The Man in the High Castle review

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The show offers a look into an alternate reality deprived of liberty.

Bennett Carollo, Sports Editor

With all the extra time that they have on their hands because of quarantine, many people have turned to TV shows for entertainment. I am no exception. I have dabbled in a few different shows over the last couple of weeks, including the documentary sensation Tiger King. However, I am sure you are all familiar with that show, so I’m going to review something less new and mainstream: The Man in the High Castle.

The premise of this Amazon Prime original series is an alternate timeline where the Axis powers defeated the Allies in World War II. The Japanese and Nazis have divided the former United States into two territories with a lawless neutral zone in the middle. A group of people have who are willing to die rather than live the way these powers make them have formed a resistance. Think Star Wars but darker in tone and without all the sci fi. With four seasons consisting of a total of forty episodes released from 2015 to 2019, there is plenty here to keep you entertained. I’m only one season in, but I am already thoroughly impressed.

One of the most well-done parts of the show is the character building. Each of the characters are dynamic and fascinating, especially when the show doesn’t tell you much about their backstories to begin with and keeps you coming back to see their past uncovered and their future playing out. Take Joe Blake, one of the protagonists, for example. Actually, he may not be a protagonist. That’s what makes his character so enthralling. When we first meet Joe, he is begging for a job in the resistance, but he is later revealed to be a Nazi spy. However, when he meets the show’s main protagonist, Julianna, we see that he is conflicted on which side of the moral compass that he falls.

The setting and world building is another strength of The Man in the High Castle. The worlds surrounding the characters, whether it’s the bustling markets of Japanese San Francisco or the eerie ghost town of Canon City in the neutral zone, are captivating in their own right and make the story more believable. The realism is also aided by the experiences of the people and the way that they are treated. The main characters live in constant fear and there is little to no privacy, as their phone calls are tapped, and Japanese soldiers are following them almost constantly. The overarching conflict of the series, the threat of an H-bomb laden war between the Japanese and Nazis, is also a situation that one could come to expect in a world where these two aggressive nations have come out of WWII victorious. I could definitely imagine the world looking like this in an alternate reality.

One of the most important things to do in a show like this is to build suspense. Suspense is what makes the viewer get lost in a scene and continue to want to binge episodes for hours on end. The Man in the High Castle executes suspense perfectly. In the ten episodes that I have watched there have been countless heart-pounding life-or-death moments. From Joe sneaking around his Nazi higher-up’s house looking for information to a game of hide-and-seek between Julianna and a Nazi bounty hunter in an attic, there is never a dull moment.

Be warned, this show is not for the faint of heart. The producers don’t shy away from violence, as the story would not be realistic without some tragic deaths and brutal scenes. However, if you’re okay with seeing some blood, I would definitely recommend The Man in the High Castle.