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This weekend Caleb and I binge watched the 4th and final season of The Man In the High Castle and I’m so sad it’s over.
You know I really love a show when I don’t have my laptop on my lap during “couch time.”
The Man In the High Castle was that kind of show for me. I haven’t ever written a review on a show and there seems like no better time than now to start.
The Man In the High Castle is an American alternate history series depicting a scary parallel universe where the Axis powers, Germany and Japan, win World War II.
In this parallel universe, Germany and the Japan have divided the east coast of the United States into the Greater Nazi Reich, the west coast into Japanese Pacific States, and a neutral zone in the Rocky Mountains.
The series starts in 1962 and follows characters (Juliana Crain, John Smith, Joe Blake, and Nobusuke Tagomi) whose lives intertwine when they come into contact with home movies and video clippings that show Germany and Japan actually lost the war.
“The Man In the High Castle” is what they call the mysterious man (Hawthorne Abendsen) who is believed to have created this seemingly “propaganda” footage in order to strengthen the resistance movement against the Nazis and Japanese Empire. He didn’t create the films, he just collected them and was the head of the American Antifascist Resistance working to get back the freedoms pre World War II.
The series is based on Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel “The Man In the High Castle” and you can watch all 4 seasons on Amazon Prime.
Here are the things that I loved and didn’t love about The Man In the High Castle.
There are spoilers, so if you are going to watch the show, don’t read.
I Loved This Series Because . . .
- The production was on-point! The filming was exquisite and the music was superb – I’ve been humming the intro music for months on end. I loved the costumes and makeup because they were not only beautiful, but believable. I also loved the filming locations and sets they built. I read online that the series was filmed in Vancouver, Canada.
- The show gave us a hopeful and happy ending for Robert Childan. He gives Okami the keys to his antiques shop in return for a ticket to Japan, so he can be with his wife Yukiko. Childan was a character I didn’t love right away because he didn’t care about anyone but himself and his precious antiques.
- I loved the character development. I loved how we were able to witness change in their appearance mannerisms, ideologies, and personalities throughout the seasons and within specific episodes. I also enjoyed how the show flipped back and forth between timelines, meditated dreams, parallel universes, and story plots.
- I loved the suspense of not knowing the true motives of so many of the characters. For so many seasons I thought John Smith was just “playing” the Reich until he could rank high enough to overthrow the party. Joe Blake was another character that had me curious, too. After refusing to undergo anymore missions for John Smith AND being forced to execute his own father, I thought he was going to shift his alliance from the Reich.
- The show did a good job of being a period piece and a sci-fi thought piece. The writers were able to use some come up with some interesting and thought-provoking ideas about what types of technologies may have been (or not been) invented if the war ended differently. One of the most chilling scenes was Helen discovering the plans for the concentration camps and the gas chambers. I know that was just a scene in a sci-fi TV show, but I realized that I had never really thought about the fact that in our world history, someone at some point actually had to come up with those ideas and plans for the population cleansing. It’s revolting and just brings tears to my eyes. That scene was a great reminder of the importance of history class. And, is probably the best argument for History class there may be.
- Also from our perspective (Allies winning the war), It is hard to imagine people just “going along” with being controlled. However, it has happened over and over throughout history so it isn’t a stretch to believe. The stories that have happy endings (like this one, and America in real life) see the will of people to be free overcome.
A Few Questions/Critiques I Have . . .
- Everything was great until the last few minutes of the series. Julia and Wyatt are staring into the glowing portal when it comes back to life and hundreds of people started casually walking in. Are these all of the people that were incinerated by the Nazis?
- What are the visitors going to do when they realize they came into a realm that is most likely going to be at war with the European Nazi Reich. Why didn’t Juliana and Wyatt tell them to turn around immediately?
- What about the world where Thomas is still alive? Thomas is going off to war, John is dead, and the Smith daughters didn’t exist in that realm; that means Helen has now been left alone, sad, and completely confused.
- I’ll admit – you need to be invested in fascination of this fantasy because the show does have some slow moving episodes before it really starts to pick up. Facisim and socialism scare the living daylights out of me – so I was invested to find out how long John Smith was going to keep going along with the horrible Nazi regime. Rufus Sewell‘s character (John Smith) was so deceiving because he was a terrible human and yet, I liked him because he cared about his family so much. I had this hope that he would realize that his commitment to the Reich was a terrible mistake and he needed to find a way to stop it, especially after, his son,Thomas Smith’s death. When he became so fascinated with the films and was able to see what kind of person he could have been in this realm, was when I really thought he was going to be a hero and stand up against the Nazis.
Alrighty, my first TV Show Review in the books!
I know I’m not an expert at history or movie reviews – these opinions are my own and I just wanted an excuse to talk about the show because it had my gut tingling for several days after we watched it.
My advice to you, go ahead and watch it.