Season 2 is now available on Amazon. I was so hooked that I managed to finish the whole series over one weekend and now I have to wait another year for the next. The second series was just as jam-packed as the first and the last episode left us on some frustratingly good cliff hangers- in case I wasn’t already excited enough for season 3.
Without regurgitating too much of the plot and for those who have seen the first but not the second season…..At the end of the last series Julianna (Alexa Davalos) decides that she can’t assassinate Joe (Luke Kleintank- who claims he’s not a Nazi but works for a Nazi?? hmmm), so she helps him to escape from the Resistance on a boat…with the film. As you can imagine, the resistance weren’t all too pleased by this. They give her a pretty hard time for it, which involves her meeting the mysterious Man in the High Castle. She seeks asylum in New York in the Reich Nazi states. John Smith (Rufus Sewell) takes Julianna under his wing, keeping her close so he can monitor any resistance activity whilst she’s there. Julianna does indeed help the resistance, but only because she can’t say no. Julianna begins to realise that the resistance are no better than the Nazis and Japanese. John Smith and his wife Helen are having to struggle with the knowledge that their son Thomas is terminally ill and they go to extreme measures to make sure that no one finds out. Meanwhile, Joe travels to Berlin to meet his father who is very high up in the Reich. He makes friends that open his eyes to the opportunities of working alongside his father… even if he is a nazi maniac. Frank gets caught up with the resistance and takes things to the extreme when he gets revenge on the Japs.
This programme based its plot on the book of the same name. I had heard about it before but when I first starting watching the show I kept wondering, why has no one taken this on before in film or TV? Apparently it was discussed for years but it took a while before they actually went ahead with it. And after watching both the first and second series, I now know why it wasn’t done sooner, and that is- because it’s bloody difficult and you’ve got to have a seriously big budget on your hands. Then along came Amazon.
As a history nut myself, when reading or learning about WW2, I have before asked myself, WHAT IF… What if the Allies hadn’t won the war. Would we be alive? Would we be speaking German? Would I see Swastika flags hanging from buildings on a daily basis? I can’t answer these questions, no one can. We’re now living in the 21st century and it won’t be long before we’re approaching the 100 year anniversary. But the Man in the High Castle focuses on a time much nearer to the war- the 60s. Which, if I think about it.. is surely a lot harder to place the setting of this programme then, than it would to set it in present day? Mainly because back in the 60s there was still plenty going on politically that was linked to the war, so you have to take all of that into consideration as well.
For anyone that hasn’t seen the programme…. It’s set in the 60s like I said, in the US but it isn’t exactly what it was before. The Nazis defeated the Allies at the end of the war and took over North America, apart from the West Coast, otherwise known as ‘The Pacific States’ now occupied by Japan. Giving the West Coast to Japan was Hitler’s doing and the Nazis have never been too keen on this idea. Therefore season 1 focuses on the growing tensions between the states. As the Führer’s health deteriorates, it’s pretty obvious to both that war will ensue after Hitler dies. The Japanese know that they can’t win the war, so are doing all they can to prevent one. Meanwhile, we’re shown what it’s like to be American citizens in both states. How the Japanese rule and how the Nazis rule. Amongst this, there’s the resistance, a group of US citizens not willing to take it all without a fight and sometimes going to extreme lengths to get their country back.
I think this programme is incredibly ambitious and brave and I admire the writers for it because I’m sure this concept will have been raised in the past but many would have decided to steer clear of it. Changing the outcome of any event in history is brave but choosing an event as big as that requires serious balls. By doing so, you open your show up to severe criticism and some viewers will choose to slate it purely because they think it’s cheek that you’re taking on such a huge project. I know a lot of people will no doubt disagree with me on this but I do think it’s a lot easier and a lot safer to write a programme based purely on fantasy, where you don’t have to include elements of the real world and you can make everything up. When you’re basing a story on such remarkable and world-changing events of the past, you leave yourself open to be criticised because you’re mixing the truth with false events. The reality part you have to get right and although you have room to play with the parts you’re making up- they both have to link and fit together nicely. Whereas in fantasy you can be as weird and crazy as you like and people won’t seem to mind as much because it’s purely a matter of opinion and all a figment of someone’s imagination. So I guess what I’m really trying to say is, yes this programme is far from perfect but I think some serious credit is due. So many programmes on tv today are so similar but The Man in the High Castle is a breath of fresh air and if you haven’t seen, I would definitely give it a go.