‘A Small Light’ Episode 1 Recap And Review: How Did Jan And Miep Meet?

A National Geographic production, A Small Light, is based on the true account of Dutch citizen Miep Gies, who, with the help of her husband, managed to find a safe haven for Otto Frank and his family, as well as other Jewish families, from the Nazis. The Nazi invasion of the Netherlands in 1940, at the start of World War II, was a foreseeable threat, particularly for the Jews, who were being persecuted by the Nazis. In order to protect his family from the approaching Nazi menace, Otto Frank reached out to his secretary, Miep Gies, and her husband for assistance. Otto wished to escape the Netherlands but lacked the necessary resources to do so. Miep and Jan supplied the Franks with a safe haven in a hidden annex on Otto’s office grounds. Despite the danger of being apprehended by the Nazis, Miep and Jan were determined to assist and support the Franks, providing them with food and other essentials throughout their time in hiding. Their altruism, compassion, and drive to assist people in need serve as a striking reminder of the good that can exist in humanity, even in the most difficult of circumstances.


Spoilers Ahead

How Did Miep Become Otto Frank’s Secretary?

A Small Light Episode 1 opens in Amsterdam in 1942 when Miep Gies (Bel Powley) is already planning a safe haven for the Franks. Since moving the entire family at once would have drawn the Nazis’ attention, Otto Frank (Liev Schreiber) chose to move his family members one at a time. Otto and Edith Frank’s eldest daughter, Margot, was chosen to be the first to be transferred to the hideout. Margot mustered the bravery to go down the street towards the hiding site after Miep’s assurances, but approaching a checkpoint, her confidence level plummeted because she didn’t have her ID with her. Miep made a swift and intelligent decision with confidence and vigor. She pretended that her bicycle tire had been punctured in order to prevent the Nazi guards from checking her paperwork. With a calm demeanor, she deceived the soldiers and passed the checkpoint by taking Margot with her. We return to 1933 when life in the Netherlands was a little simpler. Miep was an unmarried woman living with her foster parents and brothers. Her foster parents pressed her to find a job, or she would be forced to marry her brother. Yes, it sounds strange, but as the story progressed, we learned that both Miep and her brother Cas were adopted; however, it is still a strange part of the show, indicating that, as an adopted child, the custom of marrying a foster brother was not such a big deal at the time. Miep grew frantic to find work in order to escape marrying her brother, who was also a closeted homosexual, and her brother helped her out. She met Otto Frank, the proprietor of Opekta, a pectin manufacturing firm. She interviewed for the post of his secretary despite having no prior experience. Yet Otto employed her. After a few months of making jam in the kitchen, she was offered the opportunity to work at the front desk, answering customers’ calls.


As we can see, Miep has a pretty laid-back attitude. She was a cheerful and fun-loving person who did not take life’s problems seriously enough to be concerned about them. She did, however, have a kind heart. She had deep sympathy for the downtrodden Jews. She was from Vienna, where her mother couldn’t provide food and medicine for her due to their poverty; consequently, when a Dutch family offered to assist by adopting Miep, her mother sent her to the Netherlands for the sake of her future. Miep was grateful to her foster family as well as the Netherlands, believing that this nation had given her the opportunity to live. But after meeting Otto Frank, she realized how painful it was to be a Jew in this country. Otto Frank was born and raised in Germany, but when the Nazis came to power, his family escaped to the Netherlands. Even in Amsterdam, however, the Frank family was unable to participate in various public events because of their Jewish heritage. Miep felt empathy for Mr. Frank and became close to his family over time. She bought a charming small cat for Otto’s two kids, Margot (Ashley Brooke) and Anne (Billie Boullet), making Frank’s family cordially appreciate her presence even more.

How Did Jan And Miep Meet?

After getting hired by Otto, Miep went on to celebrate with her best friend, Tess. A geeky guy named Jan Gies (Joe Cole) who had a Kafka book attracted her eye in the pub, but he soon became tired of her company. She walked away from him at the pub with Tess. They later met by chance when Miep came to Jan’s house to talk to his landlady about getting a cat for the Franks, not realizing Jan lived there. The two of them collided, but Jan told Miep that he had been upset by her previous behavior. After Miep expressed her regret to him, the two of them made up and started to get to know each other. As the two of them conversed about their lives, Miep learned that Jan was separated from his ex-wife. Despite the fact that Jan was too broke to finalize the divorce with his wife on paper, Miep had already fallen for him. They began dating, and Jan eventually married Miep, most likely after his divorce was finalized. Miep, an immigrant from Vienna, had not obtained citizenship; therefore, she married Jan in a rush without making it a big, fat wedding.


