Why You Should Be Watching Amazon's 'The Man In The High Castle'

Why You Should Be Watching Amazon's 'The Man In The High Castle'

The new season of Amazon's original series brings out the human side in history's most ruthless and notorious.
Sounder
Sounder
571
views

When I first heard of the new season of the Amazon Prime original series “The Man in the High Castle” that premiered earlier this month, I was somewhat curious. I had watched the first two episodes of the first season last year in November when they were both free. “Maybe the first episode of this season will also be free?” I thought. A joyous surprise came though when I logged onto Amazon to see when the season premier was… and saw that somehow, almost magically, I had acquired Amazon Prime! I asked my dad about this later (we share the same Amazon account), but he said he didn’t recall purchasing Prime. I don’t recall purchasing it either, but regardless, I was ecstatic and binge watched the first season during the wee hours of the weekday morning when I should have been sleeping, studying, or doing homework. After the final credits for the first season finale rolled past, I waited eagerly for season two to arrive.

For those unfamiliar with the series, which I do heartedly recommend, “The Man in the High Castle” is a loose adaptation of the original 1962 novel by late science fiction author Philip K. Dick. The novel imagines life in an alternate reality where the Axis powers won WWII and now rule the world. The United States is divided in half, with the Greater Nazi Reich occupying the East coast and the Japanese empire occupying the West coast. Between the two lies the Neutral Zone (formed by the Rocky Mountains), an area that serves as a buffer zone between the two world powers, as Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan are currently engaged in a decades-long Cold War. Unlike the Cold War in our universe, it is a bit one sided, as Nazi Germany has possessed nuclear weapons since at least 1945, while Japan has yet to built their first.

Needless to say, the Amazon series has a rather dark tone; seriously, how can life under global rule by the Axis powers possibly be cheery? However, the premier of season two came at a rather peculiar time, even if the release date was decided upon rather long ago. The recent election of Donald J. Trump as the next President of the United States meant that Google and all the entertainment coverage websites were flooded with mentions of how the series is now a little more unnerving in the wake of Trump’s victory. The rotten reviews on Rotten Tomatoes even explicitly called out the bad timing as a major reason for the reviewers’ disappointment in the season.

Of course, this is all very subjective and politically influenced. Half the nation was utterly joyful and filled with hope when Trump claimed victory early last month. That half of the nation, though, is generally not the type to fill the Internet with reviews of the latest movies and TV shows. In a year that already saw the release of a positively reviewed film detailing Barack Obama’s early romance with Michelle (“South Side with You”), it seemed rather odd to me, if not outright partisan and biased, to suddenly let politics influence one’s opinion on a work of fiction. While there was a moment or two while I watched season two where I got a brief chill at the parallels between the series and America in December of 2016, overall the series did little to evoke any sense of political emotion, and I advise everyone to watch it knowing full well that it is an adaptation of a Cold War era novel, filmed months ago, and nothing more. While the supposed rise of white nationalism (or at least its prominence) in this country is a bit unnerving, I remain fairly confident that it will not bloom into more anytime soon. Trump himself merely farmed the white nationalists’ interest for votes and now wants nothing more to do with them. Whether or not they will try to use him as a “useful idiot” remains to be seen however.

Season two encountered some weird quandaries during production: the series showrunner left around halfway through season production / filming, and the series concluded production without ever finding a new replacement. Also, past the first episode, the series effectively covered all the plotlines from the original source material. Everything from that point onwards Amazon had to create for themselves. Unfortunately, this sudden need to craft their own narrative shows pretty well during the second season. The series now was rather struggling (if it wasn’t before) to find what kind of show exactly that it wanted to be and what direction that it wanted to head in. The end result is a bit convoluted and heavy-handed.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead! Skip ahead if you’ve yet to watch “The Man in the High Castle” season finale!

By the end of the season finale, I got the impression that Amazon ultimately decided that this season would merely be a transition season for whatever Amazon has in store for the future. The sudden reappearance of Juliana Crain’s sister Trudy Walker, alive, and Japanese trade minister Nobusuke Tagomi’s strange voyage through our world’s 1962 hints at more universe hopping in the series future. If that is the case, I find this a somewhat worrying change of theme and focus and can only hope that Amazon navigates this transition well.

A major difference between seasons one and two is the amount of interaction between the main characters. While in season one, the show’s protagonists and “antagonists” all shared story threads that ultimately tied together pretty well, season two sees most of its characters all going their separate ways, never physically sharing the same place at the same time, though Tagomi’s encounter with our universe’s Juliana Crain could count as an exception. Joe Blake is in Berlin throughout most of the season, hence the series spawning in two new characters (his dad and Nicole) is flesh out his storyline. Miss Crain spends most of her time in the Greater Nazi Reich with Obergruppenfuehrer John Smith. Frank Frink undergoes a somewhat contrived character metamorphosis as he joins the Resistance in the Pacific States, while also helping out Ed and Childan on the side. Chief Inspector Kido largely is involved with his own work in the Pacific States, and Tagomi is off in another universe entirely!

