The film really kicks everyone’s ass in this episode of The Man in the High Castle. Maybe that’s why it’s titled “Kindness” because every character seems to need a little bit after what happened. The second film ignites all the trouble when the pursuit of it brings the Yakuza, Resistance and the Kampeitai to the same place.
Caught in the middle are Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank) and Juliana Crane (Alexa Davalos). They manage to escape the Kampeitai raid only to be caught and imprisoned by the Yakuza. Frank Frink (Rupert Evans) becomes collateral damage when he misses the bus out of town because of her. It gets even more complicated when she is freed by Lem Washington (Rick Worthy) and Karen from the Resistance, but Joe is left to the Yakuza.
The awkward sort of love-triangle that’s been brewing all series long finally comes to a head when Juliana refuses to leave Joe to die. She asks Frank for the money to spring Joe, which is a really selfish request. Frank is unsure (neither is most of the audience) whether Juliana helps him out of honor or love. He decides to help her in the end, but decides to get Joe himself.
Looming over all of this is the dirty secret Joe is hiding. He’s under orders from Obergruppenführer John Smith (Rufus Sewell) to get the film, which seems like it would be a dealbreaker in any relationship with Juliana. Joe has always been torn between his duties and feelings toward her, but what was a tiny rip became a huge hole by this episode. He wants to protect Juliana instead of performing his duties, which is a seismic shift from the beginning. Whether she still believes in him after learning the truth is another matter entirely.
Smith has his own situation to deal with after he uncovers the traitor that tried to kill him. Captain Connolly (Neal Bledsoe) pays the price Hans Gruber style for messing with the wrong Obergruppenführer as a result. It gets even more dangerous when it turns out Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich (Ray Proscia) is pulling the strings. Reinhard represents the Nazi Germany we are familiar with: racists, war hawks and deplorable people. It’s in stark contrast to Smith, who values the safety of his family and loyalty to Hitler more than expansion and more fighting. The endgame suddenly becomes clear when Heydrich forces Robert Wegener (Carsten Norgaard) to participate in a plot to kill Hitler. Suddenly, Smith is caught up in a power struggle with few people he can trust.
Inspector Kido (Joel de la Fuente) turns into a far more interesting character in this episode. In the past, we seemed to be an antagonist when put against Trade Minister Nobusuke Tagomi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa). His duties seemed to get in the way of Tagomi’s ambitions to prevent a war between Japan and Germany. His character swings the other way when the truth comes out and it becomes clear that he is not so different from Tagomi after all. Kido meets with the Yakuza leader Taishi Okamura (Hiro Kanagawa) to resolve their beef after the botched exchange for the second film. Taishi confirms what’s been suspected — the hardline Nazi’s are behind the assassination attempts on the crown prince. Kido discovers his whereabouts from Taishi, but it looks like he’s torn between his duties and being privy to starting a war.
It’s downright tragic that Tagomi’s best efforts to prevent a war blows up in his face. The thought that acquiring plans for an atomic weapons would become a deterrent for war appears off base with the Crown Prince seemingly hell bent on attacking Germany. The difference is that it is even more dangerous now that both sides have the bomb. The burden of that truth really weighs on him and it’s as if he grows more and more weary by the scene.
Ed McCarthy (DJ Qualls) usually provides a moment of levity when he appears, but even his story takes a dark turn. He continues to go above and beyond for Juliana and Frank, but it seems like a fatal decision when he volunteers to dispose of Frank’s gun.
It’s fitting this episode ends with the film and a revelation of the truth that sparked this whole mess. What Frank and Juliana see when they view the film is worth the wait though when the end leaves so many more questions.