The Man in the High Castle Season 4 Episode 2: Every Door Out… Recap

High Castle S4Ep2 Mengele & John.png

“Every door out… is a door in.” In season 4, episode 2, Dr Mengele and his portal experiments return. The program has advanced significantly in the last year, with regular teams of Nazi spies making the trip to the Alt-World for both espionage and sabotage. Thanks to Hawthorne Abendsen and the Reich’s enhanced interrogation methods, Mengele has also made a map of the multiverse. John Smith understands the potential waiting for them in each world- if the Nazis can send someone to a new world, that world can send someone to the High Castle world as well. Everyplace is a potential threat.

Including schools and homes in the American Reich, since children have been taught to spy on and turn in their loved ones. Some, like Amy, are very enthusiastic about enforcing the rules. Jennifer isn’t happy about being back in the Reich, so John has to play referee between his two daughters to keep them both alive.

Continue reading “The Man in the High Castle Season 4 Episode 2: Every Door Out… Recap”

The Man in the High Castle Season 4 Episode 1: Hexagram 64 Recap

mv5bzwewnzq4nzutmwrmys00nddiltg5nditoda5m2m4ytm0zte2xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtaznju2njm1._v1_sx675_cr00675999_al_

Welcome back to the Japanese Pacific States, the American Reich and the Neutral Zone. In its final season, The Man in the High Castle focuses mainly on the Smith family, Chief Inspector Kido and a new West Coast resistance group, the Black Communist Rebellion. Juliana Crain, Wyatt Price, Robert Childan and Hawthorne Abendsen also have storylines that the show checks in on periodically. It’s still the same show, with a sweeping story that spans continents, worlds and the astral plane. Events shift between the existential difficulties of everyday people and the rivalries shared by world political powers, in an exploration of what makes us who we are and the war of good vs evil.

While there’s a lot to like about season 4, and some storylines and characters have satisfying conclusions, others are dropped with little or no explanation. Both the TV division of Amazon Prime and this show have had a major amount of staff turn over behind the scenes since the series began, and that shows in the final season, as it has since mid-season 2.

It’s still one of my favorite shows of all time. I’d give both season 4 and the complete series somewhere in the B+ to A- range if I had to give them grades. But it has to to go in the brilliant but flawed category, with so many other shows of the recent era. I can’t help but imagine what it could have been with a single showrunning team in charge for its entire run, instead of the fractured visions we have now.

Continue reading “The Man in the High Castle Season 4 Episode 1: Hexagram 64 Recap”

The Man in the High Castle Season 1 Episode 6: Three Monkeys Recap

mv5bmje1ndy1nzk2of5bml5banbnxkftztgwmjc4mtmxnze40._v1_sy1000_cr0014441000_al_

Buckle up, Buttercups, it’s VA Day in the Reich and things are about to get crazy. Obergruppenführer John Smith has not just one, but two potential traitors over for dinner with the family, Joe Blake and Rudolph Wegener. He has ulterior motives with both, because when does he not? Juliana begins her job at the Nippon building and learns she’s working in the office of Trade Minister Tagomi.

Recap

It’s VA Day and every house in the neighborhood is proudly flying the swastika and stripes. Joe arrives at the Smith house with a bouquet of flowers for Helen and is introduced to the whole family, including the dog, Max. He mentions that he saw John in the parade earlier in the day. Thomas offers to show Joe around. It’s obvious that life couldn’t be better in the American Reich.

Over in the JPS, Juliana finishes dressing for her new job, just as Frank wakes up. She asks how the memorial service was and he says it was fake. She thinks they need to spend some time together, but he doesn’t want to make her late for the dojo, so she suggests they plan on dinner. Frank asks if he heard her on the phone earlier. As she’s walking out the door, Juliana says it was a wrong number.

Continue reading “The Man in the High Castle Season 1 Episode 6: Three Monkeys Recap”

The Man in the High Castle Season 1 Episode 5: The New Normal Recap

mv5bmji2mtkzmte3ml5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtk4odaznze40._v1_

In episode 5, The New Normal, Juliana and Joe return to their home cities after their missions in the Neutral Zone. Each undergoes a debriefing and must try to navigate the tense atmosphere of their respective empires. Frank tries to put the pieces of his life back together after the deaths in his family and his aborted assassination attempt. Tagomi and Wegener try to complete their mission before getting Wegener out of San Francisco. Kido begins his investigation into the shooting of the crown prince, with the knowledge that, according to Japanese custom,  his life depends on bringing the shooter to justice.

