One thing David Simon knows how to do is to hold up a mirror to American society.
An outsider candidate becomes popular in a multicultural country with an overt message of isolationism and a covert message of xenophobia on The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 2.
What’s even more amazing is that Philip Roth wrote the novel on which Simon’s limited series is based way back in 2004. How prescient!
Like Trump did in 2016, the fictional Lindbergh, an isolationist but also an anti-semite and a Fascist, tapped into the dark side of America, appealing to those seeking to blame others for any problems in their lives.
Lindbergh and the America Firsters had their Fortress America strategy, that if they ignored the Nazis’ blitzkrieg through Europe, then Hitler would leave the United States alone.
Even young Philip understood that that concept didn’t hold water, as he packed up his most precious belongings in a suitcase and put it under his bed in case the Nazis bombed New Jersey.
Yeah, maybe taking Philip to those graphic newsreels was a bad call of Herman’s part.
As was proven at Pearl Harbor in 1941, oceans weren’t big enough moats to keep America safe.
As this episode showed, the goyim weren’t entirely at fault for Lindbergh’s rise. Even the Levins and their acquaintances were divided over the hero aviator.
Herman naively expected his fellow citizens to see through Lindbergh’s paper-thin sloganeering, while his brother Monty, an enjoyable addition, was more realistic.
Alvin was appalled by how many people wanted to ignore the evil that was Nazism and shouted that to anyone who would listen.
Bess, both the quietest and the wisest of the Levins, saw all, as her neighbors and especially her new customers fell for the siren song of nationalism.
Nationalism? Wasn’t that the driving force behind Hitler, the “we’re-the-superior-race” attitude?
Bess ever saw her sister Evelyn cross over to the dark side, more for a man in Rabbi Bengelsdorf than for any message.
Despite the veiled hate coming out of Lindbergh’s mouth, Sandy still adored him, although in secret.
The strongest theme in this episode was that, despite the major change going on around them, life went on for the Levins.
It was good to see that Alvin and Herman had reconciled and Herman had even found a job for Alvin with the obnoxious Abe Steinheim.
Herman thought he was doing Alvin a favor by getting Abe to take an interest in “poor orphan” Alvin. He decided that Abe’s success would be inspirational for Alvin.
But as Abe’s driver, Alvin got to observe every underhanded thing that he did. Abe may have come from nothing, but he was a member of the ruling class now, running roughshod over workers.
Alvin needed the work and Abe held out the possibility of getting Alvin a free college education. But Alvin was too opinionated, too much a thinker, to put up with Abe for long. It was a pleasure watching him fling the keys at Abe.
And after watching German atrocities in the newsreels, Alvin knew what needed to do, sneaking into Canada and enlisting to “kill Nazis.”
Here’s hoping viewers get to follow Alvin into the battlefields.
Two of the extended family fell for bad influences.
First was Evelyn, who was on the rebound and has been smitten by the rabbi. He may be a “good man,” but he was indirectly enabling the Nazi war effort by backing Lindbergh’s campaign and not giving sufficient thought to what Hitler is doing to the European Jews.
And as Alvin pointed out, he “kosherized Lindbergh,” a Jew blessing the anti-Semitic Lindbergh, making it allowable for Christians to back him.
Now Evelyn, who thinks with her heart instead of her head, had gotten caught up in all that, which Bess realized a little too late.
Bess had already seen the writing on the wall, handling the shiksa customers looking for their Linda scarves.
Then there was big-eyed, guileless waif Philip who had fallen under Earl’s spell.
It was innocent enough to exchanges thoughts about their stamp collections. But before long, Earl was teaching Philip how to stalk people and steal money from his parents, while filling up his head with half-baked truths.
At least Sandy, despite his ill-advised hero-worship, determined where the crap coming from Philip’s mouth originated. Now if only he can come out of his dream world long enough to caution his parents.
You would have thought that Herman, a relatively sharp man of the world, would have seen the upset coming. But the idea of the pretty-boy Jew-hater being voted in as President was just too inconceivable for him.
Didn’t the scene of Herman listening to the election results coming in over the radio until the wee hours summon up memories of 2016, especially the look on his face when he realized that the world had just tilted on its axis?
While the slow-turning wheels of government, along with an awakening population, have slowed Trump’s march back to the 1950s, what will an unfettered Lindbergh Presidency look like? The possibilities are frightening.
To revisit Lindbergh’s rise, watch The Plot Against America online.
Who’s in more trouble, Evelyn or Philip?
Did Alvin do the right thing?
What’s next for the Levins?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.