END SPOILERS.

As with season one, season two again follows characters from both the Axis and (former) Allied powers. This leads to an exorbitant amount of moral ambiguity and grayness. Chief Inspector Kido and Obergruppenfuehrer Smith might very well be considered monsters by some. Indeed, they commit acts that are more typical among movie villains than series “protagonists.” Both men though are merely products of their place in society. They are both fathers and military veterans, and the show points this out poignantly. Would they not be doing their heinous deeds were it not for the job titles that they hold? Perhaps season three will tell. Either way, to feel sympathy for a Nazi and a Kempeitai officer is not to be looked down upon when looking deeper into their lives as mere mortal men. Their ambiguous morality, along with that of the shady American Resistance members, only seeks to highlight that people in real life are rarely one-dimensional. We are all only human and subject to be products of our environment, whatever that shall entail.

Cover Image Credit: Amazon Studios

Popular Right Now

The 10 Stages Of A 2:30 P.M. Kickoff, As Told By Alabama Students

But we still say Roll MF Tide!

3417
views

We all have a love-hate relationship with a 2:30 p.m. kickoff at Bryant Denny Stadium, especially when it's 94 degrees.

1. Immediate sadness

media.giphy.com

What do you mean I have to wake up at 9 a.m. to get ready?

2. Bracing yourself for the worst

media.giphy.com

It's a marathon not a sprint ladies and gentleman.

3. Accepting the game is going to happen

media.giphy.com

Rain or shine we are all in that student section screaming our heads off.

4. Trying to wear the least amount clothes possible without being naked on the Quad

media.giphy.com

Is it me or does it get 10 times more hot the minute you walk on to the quad?

5. Shedding a tear when you walk out your front door once you feel the heat and humidity on your skin

media.giphy.com

Is it fall yet?

6. Drowning your sorrows inside a Red Solo cup at 11:30 a.m. at a fraternity tailgate

media.giphy.com

Maybe I'll forget about the humidity if I start frat hopping now.

7. Getting in line to go through security realizing it'll take an hour to actually get inside Bryant Denny

media.giphy.com

More security is great and all but remember the heat index in Alabama? Yeah, it's not easy being smushed like sardines before even getting into Bryant Denny.

8. Feeling the sweat roll down every part of your body

media.giphy.com

Oh yeah I am working on my tan and all but what is the point of showering before kick off?

9. Attempting to cheer on the Tide, but being whacked in the head with a shaker by the girl behind you. 

media.giphy.com

Shakers are tradition, but do we have to spin it around in a full 360 every two seconds? I have a migraine from just thinking about it.

10. Leaving a quarter into the game because Alabama is kicking ass and you're about to have a heat stroke.

media.giphy.com

I'll watch the rest in air conditioning thank you very much!

We may not love the 2:30 kickoffs but Roll Tide!

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

I Made Emma Chamberlain's Mediocre Vegan Cookies, And They're Pretty Incredible

Emma and her vegan cookies have made their way into my heart, and are here to stay.

41
views

One day, I went down the black hole that is 'YouTube at 3 am' and discovered my favorite social media influencer of all time: Emma Chamberlain. I started binge watching her videos every night for about a week, where I came across her "Cooking With Emma" series. I decided that I wanted to give her vegan antics a go for myself.

I've never cooked or baked anything with the intention of it being vegan, so not only is that new territory for me, but I've never even eaten a vegan cookie. The only reason I'm doing this is because Emma did, and she is aesthetic goals.

To start the journey of vegan baking, I took to Pinterest, just like Emma, and found this recipe to use. Although the video that inspired all of this used a gluten free recipe, I opted for only vegan, because I'm allergic to most of the ingredients that make things gluten-free.


In true Emma style, I used a whisk to combine the wet ingredients together, making sure to use her special technique.


Then, I did the same thing with the dry ingredients.


After that, I dumped everything together and combined all of the ingredients.


Once they were combined, I chopped up a vegan chocolate bar, because Emma and I like chocolate chunk cookies, not chocolate chip, there's a difference.


Now that everything is combined, I made balls of dough and stuck it on a pan, and baked them while I binged more Emma, because what else would I be doing in my spare time?



The recipe said to make the balls a lot smaller, but we aren't perfect, so I made them gigantic. In my head, I thought the worst thing that could happen was it turn into one big cookie, but that's a whole other video you need to watch.

I took them out of the oven, and they were brown on the top, but still a little doughy. At this point I was tired of waiting and eager to eat them, so I disappointingly set them aside to cool, which only lasted a minute or so before I snagged one up to try.



The taste was definitely one I've never associated with cookies, and came to the conclusion that if I decided to go vegan, it would be doable with these cookies and Emma Chamberlain by my side.



Emma inspired me to get out of my comfort zone, which is a reoccurring theme throughout her channel, and I'm happy to be apart of it. She taught me that even if mediocre cookies is all you have, eat them with pride because you made them yourself.

Related Content

Facebook Comments