The Man in the High Castle 2.10: “Fallout” Review

2 thoughts on “The Man in the High Castle 2.10: “Fallout” Review”

  1. I didn’t believe there was anything ambiguous about the fates of Frank and Sarah, or that the show was “leaving them up in the air”– rather, it seemed very plain that they were obliterated in the explosion, since they were shown standing well inside the building until the timer ran down to zero, then the blast immediately ensued and engulfed the spot on which they had been standing. Kido wakes up on a little preserved ledge after the explosion and looks down to see the entire floor utterly destroyed right where they were. The “Dream a little dream of me” sequence interplayed with the sad shot of Ed watching the explosion was, I thought, also meant to be an understated emotional commentary on Frank’s death. In short, I don’t think masses of people are “rushing to see if Frank and Sarah survived” because the show did *not* pursue a cliffhanger, but unambiguously indicated that they died. It would take some kind of far-fetched action movie logistics (“leap-out-the-window-and-narrowly-outrun-the-fireball”) for them not to have died, and to its credit, this is not the sort of show that deals much in those.

    It was not my impression that the viewer was meant to “care about Martin [Heusmann],” at least after it was revealed that he was behind the usurpation-and-nuclear-war plot all along. Rather, the show did a good job of humanizing him up until revealing that he was, in fact, a Machiavellian liar and its ultimate antagonist from the start, which was a decent twist I had not foreseen ages ahead of time (though it occurred to me an episode or so before it was made explicit).

    With reference to Joe, I think he *does* make sense, and that his emotional reactions are largely understandable. It has been a defining character trait of his from the beginning that he is conflicted and doesn’t quite know what he believes or wants to accomplish in the grand scheme of things; he does what seems right to him on a moment-by-moment, person-to-person basis, and by his own admission is driven by interpersonal relationships rather than causes. It is very much evident that he is not a Nazi true believer (and seems at times to question or outright disdain them, as after they bomb the sailors he had negotiated with), but the Reich is eager to hand him the world on a silver platter because he is the son of an influential Nazi and (as we learn in season II) is a Lebensborn golden child, and being a personalistic and apolitical man by disposition, he is willing to align himself with them when other factors (in this case, loyalty to the father he has pined for his whole life and who has now won him over) weigh on that side of the scale. When he then gets a peak inside the machinery of the Nazi empire, however, Joe, being a non-Nazi in fundamental outlook, is appalled and does not know how to balance his personal loyalty to his father against his reflexive revulsion at the proposed nuclear holocaust.

    I did think it was a tad ridiculous when Joe behaved as though he intended to turn John Smith away and not look at the evidence he had to present *when Smith was there specifically to help avert the nuclear war Joe himself was strongly against*– but it was what one would call “rule of drama,” as Joe just immediately assenting to John’s proposal could have felt anti-climactic. A charitable viewer would interpret it to be the case that Joe felt the need to vent his personal frustration with John, but was presumably always going to take stock of what John brought to the table for war-preventing-purposes at the end of it.

    All told, I feel some of your critiques hold water, but more often you are reading the show uncharitably and gauging it in accordance with stock tropes it when it is either being more subtle (the characterization of Heusmann or Joe) or more straightforward (the deaths of Frank and Sarah) than you give it credit for.

    1. To each their own, of course! I am glad that you’re enjoying the show more than I did this season.

      In regards to Joe, I’ve never cared much for the character since the beginning and while I appreciate the ideas for him this season, I felt that personally the show didn’t execute the emotional connections to the character with enough finesse for those ideas to truly stick the landing.

      I assumed upon second viewing that Frank and Sarah are dead, but upon conversation with other viewers I didn’t get the sense that the show was clear enough.

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

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