Edgar Allan Poe once said, “A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.” A television series is no different in that it must follow the same trajectory over the span of its episodes should it wish to be successful. The Man in the High Castle is a perfect example of that. If season one was defined by the dark hues that get under your skin, and a gradual tension that was as unnerving as seeing Nazi insignias and brown shirts, then season two promises to be just as gripping and evocative now that the world has been established – having provided the necessary foundation to delve into it.
Fears were prevalent in the past months given the departure of showrunner, Frank Spotnitz, leaving many fans wondering if the series would be able to retain that elusive quality that hooked us all in season one. Despite there being one less seat occupied at the season two premiere in London, Spotnitz’s legacy is not betrayed, partially due to the fact that he himself had a hand in developing half of the new episodes. With a show like The Man in the High Castle, even the slightest glitch in momentum gets felt by the viewer.
Rupert Evans (one of the few cast members that attended the European premier of the second season), commented that, “the scale of the show wouldn’t have been possible without Amazon Prime Video. The amount we’re always attempting to achieve; it’s less likely a series like this would have been picked up by major networks, simply because of the material.” Indeed, the grandiosity of the show is one of the elements that make it so powerful, not least because of the physical properties that encapsulate the series: from costumes, to props, to decor. Yet, despite the minutiae, the construction of the universe alone takes on a remarkable and ambitious scope. As we move into season two, and characters like Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos) find themselves relocating to the Greater Nazi Reich, the geography of The Man in the High Castle only expands, adding further breadth and depth to the already established world. We’re easily immersed in it precisely because it’s expansiveness is so immersive.
And just as before, it appears that there’ll be several acts that divide up the season, much the same way season one began with the plot surrounding Juliana and Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank) in Canon City, with all its repercussions and developments, and then progressed to the action back in San Francisco, with the assassination of the crown prince. Many cite this narrative segmentation as the reason why the show can be considered “clumsy” at times, but this does nothing if not pace a program that would otherwise be too intense and inorganic for itself. After all, when there’s a single mood it must build towards, no step is unmeasured, no season is hurried.
Dir: Daniel Percival, Karyn Kusama, Brad Anderson, Nelson McCormick, Ken Olin, Michael Rymer, David Semel, Michael Slovis, Bryan Spicer, Colin Bucksey, John Fawcett, Paul Holahan, Chris Long, David Petrarca, Daniel Sackheim, Alex Zakrzewski
Scr: Philip K. Dick, Frank Spotnitz, Rob Williams, Erik Oleson, Jace Richdale, Thomas Schnauz, Rick Cleveland, Wesley Strick, Emma Frost, Walon Green, Evan Wright, Francesca Gardiner
Cast: Alexa Davalos, Rupert Evans, Luke Kleintank, DJ Qualls, Joel de la Fuente, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Rufus Sewell, Brennan Brown, Callum Keith Rennie, Bella Heathcote
Prd: David Semel, Frank Spotnitz, Ridley Scott, David W. Zucker, Stewart Mackinnon, Christian Baute, Isa Dick Hackett, Christopher Tricarico
DOP: James Hawkinson, Gonzalo Amat
Music: Henry Jackman, Dominic Lewis
Runtime: 48-60 minutes
Season two of The Man in the High Castle is available now on Amazon Prime Video