“People need to be reminded of who to fear.”
The Man in the High Castle‘s third season really lifts the show back up to how great it was when it started. Season 2 wasn’t bad, but it didn’t quite deliver on the intensity and detailed quality that the previous season had, and the plot lines meandered. With Eric Overmyer as the new showrunner, season 3 takes its subject matter very seriously. It thoughtfully examines the horrors of fascism, and the ideals of the 1960s.
It was important for this season to be exemplary in its portrayal of Nazism and their ideals. I think the show has successfully done this in the past, but in this political climate, where we have actually Nazis thinking their beliefs have merit (they don’t), it was essential they got it right. Thankfully, this season overcomes expectations, really delving into these tough topics honestly and with sensitivity.
All the characters are complex, and there’s a detailed understanding of history and culture in the portrayal of both the Japanese and the Reich. Neither groups are two-dimensional. The show elegantly illustrates the parallels to our current culture. It explores disinformation and manipulation through propaganda, and how it’s produced to control the opinions of the masses, alongside the purging of past traditions. Also, there is a scene very reminiscent of Charlottesville. There’s masses shouting “blood and soil” and carrying torches, essentially showing how, no matter what we want to believe, this is still a fight we’re facing.
Topics explored this season
There are so many important threads to the story. Some issues they continue to explore are euthanasia and the idea of racial purity, and harmful gender roles. Both are a big focus of this season. At the end of season 2, Thomas voluntarily turned himself in to be euthanized. He only wanted to make his family and country proud. An innocent and trusting boy, Thomas was taught to support his country unconditionally. They had to be willing to sacrifice anything for the good of the Reich. This also parallels our own culture, and our intense value of nationalism.
As for gender roles, in any country in the sixties, even the most progressive, women were generally expected to have children and take care of the home. This is a large part of fascist ideals, but in this time period it was just as big a part of American values. Also, this season introduces a few LGBT storylines. Just like with gender, the prejudices shown happened in our own country anyway, with or without Nazism. And it’s another thing we’re still facing now.
Plot and characters
This season continues expanding on the science fiction elements, as well as resistance. There’s a lot more information about the films and other universes, but the show mainly focuses on the characters’ personal journeys. With such a big cast, they’re able to explore many different perspectives, and there’s a varied spectrum of hope and morality in the characters.
On opposite ends are Juliana Crain and Joe Blake, two characters that once fought together for the cause. Juliana is the brave and kind pacifist, who vehemently stands for her beliefs and the knowledge of right and wrong. But her attitudes towards fighting and violence are shifting. Joe, at the other end, is a true victim of the world they live in. He’s lost everything, and he’s forced to be complicit in the horrors in order to survive. Where Juliana has hope for a free future, he has none. So while he knows how fundamentally wrong and violent the Nazis are, they’re his only choice.
John Smith continues to hold the middle ground, which is what makes him one of the most interesting characters on the show. He’s still clearly a villain. He made his choice to be loyal to the Nazis early on, and this season shows that there’s no turning back for him. But he also has strong family values and despises war, just like Tagomi. He’s done many evil things. But is he completely evil? He’s human, and it’s scary how easily we can relate to him.
Nobusuke Tagomi is very important to Juliana this season, and we see their relationship develop more. Though he can be calculating and aggressive when he needs to be, Tagomi’s beliefs are solid and unchanging. He tries his hardest to prevent war and fighting, and he continues to be my favorite character. There’s also a whole slew of other interesting characters, from Kido to Nicole Dörmer. Additionally, there’s a few new characters this season, including J. Edgar Hoover and George Lincoln Rockwell.
You should definitely watch this show
With a storyline that continues to prove its importance, and many truly intense moments, The Man in the High Castle is a beautiful and complicated picture of a world that could be. The show’s timely in a way it wasn’t when it started three years ago, and extreme as it may seem, this could be us. So let’s appreciate the show while it’s still a dystopia, and maybe take a lesson or two from Juliana and continue the fight. #ResistanceRises
The Man in the High Castle season 3 is now streaming on Amazon Prime!
(Featured Image: Amazon)