The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 10: Jahr Null Recap

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The Man in the High Castle has saved its big event, the Jahr Null kick off celebration with an ostentatious toppling of Lady Liberty, for the final episode of the season. As befits such a grand attention-getter, this episode is full of other surprises as well. It’s one of the most exciting episodes in the series’ history, with exits and rearrangements of characters worthy of Shakespeare. All that’s missing is a bear.

Liam’s friend Richie, a raunchy filmmaker who appears from nowhere mid episode in order to help change the course of history, will have to substitute for the bear. Deus Ex Richie and Jeremy is still a pretty satisfying plot device.

Jahr Null begins with Hawthorne returning to the ranch, where Caroline is waiting on the porch. It’s a trap, of course. As soon as he’s out of the car, a swarm of Nazis appear from the bushes and buildings. Hawthorne pulls out his gun and threatens to shoot himself in the head unless they let Caroline go.

John Smith steps forward. “Your brain, Mr Abendsen, is of great value to us. Your wife is not. Put the gun down. I’ll see to it she gets the medical attention she very badly needs. You shoot yourself, you’re gonna force my hand.”

Caroline signals for Hawthorne not to surrender, but he won’t risk her life. He throws the gun to the ground. Hawthorne says, “Oh John, I always wondered if I’d see you again.” The SD agents cuff him and Caroline.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 9: Baku Recap

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As the penultimate episode of season 3, Baku marks the end of this season for several characters, while it serves as the set up to the finale for the rest. We say goodbye to Frank, Mark and Tagomi in this episode. We’ve already seen the last of Sabra and Lila for this season.

The focus of these last two episodes shifts away from the details of the characters’ personal lives, and toward the implications their lives have for the larger universe. This emphasis shows how much the characters have grown, as tensions rise within each political state and the characters are called to respond to it. Most rise to the occasion. But not all. Not surprisingly, the Nazis typically fail the test, except for Helen.

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The episode title, Baku, refers to the alias Kido uses in the Neutral Zone. Baku is a mythical Japanese creature who eats nightmares when called. If called too often, it will also devour the sleeper’s hopes and dreams, leaving their lives empty. The Baku’s body is made up of spare parts that were leftover when all of the other animals had been made, leaving the Baku looking strange but fierce.

Kido’s choice of this name suggests that he sees himself as a protector, but has realized that he can go too far. It also suggests that he is reevaluating who he is. He’s been in America a long time, and is now made up of spare parts taken from experiences gained during the War, pre and post War on two continents. He is no longer simply a Japanese soldier. Does he see himself as living an empty life, having chased so many nightmares away that he lost track and chased away the hopes and dreams of his own life as well?

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 8: Kasumi (Through the Mists) Recap

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As the Reich draws closer to the full implementation of Jahr Null, episode 8 explores reinventing oneself and changing directions. Some, like Himmler, stay on the course we’ve seen them follow all season. Others, like Ed, Frank, Nicole and Helen, attempt to explore new paths.

After they’ve seen Juliana’s film, the Jewish characters of Sabra refuse to see that there could be another way, and stick to their traditional fight. Ed and Frank are inspired to use art to inspire others. Juliana has the science behind the knowledge in her acquired memories confirmed, and moves forward with her fight.

In the American Reich, Helen experiments with a little independent thinking about Reich orthodoxy, which causes Dr Ryan to call John again. John puts an end to Helen’s analysis and tries to end her independent thinking, but I suspect that’s impossible.

John tries to make Himmler see reason when Himmler courts another war with Japan, this time on American soil. But Himmler sees the Western Hemisphere as his plaything, to be toyed with or broken as he sees fit. He has no sympathy for the people who’d be affected by an American war.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 7: Excess Animus Recap

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In episode 7, Excess Animus, characters’ arcs continue to come full circle, just as Juliana and Joe’s did in episode 5. Kido delivers his brand of justice to the traitor Nakamura with extra zealousness, since he’d given the “hapa dog” a chance, despite his better judgement. But Kido also discovers that Tagomi hasn’t found him worthy of sharing important secrets, because of his ruthlessness and inability to see nuance.

