Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

We can’t see the forest for The Man In The High Castle’s films

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This weekend, A.V. Club contributor Shelby Fero is watching all of the first season ofThe Man In The High Castle on Amazon Prime. After she’s finished with an episode, she’ll post a quick response. Though she’s working straight through the season, she’ll be taking some breaks, too, posting two reviews on Friday, four reviews on Saturday, and four reviews on Sunday. Weigh in on this episode in the comments below or discuss the whole season on our binge-watching hub page.


Ah, tis a tangled web we weave… when we plot the third World War.

Let’s check in, as we reach our half-way point this season:

  • The Crown Prince has been shot (but is not dead yet)
  • Frank didn’t shoot the prince, but he left behind the necklace he designed for Juliana, and the Trade Ambassador found it
  • Back in New York, the Obergrubbenfurher (close enough) seems suspicious of Joe but not outwardly hostile
  • Juliana takes on another task presented by the rebellion, leading her to see that Frank’s necklace is in possession of the Trade Ambassador
  • The microfiche the faux Nazi ate might make it to the Japanese Science Minister
  • Juliana’s mom loves to say “Jap”
  • Joe gets invited to brunch!

Continuing its pace and unflagging sense of realism, Joe and Juliana do not go off with the rebels in the Neutral Zone to learn more of The Man in the High Castle. Instead they… go home. This show forces me to evaluate my criteria for saying “nothing happens”: Because, well, nothing happens but a ton happens.

In a physical sense, stuff’s all sorta the same; nobody died or kissed or got into a car chase. But that one guy is now suspicious of that other guy, while that one woman hinted something to the other woman—and just about everybody’s worried about that dang Man in the High Castle… even though there’s a very different film they should be paying attention to.

As one very dedicated and heroic commenter noted, the microfiche being espionaged behind the Reich’s back seems to contain plans or schematics of a hydrogen bomb, the writing in German. TMITHC devotes the least fanfare to this storyline, despite it shaping up to be the most important: Juliana and the Nazis are focused on the mysterious Man’s films, leaving the Japanese attempts to thwart a seemingly inevitable German takeover to go reasonably unnoticed.

Image for article titled We can’t see the forest for The Man In The High Castle’s films

On a technical note: Man this show is pretty. The cinematography continues to impress—the shaky camera effect after Juliana is slapped juxtaposes how jarring a hit like that is with her ability to stay calm and collected under pressure. Juliana’s not the Trudy we need, but the Trudy we deserve.


Grade: B

Questions: Is the microfiche proof that the Nazis have plans to drop an atomic bomb on the Pacific States, and that’s why it needs to be passed to the Science Minister? Or, are these schematics just knowledge the Germans have, that the Japanese want so they can prepare their own bomb? Is the Man in the High Castle a high-ranking Nazi official, or Hitler himself, who lets out choice bits of info to the rebels so that they’ll bring him these movies? Is Joe’s father really the Führer?


Fears: I hope Frank’s love of sleek jewelry design isn’t his undoing. That tiny child who saw him put the gun away better demand to speak to an authority and clear Frank’s name, if it comes to that.

Last thing: I’ve been wondering how they can wrap up a story like this in only one season (realizing, now, they probably can’t and shouldn’t). I keep finding myself super grateful for the pacing, which, while at first felt only slow, now feels like the comforting “slow” of a good professor taking their time to properly set up and explain a lesson plan (not the most thrilling endorsement, admittedly). Even now, the microfiche can easily provide enough problems so as not to burn the “big question” of the Man so quickly.