Thursday, April 23, 2020

What I’m Watching: The Plot Against America (Series Finale)

The Plot Against America: Season 1, Episode 6 “Part 6” (B+)

This extended hour was legitimately terrifying, showcasing an America that quickly turned into a nightmare as everything spiraled out of control thanks to the increasing government-approved xenophobia spreading throughout the nation. The reports of Winchell’s injuries sustained in New Jersey and the wave of anti-Semitic incidents were just the tip of the iceberg, and the circumstances under which Beth found out about Winchell’s assassination in Kentucky heightened the anxiety she and anyone watching felt from that moment on. The dialogue in this episode was strong, present particularly in the conversation between Bess and Herman where she said that Lindbergh was teaching them what it means to be Jews and he responded that “they call us others, but they’re the others.” I won’t even touch the remark about the man being unfit to be president since there’s so much here that can be compared to our present situation. Bess calling Seldon to check in made it obvious something was very wrong, and Herman’s drive to Kentucky was highly treacherous. Seeing Klansmen dressed in full uniform and interacting pleasantly with law enforcement was scary, and Sandy had to grow up fast and distract Seldon when they drove past the burned-out shell of his mother’s car. Rabbi Bengelsdorf quickly became the public voice for the first lady, something that found him speaking out against any critics of the president, and he had a rude awakening when he was arrested for allegedly being part of the title conspiracy that those who compared him to a Jewish Rasputin. I will say that the conclusion of this longer episode felt a bit rushed, with a surprise finish finding the first lady released from confinement and calling on the government to remove the corrupt vice-president, but this wasn’t a happy ending. After all of his revolutionary activities, Alvin was furious with what he felt was Herman’s lack of action, and that was an explosive debate between two people who actually feel quite similarly. Bess turning Evelyn away when she came running to her for help was the most powerful statement, along with the “America to Me” song that played as voters were turned away from the polls and ballots were burned during the new election. Based on how much this show improved as it went on, I would have liked to see more than just a six-episode limited series, but I’m still satisfied with the firm and effectively unsettling reminder of the dangers of hateful rhetoric going unchecked that this run did manage to provide. I hope it earns some Emmy love for its important message and strong narrative.

Series grade: B+
Series MVP: Morgan Spector as Herman

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