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ReviewsTelevision & Film

THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE Continues To Reign

I have finished season two of Amazon Studios’ The Man In The High Castle and, once again, I’m not disappointed. Well, except that I have to wait till later this year for season three. However, I guess that is a minor detail as World War III looms in our future.

This season we see the different characters move away from each other to different areas of the world, questioning where their loyalty really lies. Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos) is now a target of the resistance since she let Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank) escape with the latest film, showing possible realities in their futures: San Francisco destroyed, unknown people dead in the streets, and Frank Fink (Rupert Evans) killed….by Joe in a Nazi uniform. Shot by the resistance (or so we think), Juliana FINALLY meets the Man in the High Castle in his barn of videos. But, do we learn how he knows what is happening? Of course not, as he points out to Juliana, only he can ask questions.

She escapes the resistance, seeks protection from the Nazis and is sent New York in the Greater Nazi Reich where she is granted refuge from Obergruppenführer John Smith, only to discover that she is in just as much danger from the resistance there as in the Pacific States. She is manipulated by the them to spy on the Obergruppenführer.

Liane Hentscher/Amazon Prime Video

Meanwhile, while Joe has escaped the resistance temporarily, he finds the boat he is on is not safe and uses his Nazi connections to escape. He is delivered back to New York where he attempts to live a normal life. However, Obergruppenführer orders him to Berlin to be with his father, Reichsminister Martin Heusmann (Sebastian Roché). There Joe learns the dark truth of his past: his mother didn’t leave his father, Joe was a product of a Nazi experiment to create the perfect specimen. After learning this, his feelings toward his father softens and he joins him as a political sidekick.

Liane Hentscher/Amazon Prime Video

Back in San Francisco, Frank’s determination to save his best friend Ed (DJ Qualls) reunites him with antique shop owner, Robert Childran (Brennan Brown) to make money by selling forgeries to wealthy Japanese. At the same time, Frank is getting more wrapped up with the Resistance, especially one of the females. However, what Frank doesn’t know is that Ed is working with Inspector Kido (Joel de la Fuente), passing information over what could put the Resistance’s plan to blow up a major political building up into jeopardy. However, they are successful, but Kido lives.

Liane Hentscher/Amazon Prime Video

The fact that Kido survives is important. He’s managed to keep his fingers in everyone’s business somehow. It is not just yet known what he exactly has on the Obergruppenführer, but he comes to New York to deliver the news that the Japanese has the power to make a bomb stronger than the ones that took down Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the event that the Nazi’s attack the Japanese, their victory will not be as swift as they think, if at all. We do know this: he is working with Trade Minister Tagomi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) to save Japan. Tagomi spends most of the season in his alternate life, with his family but chooses to return to his world to help save it.

Liane Hentscher/Amazon Prime Video

Now, Obergruppenführer Smith (Rufus Sewell) is already under a stress of his own. His son has a form of muscular dystrophy, which means he has a defect and under Nazi law, he must be reported, possibly to be destroyed. Smith’s plan is to send him to South America, be kidnapped so he can live the rest of his life quietly hidden. However, Smith leaves his family, possibly unsafe in the Reich to deliver the news of the Japanese’s power and put into play the fact that Joe’s father, not the Japanese, poisoned Fuhrer Hitler to take his place.

Oh, wait, did I mention yet that Hitler is dead?

Hitler had made Joe’s father his successor and by killing the Fuhrer, the Reichminister can gain power and blame the Japanese which allows him to declare war and wipe them out.

Remember how we discussed in season one what happens when you have two untrusting powers both wanting to run the world? Their partnership has only “peacefully” survived almost 15 years after the United States and Allies surrendered. Whatever Hitler’s vision of a partnership is dead with him and the vultures are circling. Before the Reichminister is arrested, he sets off the timer for the signal to have the Nazi’s fire on the Japanese, even though Joe is telling him no. And then they are both arrested and escorted away with no one knowing the wiser. So, what will happen? Will San Francisco be destroyed, like in the film, at the beginning of season three.

Then we have the Obergruppenführer Smith. He has kept Juliana close to him because of her previous involvement with Joe and that she has met the man in the high castle. But Smith is also torn between his role as a father with his sick son and his loyalty to his Reich. But how loyal is Smith? We learn in this season he was not always a Nazi. Before the fall of the United State, he was in the US Army and witnessed Washington D.C. destroyed. Now he is in the middle of Berlin, praised on international television for discovering how the Fuhrer truly died. Can he protect himself and his family from the Nazi reign? Or is he too late since his son has already turned himself over to the authorities unbeknownst to him?

Liane Hentscher/Amazon Prime Video

And this man in the high castle? We still do not know who he is, how he knows what he knows these alternate histories or how he has film of it. Just that he knows a lot and has many films, which he destroyed. Why? To start over. But why? He wants to change the future with history, but to what? And what does he gain? It seems everyone is out to serve themselves.

I enjoyed this season, more than the first. I found when I was finished, it left me wanting more, my mind constantly circling back to the stories and characters. I know there have been some complaints of consistency in the story due to the mid-season departure of series developer Frank Spotnitz. Amazon Studios did not replace him, causing some to say the series lost its political edge. But I did not feel there was any dip in strength, just a nice build to the finale.

I look forward to season three and hope we do not have to wait too long.

Do you have any thoughts on this season? Let me know in the comment section!

 

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