Sunday, April 12, 2020

What I’m Watching: The Plot Against America

The Plot Against America: Season 1, Episode 4 “Part 4” (B+)

What this show is doing even more than showing how a society can be transformed under problematic leadership is demonstrating the divisions that emerge within a single community and how they respond to shifting paradigms. On one end, you have Alvin, Herman, Bess, and Philip seeing what’s going on and feeling a great deal of anxiety about it. Alvin chose to enlist with the Canadian army, which we learned in this hour was actually illegal and has now put him firmly in the sights of the FBI, who deems him a threat who might be dangerous to the president. Herman has no problem speaking his mind about how terrible Lindbergh is, which will in turn make him a target as he’s investigated in relation to his nephew. Bess maintains a quiet but nervous attitude, while Philip actively has nightmares about what might happen to him. On the other end, Rabbi Bengelsdorf believes that appeasing those with destructive ideas will in turn make them more palatable and less extreme, and we see how Evelyn has come from a place of passive enthusiasm to being a true believer that what she’s doing is right. Lindbergh snubbing the rabbi at the dinner was unsettling, and Henry Ford’s explicitly anti-Semitic and racist comments were laughed off because of how Evelyn instinctively replied. I’m familiar with that Yiddish expression, politely translated as “go jump in the lake” and impolitely translated as something viler, thanks to its occasional usage in both my family and my wife’s family. As things get worse in this terrifying America, I’m very invested in where things will go next.

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