Thursday, April 2, 2020

Round Two: The Plot Against America

The Plot Against America: Season 1, Episode 2 “Part 2” (B)

In this show’s second episode, I continue to find the overarching story more compelling than most of the personal drama of the Levin family that’s being portrayed. Scenes like Herman and Bess acting out George Burns and Gracie Allen helped to ground this show in the times and demonstrate how families used to interact in the home without technology, and Herman listening intently to reports of the election returns on the radio was another such instance. The friendships and activities of children just aren’t all that interesting, and I’m not sure exactly what’s going on as of yet with Abe Steinheim, who seems to be the token rich and successful Jewish businessman who might end up being the target of negative sentiments as the United States remains neutral and becomes more officially anti-Semitic. What did keep my attention was every scene with John Turturro’s Rabbi Bengelsdorf, who represents a supportive element for Lindbergh’s campaign, rendering his beliefs acceptable on behalf of all Jews. Explaining that Jews don’t feel attachments to the homelands that never welcomed them and mentioned the plight of Jews still living in Europe but dismissing it in favor of “America first” shows how he’s ignoring the overall message of division being preached by Lindbergh (and alluding of course to our current president’s rhetoric) because he wants to appreciate its positive elements. Invoking the translation of the well-known Hebrew prayer “Lo yisa goy,” which speaks of nations not “knowing war anymore” by instead emphasizing that they shall not “train for war” was a powerful way of preaching from the pulpit, one that obviously entranced Winona Ryder’s Evelyn, who has now become quite close to the rabbi.

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