Hello, everyone! I’m here with my coworkers Miriam and Dan to talk about the second season of Amazon’s alt-history thriller, “The Man in the High Castle.” (Catch up on my initial thoughts about season one here.) Please be warned: There are lots of spoilers, plus mentions of Nazis and Hitler (the show is about them, after all). Still want to keep reading? The transcript of our Facebook Messenger discussion begins right now…

Jesse:
Hello and welcome to the “We feel bad for Nazis” group.

Miriam:
I do! Except for Joe Blake; I don’t feel bad for him at all. His head is too large. I thought that prevented him from being a perfect Aryan.

Dan:
Let me start by saying I appreciated alternate reality Juliana Crain. She doesn’t mumble when free of the shackles of fascism, and as a hearing-impaired American, it was personally liberating to hear what she sounded like.

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Jesse:
So, first question: Did we get too many answers to our questions from season one?

Miriam:
We got stupid answers to dumb questions!

Jesse:
Like “Lost” polar-bear level answers?

Miriam:
We got the wrong answers that nobody wanted. Like, I would rather have not known who the man in the high castle was. That was a letdown.

Dan:
Not really. I was ready to continue to explore America under Nazi/Japanese occupation, the differences between East and West, the continual oppression of minorities, etc. But instead we were given a really odd-ball series of almost music videos, like “Charlies Angels: Full Throttle.” I didn’t care about the drugs; it wasted time in alternate reality for like a whole episode. Also, Juliana mumbled too damn much.

Miriam:
Oh my god, I wish it was like “Charlie’s Angels.” Juliana. Stop. Just stop. Joe, you are a waste of time for all the viewers.

Jesse:
Hey, leave Joe alone!

Photo: Amazon
Luke Kleintank as Joe Blake (Photo: Amazon)

Miriam:
And we spent so much of that time in another alternate reality. No, Joe is dumb, and I will tell you why: 1. He assumes Juliana is dead because John Smith tells him (LOL). 2. He goes on this whole existential trip about how his dad abandoned him, and he abandoned his semi-adoptive son with Rita. 3. He thinks that Juliana of all people would say, “Yes, Joe, you should be a Nazi, that is your destiny.” She would never say that.

Dan:
Follow your heart—that’s the plot of every movie my 6-year-old daughter watches. I assume that advice, in this case, extends to would-be SS officers.

Miriam:
Even if your heart leads you to being an immediately vastly important member of the Reich for no reason! Immediately!

Jesse:
Hold on a second!

Miriam:
When a motivating death happens (Trudy), and then that is completely undercut in the last episode of season two when she appears to be fine (maybe from an alternate reality), then I get annoyed, because nothing matters. No choices matter. And the tagline for this season is, “The future belongs to those who change it,” but it’s established that nothing can be changed. Juliana was always supposed to kill George Dixon in the alley. The man in the high castle tells her she alone makes the right choices in every reality. That makes her unsympathetic. I hate chosen ones. Harry Potter isn’t special because he is special; he is special because Voldemort makes him so.

Jesse:
Sounds like someone is in Slytherin.

Dan:
The “Roseanne”/“Seinfeld” paradox: “Roseanne” told us it was all a dream. “Seinfeld” had a trial in the finale to hold these amoral characters accountable. Neither made sense in the universe that they created for us. I agree with Miriam. That’s what they did to us. Established a world, then upended it, but didn’t build enough credibility to do it.

Jesse: 
Let’s talk about the Smith family.

Miriam:
Love them. They are great. No complaints.

The Smith family
The Smith family (Photo: Amazon)

Jesse:
Because it seems to me that showing them normalizes American Nazis, and that was kind of the point.

Miriam:
That’s because they are the least annoying of any characters in this thing. They are comparatively sympathetic.

Jesse:
Rufus Sewell is never sympathetic.

Dan:
That was what I wanted to see. I wanted to see the world as it was. The Smith family was the only plot line that had the world as it existed, without time shift and dimensional paradoxes.

Miriam:
Yes! Agree!

Jesse:
But come on! John Smith? Try harder, writing staff!

Miriam:
Spinoff on just the Smith family!

Dan:
How would a real family respond when the evil that got them into positions of power are then torn apart by the same evil?

Jesse:
OK, let’s talk about the American Nazis we met. John Smith was a World War II soldier for America, and he became like the top Nazi in America?

Miriam:
Yeah, he killed a ton of people. They talk about that. Like, so many.

Jesse:
By “people” you mean Jews, right?

Miriam:
Probably all the Jews. Yes, Jews. He did it.

Dan:
They had to be part of the extermination, but we don’t see any evidence of it. Maybe that’s what Nazis do, given time and opportunity, but we didn’t really see anti-Semitism or racism because there were no Jews or minorities.

Miriam:
The only people we see kill Jews is Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido, who kills Frank Frink’s family. No Nazis kill Jews in this show.

Dan:
Kido hated people! He didn’t like Jews.

Miriam:
Way to go, Frank, in not successfully getting revenge and instead blowing yourself up.

Dan:
He sneered when he said the word “Jews.” Where was that hate in the Smith family? They were white picket fence. They were Ozzie and Harriet. Where was the hate in their hearts? I wanted hate!

Jesse:
Where was the hate in their hearts? Did you miss the huge, fancy “Mein Kampf” on their shelf?!

