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

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Heil Hitler! We’ve got about 2 months before the November 15 release of the final season of Amazon’s chilling alternate history series The Man in the High Castle. Since I haven’t recapped season 1 yet, I’m going to spend some of that time catching up. Recaps of seasons 2-4 are here, at the show’s tag. Season 2 was one of the first seasons I recapped on the blog and I was still figuring out my style, so if I get time someday I may revisit it more thoroughly.

For now, let’s journey back to both the Amazon Prime Video of 2015 and an alternate version of 1962, where the Nazis and the Japanese won World War 2. The Germans developed the atomic bomb first and dropped one on Washington DC, leading the US to surrender. 17 years later, Hitler continues to lead the German empire, while the Japanese continue to be led by Emperor Hirohito.

The two empires have divided the world between them, leaving various swaths open as lawless neutral zones. The eastern and midwestern portions of the former United States are now part of the Greater Third Reich. The West Coast states are now the Japanese Pacific States.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 5: The New Colossus Recap

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The New Colossus is such an eventful episode that it’s hard to know how to even summarize it. The title refers to the centerpiece of Nicole’s Jahr Null plan, replacing the Statue of Liberty with a new statue based in part on the image of Thomas, but also to John Smith and the power he accrues, which is supposed to keep him and his family safe, but instead hangs like an albatross around his neck.

The themes of identity, spirituality, community and responsibility continue to be explored this episode. Frank engages in soul searching before his bar mitzvah, trying to discern how to best atone for his sins while keeping his current community safe. Helen works through her grief and wonders how to reconcile her feelings about Thomas’ death with being a strong wife and mother. Juliana struggles with the meaning of the films and how they relate to her relationship with Joe in this world. John has to come up with yet another scheme to retain power and protect his family, this time breaking up my dream team of Rockwell and Hoover.

The episode begins with Himmler overseeing the graduation exercises executions of more Lebensborn assassins. His favorite is a tall, broad, blonde named Hans, who is the best the Reich has to offer. Hans is able to shoot fleeing Jews in the back faster than anyone ever, making Papa Himmler ever so proud.

Keep repeating to yourself that even in this reality, the Reich will fall eventually, and take some deep breaths.

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

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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.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 3: Senso Koi Recap

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While episode 2 brought a series of endings to the world of The Man in the High Castle, and the feeling of fully completing storylines from previous seasons, episode 3, Sensô Kôi, contains reunions, beginnings and revelations. John Smith has the biggest revelation of all. Dr Mengele convinces him that the films he’d dismissed as fake after he learned about them as part of Hitler’s collection are, in fact, documentation of other realities in which other versions of ourselves live similar but different lives. The awakening to possibilities that cascades through Smith’s head is practically visible.

Juliana and Joe are reunited, but spend most of their time circling each other cautiously. The two amateur spies have grown up to become lethal weapons and the young pair who were uncertain of their causes have firmly chosen where they stand. Unfortunately it’s not on the same side. The films prove that they have a deep connection in every reality, but death is usually involved when they are together, going all the way back to the season 1 films. The current crop of films raises the stakes even higher.

Nicole’s film documentary about Thomas Smith has its premiere with everyone who’s anyone in the American Reich in attendance. It’s clear that the film is thinly veiled propaganda meant to position John Smith as the next Reichsmarschall. The film leaves Smith’s enemies seething, especially Hoover and Rockwell, my very favorite villain duo on this show ever. Rockwell has a certain charismatic panache that we don’t see often on MITHC, and Hoover just loves being his sycophantic evil flunkie so darn much.

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

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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.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 1: Now More Than Ever, We Care About You Recap

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It’s been almost 2 years since we last visited with the residents of the Greater Nazi Reich, the Japanese Pacific States and the Neutral Zone, and things have changed both in the real and fictional worlds. The Man in the High Castle has undergone huge behind the scenes changes, including a new showrunner. So has Amazon’s television division. There has been turnover in the cast as well, and last season brought the end of the first “book” in the series.

This season starts a new long-term story arc. Let’s see if it’s worth the wait.

At the end of season 2, Juliana is in the Neutral Zone and reunited with her sister from another reality, Trudy, as the Man in the High Castle, Hawthorne Abendon, looks on. Frank and Sarah appear to be lost in the explosion they set in the San Francisco Kempeitai building to assassinate General Onoda. Kido and Tagomi survive the explosion. Kido gives Smith one of the movies that Tagomi brought back from an alternate Earth, as proof that Japan also has the bomb, in order to avoid nuclear war. Ed and Childan have left San Francisco on a bus bound for the Neutral Zone.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3: First Full Length Trailer and More

Among the world-changing events in Amazon’s new trailer for season 3 of The Man in the High Castle are the Nazi’s bid to rewrite American history by melting down the Liberty Bell, Juliana taking charge of the Resistance, and U2 allowing Pride (In the Name of Love) to be covered by another artist for the first time ever. Bono and the Edge must be fans of the show.

