What if the Allies lost the 2nd world war? What if at the end of the war America was under the joint occupation of the Germans and the Japanese? What if the Western part of America was under the Japanese rule, while the Eastern half was ruled by the Nazis? What if the Nazi flag flies high in Times Square? And, what if the Man In The High Castle created secret videos that had the power to ignite a revolution within the American subjects of the oppressive Axis regime?
The series has a grim setting right from the start. Careful attention to detail. A grey dark America set in the 1960’s where Japanese Kempeitai might kill your kin if another loved one is suspected of treachery, or the Nazis might torture you till you are forced to provide a fabricated testimony. Most Americans have accepted this way of life; the young not knowing any other existence, but there are a few who are ready to lay down their lives for a chance at a free America.
The story starts as Juliana is thrown into this struggle, when her sister is shot dead before her eyes. All for a forbidden videotape that contains a dream – America winning the war. The inception of an idea or does it foretell the future? She chooses to complete what her sister started, but her act of disappearance causes immeasurable suffering for her boyfriend, Frank.
On her journey she meets Joe. A young Nazi spy; or has love turned him to a believer of the resistance movement? Each twist and turn finds him change his loyalties. Does he himself know where they truly lie?
The side characters are painstakingly delved into until even the bad guys turn into quasi-heroes. In the Pacific West, Tagomi, the Japanese trade minister, is wise and honorable. Almost Yoda like in demeanor, his meditative powers hold a fantastic surprise in store for us. Over in New York, John Smith is loving and adoring with his family, but equally violent, unyielding and ruthless as the Obergruppenführer tasked to maintain peace.
Should your loyalty lie with your country, its leaders or the greater good of humanity? Family, love or ideals? Every choice is interesting. Every choice tough.
The series is based on the book by Philip K Dick (whose Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep is one of my favourite sci fi books). There is enough intrigue and thrill to keep you guessing. Specially when the 2nd video from the man in the high castle is played and we come face to face with an ailing, but very much still in control Hitler.
The last episode has a leap of faith and a kick of adrenaline and the next season won’t be released fast enough. If you like history, possibilities and a high does of drama, then The Man In The High Castle is a must watch this winter.
Writersbrew Reading Room