For the last part of this month, we’ve been binging the second season of the Amazon original series, The Man in the High Castle. And once again, it placed on our annual list of the top 10 dramas on TV. It’s also hitting a little bit too close to home.
The series is based on the novel of the same name by Philip K. Dick, and while the second season added more elements from the book, it also pulled further away from the original story. It looks like The Man in the High Castle’s adaptation is going in its own direction, with a few more sci-fi touches.
Before reading any further, you should know that there are some spoilers ahead. The major secrets will be withheld, but we can’t talk about the second season without going into the details. We’re also assuming that you’ve already seen the first season by now, so consider this your spoiler warning!
This season really belonged to Alexa Davalos. Her character, Juliana Crane has been at the forefront of the series since the beginning, but she had a much more interesting arc this year. After betraying the resistance and letting Joe Blake escape with his life and the film, Juliana was branded an enemy of both the Japanese forces and her former allies. That led to Juliana making a desperate play for asylum in the Nazi-controlled American Reich, in the service of finding a man she glimpsed on one of the forbidden films. Watching Juliana’s attempts to survive while adjusting to the culture shock made for some very compelling viewing and added a lot of tension to the show.
Davalos played Juliana’s justifiably growing paranoia with ease, and bringing her character to the other side of the divided country ended up opening the door for her boyfriend, Frank Frink (Rupert Evans) to also take a larger role as he was essentially seduced into the resistance. The physical and emotional distance between Frank and Juliana was more satisfying to see than their strained relationship in season 1. Both characters simply worked better when they didn’t have to deal with their personal issues.
Frank’s had a slow burning hatred for the Japanese since the early episodes of this series, so it only felt natural that he became more of a fighter. But what really played was the way that Frank’s anger empowered him while destroying his oldest friendship at the same time. Frank didn’t have much in the way of moral complexity in the first season, and his darker turn was appreciated.
On the other hand, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Rufus Sewell’s characters were multifaceted from the very beginning, and the second season added further dimensions to them. Tagawa’s character, Nobusuke Tagomi took a more sci-fi direction as he seemed to gain the ability to travel between his timeline and our timeline. But the intriguing thing there was the pull that Tagomi felt from his family in that other universe. Sewell’s John Smith was also very driven by family this season, as he desperately tried to cover up his son’s illness and hold on to his power. Sewell is simply outstanding in the role of a monster who isn’t entirely divorced from real human emotions. That was why he largely stole the first season, and he’s still one of the best performers on the show.
We were less enthused by the turn taken with Joe Blake this season. While it was a smart move to send Joe to Berlin and expand the canvas of the series, it didn’t seem like Luke Kleintank had as much to do compared to the other cast members on the show. But that’s a fairly small complaint considering the overall quality of the season. Amazon hasn’t yet announced a renewal for The Man in the High Castle, but we’re hoping it will come soon. This is easily the best drama on Amazon, and it deserves to continue.
What was your favorite episode from The Man in the High Castle Season 2? Let us know in the comment section below!