“Juliana and Frank make plans to escape the Pacific States, only to be dragged back into danger by Joe as he tries to retrieve a new film. Meanwhile, Smith's loyalty is put to the ultimate test when confronted with a startling family discovery.”
The above blurb from Amazon doesn’t nearly do justice to all that’s packed into episode eight of The Man in the High Castle, “End of the World.”
Hit the jump for the full recap and review.
We open as Lem Washington (Rick Worthy) sits by a picturesque river, fishing with a young boy. A Resistance member shows up, delivering a coded message. There’s a new film in San Francisco and they are to retrieve it.
Cut to a quick scene with Ed as he builds a gun for Inspector Kido.
Juliana arrives at her mom’s house to reveal the truth: Trudy is dead. But Juliana’s mother refuses to believe, claiming she feels Trudy’s spirit alive and present in the world. Arnold is flabbergasted by the news, believing he is at fault for Trudy’s death. Which... let's admit it, he is. The scene is heartbreaking though as the characters grapple with their guilt and disbelief.
Frank is at home, crafting the counterfeit Native American necklace Childen has asked for. Ed arrives, frantic, telling Frank about the Kempeitei visiting the factory and imploring him to get out of town. Frank assures Ed that he and Juliana will leave that night. Ed agrees to buy the bus tickets for the pair, refusing money and claiming they will need all the help they can get. See guys? Ed isn't all annoyance and lack of story, sometimes he's helpful!
Inside a diner, Joe surprises Juliana, covering her check. “Just like old times, huh?” he jokes. Joe asks Juliana for her help getting the film from the San Francisco resistance. As usual, Juliana falls for his puppy dogs eyes and baby face. But who can really blame her? Kleintank really is easy on the eyes.
In the antique shop, Childen seems like he might be backing out of their plan but Frank is having nothing to do with that, threatening to go to the Kempeitei if he doesn’t go through with it. Frank is a man on a mission and this is when Rupert Evans shines. In a moment of comedy, Childen tells Frank to wait while his anxiety passes. “There. My greed has returned undiminished,” Childen barbs, agreeing to set up an appointment to sell the necklace.
At a flower shop, Juliana meets with her contact, Karen (Camille Sullivan). Karen pushes Juliana to keep looking into who betrayed Trudy at the Nippon building and Juliana digs for info about the new film. Karen isn’t biting, claiming the resistance doesn’t need any outside help from the East coast. They have their own people.
Back in New York, the Smith’s are getting ready to go out. Thomas needs to go to the doctor and John offers to take him so his wife won’t miss her Garden Club. It’s as peachy keen and idyllic as always in the Smith household. The calm before the storm, perhaps?
Lem surprises Karen in her flower truck to talk about the new film. The “man in the high castle” has sent orders to retrieve it. Arriving at their contacts meet up point, however, they find him dead on the bench, the film missing in action. A phone booth rings and a man is on the line, asking for 100,000 Yen in exchange for the film. It doesn’t sound like that’s gonna be an easy ask for this ragtag bunch of fighters and Karen looks worried.
We cut to a seedy club as Kido and Sergeant Yoshida enter, meeting with the club owner, Taishi Okamura (Hiro Kanagawa). He asks about the investigation into the shooting of the Crown Prince, but Kido is keeping all information about the case close to his vest, and so instead Okamura offers Kido 150,000 Yen in exchange for the new film. It’s a bribe Kido won’t accept and I have to laugh, enjoying the fact that the Yakuza charges the Kempeitei more than they do the Resistance.
At the doctor’s office, Smith waits for his son to be examined. He’s upset because his son has been in there over an hour. The doctor tells Smith there’s nothing to worry about but asks for a moment in private. In his office, Dr. Adler informs Smith that everything isn’t actually alright at all. Thomas has a fatal disease that will most likely kill him within the year. Adler pledges to keep the diagnosis to himself and advises Smith not to seek a second opinion, as it would become an “institutional issue”. The implications are clear as Smith struggles to hold his emotion in check. As we learned in earlier episodes and as history informs us, the Nazis execute the handicapped. The doctor instructs Smith on how he should perform euthanasia when the time comes and Smith looks shell-shocked.
In San Francisco, Juliana is back at work where she receives a bunch of flowers with a card; the same type Tagomi keeps on his desk and tends to in his garden. On the card, the message ‘come’ is written. She speaks with Tagomi’s assistant as she enters the office about the risk she poses to Tagomi by working for him. “I don’t wish to harm him,” she claims. “And yet you will,” he replies sadly. She seems to take the message to heart and gives the flowers to Tagomi as she greets him.
Tagomi assigns Juliana a job, conducting a survey for a general who will be arriving tomorrow. They need to find uranium deposits. It seems like it’s a clue for her. She asks if she may leave to visit the library and research her task. Instead, he inquires whether she followed up on his information about her sister and Juliana confirms she did. Grief is thick in the air and he grants her permission to leave. As she goes, Tagomi is chocked up and he bids her goodbye with his thanks in what feels like finality. The scene is touching, and if it’s to be the end of this odd pairing, I will be rather upset. They seemed to have a real connection.
Juliana returns to the flower shop where she meets with Karen and is surprised to find Lem. They ask her to take them to see Joe.
In New York, Smith is still distracted and upset as his personal life runs off the rails. Reinhard Heydrich is paying a surprise visit and the two discuss banalities of family life and the attempt on Smith’s life before moving on to the subject of Wegener. Suspicion is high in the room when Smith’s assistant knows Heydrich’s coffee order and Smith’s superior reveals he will be taking Wegener with him, back to Germany.