Dan:
Yeah, but that’s required. They had the stuff they needed to have in the house. They were hosts to the whole up-and-coming Nazi suburbanites.

Miriam:
Has anyone told the Nazis they need to work on a different motif? There were a lot of swastikas.

Jesse:
OK, so in this show are we saying the bigger jerks are the Japanese?

Miriam:
The biggest jerks are the resistance, I think.

Dan:
Great question. In the first season, clearly. But maybe that’s a function of the situation being more fluid in San Francisco and more orderly and under control in New York City. They were trying to suppress a resistance that didn’t exist in NYC. I would have expected if the Nazis were dealing with the same problem in NYC, they would exhibit similar behavior.

Jesse:
OK, so the bigger difference between season one and season two is the information we are given about the films.

Miriam:
And more swastikas. Like, a lot more. Flower swastikas, fabric swastikas…

Jesse:
Well, we did go to Berlin. (When I say it now I do it in a German accent.)

Dan:
Well, we saw Berlin, we had family drama, we had less Joe Blake (a good thing), the same amount of Juliana (mumbles) and maybe just the right amount of Inspector Kido.

Jesse:
I wanted more Robert Childan, the Americana salesman!

Dan:
Miriam reminded me about the most amazing scene in season two, when Juliana gets measured against Nazi-Aryan ideals. That was the most insight we got this season into everyday life in victorious Nazi Germany. I really wanted more of that. This is what I paid $75 a year to see. I’m just glad that includes unlimited two-day free shipping.

Jesse:
Don’t deny me my Robert Childan/Ed McCarthy/Frank Frink team of counterfeiters! Where is that spinoff? Also, Amazon Prime is $99 a year now.

Dan:
Alexa, is this getting to be a rip-off?

Alexa:
No, Dan, it is not a rip-off.

Miriam:
It was the most actual Nazi-ness we get in this.

Jesse:
You mean except for that massive Nazi rally in the last episode?

Nazi Rally
Photo: Amazon

Dan:
That was so “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Miriam:
Maybe we should cast actresses who can do aikido, not ones who cannot do aikido. (#notbelievable)

Jesse:
Miriam, did you enjoy any part of the season?

Miriam:
Yes, the end, when it was over! I enjoyed the Smith family, and I enjoyed when their son reported himself. I enjoyed John’s machinations and scheming.

Dan:
Also, I like that people take Concordes everywhere.

Jesse:
Hell yeah!

Dan:
Were there no regional jets?

Jesse:
Regional jets are for democracies. Also, did we lose the Concorde technology?

Dan:
You probably don’t want to get me started on aviation, because I’m obsessed, but it was a complex issue with air intake on a low part of the wing. Also, a really bad, very high-visibility crash, and that they use a piggish amount of fuel and carry very few people.

Jesse:
OK, so Nobusuke Tagomi, the trade minister of the Pacific States, saw that Japan lost the war in another reality, that America dropped bombs on Japan, and he was like, that would have been better?

Dan:
I thought he wasn’t upset about that. He seemed disenchanted with Japan throughout.

Jesse:
That is quite a leap.

Dan:
He was very sympathetic to Americans. He had a schoolboy crush on Juliana, and I don’t think he was enthusiastic about the killing. He had an obvious distaste for Kido, who was the epitome of the Japanese fascist.

Miriam:
I think it was fatherly, which is why he was happy she was his daughter-in-law in the alternate reality. He just respected her as a person.

Photo: Amazon
Alexa Davalos as Juliana Crain (Photo: Amazon)

Dan:
This was well before he had his visions, but you could be right.

Jesse:
Could we not have gotten a flashback to drunken alternate reality Tagomi?

Dan:
Where do you go when you’re in an alternate reality? Theories—GO!

Miriam:
Westeros. That’s where I’d go.

Jesse:
Well, you obviously disappear. I think Dan is referring to your body, Miriam, not where you would go on vacation.

Dan:
Moe’s.

Jesse:
You would go to Westeros, of all places, to escape an alternative reality where Nazis have won?

Miriam:
Yes, of course I would. It’s where my heart is.

Jesse:
Not like the Shire, or Hogwarts?

Miriam:
The Shire is too boring, and Hogwarts is a school.

Dan:
Seriously though, I think he just slumps at his desk, and since his assistant dude is on board with alternate realities, he covers for him. But what if it’s for days?

Jesse:
No, his body was gone! You think he just fell on the floor and they didn’t show it?

Miriam:
Yes. No. He disappeared.

Dan:
So his assistant just dutifully stood in front of the door and said he was having special alone time for a week? We aren’t given any rules about alternate realities, which is lazy but gives them leeway to blow through a lot of plot holes.

Jesse:
So are you going to watch season three?

Miriam:
I want to see Joe and Juliana die, so…yes. She bothers me, you may have noticed. She’s supposed to be the hero, allegedly.

Jesse:
I am telling you, the hero of the show is Robert Childan, Americana salesman extraordinaire!

Dan:
Yes. It’s not a great show but it’s better than pre-March college basketball and slightly better than tiny-house makeover shows, with many fewer ads than “Chopped.” My final thought—we gravitate toward the characters that aren’t cardboard cutouts. I’m looking forward to more Kido, Smith family hijinks and less Joe/Juliana. This much we deserve.

Jesse:
Well, that was fun.