The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 4 Review: Hard Times

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If you didn't look too closely, things were good.

The Lindbergh Administration's insidious policies were quietly changing the United States into a fascist nation on The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 4.

This plot was only working because well-meaning people saw what they wanted to see and disregarded the rest.

Sad Times - The Plot Against America

Unfortunately, the Levin family extended was packed with just such citizens.

Let's start with the good Rabbi Bengelsdorf (John Turturro playing a New Jersey rabbi with a Southern drawl is just trippy).

Well-Meaning Rabbi - The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 4

Let's give Lionel the benefit of the doubt and assume that he actually believes that the United States staying out of World War II is saving American lives, especially Jews.

As Herman pointed out during their contentious dinner, this meant Lionel was putting a greater value on American Jewish lives than those of the European Jews the Nazis were exterminating.

The rabbi contended that it was wrong for Confederate Jews to defend the evil of slavery.

By that logic, how can he possibly defend not opposing the evil of Nazism?

Coming Out - The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 4

Also, Bengelsdorf knows more about Lindbergh's master plan than he's letting on.

The Just Folks program, which smells too much like the Hitler Youth, indoctrinated young Jews about what it means to be American, essentially saying they aren't American already.

Then, after the youth got to sample life in the country, along comes the proposed New Homestead Act, which encourages Jews to relocate south and west.

That sounds suspiciously like the great deals that Americans offered to the Native Americans and the freed slaves, a devious way to drive minorities away from the seats of power.

Happy Artist - The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 4

But while Lionel may getting into the room where it happens, he and by extension Evelyn,  remain Lindbergh's house Jews.

That was apparent by the way all the WASP politicians, especially the anti-Semite Henry Ford, treated them at the state dinner for the Nazi foreign minister.

They were there for optics alone.

Evelyn was a fairly educated woman, so she was willingly oblivious to what's going on around her.

Propaganda Tool - The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 4

The longtime spinster had found a man on the rise who wants her. That means she had hitched her wagon to his star without thinking too hard about it.

Also, she was determined to prove his worth to him by promoting the hell out of his programs, even using her nephew Sandy as the state poster boy for Just Folks.

Herman was too harsh when he described Evelyn as having "banged her way to the top."

Evelyn is a sad character who is desperately clutching at what she feels is her last opportunity for love.

The question is what will she and Lionel do once they realize the degree to which they are being used by the anti-Semites?

Where Evelyn was willingly obvious, Sandy was simply an innocent, unaware that he was being used as a propaganda tool.

Sandy just thought his Aunt Evelyn was setting up some nice opportunities for him and he didn't want to let her down.

The children of World War II weren't like the kids of today, who receive a nonstop bombardment of information.

Switching Sides - The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 4

Sandy knew about what was going on in his neighborhood and learned a little bit about the world through an occasional newsreel.

As far as he was concerned, the Just Folks-sponsored summer in Kentucky was just a chance to sketch barnyard animals and farm life.

Sandy was genuinely flattered when Evelyn recruited him to promote the program that he had enjoyed so much.

It would have been foolish to have expected him to look beneath the surface.

Comforting Neighbor - The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 4

Evelyn made a mistake when she wrangled an invitation for Sandy to the state dinner without checking with his parents first.

That would have eliminated those nasty scenes when Herman and Bess told Sandy no, and he ran off, later calling them "ghetto Jews," parroting Evelyn, who also should have known better.

Bess, the most temperate member of the family, was right to slap the stupid off his face. Anything to get him thinking.

Finally, there was Monty, who suddenly supported Lindbergh because business was good.

Battle Wounds - The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 4

Hmm, a robust economy was enough to overcome many people's concerns about a president's xenophobic message. This must be fiction.

Hadn't Alvin suffered enough? He found a way to fight the scourge of Nazism and lost a leg because of it.

How he lost the leg summed up the insanity of war: He pumped two bullets into a Nazi corpse, then a grenade hit, blowing off his leg.

Alvin had to overcome his loss so that he could work up the courage to return home to New Jersey.

Only the FBI, now Lindbergh's Gestapo, had chosen to harass him, starting when he applied to come back to the States.

Then there was Agent McCorkle, who has made it his mission to let everyone know Alvin was a Commie.

Apparently, since Russia wasn't an ally of the U.S. during World War II, the "Red Scare" started a lot earlier on this world.

McCorkle forced Monty to fire Alvin to keep his business space.

This probably means that Alvin will end up having to "run" numbers for Shushie's bookie boss.

From that late scene, it appeared that loud-mouthed Herman had realized that he'll need to tone down his opinions to keep off the FBI's radar.

Best Friends - The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 4

To revisit Lindbergh's rise, watch The Plot Against America online.

Why is Alvin a target?

Will Lionel, Evelyn, or Sandy wake up first?

What else will be coming the Levins' way?

Comment below.

Hard Times Review

Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (1 Vote)

Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 4 Quotes

Evelyn: Maybe [Alvin's] unable to write.
Herman: It's a leg, Ev. Whatever he has to say, I'll hear it soon enough.

Philip: Dad, what is Alvin going to do?
Herman: What will he do? He'll find his way, kiddo.