Monday, March 23, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Plot Against America' - Lindbergh's Incredible Rise Astonishes Some Members of the Levin Family in 'Part 2'

HBO's The Plot Against America - Episode 1.02 "Part 2"

Lindbergh's campaign sweeps through the United States and captures some in the Levin family as well as Bengelsdorf, with Evelyn as his assistant and lover, becoming a fundamental asset in the Lindbergh camp. Enamored of the aviator's charm, celebrity and history, Sandy begins a rebellion of his own within the family. Alvin brings his pride and conscience to bear as he must decide between serving a local real estate magnate and risking an open fight with the fascist forces he sees spreading across the world.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's The Plot Against America.

"Part 2" was written by David Simon & Ed Burns and directed by Minkie Spiro

Herman sits in astonishment in a packed theater as Charles Lindbergh is declared the next President of the United States. He doesn't understand how his hateful yet empty rhetoric could sweep across the country and motivate his fellow citizens to vote for him. He always saw Lindbergh as a fraud who would perilously doom our country if he was put in charge of it. He wouldn't address the issues of the world or protect the Jewish community from the rise of anti-Semitism that is sweeping the globe. Instead, Lindbergh only amplifies those voices and fears. The Levin family feels less secure knowing that their lives have been invaded in this way. And yet, every member of the core family has a startlingly different reaction to Lindbergh as a political figure. Sandy races to see him give a speech. His young mind shows an understanding of respect for anyone running for the highest office of the land. That idolization can then rationalize horrifying behavior because it becomes acceptable from the top down. That's what scares Alvin and Bess. They don't know what the future will bring. They just know that it is potentially dark and scary for their family. They want to move up. They want to embrace the American dream while always staying true to their roots and their community. It doesn't have to be a battle between their American patriotism and Jewish ancestry. Those two sides can enrich their lives and make them more fulfilling human beings. But they also fear the words being said about them. They look at the carnage on the newsreels and see nothing but despair. The people who support Lindbergh view images of a war that isn't their problem. It's something happening far away that doesn't impact them as a citizen at all. They see no reason why they should be concerned about it. The theater is packed when it comes to the election results. Attendance is sparse when it's just the news of the day. That news can change minds though. Perceptions are shaped based on the narratives sold in the media. Herman dismisses Lindbergh's 41-word stump speech. He doesn't take it seriously. But that briskness proves to be quick effective. He is able to boil down this race to a clear choice. He just makes that argument again and again until it becomes imbedded in the minds of every single voter. The average American citizen is against war. They may not see the importance of defending Europe from this Nazi invasion. Of course, a portion of the population does have that impulse to act upon seeing these horrors. Alvin may not want to be in the theater with his family. However, he sees a way for him to stick to his morals and make his mark on the world too. He doesn't want to be driving around a man whose pompous attitude is sickening to watch on every level. His new boss is amoral. Herman wants Alvin to appreciate this opportunity. And yet, Alvin sees clearly that the world is being told to reject the narratives that are absolutely true. People are too caught up in their own worlds to truly care about the suffering or opinions of others. That is just a sad fact. Rabbi Bengelsdorf speaking on Lindbergh's behavior isn't to convince Jews to vote for him. It's to appease the minds of every other voter while dispelling the notion that Lindbergh is anti-Semitic. That is the true purpose. Alvin puts his words into actions. He goes off to war. Philip packs his suitcase to prepare for the neighborhood to be bombed. Meanwhile, Herman sits in astonishment. He doesn't understand what has happened to his country. He doesn't quite know what will happen next either. He just knows he should be worried for his family. This adoration of Lindbergh has infected the family. It has defined personal relationships. It's inescapable. Americans are already dying. This won't make it any better. In fact, it may only put more pressure on society. People will have to prove their loyalty as American patriots. Relationships are formed and intensified. However, discrimination is bound to rise as all of these characters have to continue living their lives in this new world order where they aren't as secure as they thought they once were. This narrative is incredibly prescient in that way while continuing to highlight the blindness that plagues so many. People have to be willing to empathize and see beyond our individuality in order to survive. That may just be a daunting task in the end though.