Caroline comes out from the back. She says that Hawthorne has stepped out, so Lem and Juliana decide to wait. Caroline asks if Trudy traveled home, and gives Juliana a big hug.
Frank and Ed have a cup of tea while Frank tells Ed the story of how he painted the sunrise, and started painting again. He was lying in an old bus, recuperating from his burns. They’d run out of morphine, so he was in pain and couldn’t sleep. Suddenly, he felt warm, and the pain left for a couple of minutes. When he opened his eyes, the sun had just risen. He felt euphoric and painted it as soon as he could move again.
Ed always thought it was a sunset. The posters have been seen all over the West Coast, all the way down to Baja. Ed says that the painting means something to people, which is quite an accomplishment. Frank says, “I just wanted to redeem myself.” He used to think that helping the Resistance was the only thing that made sense, but it was a mistake. Ed tried to tell him. Now he’s killed people, directly with the bomb, and indirectly through the reprisals.
Ed tells Frank that not everything is his fault. He shouldn’t blame himself for the reprisals. Then it’s time for Frank to get ready for his bar mitzvah. As he’s leaving, he asks if Ed ever found Juliana. Ed says that he doesn’t know where she is.
Helen and John get dressed for John’s swearing-in ceremony. As she helps him with his jacket, Helen tells John that he looks dashing, but he doesn’t believe her. Then he says, “It’s not like other promotions, Helen. The ground isn’t solid.” Helen replies, “Well, I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.” John says, “That’s good to know.” Then he leaves the room. There’s nothing physical between them, not even a peck on the cheek or a touch of hands.
His reply, “That’s good to know,” is chilling. Not, “I depend on you,” or “I hope so,” or “I don’t know what I’d do without you and the kids.” Just a bland, non-committal response. He’s already gone. He’s assuming he’ll lose them like he’s lost everyone else, and he’s working through the process of emotionally separating from them.
Frank’s bar mitzvah is intercut with John’s swearing-in as the American Reichsmarschall. Himmler praises John’s strength of character and unwavering loyalty to the party, but his oath of office involves swearing fealty to Himmler until his dying breath:
I swear this sacred oath that I shall render unconditional obedience to Heinrich Himmler, the Führer of the German Reich and the people, supreme commander of the armed forces, and that in my honorable duties as Reichsmarschall of North America, I vow obedience to the death.
That’s a lot of obedience for someone who’s basically second in command. No vow to serve the country, the party, or the people. Only Himmler.
Himmler: “A wise woman once told me that our destinies are written in the stars. I was a failing chicken farmer. And then I met the Führer. Like me, you must learn to embrace the new role that fate has handed you.”
Mark acts as Rabbi for the bar mitzvah. He says that, “The question I think we each struggle with, I know I do, is how do we live with our own survival? How do we make use of this life that we still have? Now, Frank bears the scars of that question. But the Frank I know today, has taught me the importance of our traditions. They hold the pain and joy of 5,000 years. When we connect to the past, Hashem speaks. And it tells us how to survive.”
Himmler: “Today marks the beginning of Jahr Null, Year Zero. This will become the beating heart… We will do away with the old. Today, history ends and the future begins!!”
The Nazi crowd chants sieg heil, sieg heil, sieg heil.
The Sabra crowd dance and hold Frank above them. He looks happier than we’ve ever seen him.
Hashem= Hebrew word for God
The Amazon XRay trivia states that the Nazis invented satellite technology in this universe. They must have had different priorities than our own universe had, which resulted in them having video satellite phones in the early 60s. It’s very unlikely that they’ll have a space race to the moon with the Japanese, for example.
Juliana is a steely eyed Resistance fighter who’s tougher than most men. Nothing’s going to keep her from fulfilling her mission, just like nothing stops James Bond, whether it’s personal injury, condescending, less talented people or personal tragedy. Her emotions are private, and she puts them away until she’s ready to express them.
Robert just hates being touched. Will we ever get details on his background?
Himmler sees loyalty to anyone but himself as a threat. He’s not just a hands-on leader, he’s a paranoid, narcissistic leader who delegates very little if he can do it himself. He breaks his Lebensborn of any prior loyalties, and now we see him doing the same thing with John Smith. Who would have thought that Hitler would end up being the better boss? He was easy-going compared to Himmler.
Kenneth Tigar, who plays Himmler, is totally killing it in the role. I never even think of him as an actor playing a part. I totally believe he’s an evil monster who must be stopped.
I’m really enjoying Helen’s therapy sessions as a peek into the accepted social norms of the Reich for the average family. The Reich encourages lusty, zesty, faithful heterosexual marriages that result in many children, no doubt to replace the millions they’ve killed in the genocides.
It’s very much like the US culture of the 50s, when mothers were an important part of the community, but mothers are more openly respected in the Reich. As long as they don’t become liabilities who are executed, that is. And they need to have enough children to offset the ones who’ll be executed as damaged goods. And they’re probably executed as useless eaters not long after their children are fully grown and the mothers begin to show signs of age. But while they’re having kids, they’re golden.
Helen is onscreen when Mark asks, “How do we live with our own survival?” The camera is on John when Mark asks, “How do we make use of this life we still have?” The answers to those questions will be key. Helen has two children left. She’s outlived her beloved son. What will she do for her daughters?
John has lost almost everyone he’s ever loved, while sacrificing himself and the life he might have wanted to live, in order to keep them safe. Does he feel like he can’t save the girls, because they’ll have the same genetic defect as Thomas? Does he feel like Helen isn’t holding up her end of the bargain anymore? What will he decide to do with the life he has left? Become Reichsführer? Become a traveler? His oath of office sounds almost impossible to uphold in the long run, given how criminally insane and demanding Himmler is.
Ed, who is a pure and wise soul, who often sees truths that others can’t see, thought the painting was a sunset instead of a sunrise. An ending and winding down instead of a beginning and gearing up. I suspect it’s both. Frank has reached an ending and found peace. He’s also found a new beginning and a new purpose, using his art to inspire others to continue the fight, but in a less violent, more productive way. Every sunset is actually a sunrise on the other side of the world, and every ending holds a beginning, so the painting can be both.
Jennifer and Amy’s outfits for the swearing-in ceremony are meant to mimic Jackie Kennedy’s outfit at her husband, John F Kennedy’s, inauguration in 1961.
Images courtesy of Amazon Prime Video.