Juliana, Karen, and Lem show up at Joe’s place where the latter request the 100,000 Yen they need to get the film from the Yakuza. “That’s a lot of ramen,” Joe cracks before agreeing to get them the money.
Childen arrives at the Kasoura’s, taken aback by his new status as a serviceman rather than a friend. It seems his dinner with the couple really did go badly and he’s not amused by their derision of his status.
In his office, Smith inquires of his assistant how he knows Heydrich’s coffee order. The man plays it off as part of his job but Smith doesn’t seem to be buying it and leaves him behind as he goes to pay Wegener a visit in the interrogation room. Smith drops most of his SS persona and talks to Wegener as a friend, asking about his true intentions. Smith offers to help in any way he can with Rudolph’s treason sentence, but Wegener says he’d rather die than live with any more blood on his hands. The two come to a grudging acceptance of each other’s stances and bid each other farewell.
Childen, seemingly emboldened by the Kasoura’s snub, passes the fake off as the real thing and sells them the necklace but not before Mrs. Kasoura saves the day when she has a moment, caressing the neck piece and feeling it's 'essence'. She says the jewelry has “wu”. Excitedly she speaks to her husband in Japanese and his countenance softens. To Childen, she claims the person who made the necklace had great pain. Childen isn't buying it but yucks it up for Mrs. Kasoura, speaking of the chief and his people's suffering. But it's true Frank has suffered great pain and maybe the lady is on to something. You never know with High Castle and I file it away for a later date.
At Joe’s, Karen and Lem decide the meeting will take place at the Bamboo Palace and after they leave, Joe professes his feelings for Juliana, claiming that Frank is a lucky guy. I wonder if he’s for real or if this is still some part of his mission for Smith.
Meanwhile, over at Frank’s, Childen pays Frank and offers him a partnership making fakes. Childen is highly amused by the Kasouras and their “wu”. He really wants Frank to join him, they could make a fortune, but Frank just wants him out the door so he can get out of dodge.
At home, Smith is upset and uncomfortable in the presence of his family. When his wife asks about Thomas’ appointment, he neglects to tell her the truth, keeping the dreadful secret to himself.
Joe calls, informing Smith of the film and his need of 100,000 Yen for the Yakuza. Smith agrees but only if Joe can guarantee the Resistance’s compliance. If not, Joe knows what he has to do, and he knows his “family” back in New York is at stake. I wonder if Smith is on top of his game here, as the camera switches from the officer’s stressed face to a picture of Thomas on his desk. It’s obvious Smith isn’t quite all there as he talks to Joe, and it might be that finally we are seeing some cracks in this man’s precision planning and ruthless work ethic.
In San Francisco, Frank convinces Juliana that they need to leave town. Tearfully she agrees to his plan, but first she needs to visit her mom. She cannot leave her mother with two daughters gone. Frank agrees they can visit but that they cannot tell her of their plan, not with Arnold around.
In New York, Smith sits on his couch late at night, thumbing through a photo album containing photos of he and his disabled brother as young men. His wife comes looking for him and he lovingly remembers his brother while she comments on how much his brother suffered in the wheelchair.
“At least now when someone is terribly ill, they are not allowed to suffer,” she reflects, seemingly wanting to ease Smith’s unrest. “That’s a blessing.”
I want to punch her and hold Smith to my chest as he tears up and she goes back to bed. If only she knew.
I kind of want to hurt the writers for making me love an SS officer so very much, too. They have done an exceedingly good job with Smith as a character and one can’t help but sympathize as this caring, competent and value-driven man is made to question everything he thinks he believes in. Are we supposed to root for the man, or against the position he holds? This is one of the aspects I love most about Man in the High Castle. Not enough can be said about Sewell’s performance either. Throw all the Emmy’s at the man, please. The 'Critics' were obviously having an off day when they made their choice.
Back to San Francisco as the episode comes to a close, and Karen and Lem drop Joe off at the club for the exchange.
We briefly visit Tagomi as he confirms with his assistant that Juliana never returned. He seems to know she’s gone for good and I want to hug him a little bit as well. The poor man needs a friend.
After an awkward final dinner, Arnold joins Juliana in the kitchen and after expressing his guilt and begging her to be safe, he informs her that Kido is preparing to raid the club and seize the film. Worried about Joe, she ditches Frank to save Joe, promising she will make it to the bus on time. Frank is not amused, and again, reverts to jealousy. It might be warranted but it’s not a good look on him.
At the Bamboo Club, Joe makes the exchange with little effort, finding the film in his coat, but outside Kido awaits. The scene is beautiful and plays out in slow motion as “The End of the World” is sung in Japanese. Juliana makes her way inside the club, to Karen and Lem’s horror, as Kido sends his team inside. Lem and Karen ditch Joe and Juliana and the two are left to fend for themselves. The couple escapes, sprinting down an alley and onto the streets, but in a new twist, the couple hasn’t gotten away clear. A car pulls up, kidnapping the duo before Kido and his team can catch up behind them.
The episode ends on this crazy cliffhanger. What’s going to happen to Juliana and Joe? Were they saved by the bell or does an even grimmer fate than the Kempeitei await them in the black car? Is it the Yakuza or some newer faction who holds our dynamic duo’s fate in their hand?
Find out next week in the penultimate episode of Man in the High Castle, “Kindness.”