‘The Man in the High Castle: Season 2, Episode 8’ - TV Review

As the series continues to hop from character to character, Episode 8 spends some time with Ed (DJ Qualls) and Childan (Brennan Brown), whose projects seem insignificant compared to the plots that Frank (Rupert Evans) and Juliana (Alexa Davalos) are wrapped up in. Though at times a bit oafish, Ed and Childan serve as reminders of the good, innocent people who could die if the Nazis destroy the city. Childan may be the most likeable character on the show; he certainly has the most personality as a cultured, charming businessman who overextends his attempts at social couth. At the same time, Ed and Childan are pretty useless as fighters, so once the showdown begins, hopefully, they will not be involved. 

A major theme of this episode is deception. Juliana’s spying, Smith’s (Rufus Sewell) plan to free Thomas (Quinn Lord), the Nazi cover-up of Hitler’s condition, and Smith’s meeting with Heydrich (Ray Proscia) all serve as reminders that truth is often buried or distorted, and no one can be trusted. While the Reich is covering up Hitler’s imminent death from public knowledge, ironically, it seems that Hitler remaining in power is the force preventing rebellion and chaos from breaking out. His death is likely to trigger a Resistance uprising and a fight between the Nazis and the Japanese. To add to the image of Hitler as a peaceful man is the televised video of him outdoors painting on a canvas with voiceover narration telling the audience that painting is his favorite pastime. This footage presents Hitler as a regular man with hobbies, a great contrast to the tyrant that the show’s audience knows. He has succeeded in building a grand, opulent city, which also makes him seem rather industrious. Despite the positive spin on Hitler’s character, executions and the law that requires Thomas be killed serve as reminders that the Nazi ideology is still discriminatory and heartless.

The way the show imagines Hitler’s vision of Berlin is visually stunning, though. The grandiose, domed building, red flags rampant, and buildings mounted with gilded imperial eagles all contribute to making Berlin look prosperous and luxurious. The interior of Hitler’s office contains swastikas on the decor (including the clock), marble walls, and bright red walls; likewise, Reichminister Heusmann’s (Sebastian Roché) house is also grand and elegant, a perfect museum of Nazi paraphernalia and luxury. No wonder Joe (Luke Kleintank) won’t leave; as a Nazi in Berlin with a big-deal father, he gets to experience palatial living, including being served fancy meals on a porch with pillars and a magnificent view of the dome.

This episode is gripping due to the pressures of time running out for many the characters. Hitler’s death serves as the climax of the season, as the aftermath is likely to be violent and destructive. The death scene, though, is not as emotionally charged as it could have been. While Hitler dies at peace in a bed surround by Nazis, the scene lacks the emotional intensity that is found in the scene when Frank learns that Juliana and he are both fighting for the same cause, for example. As the climax, Hitler’s death should have been more compelling. Now, though, it is likely an uprising or war is going to break out at last, which will hopefully finally bring the key players back together.

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