What Measures Did Miep Take To Hide The Franks?

Miep was quite convinced that the Jews might be secure in the Netherlands since, according to the Queen’s declaration, the country was neutral. She mistakenly thought that Hitler wouldn’t attack the Netherlands, but in reality, he invaded the country in 1940 to gain an advantage over the French army. Jewish life in the Netherlands was already in an unstable situation before the invasion; thus, following the invasion, the extermination of the Jews proceeded quickly. The Nazis were deporting Jews to concentration camps and even killing a great many of them. Otto Frank was unable to endanger his and his family’s lives in the meantime. The Jews couldn’t be allowed to operate their businesses any longer, but Otto couldn’t just bow to Nazi rule. He attempted alternative means of leaving Amsterdam, but despite the help of a friend, he was unable to exit the country without having his passport accepted. Otto had just one remaining choice, which was to hide himself and his family someplace in the town. However, he needed someone’s assistance to provide food and medicine for him and his family, so Otto approached his most trusted ally and secretary, Miep, to arrange a location for their hideout. Miep had recently married and had a bright future ahead of her, but she ignored all of that and opted to aid Otto. She didn’t even mention it to her husband, Jan, because she assumed she wouldn’t need his permission to do what she wanted. However, Jan valued honesty and kept no secrets between them, which is why when he learned of Otto Frank’s escape plan from his friend Van Pels, he was upset with Miep. Jan, nevertheless, was a man with a golden heart who didn’t allow his wrath and sulk to take over his head. He was wildly in love with his wife and proud of her for stepping in to help the Franks.

At the end of episode 1 of A Small Light, we returned to 1942 when Miep was escorting Margot to her hiding location. She brought Margot to her father’s office building and concealed her inside an annex after successfully clearing the checkpoint. Margot had to stay there for a while, like a silent bird in a cage. She was unable to move, talk, or even use the restroom. Miep realized that was too much for a young girl to handle, but they had no alternative but to survive being disguised. Margot followed Miep’s advice since she blindly trusted her. Margot had a lot more faith and regard for Miep after how she had brought her to the hiding area, but Miep was getting scared, which she didn’t let Margot know about. She cried out in the washroom, but as she heard a knock on the door, she assumed it was a Nazi. She did, however, unlock the door and find out it was her husband, who was quite proud of his wife for being able to hide Margot.


However, the battle had only just begun. With the progression of the story, she would also need to move many more people who were in similar situations to the Frank family. Let’s see what Miep and Jan do next in the upcoming episode.

Final Words

A Small Light does a fantastic job of dramatizing the horrible circumstances the Netherlands encountered during the German invasion. The show masterfully explores a variety of emotional themes and forges a close bond among its cast of characters. Though Anne Frank is frequently out of focus, with Miep and Otto as the main protagonists, the series nevertheless manages to hold viewers’ interest with its compelling but heartfelt narrative. There was no information overload, which is essentially what happens with most of the historical-themed dramas. The series focused on character development and their emotional framework to help the audience relate to the story. The struggles of Miep and Otto’s backgrounds, as well as the conflicts between Miep and her husband, are just a few of the aspects that set this narrative apart from other historical plays. Most impressively, Miep’s personality development has been masterfully shown in just one episode, giving off the impression of how her character, from a laid-back, jovial person, transforms into a character that works for the greater good in a more poised and focused manner. Overall, the show was successful in keeping us engaged in the narrative by introducing the characters and making us aware of the setting in just one episode, which whets our appetite for subsequent episodes as well.


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Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda hails from a medical background, yet her journey is to cross the boundaries of medicine and survive in the cinematic world. The surrealistic beauty of cinema and art has attracted her from a very young age. She loves to write poems, songs, and stories, but her dream is to write films someday. She has also worked as a painter, but nothing attracts her more than cinema. Through her writings, she wants to explore the world of cinema more and more and take her readers on the same ride.

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A Small Light does a fantastic job of dramatizing the horrible circumstances the Netherlands encountered during the German invasion. The show masterfully explores a variety of emotional themes and forges a close bond among its cast of characters. 'A Small Light' Episode 1 Recap And Review: How Did Jan And Miep Meet?