Recap

The episode picks up with the ending of the previous episode, as shots ring out and the crown prince falls, desperately wounded. Tagomi and the princess rush to his side. Kido springs into action, shouting out orders to stop anyone from leaving, find the shooter and confiscate all cameras so that no one sees their beloved leader in his weakened state. Wegener is on the podium, watching the drama play out.

Frank has the gun in his hand, but hasn’t fired. The little Japanese boy standing next to him and the boy’s father both see the gun in Frank’s hand as all three scatter. Frank puts the gun in his coat pocket and at the same time the necklace he made for Juliana slips out of the pocket, onto the ground.

Continue reading “The Man in the High Castle Season 1 Episode 5: The New Normal Recap”

The Man in the High Castle Season 4: Official Trailer and Sneak Peek

mv5bzje4mmuzzdqtmdy4os00ndm4lwe3yzctnjq4ndnkmtiyzdrhxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymzy0mte3nzu40._v1_sy1000_sx1000_al_

Amazon Prime Video has released a full length trailer for the upcoming final season of their alternate history series The Man in the High Castle. It’s packed with action and intrigue, giving viewers a glimpse into multiple realities. The future of the the series’ prime reality is at stake, and the trailer reveals the main characters who will decide its fate.

All episodes of season 4, the series’ wrap up, will be released on November 15, 2019.

Continue reading “The Man in the High Castle Season 4: Official Trailer and Sneak Peek”

The Man in the High Castle Season 1 Episode 2: Sunrise Recap

mv5bmtuwodi1njexm15bml5banbnxkftztgwodi4mtmxnze40._v1_sy1000_cr0014441000_al_

In episode 2 of The Man in the High Castle the relationships and events which will drive the rest of the series become much more clear. John Smith’s family is introduced and his son Thomas is held up as a shining example of Nazi youth. Smith and one of his surrogate sons, Erich Raeder, are attacked, showing that the apparent stability of the Reich is maintained through the frequent use of violent force.

In the Neutral Zone, Juliana and Joe get to know each other better as they await communication from their contacts. Juliana also gets to know a custumer at the diner. In San Francisco, tensions between the Germans and the Japanese continue to escalate. Kido, under pressure to find Juliana and the film, takes drastic steps to get Frank to talk. Frank must decide between protecting his family and fighting for the freedom he longs for.

Many of the series’ central themes are introduced in these first 2 episodes: The near impossibility of making rational choices about big issues when people one loves are in immediate danger and how that is exploited by torturers and oppressors; The choice between fighting and suffering for justice, possibly even dying for the cause, or surviving through moral compromise in the form of expedience, opportunism and collaboration; The incompetence, near apathy and disorganization of the North American resistance movement; The overall role of apathy and amorality on all sides in allowing oppression to continue; And the power of art, literature and music to influence hearts and minds, whether it’s the Christian Bible, Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, a catchy pop tune or an effective visual advertisement.

Continue reading “The Man in the High Castle Season 1 Episode 2: Sunrise Recap”

The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 10: Jahr Null Recap

mv5bzwixmmqyy2itnjrjni00zju5lwewn2qtnjc1yjnjngy5y2exxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjkwnzewmzu-_v1_sy1000_cr0013331000_al_

The Man in the High Castle has saved its big event, the Jahr Null kick off celebration with an ostentatious toppling of Lady Liberty, for the final episode of the season. As befits such a grand attention-getter, this episode is full of other surprises as well. It’s one of the most exciting episodes in the series’ history, with exits and rearrangements of characters worthy of Shakespeare. All that’s missing is a bear.

Liam’s friend Richie, a raunchy filmmaker who appears from nowhere mid episode in order to help change the course of history, will have to substitute for the bear. Deus Ex Richie and Jeremy is still a pretty satisfying plot device.

Jahr Null begins with Hawthorne returning to the ranch, where Caroline is waiting on the porch. It’s a trap, of course. As soon as he’s out of the car, a swarm of Nazis appear from the bushes and buildings. Hawthorne pulls out his gun and threatens to shoot himself in the head unless they let Caroline go.

John Smith steps forward. “Your brain, Mr Abendsen, is of great value to us. Your wife is not. Put the gun down. I’ll see to it she gets the medical attention she very badly needs. You shoot yourself, you’re gonna force my hand.”

Caroline signals for Hawthorne not to surrender, but he won’t risk her life. He throws the gun to the ground. Hawthorne says, “Oh John, I always wondered if I’d see you again.” The SD agents cuff him and Caroline.

