The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Trail of Tears

at .

No one can pretend any longer that the United States in 1942 was a welcoming place for Jews.

Lindbergh's scheme to homogenize the Jews landed hard on the Levins on The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 5.

The worst part of it was that a couple of well-meaning Jews thought they were helping the family by getting them out of New Jersey.

Official Meeting - The Plot Against America

Ever since Alvin crossed into Canada to enlist and fight Nazis, he had been a target, especially after he wanted to return to a changed U.S.

And because Herman has always taken care of Alvin, he entered the crosshairs of the FBI, who have become Lindbergh's Gestapo, hunting down dissidents such as Alvin and Herman.

Well-Meaning Aunt - The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 5

So Evelyn thought that she was doing Herman a favor getting him out of town and away from FBI surveillance.

The good Rabbi Bengelsdorf was much more Machiavellian. 

Lionel wasn't just doing his fiancee a favor.

He would be marrying Evelyn shortly and he didn't want to listen to Herman, his self-appointed conscience, telling him everything he was doing to hurt the Jews at every family gathering.

So sending off Herman and his equally sharp wife Bess to the boonies had a certain appeal.

Forced Relocation - The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 5

The rabbi's own conscience appeared to be starting to both him, although self-delusion seemed to be winning out.

The Lindberghs needed Lionel and Evelyn to be their token Jews at the state dinner for the Nazi foreign minister on The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 4.

Then the First Couple started ghosting them, decades before that term even became popular.

Lionel was learning that he valued his contributions to the Lindbergh government much higher than all the WASPs in Lindbergh's administration did.

That Interior Department meeting, at which his ideas for improving the Homestead '42 program were dismissed out of hand by Henry Ford, should have been proof enough of that.

G-Man Shadow - The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 5

Bengelsdorf was correct when he told those officials that the program was fatally flawed. 

With the original Homestead Act of 1862, settlers received 160 acres which would be theirs for free if they resided on it for five years.

The settlers wanted to be there and received a benefit for doing so. The only drawback would have been dealing with hostile Indians.

Homestead '42 wasn't at all voluntary. The Jew had to move if he wanted to keep his job, For doing so, he got a small moving stipend and maybe his salary would go further in the rural South and West.

Oh, and also, they got to deal with the Klan, who didn't like their kind.

Lone Holdout - The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 5

Where's the benefit?

The rabbi was right to incentivize the process, offering a pay hike for relocating.

Ford rejected that idea, believing in a take-it-or-leave-it stance, which undoubtedly led to his factories being unionized not shockingly in 1941 after a decade of violence.

Bengelsdorf undoubtedly thought sending the Jews off into the wilderness worked the first time, so why not do it again?

He truly believed that assimilation worked for him as a Southern Jew, so why couldn't it work for Jews from other regions as well?

Brothers' Horseplay - The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 5

But Lindbergh and the anti-Semites around him just wanted to remove the Jews from their support system, so they would have no choice but to act like regular "Americans," whatever that means.

Evelyn just never got that, as infatuated as she was with Lionel, her prize catch. After all, little Evelyn Finkel got to go to the White House because of her work with him.

She smartly coopted Sandy with his Kentucky adventure, so she had one member of the Levin family on her side.

But she genuinely seemed baffled that Philip would come to visit her just to inform her that he didn't want to move to Kentucky.

He even offered up Selden and her mother to take his family's place, since they were at loose ends after Selden's father's death.

Winchell Fan - The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 5

As oblivious as she as, Evelyn decided sending the Wishnows to Kentucky would make Philip happier since his best friend would be there.

Did she seriously think Philip would be willing to sacrifice Selden if he were Philip's best friend?

Evelyn is the poster girl for what the anti-Semites want: a woman willing to leave behind her people in order to be accepted by successful Americans.

Still, it was sad that none of her family attended her wedding, where synagogue officials essentially told Lionel he was on his way out.

Then there was Herman, who saw himself as both a Jew and an American, regardless of what Lindbergh's supporters thought.

Unhappy With Move - The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 5

Bess saw developments even more clearly, urging Herman to keep his head down and to reconsider a move to Canada.

The stubborn Herman was determined to preserve the America he knew for his boys, unwilling to admit that it no longer existed. 

So he attempted a suit, which fell short, then quit his job with Metropolitan Life, choosing instead to work a blue-collar job for brother Monty.

Now Herman must choose between essentially making his point or protecting his family, thanks for Bess's ultimatum.

Making His Mark - The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 5

About the only person who was living his life was Alvin, the FBI's main target.

He accepted his current lot in life and found a way to make his new boss take notice of him. He even contemplated romance with the boss's daughter.

Alvin wasn't letting his troubles bring him down.

It will be intriguing to see what takes down Lindbergh in the upcoming finale.

To revisit Lindbergh's anti-Semitic program, watch The Plot Against America online.

Who is right: Herman or Bess?

Is Lionel changing his position?

Will Evelyn ever catch on?

Comment below.

Trail of Tears Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
  • 4.5 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating:

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (4 Votes)

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

Show Comments
Tags: ,

The Plot Against America Season 1 Episode 5 Quotes

Do you think a life insurance company can stand up to Charles Lindbergh, the big man in the little plane?

Herman [to Bess]

Mac: Where'd you learn that?
Alvin: I'm from Jersey.