Monday, March 30, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Plot Against America' - Herman and Bess Want to Maintain Normalcy While Also Fearing the Unknown in 'Part 3'

HBO's The Plot Against America - Episode 1.03 "Part 3"

The family endures a trip to Washington D.C., despite Bess' desire to visit Canada, where many frightened Jewish families are moving. Alvin stands out in his military training abroad.

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 3" was written by Ed Burns and directed by Minkie Spiro

Judaism is part of the Levin family's heritage and identity. It's not just a religion by choice. It's a way to bring their family and their community together. It's an understanding that brings all of the generations together to know that it has been building to this moment and the survival of these people. Alvin explains that after having sex with a British operative. He chose to fight against Nazi Germany. That was important to him. It was him standing by his morals and fighting for something he believed in. This wasn't a fight that he could ignore. His entire identity was at risk. He goes to war when the country he was proud to live in refused to uphold his identity and his right to existence. Him enlisting could help the family move to Canada whenever the fear for their safety grows too extreme. But it's a costly action too. His service is one where life has already prepared him for battle. And yet, he winds up getting injured during his first mission. He survives but his leg is amputated below the knee. That is such a devastating sight. This was him fighting for his beliefs. And now, he may not know how to continue being of service to his community and his ideals when his country doesn't represent him anymore. Paranoia and fear is only growing. Herman is disgusted at seeing President Lindbergh and Hitler shaking hands and negotiating deals. Lindbergh essentially makes the argument that the rise of Nazism is a retaliatory action against the spread of Soviet Communism. He argues that Hitler is a hero. People on the ground recognize it's the destruction of one hateful ideology at the hands of another. Herman fears a world where his family will be persecuted just like the Jews across Europe. England is no longer our ally. Instead, the United States is supplying the bombs that are now destroying the country. That is horrifying. Herman still wants to maintain some sense of normalcy though. He refuses to let this push him out of the country that he has every right to be in. He is an American citizen. His family are Americans. They shouldn't have to prove that to random people on the streets or the politicians in charge of the government. However, Rabbi Bengelsdorf has created a project meant to assimilate the Jewish identity to American culture. He operates as if they are two distinct identities that can't coalesce together. It plays into the argument that American citizens who live on the coasts or in big cities aren't real Americans. They have to spend time with the hard-working farmers in the middle of the country to know what the true American identity is like. As such, Sandy props up this image of a grand adventure in Kentucky should his parents let him go. Herman initially believes this is an attempt to turn children against their parents. It's a way to disrupt the next generation and ensure that assimilation is the only way to survive. Herman and Bess belong in this country. Herman just refuses to believe that all of this radical change is possible. It's happening everywhere around him though. There is no escaping that. Bess fears the stranger. She doesn't know if an action is genuine or if it is a deceitful trick. She doesn't know if the police officer will help the family get to the hotel or if the tour guide just wants to show them Washington D.C. Things do build to tragedy as the family deals with discrimination. It's hateful and so disruptive. It's horrifying to watch. The tragedy can compound in so many ways too. But it also highlights how a small act of defiance can radically change the mood of any given moment. When Herman is confronted by bigotry in a restaurant, he just starts singing. That proves that most people love and support him. That is a comforting sight. He realizes that not everyone embraces the horrifying world views at the top of politics around the world. Lindbergh and Hitler's actions certainly normalize that harmful behavior. But there should still be the hope that one's neighbor is kind and loving no matter what. Sandy may be heading into the unknown in Kentucky. This family could be ardent Lindbergh supporters designed to change young minds in the Jewish community. That may be likely because they signed up for this program in the first place. And yet, the family wants to be hopeful too. This country may no longer be recognizable to them. But the ideals for which it was created are still worth fighting for. The country can't be abandoned now despite the horrors creeping in everywhere this family turns. An act of kindness is all it takes to dramatically change one's outlook on this life even though risk is apparent in every single action now.