The Man in the High Castle operates on one of the greatest what if? concepts in history: what if the Allies lost WWII? It’s somewhat of a miracle that this particular hypothetical alternate universe hasn’t already been made into fiction, considering the possibilities brought to mind by the premise alone. It was odder still that Philip K. Dick’s story only really came to light when it was optioned for a television show, considering how fantastic the book is. And the show’s pilot, which aired as a part of Amazon’s Pilot Season back in January, didn’t disappoint. We’re whisked across a mid-’60s America that might have been, an Orwellian totalitarian state consisting of an unsettling blend of the familiar and the strange. We’re in New York — but this isn’t New York. We’re in San Francisco — but something’s out of place here. And it’s not just that the buildings are plastered with propaganda (although they are); something darker has taken root and changed society, changed the people.
“Sunrise”, the second hour, throttled back a bit on all of that (everything’s still plastered in propaganda). Joe and Juliana, the NYC- and San Fran-dwelling protagonists of the pilot, have now met up in the Neutral Zone that makes up the middle third of the Once-United States. They’ve fled the Greater Nazi Reich and the Japanese Pacific States, respectively, for reasons that aren’t altogether dissimilar. Copies of the mysterious film known in hushed whispers as the work of the equally mysterious “Man in the High Castle” have been smuggled by each protagonist, which on the surface seems a well-wrought story structure. Here are the show’s two most interesting characters, bringing the show’s most interesting item to a central location, bringing the story inward from each coast.