It’s been a year and a half, but it’s finally here, The Man in the High Castle season three. This season delves even deeper into Philip K. Dick’s imaginary world, and finally starts explaining the details of the sci-fi aspects of the show. More than anything though, we see our characters pushed to the limit, and (spoiler alert) they don’t all survive.
The Man in the High Castle is a show that depicts a world in which the Axis powers won World War II, and the Japanese and the Nazis occupy the United States in an alternate 1960’s. This season picks up around six months after the last one left off. Juliana is living with the man in the high castle, Hawthorne Abernathy, and his wife. Also living with them is a version of Juliana’s late sister, Trudy, from another world. Trudy is what’s called a “traveler,” which means she can travel by will to other worlds. The Nazis are very aware of the existence of travelers, and are attempting to build a machine that will open a portal to other worlds. Juliana discovers what they are attempting to do, and makes it her mission this season to destroy the machine. Along the way she gets comes into contact with, and gets help from most of the other characters, including some new ones, once again being the connective glue of the show.
The first episode starts out a little confusing, but once you get your bearings and settle into it, you remember why you liked it so much. We see a lot more of the Neutral Zone this season, and its benefits and problems. On the plus side, nothing is against the law in the Neutral Zone, which makes it a safe haven for those unwelcome in the Reich and the Pacific States, but it also makes it dangerous, with bounty hunters hiding around every corner.
We meet a secret Jewish community surviving in the Neutral Zone under the guise of being a Christian town. Ed also finds peace to be himself out in the Neutral Zone as he can finally be out of the closet, and finds love with a guy named Jack living in Denver. This season explores much more of how minorities are dealing with the oppressive world they live in. It has been long awaited, but is about time. It is also revealed that Nicole Dormer (Joe’s flame from last season) is bisexual, but as part of the upper class who believe they are untouchable, she deals with it in a very different way. The show is still deficient in black characters, which is an utter shame.
Speaking of how minorities are doing, Frank Frink is (spoiler alert) still alive and well (though with a lot of scars), and living in that secret Jewish town I mentioned. He has struggled for two seasons with his Jewish identity, but this season we finally see him embrace it, and he has never been more at peace. The part where he gets bar mitzvah’d is the most touching part of the whole season.
Two people who are most certainly not at peace? The Smiths. As John continues to be honored and promoted, the death of his son weighs on him more and more. With all of his responsibility, he’s not allowed to fall apart, and has to find a way to go on. His wife on the other hand grieves fully for the loss of her first-borne, and desperately tries to protect her other children from the same fate (they might have the same disease as Thomas). As the danger grows, Hellen has to make a choice, between the Reich and her husband, or her children’s safety. Guess which one she chooses. The way the show deal with the conflict in this family is poignant and heartbreaking.
One character you don’t really feel for is Joe Blake. Joe’s redemption has been the will he, won’t he of the whole show. Will he turn against the Nazis, follow Juliana, and join the resistance as his conscience tells him to? Or will he fall further and further into the Nazi regime. This season, there is no contest. After being thrown in jail last season, he emerges this season brainwashed by the Nazis to do their bidding. Everything you loved about Joe is gone. The loss of his redemption is one of the great disappointments of this season.
Newcomer Jason O’Mara (Agents of Shield) plays Wyatt Price, who becomes Juliana’s partner in crime as she embarks on her mission to destroy the machine. He’s a rascal who’s reminded by Juliana why the fight against the Nazis matters. He’s an okay character, but nothing so interesting.
The situation between the Nazis and the Japanese continues to devolve this season, as they become enmeshed in a sort of Cold War. The person most dedicated to stopping it is still Tagomi, ever the peace maker, but he has his work cut out for him. He makes more immediate progress by helping Juliana, when she shows up in San Francisco with Trudy and asks for help. It is more clear than ever this season that Tagomi and Juliana are the two people most dedicated towards righting their world, and the two most suited to it. Tagomi has seen what a world where the Allies won looks like, and knows that his world took the wrong path. Meanwhile Juliana, the constant in all the remaining films, starts to have memories of her other lives in other time periods/worlds, and it makes it clear to her what she needs to do.
This season is a roller coaster. Not all of the main characters survive (some of the deaths will surprise you), and it takes a lot of new risks. Overall, I’m still hooked, and waiting with baited breath for next season, which is already filming.