A Small Light – Season 1 Episode 1 Recap & Review


Episode 1 of A Small Light begins with Margot Frank, Anne’s older sister, receiving a formal letter asking her to make a trip to Germany for work. Otto, the patriarch of her family, is aware that this is a catastrophic sign, and as a consequence, he has preponed his plan to hide his spouse Edith and daughters. Margot must leave immediately.

Someone needs to guide the anxious teenager to the hiding place without drawing attention to themselves. Consequently, Miep takes her. The young women pedal their bicycles beneath a bridge past walls filled with Swastika posters. They throw away Margot’s coat, which happens to have a yellow star with the word “Jew” embroidered on it.

Margot is in a state of panic as she fears being held captive. Miep firmly asks her to conceal her identity and claim that she simply forgot to bring her identification while they draw near a Nazi security check. Margot gets restless as they approach the officer.

The show transports us to 1933 before we learn what happens near the security check. Miep no longer has a job and is residing with her foster parents who took her in while she was just a kid and moved to Amsterdam. One night at dinner, her parents make the suggestion that she wed one of her siblings named Cas, which Miep firmly refuses to do.

In the end, Miep gets an opportunity to work at Opekta, a pectin business run by Otto Frank, a recent immigrant from Germany. Otto is quiet and Miep is blunt. However, they click, and she ends up working as his secretary.

During lunch, Otto and Miep share stories. He reveals that he left Germany owing to Hitler’s rule and that his entire family is on their way to the Netherlands. She reveals that back when she was ten years old, her biological mother was unable to feed her. Therefore, in order to give her a chance to do well she was sent to stay with her adoptive family.

One night Miep interacts with Jan at a bar but she finds him boring. The two hit it off when they cross paths again, and they end up kissing in front of his building. Miep and Jan grow closer as time goes by, and they immerse themselves more deeply in the lives of the Franks.

Miep goes to the Franks for Shabbat dinner, with Jan by her side. Otto, and a few of his friends who were also emigrants, debate whether or not Hitler is going to invade Holland. Miep dismisses the notion that such an event will take place because Holland is unbiased. She is referred to as naïve by the Germans within the room.

In 1940, following the Dutch surrender, Otto shows signs of concern. Otto explains to Miep that one of his American connections wished to sponsor his family’s move there. Otto’s request for a visa, however, is denied. As a consequence, they have no choice but to go into hiding. Miep agrees to assist when he asks for help. He explains that the family’s only contact with the outside world would be Miep, who would have to buy medical supplies and food to smuggle it into the hiding place.

Miep’s inability to tell Jan of her plans to assist the Franks has left him understandably upset. They are at odds, but ultimately they apologize to one another and come to an understanding.

We are then transported to the episode’s opening. Miep asks Margot to ride alongside her as they cut through the queue and pass the Nazi officer. Miep casually announces that they’re running late for work and she’s having bike trouble. After a brief period of confusion, the officer eventually allows them to pass.

Miep accompanies Margot to Opekta, and on the way Miep informs her that employees will enter and exit the building all day. She goes on to tell Margot that she won’t be able to speak up until after work hours are over. Miep heads downstairs and sobs in the washroom. Jan arrives and she sobs even harder once he hugs her.

The Episode Review

We have seen plenty of dramatizations of Anne Frank’s diaries. However, for the very first time this show sheds light on Miep Gies, who protected the Franks for more than two years. Although the show starts off slowly, these instances tell Miep’s inspiring tale beautifully. The story is rather gloomy, however the little acts of kindness makes the experience of watching the show less painful.

Miep is introduced as the central protagonist of the tale and her story is brought into focus in the episode. It sheds light on important events in her life, such as how she met her partner Jan, the moment they fell in love, and the manner in which they developed a relationship that endured the test of time.

The show’s color palette and setting are both great and the performances are excellent across the board. Roll on the next episode!

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You can read our full season review for A Small Light here!

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