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Reason Amazon released the whole season the same day.


The Man In The High Castle Burns Down A House

But builds up our hopes for the rest of the season.

Here we are at the midseason mark, and The Man In The High Castle is really heating up! GET IT?

You have to appreciate a show that knows how to roll out a good plot twist. And given that I've been spending a fair amount of time watching Timeless this fall -- a show that has a hard time telling the difference between a plot twist and the Peppermint Twist -- I appreciate that more than most.

And, damn, if High Castle doesn't deliver. Things got shaken up more than a James Bond martini in this episode, setting us up for some very interesting possibilities in the back end of the season. So let's take a look at what twists hold the potential for the best payoff come Episode 10, ranked in order from "Twisting? I'm Barely Moving" to "Auntie Em, Auntie Em, It's a Twister"!

  1. Ed's a Spy for the Kempeitai
    While Ed cares a great deal for Frank, he has never shared Frank's curiosity about the films or contempt for Japanese oppression. Despite being dragged by Frank into one questionable activity after another -- from creating replica artifacts for the Yakuza to extracting explosives from a bomb for the Resistance -- Ed has always been the voice of quiet compliance. He wants nothing more than to live a calm life well outside the attention of the Japanese authorities. His desire for safety led to his constant -- really, really constant -- pleading with Frank to do what is necessary to get out of trouble as quickly as possible. So it isn't much of a surprise when Sergeant Yoshida from the Kempeitai shows up at Childen's shop, wondering why Ed missed their meeting.



    This new side of Ed will certainly add a little drama now that Frank seems fully committed to the Resistance, but I don't suspect it's going to making major waves going forward.

  2. The Story Of Joe's Birth
    Why can't I stop harshing on Joe Blake? Probably because, up to this point, he's been terminally conflicted over what he needs to do with his life but in the most seriously fucking boring way ever. Things have changed for Joe, though, during his trip to Berlin. Turns out his mother hid the truth of his birth from him: instead of being born in Brooklyn, as she'd told him, Joe came into the world in Germany as part of a breeding program designed to create the next generation of elite SS leaders.



    Possessed with this knowledge and the fact that his father is one of the most powerful men in the Reich, Joe tosses aside all his claims at "being his own man" like they were a crappy, ill-fitting bridesmaid dress and decides to stay in Berlin for a few days at his Dad's house. What will this come to? Probably not much in the short run. It feels like they are working the long game with Joe, and while he may end up back in the Greater Nazi Reich of America, it probably won't be before the very end of the season, if then.

  3. Kido's Meeting With Smith
    I didn't know I needed this scene until it was right there in front of me. Putting these two together can't happen often, given their respective places in the show, so it needed to be done right. It largely succeeds. Kido arrives unannounced in New York with an extradition order for Juliana. During the meeting, Smith and Kido discover that they both fought in the Battle of the Solomon Islands during WWII -- Kido for the Japanese, while Smith served with the U.S. forces. (Did we know this about Smith already?) This newly discovered bond between former soldiers allows them to drop the pretenses of Kido's visit. Smith asks why he is really there. Kids reveals...something. We don't know what, but it leaves Smith clearly shaken. Smith now possesses a powerful piece of knowledge, and given his place in the upper echelon of the American Nazi leadership, it's likely to have some significant consequences.
  4. The High Castle Comes Down

    Let's get to the good stuff. Like most people, I'm sure, I was pretty frickin' excited to not only find out who the man in the high castle was but to see him played by Stephen Root. My appreciation of the show went up by a factor of about 2.5 as soon as he showed up on screen, chain-smoking and speaking in riddles about Carl Jung. The fact that the high castle was a ramshackle old barn full of dirty ashtrays and film canisters seemed less exciting until this episode, when Abendsen (a.k.a. The Man) torches that very castle and sets off with Lem and a tall stack of new films.



    Please, please, PLEASE let me get what I want and have a good portion of the next five episodes focus on Abendsen and his films. It probably won't happen: we'll probably get a lot more of Joe being petulant and angry with his Nazi dad instead. Even at Christmas you don't get everything you want.

  5. The Reality of Togami's Alternate World
    As a historian approaching a show about counterfactual history, I probably played down the science fiction aspects of this show, even fully knowing the source material came from a renowned science fiction writer. So, basically, I really didn't think the alternate reality Trade Minister Tagomi has visited this season existed outside of his mind. Boy, was I happily wrong! We just took a big ol' sharp left turn as Tagomi spends time in a reality where the Allies won the war, the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, and Tagomi's Japanese family became thoroughly assimilated. Speaking of which: what was with all the mustard?



    There must have been four jars in Gulden's in that kitchen.

    More disturbingly, Tagomi confronts his family only to learn that in this reality, he's a drunk, his wife's divorcing him, and his son is married to an American. Not just any American. JULIANA FREAKING CRAIN! WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THAT? I'm not sure what I'm looking forward to more: The Man Now Without a High Castle's plans, or what happens in Tagomi's new reality. Either way, the show is bringing the goods far more than I expected even two episodes ago. Let's hope they follow through.

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