'The Plot Against America' Episode 2: New home or old roots, it's a question of divided loyalties for immigrants
'The Plot Against America' Episode 2 showed how wrong Herman Levin (Morgan Spector) is to believe that Americans know better than to vote for Lindbergh.
For starters, Herman's sister-in-law Evelyn Finkel (Wynona Rider) has developed a relationship with Rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf (John Turturro) and he is a Lindbergh supporter. His brother Monty (David Krumholtz) believes that Herman is naive to think that Lindbergh will not win. Then we have Herman's son Sandy (Caleb Malis ) who has a hero-worship thing going on for Lindbergh himself. All that Sandy sees about Lindbergh is that he is a star pilot who has flown over the Atlantic.
And all of this is also what the majority of American population see in Lindbergh.
Somehow Herman is blind to how much Lindbergh has moved the American population with his charisma and with support from a Rabbi Lionel, the support is only growing. 'The Plot Against America' in this episode also introduces the conflict that many Jewish immigrants would be in if they were to live within the realm of this show (or otherwise). It's about where one's loyalties lie.
Do you stay loyal to the country that you made your home after fleeing from your homeland, from Hitler and Palestine? Do you consider yourself an American first and a Jew later or do you stay true to your roots — as a Jew — and continue to fight for people who did not have a chance to flee? The show portrays how Rabbi symbolizes the former while Herman stands for the latter.
The question of whether one should think about the future of a new home vs going into war for the old one is a theme that is repeated throughout the episode. Even as Rabbi stands tall and proud about being an American Jew, and promises that Lindbergh is not anti-Semitic, Herman is shocked at Rabbi's audacity and does not register the support that his statement had gained. Until the votes are counted and the results are announced, Herman holds out hope that Lindbergh would not gain victory over Roosevelt.
Surprisingly (or not!), the one person who does understand what is actually going on is Alvin Levin (Anthony Boyle). He understands that the Lindbergh campaign brought Rabbi onboard not to buy Jewish votes but to push the Christian American population to vote for Lindbergh without feeling guilty about associating with a Nazi. Rabbi Lionel's stamp of approval here plays a key role in letting the majority of the American population believe that voting for Lindbergh should be the only choice because otherwise, they would be choosing war.
A war that is not America's to fight in the first place. After all, Hitler is a problem for Europe to deal with and by choosing Lindbergh the American population can rest assured that there will be no bloodshed. However what about the Jews who are suffering at the hands of Third Reich and tortured in Poland and now Great Britain? Lindbergh and Rabbi Lionel both wash their hands off this by expressing that it is all unfortunate, but entering the World War is not the right option.
Alvin has had enough and that is why he leaves his family to go to Canada to join the army and serve a purpose. He is not just fighting a war, he is going to kill Nazis. How Lindbergh's victory will change America, Levin's family and the relationship between Evelyn and Bess is something that we would see in the next episode.
'The Plot Against America' will air on HBO on Mondays at 9 pm ET.