If you have never seen or heard of the show, Amazon Prime’s The Man in The High Castle is about to launch its third season on the streaming service. The Man in the High Castle is based on a novel of the same name by Phillip K. Dick, and it is set in a world in which the Axis powers and not the Allied forces won WW II. The basic premise revolves around a world where President Franklin D. Roosevelt was assassinated before he could implement the New Deal and lift the USA out of the Great Depression. The result as a US in deep financial crisis as WWII kicks off in Europe.
Ultimately, as America is unable to provide resources to Russia and the UK, The Nazi forces storm across all of Europe and as the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor in 1941 America is left alone to face the threats of the Axis powers. The US falls as the Nazis drop the world’s first atomic bomb on Washington DC, forcing the US to surrender. The show is set many years later in the early ’60s as the US has been split between the Japanese Pacific States on the West Coast and the Greater Nazi Reich on the East Coast, with a Neutral Zone in between.
Season 1 of The Man in the High Castle followed the book by Dick reasonably closely, with some changes designed around carrying the story further than Dick did. The content of the book is covered by most of the first season with Season 2 beginning to move beyond the scope of the books into new territory.
Amazon Prime were kind enough to offer LRM the chance to view Season 3 of the show early and provided us with review copies, which as a fan of show, came to me to review.
**Disclaimer – Whilst I will always look to avoid any direct spoilers for Season 3 in this review, I will be Spoiling the heck out of Season 1 and 2, so if you have not caught up with the show yet, come back when you have! **
Season 3, was it any good?
The immediate answer to this question is, yes! Honestly, I had my doubts about how they were going to move this show forward this year and I had my own ideas about how that should be tackled. Yet, I can truly say that my expectations were both met and exceeded for Season 3. I loved it, in fact though fans of the source novel may baulk at this claim, I believe Season 3 is far and away the best so far in the show’s history. Whilst I have read the book and I am a fan of Phillip K. Dick, I have never found him to be the best writer when it comes to character development. The man was a genius, of that there is no doubt surely, and yet I always felt he was a concept writer more than a spinner of a good yarn, if you will.
The trickiest task facing the production team for this show, was how to carry on beyond the limits of Dicks original piece. The novel as with the show follows characters across the old USA who become embroiled in the distribution of films, films which mysteriously show the Allies and not the Axis winning WWII. Fans of the show must have been well aware by even Season 1, that things were going to move well away from the novel as the showrunners made one key difference back at the start, they made the decision to have the mysterious films of the Allies winning WW II be real and not faked as they were in the book. Thus there has been an ever growing sci-fi element to this show which was not really present in the book, which is a bit crazy considering Dick’s sci-fi background. However, as said above I loved the direction they moved the show this season.
I don’t want to spoil anything here, but let’s just say to fans of the first two seasons that if the parallel worlds angle was one that interested you so far, you will enjoy this season immensely.
At the close of Season 2, we had lead character Julianna Crain learning from The Man in the High Castle himself Hawthorne Abendsen, and we also saw her former partner and lover Frank seemingly killed in a terrorist attack in the Japanese Pacific States. Many of the shows subplots start to pay dividends in Season 3, including the continued hiding of Jews as Catholics in the Neutral Zone and the slow beginning of a resistance movement against the world’s super powers. The tagline for this season as, you can see from the image above is #resistencerises.
Possibly my favorite part of the plot revolves round John Smith, one of the top ranking officials in the North American Reich as he slowly begins to realise how awful it is to live under a Fascist regime. Smith ended Season 2 as a hero of the Reich as he prevented a war with Japan and uncovered the poisoning of Adolf Hitler which led to the infamous dictator’s death. The war between Japan and The Reich may have been averted, but relations between the super powers continues to devolve across Season 3. John Smith finds himself involved in a new game against the threat of Reischsfuhrer George Lincoln Rockwell and his right hand man J. Edgar Hoover, which I thought was a very nice touch, if you are not sure why, go and look up the name George Lincoln Rockwell in a search engine and you’ll get it. Smith is also dealing with the loss of his son Thomas who was discovered to have a genetic disability and therefore euthanized by the Nazi state. Now as Smith deal’s with the loss and the threats to his daughters lives if they test positive, he also has to deal with the responsibility of Hitler’s personal collection of movies from the other worlds and there are some major surprises for Smith to see in those films.
Meanwhile, Trade Minister Tagomi had realised he was a “Traveler” someone who could move between his own world and the others running parallel like our own Earth. This deeply changed the stance and goals of Tagomi and Season 3 eventually unites Tagomi with Juliana, the woman who is married to his son in our world and the mother of his Grandchild. Juliana herself steps out of the protection of Hawthorne and embarks on a mission to use the footage her sister died to protect to inspire a resistance movement against the fascists. But she also runs into Joseph again inevitably as the two seem connected across many worlds. Juliana also starts to have visions of events that have not happened yet and realises that the Nazi’s have plans which could threaten not only their own world, but all of the Multiverse.
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