In Episode 2, a withered Ed McCarthy (DJ Qualls) returns and is reunited with Frank (Rupert Evans) who now owes the Japanese. At this point, Frank’s plot doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Juliana’s (Alexa Davalos), but I imagine that what he builds for the Japanese will ultimately connect to the other main storylines. It seems likely that Joe (Luke Kleintank) will run into Juliana again too, even though he currently thinks she’s dead. Misinformation and deception are so common in this show that the characters really shouldn’t trust anything that anyone tells them.
With many questions still unanswered, this episode is pretty slow moving. Much of what we see is likely setting up future action. The one chase scene is not very exciting and seems a bit contrived. Juliana will probably be chased this entire season as she searches for answers. (Hmmm…sounds a lot like her plot in Season 1….) There are hints of possible catastrophic events between the Japanese and the Nazis, and Juliana warns those she cares about to get out of San Francisco. If the video footage she saw last season is from the future, then San Francisco is on a path toward obliteration. I would predict, though, that Juliana’s mission to find the man in the video will shed some light on whether the video is showing the real future or just an alternate possible future. And, of course, there is still the man in the high castle (who we will, hopefully, see return soon) who clearly knows more than he has told Juliana. In Episode 1, he hinted that he saw Juliana in a video, so she may be the key to saving the people from future catastrophe. In the meantime, we have to watch the characters as they (slowly) make moves that will likely have a great impact on this reality.
In a memorable moment from the episode, Trade Minister Nobusuke Tagomi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) reads through forbidden books, then delivers an incredibly powerful speech: “When one is troubled by the reality of this world, it can be comforting to consider other possibilities, even if those possibilities disturb us. So strong is the desire to escape the tyranny of consciousness and the narrow boundaries of our perceptions to unlock the prisons of thought in which we trap ourselves, all in the hope that a better world or a better version of ourselves perhaps may lie on the other side of the door.” His message is hopeful and comforting, and we can trust his words because he has seen both the show’s world and our world, even though he has trouble reconciling them. The show maintains the sci-fi element by not (yet) explaining how he was able to visit an alternate reality. This begs the question as to whether he will be able to alter reality. Tagomi is one of the most likeable characters on the show, one who seems inclined toward peace during such a tense time as he looks inward for answers.
Even though the episode is quite slow as a whole, it ends with one of the most powerful and ironic scenes in the entire series. Evocative and abrupt, the scene entices viewers to click “watch next episode,” making this series, despite its darkness, very binge-worthy.