Years: 2015 – Present
Synopsis: In dystopian alternate 1960s, people work to survive in a world jointly ruled by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, while hope is found in more familiar realities.
• Brilliantly character driven. All the actors, especially the desperate goodness of Juliana (Alexa Davalos), play their tortured characters with haunting ease, and everyone is tortured in one way or another.
• The supposedly perfect Lebensborn are genuinely fascinating characters. They can care deeply, but are sometimes more interested in flaunting their status with psychedelic orgies than anything the present regime ever planned for them. Them not being liked is clearly an open secret.
• Often unpredictable, as we can never be sure if one character or another will even survive the episode.
• The overall plot is genuinely fascinating and engrossing, especially once the multiverse mythology fully meshes in the third season.
• Like in Das Boot (1981), the viewer may surreally find themselves routing for the “fascists” and “imperialists,” but that occurs because we learn they are humans donning attire they felt they needed.
• Allusions to pre-WWII history like the Jewish people being forced underground are chilling, as are the allusions to today’s society.
• The imagery can be highly stressful to watch, both the symbols and people’s actions.
• The second season can feel literally and figuratively all over the place in its move to expand the show’s mythology.
Destiny is in the hands of the few …
The Man in the High Castle is a story that forwards what it takes to survive in a horrifyingly plausible world where it is nearly impossible simply to live. Victory might be found in just surviving the day, but that might not be enough for many. So, we find American soldiers donning the swastika or running elaborate wiretapping programs to protect their families. At the same time, we have people fighting against the suppression, with the twist of having tools from more familiar realities. This all ends up feeling hauntingly familiar, as there are certainly allusions to not only actual history, but past sci-fi and thrillers. Yet, all that induced deja-vu was built to pull us into an alternate reality that cannot ever be predicted by the viewer.
Final Season Update
Everything came together in wonderfully bizarre and enigmatic ways. Most importantly, however, it showed how destiny can be taken back or given back to the many. We do not have to be beholden to ideals we may have sold our souls to, no matter how dangerous the thought. Even if we cannot change, we can still find ways to allow others to make the better choices.
Rotten Tomatoes —
S1 – 95%
S2 – 64%
S3 – 86%
S4 – 89%