Sabra faces more challenges to its seclusion, from bounty hunters looking for their friend who Layla killed and from Juliana, who hopes to recruit a few members to join her cause. Mark goes to Denver to take care of the bounty hunters, since he feels responsible for bringing that trouble to Sabra’s door.

Juliana has an unexpected reunion with her two oldest and dearest friends, Frank and Ed. It feels like they’ve each had a lifetime’s worth of experiences since the last time they saw each other. But everything has brought them back around to being on the same page again when they meet at Sabra, which is as tragic as it is wonderful. This reunion can’t last, and Juliana and Frank are both wanted fugitives. The odds of the three of them surviving until the end of whatever rebellion is coming are small.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 6: History Ends Recap

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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.

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It Can’t Happen Here: Unless It’s Aliens or Has Orange Hair (Audio)/ Or Maybe It Can

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Update 10/28/18: This seems like a good day to repost this audio, based on Sinclair Lewis’ brilliant, prophetic novel that warns against how easily fascism and white supremacism can overcome a country when people fail to take action against it quickly enough. Violence is on the rise against anyone who doesn’t fit the current concept of the master race, and the policies of the president of the United States encourage the violence and separatism. This is exactly what happened in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Please make sure you vote in this election cycle.


On October 24, 2016, 2 weeks before Election Day, we both attended a local staged reading of the play It Can’t Happen Here, based on the 1936 novel by Sinclair Lewis. The novel, and the play, describe the rise and rule of a charismatic, dogmatic, conservative politician who is eventually elected president. He promises a return to traditional values, but reneges on his promises soon after he takes office, turning the country into a totalitarian regime within a period of a few months. Anyone who doesn’t offer complete, unquestioning loyalty to the new regime is imprisoned or executed.

This may sound like a drastic scenario, something that “can’t happen here,” but Lewis wrote the novel originally because he was watching this very thing happen in Nazi Germany at the time. The original stage adaptation was created the following year. The original 1983 TV miniseries about an alien invasion,V, was also based on It Can’t Happen Here (and the later reboot series). V’s creator, Kenneth Johnson, was inspired by Lewis’ work, but the network executives at NBC thought the story would be more interesting if the American fascists from the book were turned into aliens for TV.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 5: The New Colossus Recap

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The New Colossus is such an eventful episode that it’s hard to know how to even summarize it. The title refers to the centerpiece of Nicole’s Jahr Null plan, replacing the Statue of Liberty with a new statue based in part on the image of Thomas, but also to John Smith and the power he accrues, which is supposed to keep him and his family safe, but instead hangs like an albatross around his neck.

The themes of identity, spirituality, community and responsibility continue to be explored this episode. Frank engages in soul searching before his bar mitzvah, trying to discern how to best atone for his sins while keeping his current community safe. Helen works through her grief and wonders how to reconcile her feelings about Thomas’ death with being a strong wife and mother. Juliana struggles with the meaning of the films and how they relate to her relationship with Joe in this world. John has to come up with yet another scheme to retain power and protect his family, this time breaking up my dream team of Rockwell and Hoover.

The episode begins with Himmler overseeing the graduation exercises executions of more Lebensborn assassins. His favorite is a tall, broad, blonde named Hans, who is the best the Reich has to offer. Hans is able to shoot fleeing Jews in the back faster than anyone ever, making Papa Himmler ever so proud.

Keep repeating to yourself that even in this reality, the Reich will fall eventually, and take some deep breaths.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 4: Sabra Recap

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Episode 4, Sabra, focuses on the strained partnerships and heightening tensions of the alternate reality of The Man in the High Castle. Ed and Robert begin their journey back to the west coast, complaining at each other the whole time. John and Helen continue to struggle with their grief over Thomas’ death and the increasing scrutiny and pressure on them because of John’s promotion. Joe and Juliana grow physically closer, but choose every word they say carefully.