Continue reading “The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 10: Jahr Null Recap”

The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 7: Excess Animus Recap

mv5byza5otbjmdctzwfmys00mmq1lwjizdetmdg2ztbhm2vhmdiwxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjkwnzewmzu-_v1_sy1000_cr0013331000_al_

In episode 7, Excess Animus, characters’ arcs continue to come full circle, just as Juliana and Joe’s did in episode 5. Kido delivers his brand of justice to the traitor Nakamura with extra zealousness, since he’d given the “hapa dog” a chance, despite his better judgement. But Kido also discovers that Tagomi hasn’t found him worthy of sharing important secrets, because of his ruthlessness and inability to see nuance.

Sabra faces more challenges to its seclusion, from bounty hunters looking for their friend who Layla killed and from Juliana, who hopes to recruit a few members to join her cause. Mark goes to Denver to take care of the bounty hunters, since he feels responsible for bringing that trouble to Sabra’s door.

Juliana has an unexpected reunion with her two oldest and dearest friends, Frank and Ed. It feels like they’ve each had a lifetime’s worth of experiences since the last time they saw each other. But everything has brought them back around to being on the same page again when they meet at Sabra, which is as tragic as it is wonderful. This reunion can’t last, and Juliana and Frank are both wanted fugitives. The odds of the three of them surviving until the end of whatever rebellion is coming are small.

Continue reading “The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 7: Excess Animus Recap”

The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 4: Sabra Recap

mv5bnmy3owy3mmqtmdyymy00otmylweznmmtmze2ownjywuxntq3xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjkwnzewmzu-_v1_sy1000_cr0013331000_al_

Episode 4, Sabra, focuses on the strained partnerships and heightening tensions of the alternate reality of The Man in the High Castle. Ed and Robert begin their journey back to the west coast, complaining at each other the whole time. John and Helen continue to struggle with their grief over Thomas’ death and the increasing scrutiny and pressure on them because of John’s promotion. Joe and Juliana grow physically closer, but choose every word they say carefully.

Meanwhile, the JPS begins experiencing protests over the fuel shortage because of its effect on everyday life. Wyatt shows up at Juliana’s door, wanting to get to know her better. Thelma and Nicole also get to know each other better, in an illegal way that could get them both reeducated at best and executed at worst. Tagomi and his painter get to know each other better over dinner, but Joe has plans for dessert.

The title, Sabra, refers to the Catholic community outside of Denver that secretly shelters a community of Jews, called Sabra. The term sabra means a native-born Israeli Jew. It’s taken from the name of a cactus fruit that’s tough on the outside but soft and sweet on the inside.

The Neutral Zone and the Japanese Pacific States turn people into this version of themselves, people who are tough and wary but can still have normal relationships with those they trust. In the Reich, trust is virtually impossible, as even one’s closest friends and loved ones might be convinced to turn one in for the good of the state. Joe was once a  young cactus fruit, but now he’s been squeezed dry, and the shell that’s left works for Himmler.

Continue reading “The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 4: Sabra Recap”

The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 2: Imagine Manchuria Recap

the-man-in-the-high-castle-302-w700-h467

The title of episode 2 of The Man in the High Castle season 3, Imagine Manchuria, refers to a line Kido says to his would-be new assistant. If Nakamura thinks San Francisco weather is unpleasant in the winter (it tends toward cool and frequently rainy), imagine what it will be like when Kido turns on him and has him sent to Manchuria, which can be as cold as the Arctic in winter. In other words, things can always get worse.

This is the theme of the episode, as the solution to one problem inevitably causes a bigger problem down the line. If we don’t see the bigger problem in this episode, we’re likely seeing the set up for it. Helen solves the Smiths’ gossip problem one way, but now has a crime scene to deal with. John solves it another way, but now has an ongoing blackmail scheme to finesse at a time when he’s being watched very closely. Kido arrests Juliana, but also catches Trudy, who he executed in the opening scenes of season 1. The triumph of catching a Resistance operative is overshadowed by the mental discord of seeing a woman he knows to be dead, now inexplicably returned to life. And of being put in conflict with Tagomi once again.

Schemes within schemes are revealed within the Reich, until anyone who has any power there might wish they’d been sent to Manchuria. In addition to his other supersecret American operations, Himmler is playing Hoover and Rockwell against Smith, and it’s anyone’s guess which side he’ll favor in the end. Joe is a Lebensborn special operative who works directly for Himmler, apparently as an assassin, but his true purpose is unknown to almost everyone. Even Smith and the head of the Reich Embassy in San Francisco, who is ostensibly his boss, don’t know. And Himmler is a demanding, impatient taskmaster who accepts no excuses.

Continue reading “The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 2: Imagine Manchuria Recap”