Imagine the Allied Powers had lost World War II. How would the world have changed? Well, in this adaption of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, Germany and Japan are the only superpowers left and, within their considerable empires, have divided the United States between them. The ten episode first season is a dark, frightening look at a dystopian universe that very easily could have been made reality if Hitler’s side had managed to develop and launch atomic weaponry before the U.S.
Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos) is just your typical young woman living in Japanese Pacific States who gets wrapped up in the fight for freedom when her sister is gunned down in front of her. Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank) is a wolf in sheep’s clothing (maybe) who acts as her bodyguard within the Neutral Zone while claiming its all part of his Nazi-backed mission. Frank Frink (Rupert Evans) is Crain’s scared and confused boyfriend who finds himself the prime suspect when and attempt is made on the life of the Crown Prince (Daisuke Tsuji). It all comes together to form an addictive fight for survival in a world where the once proud and strong America has been turned into the two evil empires’ playground.
Yeah, I don’t want to give too much more away so you’ll need to watch it to see how they (and all the subplots that play out around them) work out – or leave you wanting more when that last set of credits roll.
The cast is superb. Alexa Davalos (Andromeda, Clash of the Titans) exudes a steady strength as Juliana; while she’s no stranger to fear as she searches for the truth about the mysterious film she has thrust into her hands, she fights on against even the threat of death. Rupert Evans (Richard IV, The Palace) is again at the top if his game as Frank and deftly moves from frightened to angry to lost boy as his character gains and loses and gains again so much he holds dear. Luke Kleintank (Travis Hobbs, Pretty Little Liars) is devious yet charming as Joe Blake, bring out both love and detest for the Nazi spy/resistance fighter. And Rufus Sewell (Tom Builder, The Pillars of the Earth) is unassumingly evil as John Smith, a family man who sees his sinister actions as just another day at the office.
Rounding out the cast are some of the best supporting actors around; DJ Qualls (Citizen Z, Z Nation) as Frank’s loyal friend, Ed McCarthy; Joel de la Fuente (Dr. Johann Pryce, Hemlock Grove) is the obsessed Inspector Kido; Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawaw (Shang Tsung, Mortal Kombat) is the sympathetic Trade Minister, Nobusuke Tagomi; Carsten Norgaard (Jussac, The Three Musketeers) as Rudolph Wegener, a man willing to betray his empire for the empire’s own sake; Quinn Lord (Hansel/Nicholas Zimmer, Once Upon a Time) as John Smith’s Nazi-dedicated son with a secret so secret, not even he knows about it.
There are so many more talented actors here that I couldn’t possibly name them all. Just trust that each and every one is frikkin awesome and amazing.
From the Greater Nazi Reich, across the Neutral Zone to the Japanese Pacific States, every place you visit looks amazing. The architecture the Japanese and German occupied areas (most of the former U.S.) screams 1960’s invaded-Americana while the Neutral Zone, a lawless and dangerous place, retains the last vestiges, albeit somewhat run down, of the once great nation. The clothing is appropriate to the time period as is (most) of the technology – the German’s have been doing a lot of advancing that they don’t like to share even with their political ally, Japan. From the lightening to the colors to the designs of the empires, everything comes together to create this incredible, if nightmarish, world where the other side came out on top.
GO WATCH. NOW!
The Man in the High Castle is available now on Amazon – its included with a Prime membership so is you already have one, all you need is ten free hours to get sucked into this marvelous wreck of a world gone evil. There’s no way to recommend this show hard enough nor can I implore Amazon to not make us wait for what’s guaranteed to be a phenomenal second season.
In case you want to hop on Twitter and let the cast know how amazing they are, here's a few. If you know the others' handles, let me know and I'll add them, too.