The Man in the High Castle: The Last Season

(Photo: Courtesy of

(Photo: Courtesy of

Aidan Herklotz

DISCLAIMER: This article will contain spoilers for all seasons of The Man in the High Castle, as well as some “controversial” material. If you have some aversion to that, stop reading now. You have been warned.

Yes, I’m doing another article about Nazis. But this one isn’t nearly as funny as the last one. If you haven’t heard about The Man in the High Castle, it’s an Amazon Prime Original series about an alternate future where the Axis Powers won World War II. The main setting of the show are locations all across America, which Nazi Germany and Japan have split into two. Most of our protagonists are part of the resistance, which delivers films across America. These films depict other alternate scenarios in regards to World War II, but they mainly depict the world in which we live, i.e. the world where the Allied Powers win World War II (in case you’ve never taken a history class). Now that you’ve been given a bit of a refresher, let’s talk about the new season.

Season four of The Man in the High Castle is way more sci-fi than any of the previous seasons. Before this, it was mainly just an alternate history drama with a few alternate-universe aspects. This new turn to science fiction is actually what was intended by Phillip K. Dick, the author of the novel on which the series is based. Dick was first and foremost a science fiction writer, so he was more engrossed in the traveling through dimensions aspect of the whole thing. Anyways, I really liked how they contrasted the methods of inter-dimensional travel between Germany and Japan. Japan’s is through peaceful Bhuddist meditation, while the Nazi’s use a very sterile, mechanical portal-thing. My only problem with the alt-world plot is that the show just kind of abandoned it in the end. We don’t see what happened to the alt-Helen, alt-Thomas, or any of Juliana’s alt-friends. This has been a re-occurring problem this season, and you’ll see more of this later.

One of my biggest problems with season four is the inclusion and exclusion of characters. The most apparent example of this is the subplot with the Black Communist Republic (BCR). I’m not saying I don’t like this story line, in fact I think it’s quite well done and it provides an interesting commentary on race relations. My actual problem is that it just kind of comes out of nowhere. If in a prior season they touched upon the BCR or how the Nazis and Japanese treated African-Americans, I would have been fine with this story line, but they didn’t. Also they obviously killed off Tagomi in the first episode, but I think that was just a problem with the actor, not a writing issue. But the issue I’m most outraged about is the cutting of DJ Qualls’ character, Ed McCarthy. He was an important character to the show from the very beginning and they just took him out with zero explanation. Why?

The villains have always been the best part of The Man in The High Castle. While there are some protagonists that I like (mainly Tagomi and Juliana), you cannot deny how interesting, developed, and overall morally grey the antagonists are. John Smith is easily the best character in the entire series, and he’s not even in the book. John Smith takes on a completely new role this season, with his rebellious family jeopardizing his career and position in the Reich. Inspector Kido and John Smith are mirrored in this season as well. Kido’s son’s insubordination and PTSD make Kido look weak, which destroys a man’s reputation in Japanese society. Obviously Kido gets a happier ending than Smith; in fact, I would watch the hell out of a Yakuza-themed spinoff show. 

I would honestly love to see a new season of The Man in the High Castle. I felt a lot of things were left open ended, and maybe a little unfinished. I believe a bit of closure would be great for the fan base and the series overall. But apparently this is the last season, so I wouldn’t push my luck. And could the show even be as good without John Smith anyway?