At the beginning of the first episode, an assassin (Jonathan Harden) guns down Soviet Lieutenant General Lechov (Daniel Donskoy). The man is quickly taken to the ground and taken into custody. After the intro, we see Douglas Archer (Sam Riley) hanging out with Sylvia Manning (Maeve Dermody). Douglas informs Sylvia that he needs to leave. Douglas receives a phone call and learns about a murder nearby. He meets up with his partner Harry Woods (James Cosmo) and the men travel to the scene of the crime together. Along the way, Douglas comments about a newspaper article showing the Resistance assassin being hung for his crime. Before Archer and his friend can enter the victim’s property, Archer is asked whether or not the police are being used to chase down Resistance fighters. Archer counters by insisting the police is never political.
After waking up the doctor (Oliver Gomm), Archer learns that the victim, Peter Thomas, has been shot twice. The man’s eyes have also been damaged and petrol coupons are found nearby. The doctor admits the man’s eyes do not resemble cataracts. During his search, Archer finds a metal object and a good amount of money. A train ticket leads the men to believe their victim recently traveled to Bringle Sands. After discovering a partial note in the fireplace, the ashes are collected. While searching the property, Archer looks out the window and notices a strange woman. He follows her to a nearby restaurant and discovers her identity, Barbara Barga (Kate Bosworth). The woman confirms she is with the New York Times. She also arrived on the same plane as Goering and Goebbels. The woman admits to being near the crime scene. She asks Archer whether or not he believes it was foul play.
She admits she had hoped it wasn’t for Peter’s sake. Barbara eventually makes an excuse to leave. Archer returns to headquarters where he learns Sylvia has been summoned to the Department of Illegals. She admits she doesn’t have a clue why. Then, Archer speaks with Harry. He learns that neighbors put Thomas with a Luftwaffe Feldwebel. Harry insists they should hand over the man’s description to the military police. Archer reveals that he found a transmitter hidden in the house and suggests it was linked to the Resistance. The men agree to keep the ashes for the time being. Archer tells Harry about the American journalist. Archer gets a call from Fritz Kellermann (Rainer Bock). He takes pictures with the man, before giving Fritz an update about the murder. Kellermann receives a call. He reveals that a senior officer will be joining them soon. Glott (Michael Epp) is ordered to prepare for upstairs office for the man.
Then, Fritz tells Archer about Dr. Huth. After the conversation ends, Archer speaks with Sylvia and learns she has been reassigned to genealogy. Before leaving the station, Sylvia grabs a bunch of documents. Archer returns home. He finds Mrs. Sheenan (Christina Cole) preparing a meal and caring for the children. Archer asks Bob (Kit Connor) whether or not he behaved himself at school. Later that night, Douggie (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) informs his father that a Jaguar is outside. Archer heads outside and speaks with the driver, who admits it was Kellermann’s orders. Archer is transported to Dr. Huth’s location. Upon his arrival, Douglas discovers Huth (Lars Eidinger) performing an autopsy on Thomas. It is revealed that the man’s liver was diseased. The man’s eyes are linked to something from the Great War. It is suggested they could’ve been damaged by magnesium shells. Seconds later, everyone is ordered to leave the room. Huth ridicules Kellermann and also insists he doesn’t want to see the Houses of Parliament. After the couple leaves, they speak about the murder victim and the evidence collected thus far. They also discuss some type of mysterious disease.
The men return to Hugh’s new office. Archer is told to get the ashes investigated as quickly as possible. The furniture in the office is also removed at the officer’s request. During the chaos, Harry informs Archer that Sylvia stole a handful of blank SIPO passes and disappeared. Seconds later, Archer gets a call from Kellermann. Kellermann requests to speak with Huth. Huth arrives seconds later. He speaks with Kellermann briefly, before hanging up. Archer is told to never discuss their workings with outsiders. Huth suggests the Kellermann on the phone might’ve been someone else. Archer returns home in the morning. He tells the kids he is going to take them to school. Mrs. Sheenan contemplates whether or not she will ever see Tom again. Archer tries to reassure her by insisting the Germans have promised to return the POWs as soon as possible. In the vehicle, the kids ask Douglas whether or not he works for the Gestapo. He admits he does not.
Then, the boys try to convince Douglas to get them Gestapo badges. Next, Douglas heads to a pub, where he runs into Sylvia. Soldiers enter and nearly capture Sylvia. However, Douglas helps her escape. Outside, Sylvia lashes out at Douglas. He releases her from the cuffs, while admitting he is a fool for not noticing she was a member of the Resistance. Sylvia tells him to be careful, since a guy named John is after him. She gives him minor details about John, before departing. Douglas returns to the station and enlists help from Jimmy Dunn (Aneurin Barnard). Jimmy goes on the hunt for John, while Douglas tells Harry about Sylvia. Jimmy calls and tells Douglas about John Spode (James Northcote). They check the man’s address together. John’s fake arm is discovered.
They also discover pictures of John and his brother. Archer puts two and two together. He discovers that the dead man is actually John’s brother, William Spode. Archer discovers a note connecting John to his son’s school. He rushes over, while leaving Jimmy behind. At the end of the episode, we see John watching over the kids at school.
SS-GB received a lot of criticism for the mumbling. This is totally understandable. Thankfully, I was able to watch the first episode with subtitles. This definitely helped to make things much more understandable. Nonetheless, the first episode felt like a hit and a miss. It started off with a bang and quickly fizzled out. The first 30 or 40 minutes were nothing more than Douglas running around on a witch hunt.
Things picked up about three quarters of the way through. The show definitely has potential. Despite the whispering, Sam Riley, Maeve Dermody and Aneurin Barnard all did well in their respective roles. Can the show break away from the cliché and separate itself from The Man in the High Castle? If it can do that and also stop the whispering, things should get much better. The first episode could’ve been better, but it wasn’t a total disaster. A 6.5 out of 10 is deserved.