Fiction that dabbles in alternate history is rife with possibility. There are countless storytelling avenues to explore where the slightest alteration of established events or locales creates fascinating possibilities. This is something Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle was well aware of and eager to exploit in its first season, using visual imagery of a radically altered United States that has been under the combined control of Nazi Germany and Japanese forces since the end of World War II. The series went to beautifully crafted lengths in order to convincingly portray a world that was frighteningly different to its audience.
As the series prepares for the premiere of season 2 in December, it’s clear that the minds behind the program are eager to capitalize on the unnerving sensation of seeing things like Times Square draped in Nazi paraphernalia or the sight of news footage showing Marilyn Monroe serenading Adolf Hitler on his birthday rather than John F. Kennedy. That sort of unsettling imagery is the show’s bread and butter, and so it’s no surprise that it would double down such history altering carbs as a way of enticing viewers to continue the mind-bending story of a warped reality that may have tapped into the existence of a world where the war ended in Germany’s defeat.
That’s the main premise behind the trailer for the new season. The lengthy spot does double duty in its effort to remind viewers what’s at stake, while at the same time tempting them with enticing details of what’s to come. The voiceover early on attempts to explain the enigmatic newsreels at the heart of the season 1 plot. “His films are reality. But not ours,” goes a long way in explaining the strange images discovered on film that depict key members of the cast in wildly different circumstances – some, oddly, much worse – than the Nazi-controlled existence they know.
The possible confirmation of realities other than the one serving as the series’ conceit makes for a fascinating variable to a narrative that sets a frighteningly high bar as far as dystopias are concerned. It also alters the plot of Trade Minister Nobusuke Tagomi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), as he struggles to comprehend the strange world he witnessed in the season 1 climax, insisting what he saw “didn’t feel like a dream.” The trailer takes the concept of alternate realities and turns it into an exploration of the duality that’s possible within the series’ core characters.
Putting two different versions of Luke Kleintank’s Joe Blake, Alexa Davalos’ Juliana Crain, or even Joel de la Fuente’s Inspector Kido side by side in order to demonstrate the two sides of every person in certainly in keeping with The Man in the High Castle‘s emphasis on visual imagery. But it also works to emphasize what ground the series apparently wants to cover in season 2. The trailer ends with the montage of two possible versions of each character and the words, “Most people are different, depending if they’re hungry, safe, or scared.” It looks like viewers may get to see just how different the series’ characters could have been.
The Man in the High Castle season 2 premieres Friday December 16 on Amazon Video.