The Man in the High Castle: season 1 Episode 1 (Pilot) – thoughts.
Amazon made a pilot episode for a television series based on a book by Philip K. Dick? Now people, there is no need to get alarmed; it’s good. Beginning this piece with a bit of shock is similar to how the pilot episode of: “The Man in the High Castle” carried out its mission. Indeed like the book, the series is set in an alternate history United States where the Axis powers have won, and the US is divided up between Imperial Japan, and Nazi Germany. Within the story lies two characters who get involved (through different avenues) with the resistance, all the while Japan and Germany wage a sort of cold war; neither certain what to do, or whether to advance on the other.
Similar to the author of the IGN article, I was left feeling uncomfortable as I watched the episode. Life in a puppet state/occupied territory is scary; far worse than any of those insane tosspots who idolize extremism can imagine (well, maybe they have a place in that world). Closer to the end, an interesting cliffhanger was thrown in there – as fearful as I am, I wanted to know more.
Now before I continue, spoiler warning (I am about to go into the plot of the first episode; skip two paragraphs down to reach the end).
Alright so the story begins with two characters from opposite sides of the border: Joe Blake, and Juliana Crain. Both live in totally different regimes, yet both experience the same extremism that plagues the former United States of America (though the US exists still, it only extends to the old borders from 1783(approximately)). Juliana is an example of American and Japanese cultural mix; she studies a Japanese martial art (I cannot spell it, so you will just have to watch the episode to hear what it is, and find it out online) which her mother disapproves (war-widow). Juliana is also romantically involved with a man who descends from a Jewish Grandfather – something made obvious during a discussion at a bar where they meet up. Now this aspect is not used heavily, but it does illustrate just how brutal it could be for those who failed to escape the east coast for life in the Pacific States of America (also known in the episode as the: “Japanese Pacific States,” Imperial Japan puppet). Meanwhile Joke Blake is living in New York, and at first the show kicks off with the usual 1960s newsreel in a theater, but as the newsreel drags on it ends with Nazi iconography on American flags; a sign of the alternate history.
When both characters come across some unusual newsreels showcasing the allied victory, things begin to change. Juliana takes on her dead half-sister’s “mission,” while Joe – now driving a truck for the resistance – also makes his way into the neutral zone. Finally at the end, it is revealed that Joe is a double agent – he calls his “commander,” who also happens to be the jailer: beyond this I will not say more, you will just have to watch the show.
Arbitrary arrests, torture, extermination; all these themes are present in this alternate history series. Thus far Amazon has done a wonderful job with the story arc, and I – despite my fear – want to see more of this show: it is shaping up to be a promising season. Thank you all for reading, and I shall see you next time.