In episode 2 of The Man in the High Castle the relationships and events which will drive the rest of the series become much more clear. John Smith’s family is introduced and his son Thomas is held up as a shining example of Nazi youth. Smith and one of his surrogate sons, Erich Raeder, are attacked, showing that the apparent stability of the Reich is maintained through the frequent use of violent force.
In the Neutral Zone, Juliana and Joe get to know each other better as they await communication from their contacts. Juliana also gets to know a customer at the diner. In San Francisco, tensions between the Germans and the Japanese continue to escalate. Kido, under pressure to find Juliana and the film, takes drastic steps to get Frank to talk. Frank must decide between protecting his family and fighting for the freedom he longs for.
Many of the series’ central themes are introduced in these first 2 episodes: The near impossibility of making rational choices about big issues when people one loves are in immediate danger and how that is exploited by torturers and oppressors; The choice between fighting and suffering for justice, possibly even dying for the cause, or surviving through moral compromise in the form of expedience, opportunism and collaboration; The incompetence, near apathy and disorganization of the North American resistance movement; The overall role of apathy and amorality on all sides in allowing oppression to continue; And the power of art, literature and music to influence hearts and minds, whether it’s the Christian Bible, Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, a catchy pop tune or an effective visual advertisement.