Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Take Three: The Plot Against America

The Plot Against America: Season 1, Episode 3 “Part 3” (B+)

This episode charted further into the dark imagined reality of this show, and it did so in a subtle, disturbing, and effective way. Opening with Philip’s nightmare about swastikas being all over his stamp collection was jarring, and seeing the adults cleaning off the defaced graves at the cemetery showed that it wasn’t just in the heads of children. There were a number of truly unsettling moments during the Levins’ family trip to Washington, and I was so nervous the entire time that their friendly driver, Mr. Taylor, played by Michael Cerveris from “Mindhunter” and “Mosaic,” was going to do something bad to them. Instead, he and the waitstaff at the diner were their only allies, and they were accosted as loudmouth Jews at the Lincoln Memorial and then had their suitcases packed up by the hotel. Getting applauded after singing was the one moment of happiness, and that won’t be enough to sustain the angry Herman or the very anxious Bess. Alvin, who doesn’t like to broadcast his identity, put it best when he explained “I’m a Jew because I was born a Jew and this whole [expletive] world wishes I wasn’t.” It was truly horrifying to hear news broadcasts of “relocation camps” being constructed in Montana, and learning that there weren’t enough Democrats left in Congress to stop Lindbergh from very publicly shaking hands with Hitler was far too eerily reminiscent of current events. Rabbi Bengelsdorf’s enthusiastic promotion of the Office of American Absorption’s “Just Folks” program to send Jewish kids away to assimilate over summers seems so obvious a misstep, but he and Evelyn truly believe it’s for the best. Whatever comes next is sure to be even worse.

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