A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
At the twilight of a dictator, the primary activity within the inner circle of a dictator is deciding who gets to be in charge next, who gets that grand prestige of power ahead and behind their name. The grander the dictator whose twilight is fast approaching, especially in terms of sheer personality, the more chaotic that particular decision becomes. An efficient dictator can be the key to stability, although that historical construct is often thinly understood and frequently mishandled. There are arguments to be made for the preservation of such dictatorships, even though the chaos lying right beneath their fingertips is ignored in those arguments for the sake of simplicity and making a point. There are arguments of equal quality to be made against those preservations, beginning with the fairly universal assertion that a dictatorship is a terrible form of government that enables little more than vast human rights abuses. Within those two arguments, however, is a foreign policy platform that has been adopted a preposterous number of times where the removal of a dictator is seen as the key to a successful transition into something else. The dictator is an integral part of the dictatorship but the dictatorship itself often has mechanisms to preserve itself. At the very least, the ideas it is constructed upon remain in some part even after the structure itself has been thoroughly dismantled. The removal of Adolf Hitler does not, as every idiot who says that they would go back in time and kill Baby Hitler, remove the reality of what Nazism was founded upon and what it stood for. The Nazis alone were not, as people are wont to often forget, the killer of mass numbers of the Jewish people.
Reichsminister Martin Heusmann finds himself firmly in the centerpiece of that rush of transition. There is an Acting Chancellor to theoretically tide the waters and smoothly prepare the transition for whomever the Party officials nominate as the next Chancellor. Things rarely go as smoothly as the political procedure outlining them describe and that is exactly what Martin notes to Joe. It’s an honor to be named the Acting Chancellor but that honor in its actuality is dubious at best, hiding with little success the knowledge that whatever goes wrong in the transition process is particularly Martin’s fault. He tells Joe that he should go to New York to be safe just in case, but Joe remains behind. He perhaps can see into another universe and realize what the scripts of a certain show’s season one had in store for him. For all of its incredible production design and an increasing artistic endeavor in terms of camera framing and foreshadowing, the biggest stumbling block for the show remains its characters and that’s a problem. All of my scores for each episodes arguably should be lower, but at this point I simply don’t expect anything remotely interesting to happen with Joe. I don’t expect the Resistance’s fighters to become actual characters on their own and frankly even Sarah could use some more character development. This is a transitional season in a sense as show runner Frank Spotnitz departed halfway through development (he reportedly oversaw the first five episodes), but there still should be something emotional when Joe meets his father once more and is now standing firmly by his side. There isn’t. But his office is gorgeous, so there’s something.
Tagomi is case in point for a complex character whose storylines receive a significant emotional weight. A primary problem for The Man in the High Castle to overcome was that nearly all of its primary characters were going to be either Nazis or Japanese fascists, whether or not they were actual officers within those systems as well. The show would have to show these characters as humans with complex lives (a big hit or miss with this series as a whole) but also never lose sight that they were parts of the system that thrives on inhumanity. Tagomi and Smith are the two closest story successes in this regard, the former noting to his daughter-in-law Juliana that in that particular world, she seemed to have a purpose, a meaning, and a freedom. It’s more true than Tagomi could have predicted. Juliana further illuminates the eerie parallels between the two worlds so far. In the world where Juliana has found purpose in her peace movement to ban the bomb, Tagomi had lost his purpose. He had become suicidal, a tendency Juliana thought he had acted upon when she had seemingly lost him in the fog by a bridge. There’s no explanation of exactly what happened there, but the explanation isn’t particularly necessary, either. The quiet silences and notes from Tagomi and Juliana are quite enough on their own. The thematic undercurrent of Tagomi finding a lifeline and a greater purpose in a world where he had lost so much is an incredibly rich and complex one, evidence that this show can embrace complexity in multiple universes when it desires to do so. For now, it appears that Tagomi must take what he has learned here and go forth for Hitler had taken his last breaths.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Juliana noting that she had seen Joe killing Resistance members in the
+Evidence that Nazi agents had shot the Crown Prince. I have to say, the absence of the Crown Prince and Princess has been quite notable this season and it’s a shame
+Tagomi practicing kintsugi and gifting it to his grandson is the type of thematic motif I don’t expect from this show so color me pleasantly surprised
-“She’s going to get what she deserves.” I honestly think that maybe I should go back and lower every episode by a full grade where Gary opens his mouth
Episode Title: Loose Lips
Written by: Rick Cleveland
Directed by: Alex Zakrzewski
Image Courtesy: Amazon
Every review from now on will have links to organizations who are in need of resources. Please contribute if you are able:
Syrian Refugee/Refugee Crises
Women’s Reproductive Rights