Well, I’ve finally gotten around to watching season 2 of Amazon’s original series The Man in the High Castle. I previously reviewed season 1 on my home turf (My Own Little Shadow), and was more than ready to see how Amazon would handle a second season of material that was so deep in the first place.
Since Amazon, as all adapters seem to do, took Philip K. Dick’s original material and mined it for ideas instead of simply adapting it directly, I was unsurprised that we have now seemed to progress far beyond Dick’s original novel into uncharted territory.
But, since most of Dick’s material exists in “uncharted territory” because he creates it out of whole cloth, that doesn’t really surprise me.
What has surprised me, however, is the fact that Amazon has maintained the incredible dedication to the production values they established in season 1. Lush visuals, a great contrast between the dreary and dirty west coast holdings of the Japanese Empire against the clean and organized—dare I say “happy”?—Nazi American Reich in the east…
Frightening, really, how appealing the brutally efficient Reich appears to the eye.
Regardless, season 2 brings a continuation of the cat-and-mouse game between Japan, the Reich, and the Man in the High Castle. The films play less of a role this time around, but they have their moments in the intrigues to come.
Adolf Hitler is ill—gravely—and Japan is convinced it needs to defeat the Reich, that the fragile peace between them will not last, and must end in warfare. After obtaining plans for a Heisenberg device (atomic bomb) from a Nazi turncoat, they determine to bomb New York City.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch—uh, Reich—Joe Blake (the devilishly handsome German spy on the west coast from season 1) finds himself in Germany to meet his father, and learns that he is a Lebensborn: a product of a Reich breeding program designed to engineer the perfect race.
Yep. Joe is special.
After Hitler names Joe Blake’s father, an engineer with no seeming ambition to power, acting Chancellor during his convalescence, Joe decides to embrace his inner Nazi—and a rather attractive fellow Lebensborn named “Nicole.”
Oh, those wacky sixties kids. Even the German uber-children are doing drugs and expanding their minds, trying to engineer a life for themselves after the war-mongering older generation dies off.
Symmetry. Just another way in which this would shows echoes of our own, true, world.
Without getting too deep in the woods, because there’re sub-plots aplenty here, between the Resistance, the Empire, the Reich, John Smith, Joe Blake, Frank Frink, antiques, the Yakuza….
You get the idea.
But, in amongst all the various plotting, planning, counter-planning, I have to say that my favorite character, by far, is John Smith.
Frank is too whiny. Juliana is too weepy. Joe is an indecisive little shit.
John Smith, though… he’s got it all figured out. He is 100% dedicated to his family, while trying maintain the greatest good in the face of the world in which he finds himself, especially after a certain scene last in the season where the United States—and John Smith as one of its soldiers—faces its mortality.
We are left, of course, with the possibility of a season 3 of this alternate world, should Amazon renew it (if they haven’t already).
If you’re even remotely interested in history at all, or just love a good spy-type thriller, I recommend jumping on Amazon Prime and watching both seasons of The Man in the High Castle. It’s only 10 episodes a season, and well worth the watch, I promise.
Once again, if you liked that, go check out more of Marks work over My Own Little Shadow, and check out my review of A Series of Unfortunate Events over there as well! Thank you Mark for this teamwork, and I hope we can work together again soon!