Man in the High Castle Season 1 (2015)
Creators – Frank Spotnitz
Starring – Luke Kleintank, Arnold Chun, Alexa Davalos
Rating – M
Genre – Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Streaming on Amazon Prime
The Man in the High Castle is an alternate history drama streaming on Amazon prime. The premise for this show is incredibly intriguing and filled with endless “what ifs”. MITHC is set in an alternate 1960’s in which Germany and Japan are the victors of WW2. The United States is now split down the middle with the East colonized by Germany, the West coast by Japan, and a neutral zone down the middle along the Rockies. The show puts you right into the action, filled with tension between the Germans and the Japanese, alongside with mysterious resistance within the American roots.
This show has a lot going for it; the aesthetics are immaculate and the costume design is top tier. Every player looks like they’ve been ripped out of a history book, especially the Germans. Other aspects of the environment such as buildings, cars, and equipment are remarkable as well; the mechanized German’s juxtaposed with organic-looking Japanese. It’s refreshing to see that even an alternate history can stay true to the times as well as the diverse cultures.
The characters are developed and real. Throughout the show we see characters on all sides struggle between doing what’s right and what they must do to survive. They exist in a world where one slight mistake will end in death, this creates palpable suspense and unpredictability. This aspect establishes a lot of grey area for the characters, leaving you wondering who’s going to do the “right” thing. The arcs of the characters provide some healthy mind bending; I even found myself rooting for Hitler and the Germans. It’s presented as a classic good vs. evil tale, but strives to twist your understanding of the two as the plot thickens. The natural tension captivates, as we see two very different cultures trying to maintain peace in a warzone. The character’s’ anxiety is almost constant, not only between their various factions but within their relationships as well.
As an aside, I also appreciated that TMIHC is not crude; there’s almost no graphic nudity, which is rare for most shows in this genre.
The only weakness of the show are the performances. There are times when the scenes don’t flow well, due to both the forced acting and pacing, but it’s not a huge problem. That being said, I highly recommend this show. It does a great job of helping you empathize with the characters, often making you think as they might. The battle between the ideologies of the Germans (survival of the fittest) and the Japanese (honor and preservation) are interestingly found in between two groups as well as within each character. I look forward to seeing where the show goes from here, and I hope that they stick with this authenticity and continue to toe the “what-if” line.
Author: Colby King
499 rating – 8.5/10