The new trailer is more than 2 minutes long and finally shows much more detail than the teaser trailers did, giving us a good idea of where Castle is going this season. It looks bold and exciting. They are taking the next step in world-building, opening up the parallel worlds for exploration and discussion among more of the cast and the original world.

Overall the trailer shows a natural progression of the storylines from their individual, secretive beginnings in season 1 to an organizational, national level in season 2, bringing us to an explosive, global, possibly multiuniversal level in season 3. With only 10 episodes and a season 4 renewal already in the bag, I’m willing to bet that the conquest/true exploration of the multiverse will wait for the next season, while this season is spent fighting over who is in control of the world when the gates are breached on an official basis.

The trailer and more after the jump.


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Amazon Renews The Man in the High Castle for Season 3 (VIDEO)

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Amazon announced this week that it has renewed The Man in the High Castle for a third season and hired a new showrunner as well.  Eric Overmyer will take over for season 3, after the show spent the second half of season 2 without a showrunner, instead “operating like a republic,” according to executive producer David Zucker.

“As timely as ever, the exploration of characters at a dark point for humanity has provided incredible stories for two seasons,” said Joe Lewis, Head of Comedy and Drama, Amazon Studios. “Eric and his team are doing an incredible job crafting stories about the inner lives of those who struggle to do good in a world that is not.”

Below the cut, watch the season 3 announcement video.

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The Man in the High Castle: Speculation for Season 3 (That Will Obviously Turn Out to Be Wrong)

Here are our predictions for season 3 and beyond of The Man in the High Castle. (Or, probably more accurately, our hopes and dreams.) This is what we would do if we were writing the show:

Childan and Ed will be running their antiques business in the Neutral Zone, which will obviously also be a front for some less legitimate side business, and for the new and improved Resistance as well, once Juliana finds them.

Childan and Ed will be having an affair, both finally having admitted they’re either bi or gay. It’s clear Ed’s been in love with Frank since childhood, but he thinks Frank’s dead, so it’s time to move on. They may have him try to act on his crush on Juliana, but I think he knows she’s out of his league, and she’s emotionally unavailable anyway. Statistically, this show needs some queer characters. I’m going with the idea that same sex relations are forbidden in the Empire and the Reich, so no one is out, but things are looser in the Neutral Zone.

Abendsen will help Juliana and Trudy find Ed and Childan. Juliana will be in mourning for everything she’s lost. Tagomi may make his way to her at some point in this reality to make sure she is okay. She and Trudy might set off to find their parents and get them to the Neutral Zone. Eventually Trudy, Sarah, and Arnold will run the Western Resistance.

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The Man in the High Castle Episodes 9 & 10 Recap: Detonation and Fallout

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We start episode 10, Fallout, with the only cold open of the season, maybe of the entire series so far. It’s December 11th, 1945. Smith and Helen arrive at a small cottage outside of Washington, DC. Helen is very pregnant with Thomas, who she says is kicking up a storm. As they’re settling in, an atomic bomb goes off in the distance, seen behind them through the cottage’s picture window. They realize the Nazis have bombed Washington. As we know from watching the series so far, this is the event that caused the Americans to surrender to the Nazis.

This little scene is one of my favorite things they’ve done so far. It’s so brief, but it tells us so much, and reminds us of so much. And it’s shot gorgeously. We start out watching the couple from inside the cottage with the camera at a slight distance, framing the room as if it were a family portrait or a painting. There’s even a Christmas song playing in the background. Everything is perfect for them, despite the war. The room is dark, and the sky is graying outside the window as the sun sets. They are in the dark about what is about to happen. Change is coming. John turns on the lights, and they discuss his work at the Pentagon and the baby, with Helen telling Smith that she thinks it’s a boy. They are working to keep their situation happy and normal, despite the war. As they’re talking, a loud rumbling starts, along with a flash of light. For a split second, you think it could be thunder and lightning, but the flashes and crashes continue. Helen and Smith turn toward the window, holding hands. They, and we, realize something is very wrong, but they are in this together. The camera pulls closer and closer to them, then finally between them, up to the window, where we finally see the red sky and mushroom cloud from the atomic bomb in the distance. This is the event that will eventually come between them. This is the episode where that comes to fruition. They walk toward the window, and the camera pulls around in front of them. Now the camera is outside the window, looking in. We’re in the Looking Glass world now, no longer the world that made sense just 5 minutes ago. We see the mushroom cloud reflected in the window while we see Smith and Helen at an angle and shadowed, through the window. Everything in their world and their futures is now off balance, askew, dark.

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