Warning! Spoilers for The Plot Against America ahead!
The story so far: In an alternate history that is eerily similar to today’s world, Charles Lindbergh wows the people of the United States. His heroic deeds and celebrity status seem to make him a shoo in for the Presidency. This is despite repeating the same campaign slogans and a seemingly anti Semitic message. The Levin family are a working class Jewish family that watch Lindbergh’s rise with a mix of anger and disbelief. Young Alvin Levin (Anthony Boyle) is hotheaded while his nephew Sandy (Caleb Malis) keeps a secret from his family. Meanwhile, Evelyn Levin (Winona Ryder) becomes close to someone that may divide the family.
One theme that was touched on in the premiere of The Plot Against America was really hammered home in part two. Everyone uses film strips to gather their news. It does not make a difference regarding quality. Instead, it is a nice touch that puts viewers into the time frame. This is especially important since the show is so topical. At times, it is hard to forget it is set during the early days of World War II and not 2020. The writers do a great job of building the show’s atmosphere.
As was the case in the first part, the acting is phenomenal. Much of the focus of the episode is on Alvin. Boyle does a great job of showing the character is more than just a rebel with a heart of gold. He has a strong moral compass, but he also makes rash decisions that are not always for the best. This is most evident in the shocking finale. What makes it so great, is when it happens, it is exactly the decision Alvin would make. It still comes as a huge surprise. This is a combination of strong acting and writing.
The final moments of The Plot Against America are not just shocking – they are downright frightening. The shots of Rabbi Lionel Benglesdorf (John Tuturro) speaking to an auditorium full of cheering masses will bring back awful memories. As Herman Levin (Morgan Spector) states, Benglesdorg has become the Republicans’ “token Jew”. Now, people can vote for Lindbergh and feel comfortable knowing a Rabbi has endorsed him. The moment is over the top, but it is supposed to be. What is happening to the country is disturbing.
The story itself is well written. Obviously, the big theme is what may possibly happen if Lindbergh were to get power. The Plot Against America does not make this a political story, however. There is no way it can be avoided due to the nature of the tale, but this is a show that is more about family. This started in part one when time was spent introducing the characters. Viewers see more of the tension and the family’s inner strength in the second part.
The Plot Against America is off to a great start. It’s David Simon and HBO, so there was never really a doubt regarding if the show would be good. It was always a matter of how good will it be. As the second part gets into the meat of the conflict, the fear and interest increases. This is a show that will keep audiences riveted the entire time. It is almost a shame how much it is like current affairs.