Meanwhile, the JPS begins experiencing protests over the fuel shortage because of its effect on everyday life. Wyatt shows up at Juliana’s door, wanting to get to know her better. Thelma and Nicole also get to know each other better, in an illegal way that could get them both reeducated at best and executed at worst. Tagomi and his painter get to know each other better over dinner, but Joe has plans for dessert.

The title, Sabra, refers to the Catholic community outside of Denver that secretly shelters a community of Jews, called Sabra. The term sabra means a native-born Israeli Jew. It’s taken from the name of a cactus fruit that’s tough on the outside but soft and sweet on the inside.

The Neutral Zone and the Japanese Pacific States turn people into this version of themselves, people who are tough and wary but can still have normal relationships with those they trust. In the Reich, trust is virtually impossible, as even one’s closest friends and loved ones might be convinced to turn one in for the good of the state. Joe was once a  young cactus fruit, but now he’s been squeezed dry, and the shell that’s left works for Himmler.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 3: Senso Koi Recap

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While episode 2 brought a series of endings to the world of The Man in the High Castle, and the feeling of fully completing storylines from previous seasons, episode 3, Sensô Kôi, contains reunions, beginnings and revelations. John Smith has the biggest revelation of all. Dr Mengele convinces him that the films he’d dismissed as fake after he learned about them as part of Hitler’s collection are, in fact, documentation of other realities in which other versions of ourselves live similar but different lives. The awakening to possibilities that cascades through Smith’s head is practically visible.

Juliana and Joe are reunited, but spend most of their time circling each other cautiously. The two amateur spies have grown up to become lethal weapons and the young pair who were uncertain of their causes have firmly chosen where they stand. Unfortunately it’s not on the same side. The films prove that they have a deep connection in every reality, but death is usually involved when they are together, going all the way back to the season 1 films. The current crop of films raises the stakes even higher.

Nicole’s film documentary about Thomas Smith has its premiere with everyone who’s anyone in the American Reich in attendance. It’s clear that the film is thinly veiled propaganda meant to position John Smith as the next Reichsmarschall. The film leaves Smith’s enemies seething, especially Hoover and Rockwell, my very favorite villain duo on this show ever. Rockwell has a certain charismatic panache that we don’t see often on MITHC, and Hoover just loves being his sycophantic evil flunkie so darn much.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 2: Imagine Manchuria Recap

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The title of episode 2 of The Man in the High Castle season 3, Imagine Manchuria, refers to a line Kido says to his would-be new assistant. If Nakamura thinks San Francisco weather is unpleasant in the winter (it tends toward cool and frequently rainy), imagine what it will be like when Kido turns on him and has him sent to Manchuria, which can be as cold as the Arctic in winter. In other words, things can always get worse.

This is the theme of the episode, as the solution to one problem inevitably causes a bigger problem down the line. If we don’t see the bigger problem in this episode, we’re likely seeing the set up for it. Helen solves the Smiths’ gossip problem one way, but now has a crime scene to deal with. John solves it another way, but now has an ongoing blackmail scheme to finesse at a time when he’s being watched very closely. Kido arrests Juliana, but also catches Trudy, who he executed in the opening scenes of season 1. The triumph of catching a Resistance operative is overshadowed by the mental discord of seeing a woman he knows to be dead, now inexplicably returned to life. And of being put in conflict with Tagomi once again.

Schemes within schemes are revealed within the Reich, until anyone who has any power there might wish they’d been sent to Manchuria. In addition to his other supersecret American operations, Himmler is playing Hoover and Rockwell against Smith, and it’s anyone’s guess which side he’ll favor in the end. Joe is a Lebensborn special operative who works directly for Himmler, apparently as an assassin, but his true purpose is unknown to almost everyone. Even Smith and the head of the Reich Embassy in San Francisco, who is ostensibly his boss, don’t know. And Himmler is a demanding, impatient taskmaster who accepts no excuses.

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