The New World
The Illustrated Woman
The New Normal
The Three Monkeys
End Of The World
A Way Out
What if the allied forces lost World War II and a unified Germany/Japan formed a coalition and took over the world? The Man In The High Castle, based on the book written by Phillip Dick, aims to ask this question and whilst the world is incredibly detailed and fascinating to look at, the rest of the show doesn’t quite hit the same standard. The Nazi Captain, Obergruppenführer John Smith ( the stand out among an otherwise average cast. The show has promise and with the tease of a second season, hopefully its just the ticket to improve the issues hanging over show.
With Germany and Japan forming an uneasy alliance and occupying America, our story follows two key characters on either side of the country. Juliana (Alexa Davalos), a woman in Japanese occupied territory, searches for her sister’s killer whilst Joe (Luke Kleintank), in Nazi occupied territory is a new resistance recruit. As they set out on their journeys across America, they cross paths and both find themselves wrapped up in a larger plot that sees the introduction of strange films that promise to show secrets about World War II. The first two episodes are really good, with enough intrigue and awe at the world building to see past some of the show’s frailties. When the awe wears off, is when the show feels exposed but there’s just enough here to see you through to its conclusion which does end on a cliffhanger, prepping for season 2.
There aren’t many stand out performances aside from Obergruppenführer Smith who’s performance is excellent and he effortlessly steals the show as the Nazi Captain. Its during these scenes that you really feel the tension between the Nazis and the Japanese, partly due to his performance and partly due to the excellent world building that stays consistent and realistic throughout.
Through the poor pacing, mediocre characters and a plot that feels like it drags on a bit too much, the visuals and set design are second to none. The world is incredibly detailed and at times, is enough to distract you from the pacing issues the show is plagued by. The Japanese and German occupied areas feel different enough whilst still maintaining a distinct American vibe is really fascinating to watch and the main draw of the show. Beyond the visuals there really isn’t much else beyond an average alternate-history thriller.
The world building and visuals are outstanding and for this alone, I’d definitely recommend checking out the show but when the honeymoon period of gawking at the gorgeous world wears thin, it feels exposed with a snail paced plot and average characters. It isn’t a disaster and the show does have an intriguing premise but anyone expecting an action-soaked thriller rife with thrills will be left wanting. Its not quite the alternate history masterpiece creator Frank Spotnitz maybe was hoping for, but the shock conclusion might just be enough to see you through for a second go to see if it picks up.