If you didn’t know it already, The Man In The High Castle is the physical embodiment of a jeremiad, which means its sophomore run only adds to the depressing nature of its freshman season, but in the best way possible. In essence, it’s a prophet of doom. It’s certainly not afraid of using graphic violence to convey a message. It’s grim, morbid and depressing. Approach this show with caution because both seasons put its characters through the motions in often the most traumatic and brutal ways possible.
In season one, we were witness to the execution of Frank’s sister with his niece and nephew. This sets up for the depressing nature off this narrative. There aren’t many happy moments but there are times when our heroes do get a win. This execution acted as a dummy run for audiences, telling us this show is messed up. If you want to continue, pass go and collect £200. If not, remove yourself from the monopoly board before you get yourself hurt…a lot.
We go head first into the aftermath of season one, now with more layers on our main characters. Frank (Rupert Evans) is motivated to become a vigilante and bust Ed (DJ Qualls) from prison whilst Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank) has one of the films in his possession and feels icky about the Reich donning him a hero. Meanwhile, Juliana (Alexa Davalos) is being hunted by the Resistance and the Japanese. Yikes, it sucks to be her. She’s been labelled a Nazi traitor. Everybody wants her guts for garters and she is forced to make some ill-advised yet desperate and necessary choices which allows her to meet the real Man In The High Castle, aptly played by Stephen Root (Trumbo) and that’s one of the best interactions of the season.
By the end of “The Road Less Travelled,” we see that season two is becoming more grounded than its predecessor. It’s not forced and it does its own thing. Stories are wild creatures and this series proves that. The whole series is all very organic, romance included. The third act is sensational and by the end of this glorious season, we don’t really have any closure. If any thing, as viewers, we have more questions and we are even more curious about what will happen in season three. Don’t get me wrong, the arcs do converge but their convergence bring more questions. The answers to previous questions bring more questions and that’s why I’m even more hyped for next season.
When it comes to down to it, the majority of our main characters are just puppets tangled in strings. Naturally, the men in power are the ones pulling the strings. One of the best parts of this show is its ability to hone in on the evilness of the establishment through characters like John Smith, played by the capable and excellent Rufus Sewell (Victoria). The villainous Japanese police presence is depicted through Kido (Joel de la Fuente) and it’s a menacing and spinechilling performance at that. They aren’t just evil charactures. They’re human beings with their own ideas and values, as we see characters with the complexities of the every day man.
Smith flies to close to the sun this season, as his family life becomes compromised when he’s forced to deal with his eldest son’s defective medical condition. In addition, he’s part of the season’s pivotal arc which involved the film Juliana and Frank watched in the finale of last season, showing a desolate San Francisco after being destroyed by an A-Bomb. However, Tagomi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) is the dark horse of the season. His arc is unexpectedly emotional and it’s a barrage of sucker punches. His is a redemption story, a story that is well-told across two seasons.
The Man In The High Castle simply continues to exhibit the necessary quality that has grown to become associated with the original programming of Netflix and Amazon. Regardless of its ace performances and storylines, this series makes for great television. Once season two gets going, it really delivers.